CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Liberal or Conservative?

May 22, 2009

I have said many times that Christianity transcends party politics and political ideology. Thus my faith is more important and vital than my political allegiances. Having said that, however, it is also true that we are called to live out our faith in the world we find ourselves in. Thus we cannot pretend politics does not exist. We cannot avoid political life.

So believers will find themselves at various places along the political spectrum. Sure, some Christians such as those in the Anabaptist tradition want absolutely nothing to do with politics, and feel that it is unredeemable and unspiritual.

But for the majority of believers, we live in a real world and are called to participate in the world as God has made it. And that includes political structures. Yes, God is the author of the state, as he is the family. Both have important roles to play, and we must discover how we best can use and be a part of them.

I of course admit to my biases. I inhabit the right end of the spectrum. However this was not always the case. I used to be strongly of the radical left. But that was as a non-Christian. When I became a Christian, my political views moved rightward.

Not all believers will agree with me – which is fine – but my understanding of the biblical worldview makes me more comfortable with the right side of politics than the left. But I of course have friends and brothers in Christ who are happier on the left. So we agree to disagree, and have friendly, sometimes heated, debates.

This is not the place for a biblical or theological discussion as to why the right may be the right option for a Christian. I have tried to make that case elsewhere:
billmuehlenberg.com/2006/06/01/christianity-and-partisan-politics/
billmuehlenberg.com/2007/01/05/conservatism-and-liberalism-christianity-and-secularism/
billmuehlenberg.com/2007/09/13/religion-and-the-political-spectrum/

So here I will just present some thoughts by three conservatives who have recently made a case for their conservatism. Not all three are Christians, but they make some points which I am basically happy to go along with. And in so doing, they nicely highlight some of the major differences between right and left.

Mike Adams discusses “The Nature of Conservatism”. He dismisses some non-essential differences, then proceeds this way: “If there is one thing that separates the conservative from the liberal it is his view of human nature. The conservative sees man as born in a broken state. This tragic view of human nature sees man as selfish and hedonistic by design. Given his nature, it is no wonder a man chooses crime. It is a wonder he ever chooses conformity.

“This tragic view of human nature also explains why conservatives often speak of religion and family values. Given his selfish nature, man must internalize some reason to behave in pro-social ways. That fact that he falls short of these values does not mean he is a hypocrite. The one who does not even believe what he says is the hypocrite. The one who believes what he says and falls short is merely human.”

Consider how this works out in the areas of war, peace and international relations: “These competing views of human nature produce very different views on how a nation should conduct foreign policy. The liberal, of course, sees the United Nations as a valuable tool. Since people are fundamentally good, war is often a product of misunderstanding. The UN provides a place where we can sit down and talk out these misunderstandings in order to preserve peace.

“But the conservative sees the UN as a waste of prime real estate in Manhattan. We don’t misunderstand each other at all. For example, Ronald Reagan understood that the communists sought total world domination. The communists understood that we didn’t want that. And they understood exactly what we were saying when we built up our defenses and actively sought the means to shoot their missiles out of the sky.”

Or consider the issues of wealth and poverty: “I tried to illustrate the wrongfulness of Obama’s economic policies a few weeks ago when I penned the satirical column ‘My New Spread the Wealth Grading Policy.’ First, I stated that I would take ten points from all students making ‘A’ grades and give them to students with ‘F’ grades. This would make a more equal grade distribution – one with only three grades of ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ The next part of my satirical policy was the total leveling of the grade distribution. Students with a grade of ‘B’ would be forced to give ten points to students with a grade of ‘D.’ Thus, everyone would wind up with an average grade of ‘C.’

“This was to show that a system designed to promote equality will inevitably destroy the work product. No one will put forth his best effort if his outcome (mediocrity) has been determined in advance. The point, for those who missed it, is two-fold: 1) My Spread the Wealth Grading Policy would inevitably produce a lower standard of academic achievement. 2) Obama’s Spread the Wealth Economic Policy will inevitably produce a lower standard of living.”

Burt Prelutsky (who tells us he is not a Christian) offers in a somewhat more combative manner more such differences: “I used to be what I thought was a liberal. If, at the time, anyone had asked me to explain myself, I would have said that I opposed Jim Crow laws, that I believed workers were entitled to make a decent wage and work in a safe environment, and that American citizens shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their race, religion or national origin.

“I quit being a liberal because I didn’t believe that members of particular minority groups deserved advantages denied to others, that illegal aliens weren’t entitled to anything but a swift kick to the backside, that being a devout Christian didn’t make you a bad person, and that capitalism was a system that worked, while socialism not only didn’t work but most often turned into tyranny.”

Or take the issue of sexuality: “And, finally, when did liberals decide that homosexuals get the final word when it comes to matters of morals, values or anything else, for that matter? It’s bad enough that any number of self-righteous academics kept military recruiters off college campuses, pretending that their objection stemmed from the army’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, and not simply because left-wingers hate anything and everything that smacks of patriotism.

“In much the same way, those on the Left have led a crusade against the Boy Scouts of America because, so they say, they oppose the policy of not allowing homosexuals to be Scout leaders and take young boys into the woods on camping trips. Sensible people regard that as a sensible policy. It’s not to suggest that every gay man is a pedophile, but simply recognizing that most pedophiles are gay men. Just as every Muslim is not a terrorist, just about every terrorist these days is a Muslim. So, why should parents take any unnecessary chances with their most precious possessions just so homosexuals won’t have their feelings hurt?

“Liberals don’t really care about homosexuals, by the way, unless they themselves happen to be gay. The truth is liberals rarely serve in the military now that service is voluntary and they don’t usually let their kids join the Boy Scouts, not because they’re offended by the aforementioned policy, but because the group fosters faith-based and patriotic ideals.

“If you want a perfect example of liberal hypocrisy, consider the recent beauty pageant when a repulsive little freak who calls himself Perez Hilton (born Mario Lavenderia), who had no business even being on stage at a competition involving beautiful women, got to ask Miss California, Carrie Prejean, how she felt about same-sex marriages. Her honest answer probably cost her the victory, while earning her the respect of most fair and decent Americans.

