Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

God and Politics

I would like to comment on three items on the blog. Two of these were brought to our attention by Peter Schramm. The third is Mickey Craig’s entry on Condoleezza Rice’s remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast. The connection is God and politics.

The first item is Ken Masugi’s analysis of the President’s recent State of the Union Speech. Masugi says the speech was inspired by the Declaration of Independence. I don’t see this. The speech does not mention equality, as far as I know, except when it speaks of treating investors equally in the tax laws. Bush’s focus is on freedom and, as Masugi notes, freedom as a gift of God. This marks Bush’s difference from the Declaration most clearly. The Declaration speaks of the laws of nature and of nature’s God and declares that certain truths are self evident. Because nature and a rational God is the standard that the Declaration appeals to, it can claim universality. Bush speaks of gifts and Providence, emphasizing the willfulness of God and the potentially unique character of His gifts. (I know that the idea of providence occurs in the Declaration at the end but, interestingly, this was not in Jefferson’s original draft.) Bush does say that liberty was God’s gift to humanity but how does he know this? With the President, we are not dealing with the laws of nature but with special revelation. Greg Dunn’s analysis of the State of the Union speech is more accurate than Masugi’s, I think, because it recognizes the revealed personal ground of the President’s politics and admits that this makes people nervous. This brings me to Mickey Craig’s praise of Rice’s speech. Rice may be worthy of higher office but surely not on the basis of her touching account of her personal relation to God.

I recognize that the God of the Declaration is not necessarily incompatible with the God that speaks to Bush and Rice but which God we have in mind when we think about politics and act politically makes a difference. This is especially so as we confront an implacable enemy inspired by his own special revelation.

Discussions - 3 Comments

God and politics is an interesting subject. As far as I can tell nothing has been said so far that is incompatible with what we see and use every day. What we see and use? Well by this I mean the one dollar bill.
What is the function of the eye on top of the pyramid? On the base of the pyramid we have 1776, the year of the D.I. bellow this we have Novus Ordo Seclorum and above it we have the message that we are favoured somehow by the god(s), proceding from left to right we have "In God we trust", and in the mouth of the Eagle we have "E Pluribus Unum" which means "Out of many one". Would it be a stretch to conclude that God is supposed to act as a cohesive between the people and higher principles, to achieve the favoured end? The favored end being those Principles enshrined in the Declaration, which so often the many have not been "one" in accord with?

John -- depends on what that God is like. To me that is the issue. Are we talking about a personal God who sends individuals messages or the God of nature who is largely indistinguishable from the laws of nature, which tell everyone the same thing in the same way.

Thanks for the interesting and informative site. That's definitely what I've been looking for.

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