by Brad Nelson 2/11/14
Here’s an outstanding article by Paul Kengor at The American Spectator: Reagan on Religious Tolerance.
Amongst Reagan’s finer thoughts in a speech given on August 23, 1984, in Dallas at an ecumenical prayer breakfast are:
George Washington referred to religion’s profound and unsurpassed place in the heart of our nation quite directly in his Farewell Address in 1796. Seven years earlier, France had erected a government that was intended to be purely secular. This new government would be grounded on reason rather than the law of God. By 1796 the French Revolution had known the Reign of Terror.
Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society.
The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality’s foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church, because only those humble enough to admit they’re sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.
That last quote struck me as particularly relevant. Anyone who has had contact with the Left understands the riotous zealousness and arrogance that is part and parcel of that movement. Yes, it’s a search for utopia (in part). But couldn’t the quest for utopia be even-keeled and moderate?
Apparently not. The postscript needed to Reagan’s speech is that Leftism is a religion (“liberal Democrat” has morphed to this over the years, just as it is cited in the article how Reagan had morphed rightward over the years). And Leftism is a fundamentalist religion at that (similar to Islam in this regard…neither brooks dissent).
And although it might seem impolite to disagree with The Gipper, surely he couldn’t have had Islam (or Leftism) in mind when he said, “If you practice a religion, whether you’re Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or guided by some other faith, then your private life will be influenced by a sense of moral obligation, and so, too, will your public life.”
Not all religions are the same just as not all ideas are the same. It would be foolish to say that “all engagement in politics is good” without making distinctions between, say, Nazism and the Whig Party. Nor does Reagan’s quote take into account the very real phenomenon of Christianity and Judaism, in large part (particularly with Judaism), having given themselves over to the religion of Leftism, as Dennis Prager notes. The stained glass and burning candles may remain, but the values underpinning many churches and synagogues are Leftist values, not the authentic religious ones.
Therefore, to simply be “religious” isn’t the answer. Nor obviously is the answer to be anti-religious which is the way of the Left (which, although it is a sort of “secular” religion, Leftism is still a religion nonetheless, if disguised and unacknowledged…and by being “secular” — if only in conceit — it pits itself ultimately against all religious belief because all such beliefs are its direct competitors).
There has to be Goodness underpinning one’s religion. And humility is one of the attributes of Goodness. And I think Reagan’s point that “those humble enough to admit they’re sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive” is a great one. Who but a political or (Leftist) religious zealot could possible pine for Utopia with the naive and destructive gusto that many do if they had some appreciation for man’s limitations and inherent sinful nature?
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