Inequality Is Not Bad

Equality has been in vogue in western nations for many years. It has taken the form of representative democracies during the enlightenment, class warfare under Marxist Communism, women’s suffrage in the United States during the 1920’s, but never before has equality been so emphasized and chanted in popular American culture since the 1960’s civil rights movement. The racial equality fought for during the civil rights movement has now expanded to include economic equality, gender equality, and sexual equality. With such an emphasis on equality, we are taught that everyone who is against equality is a cultural vermin who must be silenced and eradicated. However, equality is not inherently bad.

Economic Inequality

Let’s take economic inequality as an example. Many people think that it is unjust for some people to have a lot of money while others do not. They ask, “Isn’t it unjust that I only have $100 and CEO’s have $100,000,000?” Let’s take it one step further. Is it really unjust for one person to have $10 and another to have $20? Of course not. In either case, both are examples of economic inequality, and if inequality is itself evil, then the second scenario would be just as evil as the first.

This is why inequality is not inherently bad, because if it was, then it would be bad for one person to have more or less money than someone else, no matter what the amount would be. According to this paradigm, the only economically just society would be one where every citizen has the exact same amount of wealth. There couldn’t be any economy at all, since spending money would always result in an unequal distribution of wealth, and hence, economic inequality would still exist. This is what happens to the nations that try to implement communism.

Gender Inequality

This example of gender inequality overlaps with the economic example. It is an often cited statistic that women earn 77% as much money as men, but nearly everyone who cites this statistic misrepresents it. The statistic is from a 2011 Census Bureau report. On page 12, it explains what the 77% ratio means:

“In 2010, the median earnings for men was $47,715 and for women $36,931. In 2010, the female-to-male earnings ratio of full-time, year-round workers was 0.77…”

Whenever this statistic is thrown around, the one citing it always makes it seem as if women are paid less for the same job; they always say that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar men make. However, this just means that women, as a whole, work at lesser paying jobs than men. For example, men are still more likely to become dentists, while women are more likely to become dental assistants. The bare fact that men are more likely to have higher paying jobs has nothing to do with social injustice.

A second example of gender inequality is that women are now more likely to go to a university than men. Oh the horror!

The Real Issue

Examples of inequality can be multiplied, but the real issue is not inequality itself, but the cause of inequality. If the causes of inequality are non coerced voluntary actions of free citizens, there is no problem, but if the causes of inequality are oppressive power structures, then there is a problem.

Suppose, hypothetically, that all of the women that were cited in the Census Bureau report were wives and mothers who freely chose to not pursue higher-paying, stressful careers. Instead, they chose to rely on their husband’s larger salary so that they would be able to focus on being mothers and homekeepers. Suppose also that women are more likely to go to universities because women happen to want to get an education more than men. Would this gender inequality be unjust?

Imagine that all poor people were poor because they chose to work less and are lazy. In contrast, imagine all rich people were rich because they are incredibly skilled and hardworking. Would this economic inequality still be unjust?

Of course not.

Unless we formulate a theory about why these inequalities exist, we cannot draw any ethical conclusions. Of course, it is not true that all women make less money because they want to be mothers, and obviously not all poor people are lazy and not all rich people are hardworking. My point is that it is absurd to assume that all inequalities are ipso facto bad, because the causes of inequalities may differ. In the following paragraphs I will briefly outline two main ideas about the cause of inequality.

1. Neo-Marxism

The reason why many people believe that inequalities are ipso facto bad is because many people, both consciously and unconsciously, submit to a Neo-Marxist perspective. “Marxism” refers to the 19th century thinker Karl Marx, who, along with Friedrich Engels, wrote the Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx believed that all history can be characterized by class struggle, or the constant conflict between the oppressor and the oppressed. “Neo-Marxism”, as opposed to just “Marxism”, refers to the modern appropriation of Marxist economic-political categories into social categories. White, male, Christian, conservatives are now considered the oppressors, while racial minorities, women, and homosexuals are the virtuous oppressed. Because all history is characterized as a struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed, inequality is automatically interpreted as evidence of injustice.

Since Neo-Marxists say that all inequalities are the result of oppressive, sexist, and racist power structures, one’s gain must be another’s loss. The only way to rise in status is to lower the status of someone else. Success is seen as exploitation, and failure is society’s fault, not the individual’s fault. Therefore, prosperity and success – especially the economic success of white males – is seen as evil, while women and racial minorities can always blame other people for their personal failures.

2. Individualism

What I mean by “individualism” is the idea that the individual takes full responsibility for their situation. There are no external factors that hinder free people from becoming successful, so the reason that some are better off than others stems solely from the personal decisions that they have made. Anyone who desires to work hard, and who sets their mind to it, will be able to improve their lot in life.

Inequality is the outworking of the voluntary decisions of free individuals; it is the moral and virtuous conclusion of people’s actions. Inequality is proof that people are punished for bad decisions, and rewarded for good decisions.

The Synthesis

These two perspectives are diametrically opposed. One emphasizes external pressures to the exclusion of individual responsibility, and the other emphasizes individual responsibility to the exclusion of external pressures. Both are wrong. It is an undeniable fact that legislation once existed in the United States that explicitly excluded racial minorities from the same opportunities given to others, proving that external pressures are real. It is also an undeniable fact that the Neo-Marxist paradigm – that all inequalities are caused by external power structures – fails to take account of individual autonomy, and submerges people’s identities into the machine of the societal system. Society cannot possibly condition every individual action, and so Neo-Marxism, as I’ve defined it, is also untenable.

The failure of these two perspectives is that they completely exclude the other. The cause of inequality must be a synthesis between the two. It is caused both by the voluntary decisions of individuals and by preexisting external factors.

One of the mistakes people make is thinking that we must legislate the elimination of all external factors that cause inequality. We must not even attempt to do this, since, as long as people continue to exist, inequalities will continue to exist. Let me clarify what inequalities I am referring to. I do not mean that we shouldn’t eliminate horrendous legislation like racial segregation. Equality before the law is an absolute necessity. Rather, homework shouldn’t stop being assigned to children because some children are bad at it. The army also shouldn’t lower their physical standards to accommodate those with bodily deformities.

Those on the political Left have an inordinate amount of faith in the government’s ability to legislate fairness. However, they often define fairness as stealing people’s money to give to other people who did not work for it. They consider it fair to place higher tax rates on millionaires than the rest of society. They believe that affirmative action is justified; that minorities ought to be favored over non minorities, regardless of personal ability. Ironically, the Leftist supports all of these policies in the name of equality, fairness, and opposing oppressive power structures, but these policies do not support equality at all, but its opposite. These types of policies advocate inequality over equality, collectivist power structures over individualism, and tyranny over freedom. By striving to end injustice, they help to perpetuate injustice.

Conclusion

As long as we continue to exist there will continue to be inequality. Inequality stems from both individual decisions and external factors. Before we can conclude whether or not any particular inequality is bad or not, we must consider its main cause. The fact that women, as a whole, make less money than men is trivial unless it can be demonstrated that women are forced into making less money through external pressures. Having less money than the rich isn’t unjust unless your money was stolen and given to the rich. This is why inequality is not inherently bad, since it is only the conclusion of previous events. It is these previous events that we must examine if we want to be truthful on the issues of equality, fairness, and social justice.

Kim Davis

There has been a lot of press about a Kentucky County clerk, Kim Davis, refusing to give marriage licenses to homosexual couples on September 1st, 2015. She was taken into the custody of U.S. Marshals according to PBS News soon thereafter for refusing to recognize the ruling of the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, where SCOTUS ruled that all states must recognize and uphold same-sex marital unions. Clearly this news story is a divisive issue. People are calling Davis everything from an evil criminal, to the next Rosa Parks.

The main question to all of this is, Was Kim Davis justified in her actions? Within this main question are subsidiary questions that are all related to answering the first one. What constitutes religious liberty? Was the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage justified? What does the U.S. Constitution have to say on the matter? There are so many more questions that could be asked, but most are beyond the scope of this article. I will not focus on all the questions that could be asked, but only on the following.

Can an individual, who represents the state, appeal to their individual liberties of freedom of speech and conscience, as a valid reason to not uphold the laws of the state that their job requires they uphold?

In principle, I would say no. It is invalid for a person to appeal to their individual liberties as a reason to not perform their duty of representing the nation’s laws. In the context of being a county clerk, Davis implicitly and explicitly has agreed to act on behalf of a system which she now disagrees with. The best option she had was to quit her job as a county clerk.

Many clerks have already quit their jobs so that they would not have to violate their conscience by issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Clerks from Arkansas, Tennessee, and New York have lost their jobs over this issue, either because they have quit or because they have been let go for not fulfilling their duties.