“What I find so telling about the incident was that in California, the reason that the same-sex marriage measure was defeated on the November ballot was because 70% of blacks voted that way. But the gays only demonstrated outside Catholic and Mormon churches and businesses. Furthermore, I guarantee that if Miss Prejean had been black, instead of a blue-eyed blonde, Mr. Hilton wouldn’t have dared open his ugly little yap.”

Finally, Robin of Berkeley, who describes herself as a “Recovering Liberal”. She starts off by describing her liberal beginnings: “I wasn’t just your garden variety liberal who voted Democrat and that was about it. I was a true believer. A zealot. Like many leftists who had abandoned Judeo-Christian religion, I worshipped at the altar of liberalism. For instance, I never missed watching the Democratic National Convention. I watched every speech, with tissue box handy. (What kind of a freak was I anyway?) The Democratic Party symbolized hope, love, compassion, promise, everything that was good and holy in the world. I gave money, my time, my heart, my soul. I cried with joy when Democrats won; I was distraught when they lost.”

She tells how she became disillusioned with the left less than two years ago: “To my disbelief, the more I listened and read [conservatives], the more these folks made sense. For instance, at first I couldn’t understand why so many conservatives expressed concern about morality issues, like gay marriage. Berkeley is Lesbian Central, and I know many good hearted gay people. But the more I learned, the more I started getting the larger picture; that conservatives were not necessarily impugning the character of gay people, but they were alarmed at the breakdown of traditional values. If the basic structure of society goes, e.g., traditional marriage, religion, patriotism, common language, what remains? If everything becomes fluid, what is there to hold onto? Without any moral structure and traditions, a society descends into anarchy and mob rule, as it is clearly doing today.

“As I educated myself, I started thinking and rethinking. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the sudden realization that deeply held beliefs made no sense. Take the anti war stance of the left. Noble and sanctimonious and all that. But how easy it is to sit back and preach peace when you have an army defending you; to rail against the U.S. when you are protected by free speech laws; to demonize Israel, when you’ve never lived through the murderous pogroms of Tsarist Russia or the Holocaust. How hypocritical to lambast Big Business while you are making money from their stocks in your mutual fund portfolio (that is, until Obama took over). And how ludicrous to admire Chavez, Castro and all things socialist, when the closest experience you’ve had to standing on a bread line is queuing up for goat cheese/arugula pizza at Whole Foods.

“And this love affair with Radical Islam – what’s up with that? I had previously thought of Islam as a quaint, folksy religion. But when I started actually reading about it, especially Dr. Phyllis Chesler’s illuminating books and web site, I realized extremist Muslims were advocating some seriously scary stuff, like destroying Israel and the West. I had been oblivious of the horrendous treatment of women: the honor killings, beheadings, genital mutilation. It now seemed like the height of naivety, if not masochism, to embrace with open arms people who want to kill you. While as a liberal I was socialized to believe everyone was good, all cultures were the same, and We Are The World, We Are The Children, I began to understand that evil exists. The emergence of evil always offers warnings signs, and we ignore them at our peril.”

Now of course I don’t necessarily agree with everything that has been said above. And many conservative commentators in the US thrive on coming across as pugnacious shock jocks. But the general themes they have presented are those I find myself in agreement with. Not in every detail, and not always, but for the most part.

As I said, ultimately Christianity must sit in judgment on all political and ideological viewpoints. None can be baptised into the one correct position. But a case can be made that the basic themes of conservatism – the fallen nature of man, the tendency for power to corrupt, the general failings of statism and welfarism, the importance of maintaining justice in a fallen world, and so on – tend to more nicely fit with biblical teaching than does the leftist version of events.

But as noted, Christians can and will agree to disagree on these matters. Christ must be more important to us than our political commitments, but they are nonetheless important. And they can result in some genuine differences of opinion – which is why a lot of debate takes place on this website. But some things are important, and perhaps worth arguing about. So the lively discussions will undoubtedly continue here.

townhall.com/columnists/MikeAdams/2009/05/18/the_nature_of_conservatism?page=1
townhall.com/columnists/BurtPrelutsky/2009/05/11/where_are_liberals_hatched?page=1
www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/how_to_deprogram_a_liberal_in.html

[2142 words]

37 Responses to Liberal or Conservative?

  • Very interesting article Bill. I discovered your blog recently, and I’ve been enjoying it heartily. And I certainly agree with the above. There was one little point though, when you said this:

    “Sure, some Christians such as those in the Anabaptist tradition want absolutely nothing to do with politics, and feel that it is unredeemable and unspiritual.”

    It’s interesting, because in my experience (I actually considered attending an Anabaptist seminary for a short while), the Anabaptists, especially Mennonites (not the conservatives, but the more mainstream ones), tend to be rather liberal politically. Perhaps it’s an American thing, perhaps not. But I think of someone like Ron Sider, a man I respect, even though I disagree with him on a significant number of issues.

    But it’s certainly true that the more conservative Mennonites (and certainly the Amish) are more separatist in how they view politics.

    Steve

  • Thanks Steve

    (I require your full name here.) Yes you are quite right. While Anabaptists are theologically critical of involvement in politics (they tend to argue that church and state should not mix in any way), they nonetheless do often enter the various political debates. In the US as you say, Anabaptist groups such as the Quakers have a long history of tending to side with the left on public issues. Part of this is of course due to their pacifism. As a result, they have frequently protested such things as American foreign policy, the war in Vietnam, nuclear deterrence, and so on. So yes, they have quite often got involved in leftist political activities.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Great post Bill.

    I agree with your sentiments. I think Christianity, if it was most compatible with any political ideology would be the one known as Classical Liberalism, rather than the modern perversion that goes by the name Liberalism. Although AFAICS Classical Liberalism is Modern Conservatism.

    It always bothers me when I see Christians sticking up for the latest trendy Left wing ideas. I guess you can only try to show them the folly of such things.

    BTW the author J.Budziszewski wrote a great book “The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man” that looks at problems with both sides of the political spectrum and the problems and traps they fall into. A must read if you never have.

