Loving the State or Loving the State Out of Existence

Conn Carroll /

Democratic National Convention

DENVER — Time magazine national political editor Amy Sullivan is currently hosting a panel, “The Shifting Faith Vote: What It Means For This Election.” Among the panelists, Revolution in Jesusland blogger Zack Exley shared his story of marrying into a “white born again evangelical culture.” The first time he attended a megachurch in suburban North Carolina, Exley was surprised to see how much that day’s sermon (“Two fists in the face of Empire,” a sermon on Colossians) meshed with his “anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-materialist secular world view.”

As Exley continued attending church he noticed that there was a sizable number of younger parishioners who were devouring books by Shane Claibourne, Donald Miller and Greg Boyd. These younger believers are moving away from the GOP but are not becoming Democrats. Exley says that they have more in common with the anarchist protesters here in Denver than they do with Democrats. These younger evangelicals want to love the state out of existence. Exley said liberals need to convince them to love the state into making the right change.

Conservatives have always been wary of big government’s power to crowd out private faith communities. Heritage fellow Ryan Messmore writes:

As government claims responsibility for more tasks, it absorbs the allegiance that citizens once placed in other relationships and forms of association. When the federal government assumes more responsibility for fulfilling the moral obligations among citizens, it tends to undermine the perceived significance and authority of local institutions and communities.

This encourages citizens, instead of looking to their families, churches, or local communities for guidance and assistance, to depend on the government for education, welfare, and various other services. As individuals begin to look more consistently to the government for support, the institutions that are able to generate virtues like trust and responsibility begin to lose their sway in the community. Excessive bureaucratic centralization thus sets in motion a dangerous cycle of dependence and social decay.

Also check out Messmore’s new research, “Private Faith, Big Government: Understanding the Impact of Marginalizing Religion.”