Majority Rules

March 07, 2006

Here is my latest column at Ethics Daily: Majority Rules. Here are a few highlights:

In George Orwell's classic novel "Animal Farm," we are introduced to the saying, "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." Changing "animals" with "religions" could describe the sentiment of a resolution being considered by Missouri state legislators.

The proposed resolution declares that Christianity should be protected as the "majority" religion of Missouri and officially acknowledges the existence of God. While not a law, the resolution would still represent a state endorsement of religion.

... This news would have shocked me on any day, but it especially hit me the day I heard it. Later that evening I would be showing the documentary "Theologians Under Hitler" to the board of directors of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri and leading the discussion of the film.

... Church and state became one, and the church lost its prophetic voice as the conscience of society. As with the time of Constantine, when church and state united the church was one that ultimately bowed down to the other. Sadly, history repeats itself again.

The rhetoric of those theologians about Germany is extremely similar to language used in the Missouri resolution and similar Christian nationalist statements. While I am not suggesting any atrocities like the Holocaust will be occurring in Missouri, I am fearful of how politics and power may corrupt the church. I worry that much like the church in Germany during the 1930s we could be carried away with waving the flag and lose sight of our mission to share the love of Jesus.

... I have trouble understanding this mindset. My faith does not need confirmation from state legislators or any other people. My faith depends solely upon God. How tragic it is to see Christian leaders who allow the allure of politics to distract them from their mission of redeeming our state. As Mahatma Gandhi stated, "A living faith cannot be manufactured by the rule of majority."

... Roger Willams, Thomas Helwys, George Truett, and many other Baptist leaders who stood for religious liberty and suffered for being a minority faith would likely be embarrassed to see Baptist support for the Missouri resolution. Perhaps they would feel like the animals in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" as they could no longer tell the difference between the humans and the pigs.
We must do more to spark the critically important dialogue about issues of church and state.