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Jason

    Yes it is a very good book indeed. All of his books are well worth reading.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Excellent Bill. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party in the UK is billed to head up this year’s London Pride march in London. Doubtless he is oblivious to the fact that he will automatically be alienating himself from not only Christians but other faith groups. Already with the political meltdown in Parliament, of which I am sure the whole world stands in amazement and horror, people are threatening not to vote. This will open the door to the extemists such as the British National Party, the closest thing to Nazism.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Bill I attended a Quaker Meeting for about three years and left because ,although they are very kind and good people, the Christianity of Fox, Penn and John Wilhelm Rowntree is almost gone, replaced by a smorgasboard of spiritual paths and political liberalism. Some of their issues were valid, ie., the plight of the asylum seekers. However from my experience Jesus is just a Shadow in the Australian yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends.
    Wayne Pelling

  • I used to be a member of the ALP but now am a member of the DLP.
    I think that any political party can, and is hijacked by liberalist and secular humanist ideas simply as a result of loss of Christiand belief and faith practice which leads incrementally to acceptance of tertiary education’s control by athiest and secualr humanist ideologies.

    I also believe that some fellow Christians do Christ a great disservice by implying that for one to be a true Christiand one must automatically align oneself with one side of politics.
    Being a member of the ALP or DLP for example in no way impies that one signs on to socialism or secularism anymore than being a Liberal Party or National voter implies that one must somehow go along with being an extreme capistalist. Often it is the leadership and the small controlling groups of only a few hundred souls running the ‘mainstream’ political parties who misrepresent or even override the grass roots members and by extension, the voters.

    Michael Webb

  • Forget “conservatism,” please. It has, operationally, de facto, been Godless and thus irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God they are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    ”[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It .is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

  • Thanks John

    Yes your point is taken, and given what I said in my article, in one sense I certainly agree with you. All the major political parties would of necessity be more or less secular. Only specifically Christian parties can be considered to be otherwise.

    Having said that however, one can still ask if philosophies or policies of parties on the right somewhat more closely reflect biblical concerns. I think that is generally the case, although I acknowledged that many would disagree with me (especially those of the religious left).

    Despite your obvious dislike of the Republican Party, I think it would be hard not to describe your views and your website as being on the conservative end of the spectrum. I am not yet ready to say that there is complete moral equivalence between the Republicans and Democrats, or in the case of my nation (Australia), the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. There are some real differences.

    And for what it is worth, it seems to be the case that there are more biblical Christians in the conservative parties than in the parties on the left, at least here. Of course how much input and influence they can have on the parties is a moot point. And in other articles on this site I argue that on the whole, some key biblical concerns seem to be better represented in the conservative parties here in Australia than in the leftist parties.

    But I understand your frustration with the Republicans. However I am not as cynical and disillusioned yet as you are. Maybe one day I will be. But if a brother asks me what I think about him joining a conservative political party, I will encourage him to do so. But for that matter, in terms of seeking to be salt and light everywhere, I may well encourage a brother to join a liberal party as well, if he feels led in that direction, and see if some Christian influence can be had there.

    But as I said in the article, Christians not only fall along different parts of the political spectrum, but they also differ sharply on more basic issues, such as the role and value of political participation to begin with, and what are the best strategies as far as Christian influence in politics is concerned, and so on.

    But thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • There used to be, and still are, some pro life ALP members of parliament however, some pro life groups play politics at times by telling voters and their own pro life members NOT to vote for ALP people even if they are pro life. In the church that I am a member of, the Catholic Church, our social teaching has always encouraged people to join the political party of their choice especially if it be related to their socio-economic background. I think this is wise because we need Christ and His teachings to permeate both sides of politics.
    I have a personal dislike for the ALP because of its direction which is obviously anti Christian however whenever anyone joins it or is already in parliament and is pro life and votes the right way then I think that is great and to be encouraged.
    The Liberal Party post John Howard is leaning more and more in an anti Chrsitian direction on many issues. Let us remember that Malcolm Turnbull appears to many of us to be unrealistically thinking that all of Australia shares the view of many people in his electorate of Wentworth which is pro gay policy change and pro greenie (ie rich people with too much time on their hands and plenty of time to indulge in cafe latte set ‘thinking’).
    Michael Webb

  • Thanks Michael

    Yes there a number of pro-life MPs in the Labor Party. Most are Catholics. We need more of them. But bear in mind that there still exist big differences between Labor and Liberal on the life issues. The right to abortion is a key Labor Party policy.

    And of course there are very few Christian conservatives who are great fans of Turnbull. We are hoping and praying for better leadership for the Liberal Party.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Well, and thank you, sir, for posting my comment. Allow me, please, to comment on some of what you say:

    YOU: Yes your point is taken, and given what I said in my article, in one sense I certainly agree with you. All the major political parties would of necessity be more or less secular. Only specifically Christian parties can be considered to be otherwise.

    COMMENT: But, why should both parties, necessarily, as you say, be “secular,” when most of the people in those parties claim they are some kind of Christian?

    YOU: Having said that however, one can still ask if philosophies or policies of parties on the right somewhat more closely reflect biblical concerns. I think that is generally the case, although I acknowledged that many would disagree with me (especially those of the religious left).

    COMMENT: Close, as they say, counts only in horseshoes and hand-grenades, not being Christian. And if either party reflects “biblical concerns,” this is purely coincidental, NOT because they are consciously striving to be Biblical Christians.

    YOU: Despite your obvious dislike of the Republican Party, I think it would be hard not to describe your views and your website as being on the conservative end of the spectrum. I am not yet ready to say that there is complete moral equivalence between the Republicans and Democrats, or in the case of my nation (Australia), the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. There are some real differences.

    COMMENT: I challenge you, please, to name such a “real difference,” IN PRINCIPLE, on a major issue of importance. And our site believes conservative-liberal talk is utterly irrelevant, to God and to us.

    YOU: And for what it is worth, it seems to be the case that there are more biblical Christians in the conservative parties than in the parties on the left, at least here.

    COMMENT: But do the conservative parties have a conscious, on-purpose, Biblical agenda? No, not there or here.

    YOU: Of course how much input and influence they can have on the parties is a moot point. And in other articles on this site I argue that on the whole, some key biblical concerns seem to be better represented in the conservative parties here in Australia than in the leftist parties.

    COMMENT: Not advocating mere Biblical representation by some. Christ is Lord over ALL, including politics.

    YOU: But I understand your frustration with the Republicans. However I am not as cynical and disillusioned yet as you are. Maybe one day I will be.