Here is an analogy that may be helpful. As a server at a restaurant, I am agreeing to serve guests alcoholic beverages. It would be invalid to appeal to my individual liberties of freedom of speech and conscience to justify my actions to not serve people alcohol. Either I can serve alcohol and keep the job, or I can follow my conscience and quit. Under no circumstances do I get to uphold my individual liberties at the expense of the duties given to me by my employer. While I am representing that restaurant, I have a duty to fulfill the obligations of my job, and if I do not, and if I do not want to, then I ought to leave.

This holds true for Kim Davis’ situation.

How does this story relate to religious liberty in general?

There can be no doubt that religious liberty is in decline and is being replace by, what Al Mohler calls, erotic liberty. The most notorious example of the encroachment of religious liberty in the name of erotic liberty is the Oregon bakers who have been fined over $100,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding. Other examples could be cited like the Boy Scouts of America being sued for not allowing openly homosexual men to be Boy Scout leaders, the CEO of Firefox being forced to resign for supporting Proposition 8 in California, and the cases that Al Mohler lists in his article cited above.

SCOTUS’s ruling on the same-sex marriage case forever exalted and sanctified homosexual relationships in the United States. Not only did many state governments sanctify homosexual relationships before the Supreme Court case, but now the federal government has taken it upon itself to impose its ruling upon all states without distinction, even those states possessing majority population that disagrees with the ruling. Therefore, not only does the Davis situation highlight the issue of individual religious rights, but of state rights as well. If the tenth amendment is going to be continually broken by the federal government, it’s a wonder why we keep it around at all. It says,

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Indeed, it appears that the United States federal government has moved beyond the constitution, treating it as an important historical document that has little bearing on contemporary politics. If the fourteenth amendment can be interpreted to alter the definition of marriage to a definition that it has never been in the history of humanity, then it’s words no longer have to be defined in any meaningful way. The right to “liberty” has been appropriated by a cultural trend in order to create new rights that were never articulated by the constitution. The word has become a vacuous sound in the air in our culture, just like the words “love”, “hate”, “bigotry”, “tolerance”, and “human rights”.

Coming back to Davis herself, although I think that she should no longer work for the state, the issue goes beyond that. Her arrest is outrageous and our government is wicked and corrupt. This particular event once again shows that Christians cannot follow the most fundamental tenets of their faith without fear of governmental coercion. Preachers will have to watch what they say, because something as little as a sermon on Romans 1 will be enough to provoke an arrest warrant for “hate speech”. Already there have been signs of this happening in Texas. These warning signs will become reality in due time, whether it takes a month, year, or generation. Persecution is coming, more than that, it is already here.

Where do we go from here?

The United States is a nation that exalts wickedness and godlessness. Our culture is so far gone and it seems like there is no turning back. What people call “human rights” are tools used to influence others into accepting their ideals. It is not a human right to call marriage the bond between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or three women. These appeals to human rights are absurd and have been stripped of its historical context. Ultimately, in a secular worldview, human rights, liberties, and dignity are granted by the state to its citizens. However, the framers of the constitution did not believe that they were granting these rights to the people through a piece of paper; they believed themselves to be enumerating the natural liberties endowed to them by their Creator, as Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence. Justice Thomas indicates this in his dissent:

“Along the way, [the majority] rejects the idea—captured in our Declaration of Independence—that human dignity is innate and suggests instead that it comes from the Government. This distortion of our Constitution not only ignores the text, it inverts the relationship between the individual and the state in our Republic.”

There is a fundamental cognitive dissonance in the minds of those who believed gay marriage to be a “human right”. These same people believe that these ideals – human rights, liberty, and dignity – come from the government, as Thomas indicates was the position of the majority. If indeed these ideals come from the government and not from nature or God, then to what do they appeal to? Since gay marriage was not a human right before it was granted to them by the government, to what transcendent principle of justice do they have to justify their appeal? They have none. In order to appeal to their human rights they would first need the government to endow them with these rights. This means, before the SCOTUS ruling, same-sex marriage was not a human right. Since it was not a human right before the ruling, homosexual couples, according to most of their own standards, were not treated unjustly as they claim.

This is one of the basic issues that Christians and conservatives must grapple with in the future: The meaning of words and how our political and spiritual opponents abuse them. For example, Justice Thomas also pointed out how the majority opinion redefined liberty: “Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits.” When our opponents own a monopoly on the definitions of words, they will abuse it to our disadvantage. Humans rights, dignity, and liberty now all possess a meaning that is divorced from their historical context. This is disastrous. Instead of “the right to liberty” meaning “freedom from government coercion”, it now means “the right to governmental benefits”. Those that disagree with these special benefits will be coerced by the state into accepting them. So now, “the right to liberty” means the complete opposite. It once meant “freedom from state coercion”, now it means “special benefits, arbitrarily granted by the state, that will be ensured through state coercion, to the expense of those who disagree”. Likewise, “human rights” are no longer innate or endowed to us by our creator, but endowed to us by the state. Since the state grants us our rights and dignity, the state acts as God, for what the state gives the state can take away. In both cases, the original definitions are flipped on their heads and now mean the opposite.

The second issue I will mention is this: As Christians and political conservatives, we must continually reassert our freedom of speech and conscience. Although I believe Kim Davis was misguided for asserting these in the context of her job, she was still unjustly arrested by an evil and coercive governmental system. Our liberties are on the decline, and one way that we can fight against it is to speak up and assert ourselves. Our opponents have already silenced us enough. We must continue the fight to rally publicly for our causes, for our pastors to boldly speak about what scripture teaches regardless of future censorship and prosecution, and to speak our minds openly in public and through social media. They will say that we must be silenced because of “hate speech”. They will call us unloving while simultaneously seeking our arrest. We cannot let them win without an earnest fight.

Kim Davis is another particular example of the macro problems that our nation faces. God-willing, the cry for religious liberty will be able to reverse the trends we see happening. But no matter the outcome, God is in control, God will save his people through the preaching of the Gospel, and the Lord Jesus will return in glory to redeem his people and punish the wicked.

Inalienable Chimp Rights

Recently in the Manhattan Supreme Court, there has been a court case arguing in favor of extending legal personhood to chimpanzees. NPR reports that Stephen Wise, the attorney in favor of the legal personhood of chimpanzees, argues:

“the 8-year-old research chimps at Stony Brook University on Long Island, are ‘autonomous and self-determining beings’ who should be granted a writ of habeas corpus…”

Stephen Wise works on behalf of the Nonhuman Rights Project, which works to “change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere ‘things,’ which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to ‘persons'”. They seek to reform the legal system of the United States to grant legal personhood to animals such as “elephants, dolphins and whales, and all four species of great apes.” In their Q&A section of their website, they explain their criterion for determining which species they are willing to defend:

“Our plaintiffs will be animals for whom there is clear scientific evidence of such complex cognitive abilities as self-awareness and autonomy”

The organization argues that “evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them” to these rights of legal personhood.

Their reasoning for offering these different species legal personhood seems off. For instance, they say that moral standards of our society are changing and therefore we ought to grant legal personhood to animals. Clearly our society’s moral standards have not changed to the point that making these various animal species legal persons is a majority opinion, so which moral standards are they referring to? The existence of an organization that seeks to grant legal personhood to animals is a change from the past, but the bare existence of such an organization does not justify its own claims. An organization seeking to outlaw urinals could also just as easily say that we ought to ban urinals since “evolving standards of morality” dictates that we do. However, whose moral standards, why we ought to change legislation because of these individuals, and why we have a moral obligation to change the status quo to suit the opinions of the majority, are all factors that must be answered. The problem of ethics apart from divine revelation is wholly arbitrary.

A second issue that I want to point out is their second reason, that “scientific discovery…entitle [these animals]” to the legal status of personhood. Unless these scientific discoveries include the discovery that all of these animals are not actually elephants and chimpanzees, but humans, then what scientific discovery can possibly be relevant to the discussion? In order for these discoveries to be relevant to animal rights, one must have a pre-established theory of ethics, which renders the scientific evidence itself useless. There is no valid basis for saying that science has anything to do with ethics or legal theory, but rather these prior philosophical conceptions dictate whether or not we ought to grant legal personhood to animals. Science is irrelevant to the discussion until we have this framework.

Furthermore, science is always tentative. The scientific so-called “knowledge” that we have today will become outdated in the next few decades, perhaps even sooner than that. If there exists a contemporary theory of animal consciousness which provokes individuals like Stephen Wise to contend for animal personhood, those aware of these positions ought to know that theories of animal consciousness change. We cannot ever know if we are correct about our current theories, and so basing an ethical position on these scientific theories means that this ethical theory itself is subject to change. Indeed, this organization possesses the presupposition that morality changes, either changing to accommodate people’s opinions (even though the majority of people disagree with them) or as a result of new scientific evidence. However, to say that morality always changes is itself a moral statement subject to change, thus contradicting itself.

