Saturday, October 25, 2008

Government vs. Religion

I had thought about a post that expressed what I expect from government and what I expect from religion as they both pertain to my interaction to society in general. The things that I expect from government vary greatly from the things that I expect from religion. One of the most important things that I expect from government is the right to practice religion as I choose--without coercion and without penalty. In accepting that I have the right to practice religion as I choose, I also have to accept that I have to give that same right to others.

I think that this is the point that presents us with our big problem. We want to impose our religious beliefs into our governmental beliefs...but we can't. If we are allowed to impose our religion into government, then we have to allow others to impose their religion into government. Clearly, this isn't going to work. We certainly have the right to elect officials that best represent our beliefs and desires, but somewhere we still have to recognize that the best that they can do for us is to introduce and support legislation that keeps order in our society and still supports every citizen's constitutional rights.

In some way, every law that is written and passed restricts our freedom. The more laws...the less freedom. A law that restricts you to driving at 30 mph will keep you from getting across town as fast as you might like, but it also provides safety for yourself, other drivers, pedestrians and property. A perfect society would need no laws. Everybody would play nice. But ours is not a perfect society. We need laws (order) and we need to have those laws enforced. We also need freedom. Laws should be to maintain order and to protect freedoms. While restricting one freedom, speed limits protect other freedoms by keeping us safe (from ourselves!).

Laws can be burdensome. We'd be better off if we could get along without them. I think that the best way to keep from having our own freedom restricted is not to restrict the freedom of others. That may mean that we have to practice our religion in our daily lives without forcing others to our way of believing. Live and let live sounds too simple. Jesus said that we should love each other...not just our friends, but our enemies, too. Maybe we've forgotten that last part.



bandit said...

Very thought provoking post. I have always felt that the laws that legislate our core beliefs, mores, have caused much of the great divide in our country. I was reading about Ben Stein recently. He stated that he is a Jew and did not mind someone saying to him Merry Christmas. He did not mind seeing a manger scene in a public place. He stated that it made him feel good that we are all celebrating a happy time in our own way

The Magic Utopian said...

Great blog, John. Nice to see this kind of talk.

Bilbo said...

John, I couldn't have said it better myself. Great post!

Mike said...

Did these thoughts come out of your head or did you copy them from somewhere? This is a doctorial thesis in four paragraphs!

John said...

Mike, I'll expect to be address as Dr. John from now on!

John said...


Kevin said...

Nice post, John. I have to tell you...I love the work rules we're operating under in the FAA. I know that they bring out the best in me and make me all excited and goose pimply to go into work each and every day. The man is watching, watching out for me.

Mike said...

Don't you just hate topys!!!

And I like your music!!

Claudia said...

Dr. John: Bravo!

Anonymous said...

John - As I started to read your blog I was saying to myself "I can't believe he missed it"! Now I have to ask for your forgiveness. It is all about love as you so clearly and correctly state. Political organizations and religious organizations will let us down every time. If we, especially me, could learn to have loving relationships with everyone we come into contact with it would be wonderful. Therefore, I guess it has to start with me and hopefully others will see a little of Jesus in me and maybe love really can work and is the answer.

On a side note if you haven't read THE SHACK it is a must read!

Your Brother


I completely agree with you on this and know though that it is easier said than done. For me religion has always been a personal issue and I don't like the government involved in it.

John said...

Thanks to all of you for the comments.

I agree that The Shack is a great read. I finished it a couple of months ago and have been meaning to post about it. It is loaned out right now so I don't have it for a reference.

Another recommended read is Philip Yancy's What's So Amazing About Grace?

Dr. John

Anonymous said...

I am curious about "I can't believe he missed it" comment. Where exactly were you missing it, and at want point did the commenter think that maybe you got it correct?

I also wonder if the commenter thinks that "love" is a characteristic exclusive to the Christian God. What would another person think if a Jew, Hindu, Muslim, person who does not practice religion "loves."

Or maybe I'm misreading. A demonstration of love is a showing of faith no matter what one practices, and that one is simply representing their faith or institution well by their behavior.

I love, and I am Jewish, Christian, whatever, so another thinks, hey, those (insert religion here) are okay people, maybe I should check that out.

Thank you for the post. It got a lot of comments--I think that you hit on something.

Anonymous said...

In response to my earlier post when I started reading the words "religion and politics" I assumed, incorrectly, that it was going to be what we often hear. What I mean by that is I thought John was going to say how religion and government are the answers to all of our problems. I thought he would say that maybe religion was better than government. Again, before reading the whole blog I thought I knew where he was going. I was wrong. Really wrong. I haven't seen John since high school and have just recently been reading his blog. I enjoy his perspective and agree with him most of the time.

I strongly agree with his last two sentences. "Jesus said that we should love each other . . . not just our friends, but our enemies, too."

I believe that anyone (Christian, Jew, Muslim, Black, White, sinner, saint etc.) can love. It is not a characteristic just of Christians. I have friends who are both Jews and Muslim and they are some of the finest people you will ever meet.

I will say that I believe government and so called "religion" will let you or me down all the time. Government is made up of rules and laws and religion as well as human beings. For me the key to my faith in Jesus Christ is based on the personal, daily RELATIONSHIP that I have with Him. He loves all of us, again I mean all of us, not just Christians. Our finite minds can't even begin to understand how much He loves us. Not only did He die on the cross for ALL of us he forgives ALL of our sins.

If I personally can just learn to relate to ALL others (RELATIONSHIPS) in a loving way I will be happy. Not sure exactly what I mean by "in a loving way"? My definition of love is I'm sure not anywhere close to what it should be. Just ask my wife. But I'm striving to do better. If I could learn to be less judgemental and critical I would be much happier.

Sorry for the long and rambling response. I hope I didn't offend anyone by my thoughts. That is not my intent.

Just sign me as "JESUS LOVER".

John's favorite brother said...


I see that you have more than one brother that reads your blog. I thought that I would clarify any confusion by getting a blogger account to post under.



BTW-I just passed on an award to you.

Anonymous said...

Steve - I'm your brother too!

Mike said...

By popular request you're going to have to put a special link to this post right underneath 'Visit my web site'.