    COMMENT: I am neither a cynic nor disillusioned. I am a CHRISTIAN who understands that the Republican Party, as a Party consisting most of heathens, acts like a heathen party.

    YOU: But if a brother asks me what I think about him joining a conservative political party, I will encourage him to do so. But for that matter, in terms of seeking to be salt and light everywhere, I may well encourage a brother to join a liberal party as well, if he feels led in that direction, and see if some Christian influence can be had there.

    COMMENT: Why would a Christian encourage another Christian to ally himself with, to have fellowship with, non (anti) Christians? To what end? To achieve WHAT? You should read George Gillespie’s “Forbidden Alliances.” As Scripture asks: What does light have to do with dark?

    Answer: Nothing!

    YOU: But as I said in the article, Christians not only fall along different parts of the political spectrum, but they also differ sharply on more basic issues, such as the role and value of political participation to begin with, and what are the best strategies as far as Christian influence in politics is concerned, and so on. But thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    COMMENT: The role of Christians is to preach and apply ALL of God’s Word to ALL areas of life, including politics. THAT should be our “strategy.”

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican

  • Thanks John

    I could easily go blow for blow here with you, but I am not sure what the point would be. Like you, I am a Christian. Like you, I want to see righteousness exalt a nation. But we may have to agree to disagree on some of these matters.

    I do not consider you to be the enemy and you should not consider me to be the enemy. There are plenty of common foes that should unite us and occupy our attention, instead of spending lots of time going after each other.

    But you have your website to push your views, and I have mine. So we will let it go at that. All the best.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Turnbull to me has no substance and seems to be like the worst Liberal/conservative PM this country has ever had – Billy McMahon combined with the nearly worst PM we never got – Andrew Peacock. All style but no substance.
    Wayne Pelling

  • I appreciate your comments Bill and enjoy your articles in News Weekly. Always spot on.
    Just one important point though about the ALP policy on abortion.
    Whenever the Liberal Party wins office at either State or Federal level abortion clinics are never closed; they continue their murderous work. And this is despite the fact that the Libs do not have a formal ‘fatwa’ policy as does the ALP. So I think that this is often used by Liberal blue bloods within my own Church and other denominations who are of the Lib Party persuasion to try and delegitimise the need for working people to join a Party whose aim is to (quite rightly in my opinion) to increase the wages share relative to unconscionable excessive profits.
    Michael Webb

  • Thanks Michael

    Of course to point out that Labor has an official pro-death policy is not to say that the Libs have been perfect on this issue. They often have not been, but it is still significant that they have not made abortion official policy as Labor has.

    And while Labor wages policy may have merit, it does not do very much good for the babies killed by abortion, also part of Labor policy.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Michael Webb, you assert that there are “unconscionable excessive profits”, but on what basis do you make such a claim?

    How would you identify what is “excessive” or “unconscionable”?

    What universal criteria would you apply?

    John Angelico

  • I agree the Coalition parties are pretty weak on the issue of abortion, but credit must be given where it is due. Federally under a Coalition government foreign aid money was specifically excluded from funding abortion (originally thanks to Brian Haradine), whereas under the new Federal Labor government that policy has been reversed. So the fact that the Coalition doesn’t immediately ban abortion as soon as they enter office can hardly be used to draw a moral equivalence between them and the ALP. In Victoria the State Labor government recently totally legalised abortion and other Labor States look set to follow.

    The fact that the ALP has an explicit policy supporting a so called ‘right’ to abortion is a significant point and a good reason why no Christian should vote for an ALP candidate even if that candidate happens to be pro-life. Hypothetically, if Christians voted in sufficient numbers to elect a pro-life ALP candidate and the ALP were to win government by a margin of one and then implement its legalisation of abortion policy, those Christians would look pretty naive.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Hi Bill,

    I may have missed it, but could you please show me where the ALP have officially said or written that abortion is part of their policy? (If this is true, then I would never vote for them again, no matter what else they think about other issues. Christians cannot support killers.)

    And a question for you to ponder (and hopefully give your opinion on): does moral and social conservatism necessarily go hand-in-hand with right-wing economics? (By the same token, does moral and social liberalism necessarily go hand-in-hand with left-wing economics?)

    I suspect many Christians vote for the Right because of issues like pro-life, sexuality, the family, drugs, pornography and so on. These are all moral/social issues where the Bible gives a clear message. However, I would have thought that there are a range of views among Christians on economic policy because the Bible doesn’t give us particularly clear teaching about how we should run a modern economy. For instance, there seem to be quite a number of Christians who would be staunch moral conservatives, yet believe in public ownership, the redistribution of wealth by the state, welfarism, unionism, anti-capitalism, etc.

    Jereth Kok

  • Thanks Jereth

    Unfortunately you have missed something here. This is their position: “Labour will support the rights of women to determine their own reproductive lives, particularly the right to choose appropriate fertility control and abortion” (Principle 21 in Ch 13 of the ALP National Platform and Constitution): http://www.alp.org.au/platform/chapter_13.php#13women_making_equality_real

    Tragically, I wonder how many other Christians who support the Labor Party are aware of this.

    As to your next query, you ask important questions which deserve a proper response. Let me give a quick reply here. One can say that in general the left is characterised as being critical of the free market, and more liberal on moral/social issues, while the right tends to be supportive of the free market and more conservative on moral/social issues.

    But even that needs to be teased out a bit. There can indeed be tensions between conservative social policy on the one hand, and conservative economic policy on the other. That is, conservatives usually want less government interference with the markets and the economy, but are willing to see some government interference and regulation on certain moral and social issues.

    But one subset of conservatism is the libertarians. They want little or no government interference with both economy and social issues. Thus they champion free market economics (as do perhaps most conservatives, to varying degrees), but also take a more radical stance on social and moral issues.

    Perhaps most Republicans in America and Liberals in Australia tend to be both economic free-marketeers and moral conservatives. But not all are. Some as I said want a libertarian position (as little government interference as possible) on all issues across the board.

    Thus a libertarian (the more radical of whom may well move in the direction of the anarchists on the left) may want no regulation of all sorts of things, including abortion, pornography, drugs, and so on. Obviously many conservatives are quite concerned about this, and do believe that government regulation is needed in these areas to protect individuals, families and the community.