The third issue with the above quotation is that “human experience” also dictates that we must grant legal personhood to these animals. But whose human experience are they talking about? And if intuitive human experience is able to dictate that these animals ought to be granted legal personhood, why would we need new scientific discoveries to supplement our experience? This phrase is meaningless since they have not defined what human experience means, whose experience they are talking about, nor have they justified how these experiences can validly dictate any ethical judgement.

The original idea of natural rights seems to have come from John Locke, or at least was first popularized by Locke in his Two Treatises of Government. A mistake that he made was thinking that rights are natural as opposed to rights coming from God. There is no inherent human dignity nor inherent human rights but rather these come as a result of God’s designation. God is the one who defines these things. No person has the right to do or be anything solely by merit of their being a person. This language of our rights being based upon God is found in the United States’ Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson famously wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Whether or not all or any of America’s founders were truly Christian, they all possessed the same idea that humans are entitled to certain rights as a result of God granting these rights to us.

Since God, the Creator, is the source of our rights, and since God is the one who defines these rights and defines ethics, it is necessary to know how we can know how he defines it. This leads us to the doctrine of revelation found in scripture. God has given his commands and decrees in the books of the Bible. This is how we know that God has created humans to be special, rational, and moral beings. The book of Genesis shows that God created people to be unique, and how God has endowed us with special privileges:

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27)

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:2-6)

God has commanded people to have dominion over the Earth and to subdue it. We may utilize Earth’s resources, whether they be plants, land, or animals, so that we may be stewards of God’s creation. Genesis 1 also states that humans, not animals, were made in God’s image and likeness. Commenting on what it means to be made in God’s image, Vincent Cheung states:

“God created man in his own image. This image does not consist in his body, and not in a non-intellectual ‘spirit,’ as the term is often mistakenly used. Rather, the image of God refers to the rational mind of man, which is very limited compared to the mind of God, but it is nevertheless similarly structured. This not only separates man from the animals, but it also makes possible meaningful and extensive verbal communication between God and man” (Ultimate Questions, 61).

Though the corrupting effects of sin have caused people’s minds to become spiritually darkened, and have also caused physical complications such as mental retardation, being created in the image of God means to possess rationality. As Cheung articulates, our minds, though far more finite than the mind of God, are similarly structured to God’s mind, in that our minds reflect the capacity of complex communication, logic, metaphysical contemplation, etc. Humans contain the innate knowledge of God through the work of the divine logos (reason, wisdom, word), who is Jesus Christ. He is “the light of men” and “The true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:4, 9) and is the cause of our ability to think and reason. In contrast, scripture says that the animals do not have this same capacity. In the context of condemning rebels, apostates, and false teachers, 2 Peter 2:10 calls them “irrational animals, creatures of instinct,” and Jude 1:10 states they are unreasoning animals” who “understand instinctively.” By implication, Peter and Jude are stating that animals are unreasoning and instinctive creatures. They are not made in God’s image and their thought process does not imitate the mind of God.

As for Genesis 9, God states the supremacy of humanity when he says concerning the animals, “Into your hand they are delivered.” The animals are given by God primarily for our use. He commands us as in chapter 1 to have dominion over them. We may use them for a variety of purposes, including for food. However, in the same vein God commands against cruelty in verse 4, where he says, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” This forbids people to eat the creature while they are still alive. Commenting on this verse, John Gill notes:

“or rather it may be rendered, ‘the flesh with its life in its blood’; while there is life in the blood, or while the creature is living; the meaning is, that a creature designed for food should be properly killed, and its blood let out; that it should not be devoured alive…The design of this was to restrain cruelty in men…”

That being said, God prescribed that animals can be lawfully killed and eaten. However, people cannot. God forbids the shedding of man’s blood, which means that he forbids the killing of people. However, obviously the shedding of man’s blood is permitted in the context of war, or in the context of the state authorities enacting the death penalty against a murderer. Contrary to some people’s strange conception of morality that the death penalty is unjust, God prescribes the death penalty for murder, and the reason given is because man is made in God’s image. God has created humans unique, in his own likeness, which is why the murder of an individual created after his image carries such a serious penalty, and is such an affront to God.

It is from Biblical principles such as these where the idea of “the right to life” comes from. There is nothing inherent or natural about it. God has granted me the right to live with reference to other people and that no one has the right to take my life unless I have transgressed the laws of the state, the state being the wielder of the sword of God’s justice. This is why these rights are said to be “endowed by [our] Creator…”

It is ironic, then, that Darwinists and atheists would appropriate the language of “rights” to fit their philosophies, since they are borrowing Christian ideas that are not found in their own worldview. The problem that this poses is that human rights are no longer conceived of as being given and defined by God, but rights are now dictated by the state. Since there is no transcendent Creator who possesses the legitimate authority to define these ethical matters or to impose his law upon creation, laws are no longer conceived of as eternal, but are merely the product of the opinions of the state. Since the state now defines all laws, and since our society no longer believes that we ought to conform to the laws of God, this means that those in authority are permitted to give and take rights from whoever they want, whenever they want. In a democratic society with free elections, this means that legislation generally follows the opinions of the majority. This is why “evolving standards of morality” was cited as a reason to grant these animals legal personhood, since rights are not endowed by a Creator, but by the state, whose policy is in turn derived from majority opinion.

This renders the atheist and Darwinist’s “rights” rhetoric incoherent. Originally, humans rights were thought of as reflecting the law of God as found in scripture. America’s Declaration of Independence itself reasoned that Great Britain no longer had any lawful authority over the colonies because the monarchy of Great Britain infringed upon the rights given to the colonies by their Creator:

“whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e. destructive to upholding the rights of the people that they have been endowed with by their Creator], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

Jefferson reasoned that the colonies had a right to rebel since their rights, given to them by God, had been infringed upon. To what do atheists and Darwinists appeal to? They certainly do not appeal to God. How do they define these rights and know what they are? They cannot argue that rights come from majority opinion or from the state, since nonhuman rights activists and homosexual activists argue in favor of legislation that is opposed to the opinion of the majority and opposed to the legislation of the status quo. Their appeal to these rights seem to be an appeal to some transcendent law, but this would contradict their Darwinism and atheism. They appeal to an abstract, universal principle when their worldview excludes such universal principles. They really have nothing to appeal to other than their opinion. Animals do not have the right to be considered people, since “right” presupposes the decree of God, and God has defined that animals are not people. The only rights that atheist can appeal to are those given to them by the state, but until the state grants them these rights, they have no reason to complain that their rights are being infringed.

I would like to add one more thought. According to the nonhuman rights project’s website:

“Humans are animals; people tend to forget that. Under current law, the only animals recognized as having legal rights are humans.”

They reason that humans are animals like any other animal and therefore other species should be granted rights. However, one may also conclude the opposite. Animals do not have rights, people are animals, and therefore people should not have rights either. Lowering the status of humans to the level of animals does not raise the status of other species; it only lowers our own status. If people are animals and not uniquely distinct from other species, then we have no real reason to cling to our ideas of laws, rights, or dignity. If we are animals, we ought to be consistent and to think of ourselves as animals, which means to give up the idea of human rights. Under this framework, human rights is a fraud. If we do not give up this conception of human and animal rights, then we relegate these matters to the state, to be defined by the state, and turn the state into God, resulting in paganism.

In conclusion, I do not argue in favor of animal cruelty as some would irrationally conclude. In this post I wanted to demonstrate that the concept of rights has been stripped of its original context and is now practically meaningless. It was not my intent to evaluate Stephen Wise’s specific arguments for why animal “autonomy” justifies the legal personhood of animals, or other similar arguments. What I have presented is a reevaluation of how we define rights and and how to apply its historical significance to the discussion of contemporary issues. We must demand what people mean when they say that a human or animal has the right to do or be something. Chances are they either have no clue what they mean, or they are appropriating Christian philosophical concepts to support an ungodly agenda. The latter is certainly true in the case of homosexuals who call their strivings for gay marriage the Human Rights Campaign, whereas the Nonhuman Rights Project is less harmful oddity.

Baltimore Riots

The Protests

It is unfortunate that violence has broken out in the city of Baltimore last month in April 2015. In moments like these I have a tendency to completely disregard the protestors in light of the violence, property damage, and looting that takes place in these situations. Any valid protests or demonstrations that could have taken place regarding the issues of racism, institutionalized economic disparity, and general social injustice have now been completely drowned out by hooligans that prefer to break the law and attack the police. I do not doubt that there are valid problems that must be addressed in some way, but these situations seem to always be appropriated by Leftist revolutionaries who wish to cause destruction.

