Update (12/9/16): Since the first minute I heard of Georgia’s religious-freedom bill, I figured it was a trap. Get everyone riled up about another southern state showing its prejudice and get the national populace, or maybe even the federal government, to make sure that no one anywhere is permitted to enact anything so offensive. As (more…)
Church v. State
All government authority derives from our right to self-defense. Anything we authorize our government to do by force of arms must be something that can be justified as self-defense. Legislating morality, or using the force of government to control the private behavior of others, does not fall into that category. I have many calls challenging me on this, so I think it’s worth clarifying.
One point that is often made is that all laws, even those forbidding rape and murder, legislate morality, but that’s not true. Yes, rape and murder are immoral, but that is not why they are illegal.
What To Make of Pope Francis?
In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you, I am a practicing Catholic and I raise my children Catholic, but I’m not a great Catholic. I follow the rules of the Church to the best of my ability and try to live by the spirit of Christ’s teachings, but I struggle with faith and am not versed in every nuance of the Church’s tenets. I do, however, respect those Catholics who still keep the faith in the same tradition my parents upheld and I benefit greatly from the culture they create in the Catholic community. For this reason, I never want my skin-of-the-teeth Catholicism in any way to diminish the Catholic culture or reflect poorly on it, so I try to stay away from public discussions on religion. Recently, however, many people of different creeds and political stripes have asked me what I think of Pope Francis, and I’m happy to respond, but I must emphasize, this is, of course, only my opinion. I’m not trying to represent the Church or libertarians, or preach or criticize–I’m just recording my observations for those interested in reading them.
I always give the Pope the benefit of the doubt, but boy are my doubts mounting! Here are the main issues I have with some of the positions the Pope is reported to have taken….
Not too long ago, I sifted through all the relevant writings I could reasonably assess in order to see if any Pope had openly advocated for government redistribution of wealth. From what I could tell, many had come close but no Pope had gone all the way–until now.
This alarms me. The modern state’s use of violence and the threat of violence to take property from its rightful owners (assuming there are any objective laws left in this world, there are clearly defined rightful owners at least of the fruits of their labor) and give it to someone else not only breaks the sixth and eighth commandments, but also makes it impossible for able-bodied producers to live Christ’s exhortation to charity as well as reduces the poor from a default state of virtue (assuming money really is the root of all evil), to being receivers of stolen goods.
As progressive taxation comes closer to absorbing all surplus wages and putting them at the disposal of the modern state, even the highest earners may no longer have the means to engage in meaningful charity. And with what result? The governments in the United States, for example, spend approximately 40% of the country’s production (GDP), the vast majority of which is redistribution of wealth.