    So there can well be tensions amongst conservatives. But very roughly speaking, the match-ups you offer are more or less accurate.

    But I have written this up elsewhere, for example:
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/10/17/faith-and-politics-part-1/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/06/01/christianity-and-partisan-politics/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2000/08/02/the-decline-and-fall-of-liberalism/

    As to your last paragraph, yes quite so. The Bible is pretty clear about things like marriage and family, abortion and so on. But there seems to be some room to move as to how general biblical principles will be applied to economic issues, foreign policy issues, etc. See here for example:
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/11/16/christianity-and-poverty/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/10/06/in-praise-of-wealth-creation/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/12/17/kevin-rudd-christian-socialism-and-the-new-labor-party/

    I hope this helps to answer your questions.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear John, yes I have asserted that there are unconscionalbe excessive profits. Or another descriptor is ‘glorified robbery’. Kinda like some touristy fish restaurants that are glorified fish n’ chip shops.
    I have the banks in mind. Shareholders rule this ntion unfortunately rather than Australian patriotic citizens. I think that profit levels are too low when it comes to many small and medium sized businessess because of larger businesses and the special rules that have been afforded to them over the years as a result of large businesses bribing politicians from both sides through ‘donations’. Professor Frank Zumbo of UNSW and Colin Teese also can tell you about predatory pricing and we all know about exessive cots of cardboard packaging and wrapping etc borne by smaller businesses in the Gvot’s pricing watchdogs investigations in Richard Pratt’s company.
    How would you identify what is “excessive” or “unconscionable”?
    May enterprise agreements and also AWAs and even where there is no workpalce agreement,many workers are receiving very tiny wage increases even in businesses that are swimming in large profits, even in the good times. They tend to pay more when more employees are switched on and prepared to argue back a bi more in demanding justice with their wages and rostered days off etc.

    This situation of higher percentages of increase in profits relative to wage increases began under the Hawke Keating govts, continued on through Howard and continues on under Rudd. At least under the Menzies and Fraser years working people could strile without worrying about personal fines being issued against them as is the case now under the industrial relations laws.
    Bob Menzies, to his credit, actually adopted many of the then ALP’s policies.
    Also excessive profit or robbery occurs through the usual privatisation and excessive job shedding even in the good years before this current economic downturn. The usual stories that the consumer would be better off after privtising third party car insurance, electricity Telecom now Telstra, the list goes on. In all cases we are worse off through higher prices and hence increased profit margins to these big businesses.
    Michael Webb

  • Thanks Bill. Yes there are policy areas left to our prudential judgment which is why I support anyone who is a Christian or anyone who at least shares a natural law position to join the political party of their choice.

    Dear Ewan, Brian Harradine is ‘old Labor’ and maintained his trade union affilaitions through the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council his whole life despite his break from the ALP.
    I’d also like to refute the view that no one can vote for evena candidate who is pro life if that candidate is ALP. If we follow the ‘logic’ here, this would mean that the ALP would remain pro abortion and also would mean that all Chrsitians would only be allowed to vote for the Libs/Nats.
    I suspect that it is more a case of some Christians who are lifelong Lib/Nats not respecting their fellow Christiians who are from a likewise strong Labor background.
    The only thing I would share with a Chrsitian Lib or Nat is that I would never vote for a pro abortion candidate whoever they are and this includes the ALP.
    This is a major reasons why Christians are not re-capturing the culture. If all are told by pastors to only vote Lib or Nat, then this flies in the face of even pre Vatican II era traditionalism which encouraged Christians to take back ( ie fight through the ballot) for representative trade unions and pro life and true pro worker ALP. Hence the DLP eventually which captures the very best of the Labor tradition.
    Michael Webb

  • Thanks Michael

    Yes I mostly am with you on much of what you say, but have a few minor disagreements. I am not aware of anyone who is “told by pastors to only vote Lib or Nat”. But if they do exist, I would then suspect that there would also be some pastors who tell people to only vote Labor. And yes, we should support pro-life MPs of any party. But it gets a bit complicated there.

    Unlike the US, where you can support a candidate of either major party who shares all or most of your views, here it is not so easy. As you know, MPs here are mostly bound by the party, and the caucuses determine policies. MPs do not have the same freedom here as they do in the US to basically go with their own individual leanings and defy the party on a regular basis if need be.

    Here MPs are basically bound to follow the party line or leave. Of course Labor allows an exception – a conscience vote on abortion issues. But on other important issues, the Labor MP is expected to follow the party line, or face the consequences.

    The Libs/Nats allow for a few more options for conscience votes, but otherwise are not much better. Thus both major parties more or less straightjacket Christian MPs or pro-life MPs. That is why some Christians choose to support, or run for, a decidedly Christian Party, such as the CDP, or opt for other smaller parties such as the DLP or FF which more faithfully reflect their values and concerns.

    So all these factors must be kept in mind when Christians vote at each election. There are no easy answers, and each believer must prayerfully and carefully decide what is the right way to vote at various elections, but the above considerations must be kept in mind as they do so.

    Also, as to “some Christians who are lifelong Lib/Nats not respecting their fellow Christiians who are from a likewise strong Labor background”. One could equally express concerns about some Christians who are lifelong Labor people not respecting their fellow Christians who are from a likewise strong Lib/Nats background. It cuts both ways of course.

    But despite so many differences, pro-life Christians of all political stripes certainly should try to work together as much as possible to achieve pro-life outcomes.

    (Hey, here we are talking about two topics which are not supposed to be discussed in polite society: religion and politics! So we are on risky ground here!)

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill,

    Thanks for getting back to me with that link. It is truly alarming that the ALP is now officially pro-abortion. I did use to vote for them, but shifted my voting pattern in recent elections when I became aware of their generally anti-life, anti-family, anti-Christianity views which (in my opinion) are becoming increasingly malignant. Awareness of this official policy re abortion confirms that this was absolutely the correct thing to do.

    I think this fact needs to be announced loudly to Christians. Many Christians in Australia support the ALP because of their views on social justice, and are probably ignorant of their unambiguous pro-abortion stance.

    On the other question of the relationship between moral and economic views…
    I think we agree that there is a strong tendency in contemporary politics (at least in countries like Australia and the US) for moral conservatism to be associated with pro-capitalism on the Right; and moral liberalism to be associated with anti-capitalism on the Left.