The “Evil System” Rhetoric

1. Freddie Gray

I had the displeasure of watching these revolutionaries being informally interviewed on Fox News yesterday (4/30). Unfortunately I cannot find the specific video clips, so I cannot cite them quite yet, but the general attitude of these protestors and interviewees was that they were protesting against an evil system in light of the death of Freddie Gray. They did not seem to particularly care about Gray himself, but used his death as a means to announce their message that the government is corrupt, the police are corrupt, and that “the system” is corrupt. They use particular examples of injustice as a justification for their assertion that the entire ill-defined “system” is unjust. Thus, this particular event enables them to exercise their anger against a faceless enemy which they hold responsible for their unhappy lives, as Nick Mosby commented:

“It has nothing to do with West Baltimore or this particular corner of Baltimore…What it is, is young folks of the community showing decades old anger, frustration, for a system that’s failed them…It’s bigger than Freddie Gray. This is about the social economic of poor urban America.”

Since the entire nebulous “system” is unjust, the protestors see their sporadic and criminal behavior as justified. Thus, they use this Freddie Gray situation as an excuse to lash out and attack other people.

2. Michael Brown

This same “evil system” rhetoric was used by Dr. Cornell West and Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou in Ferguson, where Sekou stated:

“Again, our attack is not on individual police, it’s not simply about a few bad apples, but it is about an evil system…

As a side note, Dr. West also commented:

“It’s ironic, I find it, that me and Brother Sekou were arrested but the police who killed precious Michael Brown still [are] not arrested…What’s going on?”

In response, the reason for this may have something to do with the fact that Dr. West was trying to get arrested (he was reported as saying “I came here to go to jail,”) and maybe Darren Wilson was not arrested because he shot in self-defense. David Horowitz’s comments on Dr. Cornell West are especially amusing in light of West’s martyr mentality in Ferguson:

Dr. West is “absurd in his stumbling efforts to impersonate an intellectual and to wear the mantle of a prophet of social change” (Horowitz 126).

3. Other Examples

I will not systematically examine all of the different examples that we have been given in the past few years, but I will list some of the most notable: Trayvon Martin, Michael Slager, Eric Garner, and a year and a half ago in my home town of Santa Rosa California, Andy Lopez. Each of these cases (which range from self-defense to cold blooded murder) have been generalized to fit into a paradigm that “the system” is wicked and corrupt.

Although I cannot document this particular event, I attended an Andy Lopez protest in October 2013 for my Sociology class. At this rally people arrived with signs calling Andy’s shooter a racist, a member of the communist party stated that Andy’s death was an example of our “evil capitalist system,” and a black rapper was given time to insult white people and the police with his rap song. Here’s a sign at one of the Andy Lopez protests which continues the theme of attributing these particular events to a general system of injustice. It reads:

“NO MORE POLICE MURDERS..THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY

Is “The System” In Baltimore Responsible For Freddie Gray’s Death?

In response to the presentation above, I can imagine that someone may object, “Doesn’t the fact that there are so many examples of black deaths in the hands of the police demonstrate that there is a systemic problem in the United States?” No, because there are statistically just as many white deaths at the hands of the police as there are black deaths. In a Washington Times article called “Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage,” Valerie Rishardson reports on how black fatalities at the hands of the police are not statistically unique in the United States:

“Adjusted for the homicide rate, whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police…Adjusted for the racial disparity at which police are feloniously killed, whites are 1.3 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police.”

Of course, the research is incomplete, but this article is a great example of the hypocrisy of the Ferguson and Baltimore protestors. By fixating upon black people and the problem of racism in the United States, the protestors exclude all other races from their concern. Why is there not just as much outrage for Gilbert Collar’s death as there is for Michael Brown and Freddie Gray? It’s because Gilbert Collar was not black. While holding up signs that say “Black Lives Matter,” they simultaneously admit that they do not give two cents about white people, Asians, whites, or anyone else. Those who accuse the system of racism simultaneously help to inspire it by not being equally outraged at the deaths of whites, Asians, etc.

Another reason why Freddie Gray’s death is not evidence of systemic racial oppression in Baltimore can be found by appeal to demographic statistics. 63% of Baltimore’s population is black. Although Gorman somehow exaggerates that there is heavy racial disparity in the police department, nearly half of the police department is black. The mayor of Baltimore (Stephanie Rawlings-Blake) is black. Baltimore’s police commissioner (Anthony Batts) is black. Three of the six police officers that have been prosecuted for Freddie Gray’s death are black. How can any of the Baltimore protestors, Minneapolis student protestors, or the rest of the Baltimore protestor supporters across the United States stupidly chant “Black Lives Matter” and attack the “evil system” of Baltimore when race obviously has nothing to do with the issue? And if institutionalized racism is not the issue, then what “evil system” are the protestors in Baltimore referring to? If the Washington Times recently reports on a study which says that police kill more whites than blacks, if those involved in Baltimore’s city government and those involved in the Freddie Gray incident are black, than why are so many racializing the issue and attributing the blame to some ethereal system of social injustice?

Leftist Psychology

In order to understand the mindset of these Leftist protestors in Baltimore, I would like to make two distinctions. One explanation revolves around the emotional needs of these individuals. The second explanation has to do with far-Left political theory. These two explanations are not mutually exclusive and neither do both apply to every single person. These do not apply to every situation, nor do they exhaust all explanations, but generally speaking this analysis will help to explain the mindset and actions of the protestors in Baltimore, and likewise those who support the Baltimore protestors across the United States.

1. Emotional Needs

As I alluded to earlier, most of these protestors do not actually care about black people, but use these situations as an excuse to cause destruction and provoke hostility towards the police. By blaming an ethereal, undefinable system of injustice for their problems, these people are able to justify themselves when they expend their anger upon nothing in particular. This is also why many across the nation see rioters as inspirational, because the rioters are regarded as champions of social justice who protest against an evil system, even though the rioters are merely opportunists who take delight in destroying their own communities. The Leftist rhetoric hinges upon the existence of this “evil system,” since without it, these people would not be able to give themselves an excuse for their ridiculous, hostile, and illegal actions. The “evil system” is always described in abstract terms, since in reality, this ethereal entity (at least in the case of Baltimore) does not exist. Even if this evil system did exist, it would not be the main cause of these protests, since the main cause of the protests are for these people to satisfy their emotional needs.

Ted Kaczynski, although a murderer, was also an educated Harvard mathematician and a social critic. In his manifesto, he describes this Leftist phenomenon that I have summarized above:

“Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by moral principle…But compassion and moral principle cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help…Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred” (21).

If the protestors cared about black lives, then they would not attack local businesses, they would not attack the police, they would not be so hostile. Whether the protestors realize it or not, they are exploiting this situation in order to exercise their anger, and also exploiting the situation for, as Kaczynski adds, their “frustrated need for power.”

2. The Utopian Vision

In addition to the individual, emotional explanation for these protests, the reason for these protests are also rooted in a general and methodical political theory. By blaming “the system” for these problems, the protestors not only give a convenient label to this made-up source of their indignation, but this label also serves to justify social and political revolution. Here, it becomes more obvious why I call these people “Leftists,” since all far-Leftists agree that the only solution to the problems of racism, economic disparity, and all of our other problems in the United States is the complete overthrow of the current socio-economic system and the establishment of a new one. I will not describe in detail the various alternate systems that have been considered, but these new systems usually take the form of communism, Marxism, and socialism, with every subtle distinction in between. It will be easier to lump all of these revolutionary political systems into a single category, which has been labeled by myself and others as the “utopian vision.” This new system will be the solution to all of our problems. Thus, this paradigm is labeled as the “utopian vision,” since this radical project is nothing short of the attempt to establish a heaven on earth, an ideal society, a utopia:

“Just like religious folk, the [Leftist] believer espouses a faith, but his is a secular one. He too searches for personal redemption – but of an earthly variety…Socialism’s utopian vision includes a fall from an ideal collective brotherhood, followed by a journey through a valley of oppression and injustice, and then ultimately a road toward redemption” (Glazov 6-7).

However, in order to establish this utopia and to achieve this redemption, we must destroy the status quo:

“In his own mind the radical is building his own kingdom of heaven on earth. But since a kingdom of heaven built by human beings is an impossible dream, the radical’s real world efforts are directed to subverting and destroying the society he lives in” (Horowitz 182).

Therefore, it is abundantly clear where the second source of the Leftist’s hostility and rioting come from. For those who do not fall under the first category (emotional needs), there remains an organized effort to undermine our social, political, and economic systems for the sake of revolution in pursuit of an unattainable future ideal. For instance, Carl Dix, the president of the communist party in the United States, has used Freddie Gray as an example of our need for a revolution, saying:

“Freddie is another Black man whose life was stolen by the police. This is a horror that has been going on for decades and is intensifying today. It is a concentration of the slow genocide being enforced on Black and Latino people by this capitalist/imperialist system. It will take revolution, nothing less, to end this, and all the other horrors this system forces humanity to endure.”

