Separation of Church and State

After reading a Washington Post article dripping in sarcasm, as well as other articles from ABC, MSNBC, and the New York Times, I decided to finally send in a response. No doubt, my response will never be read, but hey, why not?

The overall feeling I get is that if you hold to certain conservative morals, you shouldn’t let those morals affect your political choices. This led to the following email from me to the Washington Post:

It would appear that the media is quite ignorant of history. How quickly they forget that it was a conservative man who, through his religious convictions,  believed God had called him to reform the culture for God’s glory. If such a  politician made the claim today that he felt God had called him to reform  society, he would be laughed at and ridiculed. But who would laugh at and  ridicule William Wilberforce in the modern era, the man who almost single-handily defeated the slave trade and slavery itself in the British  empire?

In his journal, Wilberfoce stated he felt God calling him to, “…the abolition of slavery and the reformation of manners [society]…”. His arguments were dripping in his Christianity, so much so that Lord Melborne argued that Wilberforce’s arguments should be cast aside because, “Such a [tragedy] on our society when religion is mixed with politics.” Thus, it was the secularists, the agnostics, the atheists, and the Deists of Wilberforce’s day who were supporting slavery; it was the Christians who were opposing it. It was arguments based on Scripture and Christian principles that ultimately did the following (via Wilberforce):

– Abolished the slave trade

– Emancipated the slaves throughout the British Empire without a Civil War

– Improved public education

– Improved the working conditions for British laborers at the beginning of the industrial revolution

– All but ended child labor in Great Britain

Let us also not forget that Wilberforce attempted to broker a peace between the  Colonies and G.B in the 1880’s and also attempted to broker a peace between  France and G.B. at the beginning of the Napoleonic wars. Aside from all this, he is known for being an animal rights activist, for taking in the poor and orphans and feeding them, and founding dozens of societies that aimed to help the disadvantaged. All of this, from his private action to his public arguments, were based almost solely off his Christian beliefs.

Now, before anyone attempts to say that Wilberforce was merely a product of his time, religious because it was convenient, I would invite that person to read his “A Practical View of Christianity.” Wilberforce not only gave an intellectual nod to God, he practiced Christianity, believing the miracles, believing the inerrancy of Scripture, believing everything conservative evangelicals believe to this day – during a time when it was political suicide for a politician to believe (must less live) such things. How quickly we forget that Wilberforce lived during the height of the Enlightenment, not during a religious period in European history. It was taboo to believe the things Wilberforce did, yet believe them he did.

So if we accept what the Washington Post has to say concerning the mixing of religion and moral convictions with politics, we should look at Wilberforce with – at the best – pity and at the worst, disdain. Either way, we should ignore Wilberforce.

Now, there are other considerations here, such as without some form of a religious view (partial Theism) it is nigh impossible to believe in intrinsic human value, which negates the belief that we have rights as human beings. The belief in human rights rests upon the idea that we have value as humans, but naturalism (secularism) doesn’t hold room for such views since they are non-physical. Such views are abstract, that is, they don’t fall within the view of naturalism in that they can’t be tested via the scientific method. Thus, under secularism, a belief in inalienable human rights simply doesn’t exist. This leads to a utilitarian or consequentialist (or Nihilistic) ethic to govern the nation. Such ethics, however, are generally what freedom-loving people seek to avoid (as such ethics are generally the foundation for totalitarianism). So unless the Washington Post writers want to live under a government where their rights are determined by how valuable they are to society, they might want to reconsider their view on mixing religion and politics.

But hey, I’m not a writer for a failing newspaper, so what do I know?

– Joel