    My question is: are these inevitable and necessary associations? Do these associations exist because of some deeper, ideological principles which unite a certain type of morality with a certain type of economics? Or, are the associations merely accidental? (eg. Is the Republican Party in the US just a marriage-of-convenience between evangelical Christians, big business, gun owners and the coal industry, where these groups actually have little in common besides their support for the Republicans?)

    Your observation about Right-wing libertarians suggests an accidental association of values. So does the fact that Roman Catholics have traditionally supported the Labor party.

    The policies of Family First seem to achieve a mixture of traditionally Left and Right values. On moral and social policy they are most definitely conservative. But on economic policy they certainly do not line up with the free marketism and economic rationalism of the Liberal party. They oppose WorkChoices and appear to be broadly in favour of state-sponsored welfare. In addition, they appear to walk a line on the environment and climate (the other big issue of the moment) which appears more Left than Right.

    Your thoughts?

    Jereth Kok

  • Thanks Jereth

    More good questions which really deserve an article-length response. As to the connections and associations, they (moral conservativism and free market economics) to not have to go together. As I say they do tend to go together in the US, partly for ideological reasons.

    But different combinations certainly can and do exist. For example, the late Australian Catholic social thinker B.A. Santamaria was clearly a social, moral and theological conservative, but when it came to economics, he followed in the thinking of people like Belloc and Chesterton. That is, he tended to equally dislike capitalism and socialism.

    Catholic social teaching is quite rich in this whole area, but again, differences emerge. Some Catholics, such as Michael Novak, have been very forthright in defending the free market. But his defence (and that of many conservatives, including myself) is not pushing for a complete laissez faire by any means. He and others call for a humane or moral capitalism.

    And others have also had to try to keep competing voices together if possible. The late American Catholic conservative, William F. Buckley, founded the conservative journal National Review He always had battles on his hands between moral conservatives, radical libertarians, free market supporters, and so on. Keeping them together was not always possible. The point is, conservatism is far from a monolithic movement, and it can take many different forms.

    But I can easily ramble on here. Perhaps one helpful direction might be to steer you to conservapedia: http://www.conservapedia.com/Main_Page

    It features numerous articles on all these sorts of issues, and might be one place to go further with all this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill and other contributors,

    Thanks for your thoughts. This is a very good discussion.
    Bill, I am glad you have offered those distinctions in this discussion re: the various branches of conservative and of Labor thought. And thankyou for providing the differences between Bob Santamaria, Chesterton and Belloc compared to Michael Novak and company. I have been viewing the EWTN network by satellite and agree with and find deep treasures in the ideas of Chesterton as provided by Dale Ahlquist and the American Chesterton Soceity. His material is ‘right up my alley’. I only wish more people tuned into this great treasury of thought !
    I find many of the ideas of Novak, the Acton Institute and Von Mises to be extremely unreal, bizarre and undignified for ordinary people who have life long experiences in workplaces and of the realities of the failure of the past 40 years of neo liberal economics and the unbeleivable demands by some economists that we need to go for even ore privatisations and private equity deals etc. Crazy stuff in my humble opinion.

    I am a very big fan of Bob Santamaria and of Pat Byrne from the NCC and of the DLP comprehensive social conservative side of Labor policies. I find it the most human and true to life common sense way forward on all fronts which have good implications ultimately for re-establishing a better culture here in Australia.

    Bill I take your point about the similar faults from the Labor side of politics. I left the ALP because of these things, so we share much in common.
    I hope that together we all are able to encourage more neighbours and more fellow believers in our parishes from both sides of the political spectrum to bring Gospel principles to the Libs/Nats and the ALP and to the unions and employer groups too. All of these orgs need to function properly and have any of their un-Christian, unjust, unrepresentative and greedy elitist edges removed.
    This would make Australia a better place so that no matter whether someone is a Lib or Nat or Labor voting citizen, that pro life and pro family and just working lives and a better deal for small and medium businesses would be the end result.
    Bill, I will be viewing the links you have provided and appreciate your thoughts here. Glad you mentioned Santamaria and Chesterton- ideas that deserve to be pushed and promoted across all the parties and with unions and employer groups etc.
    Michael Webb

  • Hi Michael, it doesn’t necessarily follow that not voting for pro-life ALP candidates would mean that the ALP would always remain pro-abortion. It is not just the parliamentary party that sets party policy. The rank and file membership does vote on things like policy and the official party platform. I would argue that whilst Christians should not vote for any ALP candidate for as long as the party has a formal pro-abortion policy, that doesn’t stop Christians from joining the party as ordinary branch members and attempting to change the policy from within. (But why would anyone bother given that all the other policies are to some degree or another anti-biblical anyway.)

    I don’t accept any of this talk about Labor being more Christian because of its “social justice” or economic policies. Christians should be concerned about justice but we need to use God’s definition of what constitutes “justice” rather than accept some PC trendy lefty definition. For example, formalising same-sex relationships is not a “justice” issue as the religious left try and tell us, rather it is simply rewarding perversity. In God’s economy, rewarding sinful behaviour can never be thought of as promoting “justice.” That claim is itself perverse.

    Hi Jereth, you are quite right in your observations about Family First and its socialist economic policies. It is deliberately attempting to place itself in the so-called “middle” of the political spectrum, which is absurd considering that the “middle” has been gradually and consistently moving leftward for many years now. The “middle” is not necessarily the right place for Christians to be if it means having to adopt un-biblical positions on a range of issues.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Dear Ewan, the ALP policy sadly reflects what many Australians believe ie the so-called ‘right’ to decide, for women to’choose what they do with their bodies’ and that other furphy of exceptions to the rule ie rape etc etc. I personally oppose abortion at all times and do not accept the poor excuses just listed however, sadly many in the Australian community through our secualr humanist education system and a majority of un-churched students and teachers at that to boot, the ALP is reflecting those bad things. But as Bill has already pointed out the Turnbull crowd in the Liberal Party are not much better. Remember how Tony Abbott when he was health minsiter was outvoted by his own Party and control over the RU486 abortafacient was handed over to the Govt’s Drug Administration and not to Tony. I do not say this to be in opposition to the Libs or to say one side is more Christian than another. I like Tony Abbott’s ideas. Except on industrail realtions and free markets (although with the current world economic meltdown Tony might be having a rethink, I don;t know…but that is another issue and I digress…sorry).
    Ewan, you have a valid point about concerned Christians who are Labor voters getting off their behinds and taking over the ALP branches whilst not voting for any pro choice ALP MP. I agree! Unlike two generations ago when ALP Groupers had more success due to the different world we used to live in a critical mass of citizens actually used to join (and in many cases were already existing members and were socially conservative whilst at the same time working hard as moderate trade unionists etc). Those days, sadly, are gone.