It’s ironic that the communist mentions genocide, since many of these type of revolutions end up resulting in genocide, but I digress. Elsewhere it has been suggested that the communist party has used the death of Freddie Gray as a platform to preach revolution in Baltimore itself. The communist party in the U.S. has been known for exploiting these situations in an attempt to cause political instability, ultimately to inspire revolution. I personally saw members of the communist party in Santa Rosa for the Andy Lopez protests, and personally heard some idiot assert that Andy’s death was caused by the evil capitalist system, and not because Andy was holding a toy gun in front of police officers that looked like a fully automatic weapon.

Revolutionaries and Leftists use the topic of racism as a platform to support their radical theories. The only hope of fulfilling their political agendas is by removing our current systems and hence their constant hostility against our current government, police, and other institutions. Only through a methodical effort of destruction and propaganda can these revolutionaries have any hope of making progress. Therefore they generalize Freddie Gray’s death, attributing the blame of his death to the institutions and systems that they want to see destroyed. All of this is done with a Machiavellian flavor of deception, and the-end-justifies-the-means rhetoric, as David Horowitz, quoting Saul Alinsky, has explained:

“‘The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.’ In other words, the cause of a political action – whether civil rights or women’s rights – is never the real cause; women, blacks, and other ‘victims’ are only instruments in the larger cause, which is power” (Horowitz 177).

This power is needed to establish the utopian vision, and if racializing the death of Freddie Gray helps to give these Leftists more power by causing social and political unrest, then they will racialize his death, generalize Gray to fit into their narrative of how evil our current system is, and shamelessly call you a racist for having the good sense to see that Freddie Gray’s death was an isolated case that reveals little to nothing about our “evil system” within the United States.

They Only Have Themselves To Blame

Even if there was some evil system in Baltimore which systemically causes these deaths, it is hilarious that most of the people who have been taken captive by this rhetoric are doubtlessly anti conservatives and registered Democrats. Baltimore has not had a Republican Mayor since 1967. Once again, blacks are the majority in Baltimore, and therefore compose most of the city government. 87.4% of Baltimore voted for Obama in 2012. The vast majority of the citizens in Baltimore are Democrats. If there’s an evil system brewing within Baltimore, the protestors only have black people and Democrats to blame, and therefore maybe they should elect a Republican mayor. If indeed the protestors want to blame an ethereal system for Gray’s death, they will have to blame the Democratic party; they would have to blame the system that they created themselves. However, blaming Gray’s death on a “system” rather than the negligence of six people is utterly devoid of rationality.

Conclusion

The idea that Baltimore’s riots are in response to race hatred and that Freddie Gray died because of an evil system is absurd. None of this means that I am implying that there are no systemic problems whatsoever, only that the protestors are using the “evil system” rhetoric as an excuse to destroy their communities. Freddie Gray’s death was not racially motivated. The protestors who want to say that Gray’s death was the result of some evil system which oppresses black people are either ignorant, using this as an excuse to vent their preexisting frustrations about their lives, or exploiting his death in order to preach political revolution. Ironically, if indeed Baltimore has an evil system, we could blame it mostly on black people and Democrats. I hope that Baltimore will be able to recover from this situation and that justice may be administered.

Works Cited:

Glazov, Jamie. United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror. New
York: WND, 2009. Print.

Horowitz, David. Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passions. Washington DC:
Regnery, 2012. Print.

Follow Your Heart

The two remarks that you should “follow your heart” and “be yourself” saturate American culture. They are found in thousands of popular songs (a sample of which can be found here), their sentiment can be found in many movies, and are virtually always accepted without question in common public discourse. These phrases and those similar to them (“be true to yourself,” etc.) have been hijacked by cultural Leftists in their rhetoric to support sexual perversity, whether it be homosexuality, lesbianism, pansexuality, transsexuality, or pedophilia. These aberrant behaviors are now being justified by their advocates in many ways, including the appeal that all of these people are merely being themselves; these actions are a part of the identity of the sexual pervert. Since following your heart and being yourself is the ultimate good, engaging in all types of unrestrained sexual behavior is not only permissible, but a moral good, since these actions supposedly compose the very identity of those who engage in them. (As a disclaimer, other behaviors could be cited, but I am using alternate sexualities in order to give specific examples of the outworking of these foundational cultural principles, and because of how prevalent these topics are in our nation).

Implications

Following your heart is now the ultimate good within popular western culture, and therefore self-control and altering one’s behavior is seen as not being true to one’s self. Not being true to one’s self is the only remaining cultural taboo. Clearly this has implications for parenting, since there are many parents who now view disciplining their children as a draconian mechanism that leads to the suppression of their child’s unique individuality. I once sat next to a woman in psychology class at my local Junior College who vocalized her intentions of being a non judgmental parent, like the parents in Canada who decided to raise their children without reference to their children’s gender. Evidently this woman and the Canadian parents desire to allow their children to decide for themselves what gender they want to be, even though their gender has already been dictated to them by God (or by “biology,” or “nature,” if you prefer those concepts).

Therefore, one of the more extreme implications of this common cultural principle of following your heart is not only a lack of parenting skills, disobedient children who exhibit inappropriate behavior, but also a possible outcome is the encouragement of gender reassignment surgery and gender confusion within children. Of course, gender reassignment surgery is a white-washed version of surgically mutilating perfectly healthy genitalia. Entire documentaries have been produced by cultural Leftists which suggest that these surgeries solve the problem of gender confusion within adolescents; Jazz Jennings is a poster child for this position. Jazz and his family’s decision to allow him to pretend to be a girl is portrayed as exciting and inspirational, since once again, popular culture no longer possesses any values other than following your heart. If a child chooses to define themselves as a gender contrary to their biological sex, then they should be encouraged to follow their heart, which in this instance results in a child becoming transgendered. Jazz’s transgendered identity is seen as strong, courageous, and inspirational, since Jazz was “being himself” when he decided that he was a girl.

Consequences For Those Who Disagree

Popular culture, as dictated by the mass media in Hollywood movies, popular television shows, the music industry, and news organizations, i.e. psychological Leftist propaganda, have made it a cultural sin to merely disagree with their positions, agendas, and proposed governmental legislation. Anyone who believes that these alternate sexualities are perverse and evil are immediately shunned. Not only that, but those who do not positively celebrate these actions are immediately vilified and opposed without a second thought. An example of this is the Leftist outcry that came after the suicide of Joshua Alcorn. Everyone on the Left blamed Alcorn’s parents for his suicide, since this teenage boy wanted to mutilate his genitalia in order to pretend to be a girl. Rather than following the emotional whims of a psychologically unstable adolescent, Alcorn’s parents sought to help Joshua not by mutilating his penis, but by seeking the advice of psychological professionals and the help of their local church community. This was a completely unacceptable response according to people like Dan Savage, who immediately called for the legal prosecution of Alcorn’s parents in light of Joshua’s suicide. In essence, Savage calls for the imprisonment of parents who refuse to pay for genital-mutilating surgery, but who rather prefer to seek the counsel of professional psychologists and close friends to address their adolescent’s problems.

Those who have a similar mindset to Savage possess this mindset in part because of the culture cliche, “follow your heart” and “be yourself.” Savage makes a career in part by encouraging adolescents to engage in sexual perversity and to make life choices which involve rebelling against their parents and their biological sex. These actions ought to be encouraged, because they have been appropriated to fulfill our culture’s moral standards to “be yourself.” Individuality ought to be praised, uniqueness ought to be praised, and therefore a young man who wants to be a girl has the right to become a girl. Even though it was impossible, Joshua Alcorn decided to define himself in terms of being a woman, and therefore any actions taken to achieve this unattainable goal – including expensive genital mutilating surgery that doesn’t actually make him a woman – is praiseworthy. Since his parents did not support Joshua’s impossible desires, cultural Leftists perceive them as moral monsters.

