A Millennial Conflict

     Earlier today, I put forth a provocative proposition. Candidly, it was so provocative that it deserved large font:

The State and God are enemies.

     That probably upset a few folks excessively devoted to the opinions of Saint Paul:

     Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
     Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

     [Romans 13:1-7]

     No doubt the Bible-absolutists will clutch their pearls in horror at my saying so, but in the above Paul of Tarsus revealed himself to be a statist imbecile. And no, it wasn’t the one and only time.

     Paul, a relatively erudite man for his era, nevertheless had no sense for the dynamic of power. He sincerely believed that rulers are ordained by God, and therefore deserved deference and obedience. The record we possess today, which chronicles the incredible slaughters and sufferings the State has imposed on helpless individuals over more than two millennia, was unavailable to him. Even so, he ought to have been aware of the perfidy and cruelty of the State. After all, he, as a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians before his “road to Damascus” conversion, had been an enthusiastic participant.

     But the subject deserves more than an offhand remark or two.


     As I said earlier this morning, over the centuries the church – meaning the clerical hierarchy – has tended to seek an alliance with the State. This serves two purposes. First, if the thing comes off, it will compel the rulers to concede the church’s authority, which serves as a brake on the rulers’ excesses. Second, it puts the State’s enforcement power at the church’s disposal, with all that implies. Until 1788, the pattern was essentially unbroken throughout the world.

     The First Amendment to the Constitution was the first time any nation had explicitly departed from that pattern:

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

     Fisher Ames, who composed the final version of the Amendment, probably thought that would put the matter to rest. However, he did not foresee the contemporary tendency among jurists and commentators to “reinterpret” words away from their original meanings. Thus great changes have been wrought upon the legal import of both the Establishment and the Free Exercise clauses.

     Consider the tragic case of Jack Phillips’s Masterpiece Cakeshop. Mr. Phillips’s right to the free exercise of his religion has repeatedly been attacked under “anti-discrimination” statutes that ignore that consideration. A similar attack was aimed at Sweet Cakes By Melissa, again under “anti-discrimination” statues that make no room for religious belief.

     Much has been written about those incidents, and much more could be said. The heart of the matter, however, was and is that the State considers its power to be superior to the rights of individuals to the free exercise of their faiths, at least in the commercial realm. That postulate has since been extended to questions of “public health” and State ukases pertinent to it.

     Simply put, the State doesn’t want this God stuff to get in its way.


     The cases cited above highlight an important auxiliary influence: the eagerness of activists for special “rights” to use State power to infringe upon others’ rights to the free exercise of their faiths. In both cases, homosexual activists deliberately targeted Christian-owned businesses. They knew beforehand that the proprietors of those businesses would be obliged by their Christian consciences to decline the orders. They wanted those orders to be declined: to make an inroad for the legal persecution of those Christian businessmen.

     Such activists tend to be few in number. They actively need State support to gain their aims. The State routinely views them as living cudgels with which to assert its primacy and beat down resistance. Owing to the dynamic of power, the number of persons within the State – it’s never more than a bunch of people with government jobs, whether elected, appointed, or employed – who would resist such activists shrinks monotonically toward zero as a nation’s governing structure ages. Today they’re pathetically few.

     Those at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of power will always be pleased at having the power of the State confirmed and extended. That is why they’re there. They relish every contest between activists, however fringy, and those who uphold a faith that asserts any bounds at all around the State’s powers.


     The conflict between religious rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment and “civil rights” of the sort asserted by “anti-discrimination” statutes is an important part of the mosaic. If two claims of rights conflict – i.e., if honoring one compels the denial of the other – then at least one of them is not truly a right. All genuine rights are natural: i.e., they issue from human nature, which cannot be self-contradictory. But the masters of the State are impatient with such things.

     Consider a right that would seem indisputable: the right to choose one’s own associates. Is there a way to harmonize that right with a “right” to force oneself upon unwilling others? I can’t see it. Yet that is precisely what “anti-discrimination” statutes attempt, particularly in matters of employment and commerce. It’s also been wielded against private clubs, on the grounds that business is sometimes transacted in such clubs.

     Once the State proclaims laws that infringe upon natural rights, or “rights” that compel such infringements, the possibilities are boundless. But the freedom proclaimed by Christ, by His famous pronouncement to the “rich young man:”

     And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
     And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
     He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 19: 16-19]

     …is a blockade the State is determined to demolish.