    I support anyone joining the party of their choice if they beleive and do the right thing according to Christ’s teachings. I do however have a strong preference and urge people to join the DLP instead. Strategically, to get elected to Upper Houses at Federal but more particuarly and practically much relatively ‘easier’ into State Parliaments. It is a hrd battle but State Upper Houses’ quotas systems are easier than Federal level.

    One example for you Ewan. If you look at say Greg Donnelly in the NSW Upper House; he is ‘old Labor’ and is not only seen at Australian Family Association functions but is found at many other church functions for pro life, pro natural marriage forums etc and votes the right way to prove his worth. It is good guys like this that we in the DLP support. After all the DLP is really just the old ALP minus the nonsense of political correctness and of far left chaos in the unions. Electorally we would prefer to hold the name ALP but both Parties cannot, hence D-LP.

    ‘Anti-biblical’ can be taken two ways Ewan. It can be and I am sure there are areas we share in common; the term can also be used when making one’s own private interpretation of the Holy Scriptures (often subconsciously) in areas where the Church has often not decided and left up to us to make our prudential judgments on. Of course I agree with you where being ‘biblical’ means relating to non negotiables on doctrine as decided by the Church to which we all must sign on to and where private interpreation plays a neglible part or no part at all depending on the words of definition and the presence of solemn manner and of repetition with which Councils from Jerusalem, Nicea et al to the present day call us to obedience.

    The rank and file of the ALP sadly do NOT count in the estiamtion of the Party leadership Ewan. Example: at the recent NSW ALP State Conference a ratio of 7:1 opposed privatisation of NSW electricity. Guess what Ewan. The then Premier Morris Iemma and most of his Cabinet decided to push it through despite threats fo expulsion from the Party and despite the vote of 7:1 ratio against them. This is how they treat ordinary rank and file. So this sad situation of disdain for ordinary party members- the rank n’ file would occur on many other issues including pro life too.
    The rank and file would also need to speak amongst themselves to find legal means to sack party officials – both parliamentary or adminstration staff who often hold the power on behalf of powerful lobbies to really clean out the Party root and branch. I don’t see this happening but I do wish good guys and gals eg Greg Donnelly and women who refuse to join the Emily’s List (yep there are ALP women who refuse to join them).
    I joined the DLP because it already has a terrific pro Christian heritage and Constitution and set of polciies to match. It is neither of the Right (ie the unprincipled pragmatic right – read unprincipled) nor of the Left (socialist). The DLP avoids such extremes, relying instead on sensible govt intervention based upon solidarity and subsidiarity etc.
    Michael Webb

  • Mention of ALP members of Parliament who are anti-abortion has prompted me to quote my local Federal member James Bidgood who has given me permission to freely relate his story.

    His mother attended an abortion clinic in London when she was pregnant with James but was told that the pregnancy was too far advanced to be aborted (abortionists in those days must have been a little bit less enthusiastic for their work). He was fostered out and reunited with his mother when he was a little older and she was more able to look after him. Not unsurprisingly then that he is anti-abortion. He has stated that he will leave the ALP before he is forced to vote for abortion and will publicly stand against it.

    We should encourage politicians of all ilks to express anti-abortion stances, seek permission to quote them widely and then hold them to it.”

    As above, James has given me permission to relay this story and I will certainly hold him to his commitment publicly.

    Graeme Cumming

  • Thanks Michael, I like the DLP better than Family First, but many of the DLP economic policies are a little too interventionist for me hence my support for the CDP instead.

    I agree that too many Liberal/National MPs (State and Federal) are pseudo-conservatives and yes that was very evident during the debate to legalise the human pesticide RU486. What really needs to happen is for the National Party to amalgamate with the Liberals, and this would maybe then provide the opportunity for a new genuinely conservative party to fill the void left by the once conservative National Party. Kind of like the way the PCA benefited from the formation of the UCA, when the liberals in the former joined the latter leaving the conservatives in the PCA to get on with the job.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Dear Ewan and everyone,
    Boy is this an interesting discussion!

    Yes Ewan, I too do not take Family First seriously. I like the CDP and have been giving it my vote until I discovered that the DLP was still around and at the last Federal election voted DLP in the Senate. I then contacted them and joined. I am an interventionist though. I am however opposed to Rudd’s too huge and misdirected spending. For me the two stimulus handouts to households were far far too big. Also I take parliamentarians seriously and find it most unprofessional of the current ALP Govt to have been so slow in implementing infrastructure spending. Further, I would say that the amount of money they are offering( and begging) both public and private schools to take off their hands is crazy stuff. Cardinal Pell is deeply concerned that they are offering too much money that the Catholic school system doesn’t even need!
    Of course during the Howard years not enough was spent developing infrastructure during the boom. Hence our surplus was too big. Govt , to my way of thinking, is about keeping a tiny bit of surplus but not running up billions in surplus just to boast. In fact much of the surplus we once had until recently was the ill gotten gains of sell offs of government businesses and utilities. They fetched a good price which proves that govt service businesses eg Commonwealth Bank, the old GIO (insurance) in NSW , electricity in Victoria were all great for us when in govt hands. Now base load power, maintenance etc gets run down under private control for profits beyond what the new owners deserve IMHO.

    As for the National Party amalgamting with the Libs for survival, well I think it is a bad thing if the Libs have the upper hand on policy direction. The Nats have gone backwards due to their refusal to listen to rural voters going back many years eg country people wanted Telstra to be fully Govt owned. I agree with the country voters there and that along with many other free market polices of the Libs is why the average National Party voter deserted them for ONE NATION and Pauline Hanson. Ron Boswell needed to listen to Hanson and the majority of rural voters during her time of influence. Boswell and those like him refused and suffered and deserved the loss of voters to Pauline. SO Ewan if the Libs have the upper hand then I’m afraid it is more of the same old/same old ill treatment to be meted out to the poor ol’ rural voters yet again.