Practical Results

These people conveniently ignore the fact that these alternate sexualities are, practically speaking, detrimental. Since cultural Leftists possess no transcendent values of morality in God or some other principle, they are commonly unmoved, and even smirk, when these actions are called immoral by their opponents. To their mind, moral judgments are themselves evil merely by merit of the fact that they are definitive judgments (see section “The Inability To Make Correct Judgements Is A Moral Imperative” in The Plague of Cultural Relativism). Anyone who stands outside of the morally subjective framework of “follow your heart” need not be listened to, since cultural Leftists view all other principles of morality to be irrelevant. Therefore, cultural leftists have absolutely no external appeal to morality other than their own self-contradictory, relativistic, (im)moral framework. However, morality aside, most people give ear to the practical implications of their actions. It is often useless to oppose these aberrant sexual behaviors by appeal to God’s law and divine judgment (though both are completely true and valid) if one wants to make an immediate impact upon the attitude of the cultural Leftist. The cultural Leftist may mock God, but they will likely be attentive if they discover that their actions have a practically detrimental outcome, such as death and suffering. Therefore, I want to briefly give a pragmatic justification for opposing these alternate sexualities, and for opposing the original principle from which they are derived.

In a 30 year study conducted in Sweden, researchers discovered that sex reassignment surgery is more likely to increase problems in the patient than otherwise:

“Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.”

The problem is primarily psychological. Everyone born in a male body who wants to be a female, and who is born a female and wants to be a male, by definition, are victims of psychological problems. Surgery does not fix these mental issues for most individuals, but can even increase the likelihood of suicide in comparison to the general population.

As for homosexuality, there are studies and statistics that indicate the destructive nature of homosexuality. A study done in Canada concluded that the average life expectancy among practicing homosexuals is significantly lower than the general population:

“In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has gathered similar data in regards to the risk of HIV and disease. Homosexuals are a minority of the citizens in the United States, yet the vast majority of new HIV infections are among homosexuals:

“In 2013, in the United States, gay and bisexual men accounted for 81% (30,689) of the 37,887 estimated HIV diagnoses among all males aged 13 years and older and 65% of the 47,352 estimated diagnoses among all persons receiving an HIV diagnosis that year.”

These are clearly not an exhaustive account of all of the research done in these fields, and there are those who would immediately cite some other random study in defense, but at the very least these findings should spur the supporters of alternate sexualities to reanalyze their encouragement of the actions that lead to these outcomes. Since abstract morality is not an issue for cultural Leftists, at the very least these practical implications should be considered.

Double Standard

All of this leads me to my main observation: it is only culturally acceptable to follow your heart, if by following your heart, you are submitting to culturally Leftist ideology. There is a hopeless contradiction that stems from this basic principle. Conservatives, Christians, or just people that are not blatantly celebrating core aspects of cultural Leftist ideology, are immediately attacked. Those on the Left who follow this principle of being true to one’s self do not extend this same acceptance to anyone else. This inconsistency of thought has been a joke among conservative circles for years. The ones who claim to be the most tolerant are really only tolerant of their perspective, yet they get away with accusing others of being intolerant for merely disagreeing with them. They propagate the relativistic principle of following your heart in order to justify their actions and their policies and their social values, but the same relativism does not extend to cultural conservatives. It is inspirational if feminist and homosexual protestors curse, strip naked, and rail against their opposers, but Christian street preaching ought to be considered hate speech and punishable by imprisonment. To these ideological totalitarians, supporting militant jihad and genocidal terrorist organizations is fine, but supporting Israel is abomination.

These common notions that are found in American culture are self contradictory and continuously highjacked by the Left. The inconsistent application of these mores often go unnoticed. If Lady Gaga is correct when she claims that homosexuals are Born This Way,” and therefore their actions are justified, why couldn’t this be applied to, say, racists? Terrorists? Rapists? Pedophiles? It is because there is no consistency to this irrational system. If she and all cultural Leftists followed these ideas to their logical conclusion, then literally every behavior would be justified, including those behaviors which they hate. As long as somebody makes a certain aspect of their behavior equivalent to their identity as a person, cultural Leftists have no real reason to object to anyone else, given their paradigm. However, attacking others for following their own hearts, ideas, and opinions is the only thing that they seem to do.

Conservatism By Contrast

I use the term “conservative” as an extremely broad, catch-all word which describes everyone that is not trapped by the mindset that I depicted above. This does not relate specifically to politics or social issues, but everyone that does not have a hopelessly contradictory interpretive moral and dialectical framework. For conservatives, we strive to evaluate actions and events in order to support what we deem good and denounce what we deem evil. For our opponents, categories of good and evil no longer exist; the only evil is opposing their subjectivist notions (follow your heart), but opposing the notions as they define it. They pretend to be accepting, tolerant, and relative, when in reality they are cultural totalitarians. Their relativistic moral framework is not truly relativistic, but is in reality a positively dogmatic position which leaves no room for opposition or dialogue. This faux relativism is encouraged by the unspoken ideology of “political correctness” which causes this limitation of dialogue. To go against faux culturally Leftist relativism is to say that someone is wrong, and to say that someone is wrong goes against the dogma of political correctness. However, to say that someone is wrong for saying that someone is wrong is perfectly acceptable, since it is indeed wrong, given their self contradictory mindset, to contradict their faux relativistic and “politically correct” dialectical framework. Since this is the culturally Leftist paradigm, all other perspectives are ipso facto wrong, evil, and irrelevant. It is an a priori principle that renders all other concepts outside of the boundaries of this Leftist framework wrong by merit of the fact that it contradicts the framework.

Conservatism contradicts this framework, and is therefore seen by cultural Leftists as evil. In contrast, we do not say that others are wrong by merit of the fact that they contradict an unspoken cultural assumption. Conservatives say that their opponents are wrong because of real world issues. We prefer to speak openly about issues, to criticize, to evaluate real ideas. We say up is up, down is down, wrong is wrong, and right is right, without having to worry about whether or not somebody is offended by us claiming that we are right and other people are wrong. We give reasons for our positions instead of only attacking others who disagree with us. We do not pretend to be accepting of other people’s perspectives when we consider them evil, whereas cultural Leftists deceptively pretend to be open an accepting, when in reality they are only accepting of those who agree with them.

Conclusion

Following your heart is a fascinating example of the internal contradiction in the thinking of our American culture in general. This post has been a brief analysis of how these types of sentiments have been appropriated by cultural Leftists to defend and advocate behaviors that are pragmatically and morally indefensible. The scary part is how quickly my generation is eating this nonsense up. When people, from any perspective, are not able to think rationally, and not able to see the logical conclusion of their basic principles, people began basing entire ideologies upon a self contradictory foundation. This is just one example of how unspoken cultural assumptions are able to impact public dialogue and policy. “Follow your heart” is just a single example of a wider cultural framework that dominates our thinking in the United States, and most likely in western culture as a whole. Once we start to evaluate these types of cultural assumptions and see how they are utilized by various individuals and ideological organizations, we will have a better perspective of the world that we live in. I propose that those who wish to oppose these types of dialectical and moral frameworks ought to point out its self contradiction, to oppose it with perseverance, and to replace it with new ones.

Paganism and Totalitarianism

Introduction

In this post I want to summarize one of the key ideas of John W. Robbin’s essay Christ and Civilization. His general thesis is that western civilization finds its roots in the Protestant Reformation which began in the 16th century. Robbins insists that the foundation of all western political, social, and economic ideals and liberties stem from the revival of the preaching of the true Gospel during the Christian Reformation; it was not built upon the ideals of ancient Greece and Rome, and certainly not upon Roman Catholicism. Not only are these three inimical to economic, social, and political freedoms, but they also enforce a mandatory State religion in order to coerce the masses. My goal for this post is not to analyze Robbins’ positive thesis about the basis of western civilization, but to discuss the correlation he draws between the pagan religion of ancient empires, and totalitarianism, drawing from examples that Robbins lists in his essay, from the Bible, and from my general knowledge. Afterwards, I will explore the implications that these conclusions have upon the modern world.

Paganism and Totalitarianism

In order to begin, I have to define some of the terms that I will be using. When discussing “paganism” I define it generally as a religious worldview and practice involving some of these characteristics: polytheism, divination, astrology, magic, relics, holy shrines, sex worship, incantations, bowing before statues, and worship of the dead (Robbins 9). The term is fairly self-explanatory. It encompasses virtually all polytheistic religions in the ancient world.

What I mean by “totalitarianism” should be obvious too; it is the complete dominance of the State in every aspect of the lives of its citizens, including social and religious, economic, and political. Totalitarianism equals the exclusion of all significant civil liberties by the ruling governmental authority.

The Unifying Characteristic

Many non Christian political perspectives devolve into totalitarian schemes, but the superstition and error of pagan beliefs are especially susceptible to it. There are many other unsavory implications of pagan culture that Robbins mentions such as radical sexual perversion (8), forced collectivism (10), constant warfare (14-15), social inequality (16), weak work ethic (17), infanticide (19), glorification of death in general and suicide in particular (20-21), and State imposed religion (13).