     It would be quite a difficult matter for the State to accept that there are any authorities that lie beyond its scope. The masters of the State want them all. Thus, even the suggestion that where the State’s powers end, other sources of authority have value is one that chafes its masters. They are determined that no such partition shall exist.

     Consider matters of personal moral conduct. Christianity incorporates teachings that go gently, but not unconnectedly, beyond Christ’s commandments as He articulated them to the “rich young man.” For example, most Christian denominations frown on divorce. (The Catholic Church forbids it entirely.) Yet the State facilitates divorce at the request of one partner who asserts “irreconcilable differences.” The other partner’s opposition to divorce is irrelevant to the State.

     In effect, the State has asserted the power to force a faithful Catholic in to a state of involuntary singlehood. He has no alternative, for the Church teaches that for him to marry again, while his spouse is still living, is to commit adultery – and it is so, by the original meaning of the word adultery: the violation of one’s marital vows of fidelity and constancy.

     We must not neglect to mention the drive for “hate speech” laws. Such laws have been focused repeatedly on persons who dare to express the teachings of the church where others can be “offended” by them. Both the Trudeau regime in Canada and the Albanese regime in Australia have already secured backing for such laws. Subjects of the United Kingdom are routinely arrested for Facebook posts that “constitute “hate speech.” The Republic of Ireland, one of the most Catholic countries in the world, is pondering the enactment of such laws today.

     The State’s attack on Christianity has recently gone in unexpected directions. The pseudo-crisis of the COVID-19 virus – which we now know to have been human-engineered, in part with American funds provided by the execrable Anthony Fauci – provided American and Canadian governments with a pretext for shutting down places of worship. North American Pastors were actually arrested and jailed for holding services. There could be no clearer indication of the State’s animosity toward Christianity, especially as numerous other gathering places were exempted from the edict, and as the command was never enforced against even a single mosque.


     The time has come to address the term “Christian nationalism.” Pastor Doug Wilson, in the brief Tucker Carlson video I poste late yesterday, emphasized the religious imperative: i.e., he seeks a “come to Jesus” moment for the American people. That doesn’t address whether Christianity would somehow become mandatory to remain an American citizen in good standing, but my sense of the thing is that, owing to the divergences among the many Christian denominations that exist today, it would be as impossible for America to have an established church as it was in James Madison’s time. However, what all Christian denominations agree upon is the teachings of Christ as He expressed them to the “rich young man,” and above them, the two Great Commandments He articulated to the Pharisees:

     But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together: And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him: Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
     Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.

     [Matthew 22:34-40]

     These commandments are the ethical core of Christianity. C. S. Lewis has called them “The Law of General Benevolence.” One cannot claim to be a Christian without accepting them as “Gospel truth.” And they are perfectly consistent with Judaic ethical teaching, with the teachings of most non-Judaic and non-Christian sects, and with the requirements of a sane and sensible secular law for any nation, great or small.

     But note: Christ did not mandate that the State enforce His Commandments. Indeed, He stood against it in a memorable case:

     Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
     This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
     And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
     When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
     She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

     In this lies an important difference between classical-era Judaism and Christianity. Moses did indeed command that adulterers be stoned to death: i.e., that State power enforce the religious decrees he articulated to the Jews during their wanderings in the desert. Christ would not have it. For the Christian, we are not to be punished by the State for acts over which only God should have jurisdiction.

     The masters of the State, of course, feel differently, especially when it comes to their “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” campaign and the special “rights” demanded by activists of innumerable stripes.


     In summary: To be a “Christian nationalist” is to be a Christian – ethically, above all – and a nationalist. Jews can endorse such a program. Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, and agnostics can, as well. (Muslims can’t, as their creed demands political supremacy over all persons, places, and things.) Christian nationalism does not demand an established church, or that all the servants of the State be Christians. It is not a program for conflict but a prescription for healing.

     For the great majority, it begins with that “come to Jesus” moment: the sincere re-embrace of America’s heritage as a nation forged from Christian ethical principles. From others who cannot or will not take that step, it asks only peace and tolerance: the acceptance Christ extended to the woman “taken in adultery, in the very act.” From that, all else will follow.

     Be not afraid.


    • David Davies on April 16, 2024 at 9:06 PM

    One of the best books I have ever read is ‘Our Enemy, the State’, by Albert Jay Nick.

    1. It’s a fine, highly readable treatise that not only distinguishes the State from what the Founders intended but also neatly delineates the process by which we reached this sorry condition. Nock has never received the respect he deserves.

      • David Davies on April 17, 2024 at 8:13 AM

      Yes. Nock, not Nick.

      Blessed Spellcheck.

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