    Now remember that before RU486 a few years back teh Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory under Marshall Perrin wanted to introduce euthanasia. It was largely due to Robert Balzola- ALP staffer, Tony Burke ALP MP, John Murphy ALP MP and Kevin Andrews Liberal Party who worked on defeating this proposal.
    One other important point Ewan is that conservatism or more importantly social conservatism is not the the preserve or monopoly of any side of politics. That is a myth to be wary of. Family values, pro life etc is not owned by any one side. I think that the acknowldgment of the dignity of committed Christians who are socially conservative can be found on both sides. It is not their fault that pretend Christians, pagans and other secularists have hijacked the ALP over the years.
    Social conservatism meaning to value and preserve life form womb to tomb, and all the other life and moral issues is held by many a church goer no matter what side of politics they vote for. The trick is get people to either reclaim the Party fo their choice or to offer them something in keeping with what most closely aligns with their views on other issues too. If someone feels comfortable with economic rationalism, privatisation and reducing workers to casual hourly rates and other impoverisment measures and votes ‘conservative’ or Liberal Party for those very reasons to maintain and grow their wealth excessively, they should not play the Christian card and patronise good decent Labor folk that in order to be right with God they should vote for the side that wants to give them a s bad economic deal. Such pretend Christianity is a cousin to the socialist Left and pragmatic ALP Right who give us their pretend ‘social justice Christianity’ which is another form of pretending.

    May we all point out all pretenders as part of improving our culture for Christ. On both sides.
    Michael Webb

  • Brilliant stuff -as always, Bill.

    I try not to ‘gripe’ too often; but one matter that resurfaces as a concern constantly is when people ‘obviously’ filter their faith-based worldview through their potlical allegiances (rather than the other way around). I say ‘obviously’ because, in truth, I think we all inadvertently suffer this malady at some time and in some way.

    I guess it’s a constant reminder that we’re ‘in the world but not of it’ and we need constantly to check ourselves against the truth rather than the program!

    Paul Russell

  • I’m not sure why Michael Webb loves government intervention so much. A privately run company has a genuine incentive to serve its customers with a good product at low prices they are willing to pay. A government bureaucracy serves its own ends and sometimes the ends of the politicians. Why would anyone want to return to the times when it took months to get a new telephone connected, along with a stagnant protectionist and high-tax economy?

    While capitalism is accused of rewarding selfishness, in reality, while capitalists may be selfish, they need to please their fellow man to succeed. The error of the Left is to presume that politicians and bureaucrats are not equally selfish. But their selfishness is not channeled constructively into service of their fellow man. Worse, it’s not just that power corrupts, but it attracts those already corrupted power-hunger.

    It’s already been cited on this site, but here is link to an article on the book Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay Richards and his lecture on the topic. He argues that “third way” advocates don’t really understand economics.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Dear Jonathan

    There is a strong reason why I do not side totally and unconditionally with capitalism. It is because modern capitalism over the last few hundred years is very different to earlier forms of it.
    As for socialism and communism I reject them as far far worse of course. I do not equate them but I do believe in a capitalism that is modified and subordinate to objective moral laws and to the teaching of the sovereignity of Christ the King It is still ‘on the books’ if you like but has been shouted down due to modern forms of ‘social justice’ ( allegedly) hijacking from not only socialists but also from economic and amoral liberalist thought. In other words the inteventionism I have in mind is part of the unfolding 2000 year Church Tradition with especial reference to the pre Vatican II developments from the late 1890s from Pope Leo XIII onwards.
    I actually reject the economics of the bankers and mercantilists and the trading models of post Reformation Holland and Britain. God was dethroned at worst or at ‘best’ quarantined to hearing lip service from the modern nation States by being privatised more and more by the exaggerations in the false holy cow called the ‘separation of Church and State’. Govts and business worked hand in hand to remove Christ as King over them and replaced Him with themselves instead.
    Michael Webb

  • Hi Michael, you’re right that the NP grass roots supporters would’ve preferred Telstra to remain government owned, but when I was active in the NP I generally supported privatisation. Why should the government own and run a service that can be efficiently provided by the private sector? It’s not the biblical model of government to nationalise industries, as far as I’m concerned.

    The issues that upset me the most and ultimately lead to my departure from the NP were the way the Party sold out gun owners to Howard’s draconian sporting-gun bans, and the ambivalence shown toward issues like abortion and the homosexual activist agenda.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Hi Ewan, you said it! The grassroots NP members and more importantly the NP voters desired Telstra to remain in govt hands. Your assertion that it is “not the biblical model” to nationalise is neither true nor false. It is a prudential issue of judgments that nation states make to see what is best for them. Issues like profiteering are also ‘unbliblical’ to borrow your phrase and profiteering occurs under private monopolies and duopolies also. Similar story in banking where private banks arenot properly restrained from their greed nd excess IMHO. There is much on this in Church social teaching that is based on both biblical lessons and the reflection of generations of Christians on this issue.
    I share your view on those moral issues and the guns issue too that you listed however, one must not adopt a stance as did Caiaphas the Chief Priest who rerfused to enter the Praetorium. We must realise that Christians need to engage and tackle ideas in NP forums through being active memebrs, the Libs, the ALP, the CDP, DLP and the rest.
    We Christians are not to be like High Priest Caiaphas. That is not our ‘biblical’ model to borrow your term that is not part of my Tradition.
    Michael Webb

  • Michael: please define “profiteering”. Sounds like another meaningless word from the Left that means whatever they want, like “price gouging”, “predatory pricing”, “fairness” and “social justice”.

    The answer to profiteering is the free market, since profitable industries mean they are supplying what lots of people want, so attract competition. The real unfair monopolistic profiteering comes when the industry allies with government to keep competition out, e.g. by protectionism and regulation.

    Burt Folsom’s books Empire Builders and The Myth of the Robber Barons are most instructive. Folsom points out that many an anti-capitalist “fails to separate market entrepreneurs, who tried to succeed by creating and marketing a superior product at a low cost, and political entrepreneurs, who tried to succeed by using government to give them an advantage.”

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

Leave a Reply