The common characteristic of all of the systems of government that I will present in this post is the unification of religion and governmental authority, i.e. State imposed religion. In these ancient nations, there is no conception of the separation of Church and State, so to speak. Many pagan forms of government have this in common: “The worship of the State, in the person of the divine Emperor” (14) and “that worshiping the Emperor is the way to avoid punishment” (13). The beliefs and practices of the following ancient civilizations lead each of them to centralize the political power into a single ruler, who then becomes a god in their eyes. Thus, these religions and other belief systems hostile to Christianity have a tendency to reject the true and living God, and replace him with the idol of the State in the person of the Emperor.

I will present three examples that I have come up with on my own, and the three examples that Robbins gives in his essay. Afterwards, I will analyze these findings in the context of our contemporary culture.

1. Ancient Egypt

A lecture by Dr. Greg Bahnsen explains that the Egyptian Pharaoh was reverenced as the sun god. On top of this, from a basic Google search it is clear that not only is Pharaoh “a representative of the divine,” but also “the chief arbiter over all humans.

In another place it says “The Pharaoh was not only a god-king but was responsible for holding the balance of [the universal order].” Pharaoh was the head of Egyptian religion and politics: “He encompassed both the secular and sacred which to Egyptians were one and the same.

With no basic distinction between political and religious issues, the ancient Egyptians created a leader that combined the two authorities. Pharaoh became the representative of the sun god, and religious reverence to him was necessary for the existing governmental structures and societal unity. As a result, the Pharaoh became the ultimate authority, dominating all aspects of life.

2. Ancient Babylon

The Biblical account is a rich source of information that bears witness to the same Emperor worship that Robbins indicates in his essay. The prophet Daniel gives an account of the mandatory religious adherence to the pagan religion of the State and the worship of the Emperor in ancient Babylon. We can see that State religion and totalitarianism is inseparable from these advanced, ancient cultures.

Daniel’s experience in Babylon:

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather…all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up…And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, ‘You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:1-6).

3. Ancient Persia

In the same book of the Bible, Daniel gives an account of the mandatory State worship in Persia:

“Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, ‘O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes a petition to any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions’” (Daniel 6:6-8).

4. Ancient Greece

The previous three examples I came up with on my own, but these next three are mentioned in Robbins’ essay Christ and Civilization in detail. Robbins says the following about ancient Greece and Rome:

“Greece and Rome were not secular societies; they were drenched in religion. There was then no significant distinction between sacred and secular…” (8).

“Both the Greek poleis and the Roman Empire were totalitarian church-states” (12).

Although the Greeks may have differed with respect to their leaders being the focal point of religious worship, ancient Greece, like the rest, were opponents of freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Ancient Greece, although often touted as a beacon of democratic freedom and a significant source of American political ideals, was responsible for exercising coercion over the citizens of each city-state to practice the State religion, in order to maintain and expand the power of its rulers.

A. Socrates’ Trial and Death

Robbins tells us, “Socrates was executed for being an atheist, that is, for corrupting the youth of Athens by teaching them to doubt the gods of Athens” (12).

Whether or not Socrates was guilty of the charge or not, Plato’s statements in his dialogue, The Apology, demonstrates the political norms of that day included the right of the authorities to force the citizens to worship the State gods. The accusation under examination was this:

“Socrates is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in supernatural things of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the State” (Tredennick 48).

Socrates was found guilty of disbelief in the gods of the Athenian State, and was thus sentenced to death. Ironically all of this took place at a time in Athen’s history when the government was a democracy. Ancient Athens was never a champion of civil liberties, but of tyranny, and its fundamentally pagan world view of enforcing religion on its citizens was an integral part of forming these authoritarian political practices.

B. Plato

Plato was a contemporary and a student of Socrates, and most likely witnessed his trial. Plato lived in the same time period, in the same city, and under the same cultural-religious conditions as the court that sentenced Socrates to death. In Plato’s dialogue, The Republic, Plato articulates a political framework that is even more totalitarian and coercive than the city-state of Athens. In reaction to the injustice perpetrated by the Athenian government, Plato, instead of forming ideas that encourage liberty, created an ideal political system that was even more tyrannical, maintaining the right of the governing authorities to enforce the State ideology.

Plato argues that the Guardians (a.k.a. the rulers of his hypothetical city of Calipolis) ought to form new doctrines about the gods, and that the writings of ancient Greek poets like Homer and Hesiod ought to be severely edited, or banned:

“…we should not allow Homer or any other poet to make such a stupid mistake about the gods” (Ferrari 65).

“That would be one of the laws [a State imposed religious doctrine] about the gods…that god is not responsible for everything, but only for what is good” (Ferrari 66).

“When someone talks in this way about the gods [a way that contradicts Plato’s view of the gods], we shall get angry with him, and not grant him a chorus. Nor shall we allow teachers to use [Homer’s] works for the education of the young” (Ferrari 70).

Plato used religion as a means to support his political system; he desired to use it in order to shape the citizens of Calipolis into his own liking. Like the examples before him, religion and politics blend together; disbelief in the gods, or contrary ideas about the gods, is equal to rebellion against the State.

C. Aristotle

Aristotle advocated for a similar type of religious devotion to the state as Plato. Consider the following quote from Aristotle:

“For although the good of an individual is identical with the good of the state, it is evidently greater and more perfect to attain and preserve the good of the state. Though it is worth something to do this for the individual, it is nobler and more divine to do it for a nation or state” (Fieser 115).

By advocating for this type of collectivism, the role of the individual becomes irrelevant in Aristotle’s politics. When the good of the State is the same as the good of the individual, the State can conceivably do anything it wishes; it inevitably increases its own authority and control over its citizens to benefit its rulers. Robbins briefly notes the nature of Aristotle’s political theory also:

“The State is the highest of all…. Citizens belong to the State….” (25).

Summary of Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece, just like my previous examples, was witness to the religious coercion of the State, and its most famous philosophers suggested the same totalitarian schemes. The cultural paganism of this civilization helped to prompt its mandatory religious adherence to the gods through the State in order to maintain societal unity. They rejected the true and living God and made a god out of their governments instead.

5. Ancient Rome

As quoted previously for Ancient Greece, “Both the Greek poleis and the Roman Empire were totalitarian church-states” (12).

The Imperial Cult

Just as the rulers of ancient Egypt and Persia made themselves gods to be worshiped, the Roman Caesar did the same. The ancient Roman practice of worshiping the State in the person of the Emperor/Caesar is known as the Imperial cult of Rome.

In order for Augustus Caesar to be worshiped properly, Pliny instructed “Let a table [for sacrifices] be set by him in the middle of the theater and an incense burner be placed there, and let the representatives and all magistrates offer sacrifices….in honor of the god Augustus the Savior and Liberator” (Robbins 14).

The citizens of the Roman Empire were free to worship the various gods they wanted, as long as they also worshiped the Emperor. Failure to worship Caesar resulted in imprisonment, torture, and/or death:

“Pliny was pleased to report that his methods of torture and imprisonment were encouraging people to worship the [Roman State] gods” (Robbins 13).

“worshiping the Emperor is the way to avoid punishment” (Robbins 13).

6. Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church, like these previous examples, represents a pagan, totalitarian, Church-State system of Emperor worship.

A. Pontifex Maximus

The Roman Catholic papacy is a continuation of the monarchy of ancient Rome. The title “Pontifex Maximus” translates to “supreme priest,” and was an ancient title of the Roman Emperor. As time went on, the Pope took over the position of the Roman Emperor, and titles that were once attributed to the Emperor became the titles of the Roman Catholic pontiff. Thus, one of the titles of the Pope has become Pontifex Maximus as the link shows.

The corruption of the Roman Church mainly began when “Constantine proclaimed himself head of the Catholic Church” (Robbins 33), which made a governmental ruler a direct authority over the church. The Popes and ecclesiastical ministers who proceeded Constantine followed suit by becoming rulers over both the church and the government:

“The Bishops of Italy became the heirs of the Roman Senate, and the Bishop of Rome became the Emperor’s successor” (Robbins 29).

Another one of the factors that lead to the corruption of the church of Rome and its unification to the Roman State can be attributed to Constantine’s subsidization of the church.

Constantine told the Roman Bishops, “…certain named ministers of the lawful and most holy Catholic Religion should receive some contribution towards expenses…If later you find you still lack means to carry out my intentions [to give money to church ministers]…you must not hesitate to ask Heraclidas our treasurer for whatever you find necessary” (Robbins 34).

Constantine gave the leaders of the Roman Church a blank check, and thus the Roman church received State funding, power, and influence. It became united to the Roman State and inherited its totalitarian, pagan system of government. Thomas Aquinas, the official philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church, advocates that all secular and religious power to be given to the Pope, just as all secular and religious power was under the control of ancient Roman Emperors:

“In the pope the secular is joined to the spiritual. He holds the apex of both powers, spiritual and secular…” (Eccles Meg 130).

B. The Pope as God on Earth

The Roman Catholic Pope is analogous to the rulers of ancient Egypt, Persia, and Rome, in that the Pope has become God’s representative on Earth. Just as Pharaoh was the representative of the Egyptian sun god, the Roman Catholic religion has turned the Pope into the “Vicar of Christ,” i.e. the representative of Christ on Earth. Furthermore, even the title “Pontifex Maximus” may be interpreted as a divine label when viewed in a Christian context. Since Pontifex Maximus means “supreme priest,” it is analogous to Jesus Christ who is called the “great high priest” in Hebrews 4:14, and therefore the Pope claims a title that only properly belongs to Christ.

Pope Leo XIII summed it up succinctly in his papal encyclical on “The Reunion of Christendom,” saying, “We [Pope Leo/the papacy] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty…”

An authoritative Roman Catholic commentary on The Code of Canon Law attributes the power of the Pope to the power of Christ: “Supreme power [of the Pope] is indivisible, for it is the power of Christ…” (Eccles Meg 132).

An authoritative text of the Roman Catholic Church, called the Unam Sanctum, attributes rebellion against the Pope as rebellion against Christ, and makes loyalty to the Pope a prerequisite to salvation: “we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Practical reverence and worship of the Pope is therefore an integral aspect of Roman Catholicism, since submission to him is necessary for salvation according to the decrees of the Unam Sanctum.

C. State Imposed Religion

Just as it was characteristic of the previous ancient civilizations listed, the Roman Catholic Church utilizes inquisition, terror, and the threat of death to keep people loyal to the Pope’s religion and political rule. Just as the governmental authorities of Persia punished Daniel for not worshiping the Emperor Darius, and just as Pliny enforced religious devotion to the Roman Caesar, “the Roman Church-State…has continued the ancient Roman practice of inquisition and punishment” (Robbins 13).

Thomas Aquinas, the official philosopher of the Roman religion, promoted State coercion:

“there are other unbelievers, such as heretics and all apostates who once accepted and professed the faith. These are to be compelled, even by physical force, to carry out what they promised and to hold what they once accepted” (Eccles Meg 133).

The murder that has been committed by the papacy in the name of religious enforcement is beyond the scope of this post, but here is an example. Pope Martin V, in a letter to the King of Poland, demanded the extermination of a non Roman Catholic sect called the Hussites:

“make it a duty to exterminate the Hussites….While there is still time, then, turn your forces against Bohemia; burn, massacre, make deserts everywhere, for nothing could be more agreeable to God, or more useful to the cause of kings, than the extermination of the Hussites” (Eccles Meg 134).

In closing, Lord Acton, a Roman Catholic scholar of the 19th century, commenting on these types of massacres commanded by the papacy, wrote the following:

“The papacy contrived murder and massacred on the largest and also the most cruel inhuman scale. The [the popes] were not only wholesale assassins but they made the principle of assassination a law of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation” (Eccles Meg 113).

A Contemporary Perspective

A. Woodrow Wilson

The 20th century was witness to a revival of the same State worship as the ancient world, even amongst historically Protestant nations. The examples of State worship are obvious in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s People’s Republic of China, and in North Korea, but few realize that the United States preceded all of these with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Jonah Goldberg notes in his book Liberal Fascism:

“Wilson’s view of politics could be summarized by the word ‘statolatry,’ or state worship,” believing that “the ever expanding power of the state was entirely natural” (86).

Like the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, the KGB of the Soviet Union, and the Jesuits of the Roman Catholic Church, Wilson used secret agents to enforce State ideology and eliminate dissent:

“More dissidents were arrested or jailed in a few years under Wilson than under Mussolini during the entire 1920s. Wilson arguably did as much if not more violence to civil liberties in his last three years in office than Mussolini did in his first twelve…Wilson had unleashed literally hundreds of thousands of badge-carrying goons on the American people and prosecuted a vicious campaign against the press that would have made Mussolini envious.” (80).

B. The Social Gospel

Not only did Wilson attempt to eliminate dissent like other 20th century totalitarian dictatorships, and like the ancient civilizations previously mentioned, but religion was also used as the means to accomplish political ends. J. Gresham Machen in his famous book Christianity and Liberalism (1923) describes the prevalent vogue of his day for using religion to achieve political goals:

“religion has become a mere function of the community or of the state. So it is looked upon by the men of the present day…[Religion] is thought to be needed merely as a means to an end. We have tried to get along without religion, it is said, but the experiment was a failure, and now religion must be called in to help” (134).

Obviously, the religion of choice in 20th century America was Christianity; however, this so-called Christianity possessed none of the essential nor historical theological doctrines of the Protestant Reformation or the Bible. The purpose of Christianity became political in its character, a means to support the state, and therefore Goldberg notes that historic Christian theology suffered as a result:

“But while Christianity was being made into a true state religion, its transcendent and theological elements became corrupted” (87).

Faith was taken away from God and morphed into faith in the State, faith in the cause of socialism, “social justice,” and faith in humanity. Christianity to these modernists became moralistic deism, humanism, or practical atheism. Those who were not guilty of complete religious hypocrisy were guilty of immanentizing the coming of Christ and the kingdom of God through political means, a danger that I would argue is a characteristic of postmillenial eschatology.

C. Optimism

The new-found faith in humanity and exaltation of the role of government may be traced back to a complete transformation of the American public’s view of human nature. The Christian view of human nature is that we are sinful and depraved, and therefore government is a necessary evil that has been set in place by God to curb the violent, wicked actions of men. However, people like Charles Finney in the 19th century revived a more theologically optimistic view of human nature by teaching the ancient heresy of Pelagianism, and the pagan Greek concept of free will. Friedrich Schleiermacher in the 19th century, who founded the “Christian” modernist movement, also became an authority on human nature, deemphasizing the reality of human corruption due to sin, arguing that sin is merely a subjective state of consciousness (251). Machen tells us the outcome of these various cultural factors, writing in 1923:

“…a remarkable change has come about within the last seventy-five years. The change is nothing less than the substitution of paganism for Christianity as the dominant view of life. Seventy-five years ago, Western civilization, despite inconsistencies, was still predominantly Christian; today it is predominantly pagan…Paganism is optimistic with regard to unaided human nature…” (Machen 58).

Belief in the Christian doctrine of Total Depravity (let alone Christianity) has virtually disappeared in the United States, and its replacement, faith in the goodness of humanity, has helped to lead people to place an inordinate amount of trust in the State to solve our problems. Therefore, the American mindset has become better acclimated to radical “progressive” politics, which is a meaningless buzz word that justifies the expansion of governmental powers. The recent presidential elections of Barack Obama prove America’s propensity towards Emperor worship.

D. Barack Obama

The hype surrounding Obama’s first presidential campaign shows the same markers of Emperor worship. I cannot tell whether it is a joke or not, but this blog has compiled many sources to demonstrate that the United States has reached a point in its history where it is ready to display the same ancient pagan tendencies. I remembered in my freshman year of high school, I saw many of my peers wearing Obama t-shirts and he was honored in one of my school’s assemblies, compared with popular figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, before he had even took office. It is has become a long-standing joke that Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize without accomplishing anything to deserve it.

Obama is merely another personality that the American public became hypnotically enamored with. He had done virtually nothing to deserve being elected president in the first place, yet he ran the best presidential campaign in American history, getting people to sing praises to his glory.

I will not discuss the successes or failures of his presidency, but suffice it to say that America has allowed itself to place an excessive amount of hope in its political leaders, even to the brink of worship in some cases.

The Spirit of Antichrist

What each of these examples have in common is a spirit of antichrist: hostility to the true and living God, and a tendency enforce political ideals through false religion. Pharaoh, Caesar, the Pope, and all leaders who accept glory due to God alone, are all types of antichrist:

For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

“Also [the beast] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:7-8).

Conclusion 

These are some of my thoughts on the matter, though obviously they are incomplete. It is amazing to me to be able to see this pattern throughout human history. Even in the United States, we are in danger of falling captive to pagan, Statist politics. All it takes for it to happen is a serious epidemic in our country, and a charismatic figure to rally around… I have written enough. I will leave you to the rest.

Works Cited

Ferrari, G. R. F., ed. Plato: The Republic. New York: Cambridge University, 2000. Print.

Frieser, James, and Norman Lillegard. A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. New York: Oxford UP, 2002. Print.

Robbins, John W. Christ and Civilization. Unicoi: Trinity Foundation, 2007. Print.

Robbins, John W. Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic ChurchUnicoi: Trinity Foundation, 2006. Print.

Tredennick, Hugh, trans. Plato: The Last Days of Socrates. N.p.: Penguin, 2003. Print.