HUMINT: Interpretive Theology
For a society to guard against malicious ideological threats, it must at least recognize and respect the fact that some citizens will invariably believe in the power of God as a cohesive force separate from the power of the state. This is particularly true for any government run by militant atheists or militant theocrats. But why would any society believe they need to protect themselves from malicious ideas? To be sure, I’m not talking about recruiting a division of thought police to guard against threats to social morality. Free societies recognize freedom of religion as sacrosanct --- either consciously or by accident. Militant atheists or militant theocrats put themselves in a position to defend the state with “brown shirts” or “morality police” respectively.
The point of this essay is to demonstrate how some societies ensure they are never attacked or abused by thought police. Almighty God has a power influence in the lives of many healthy and happy people. Only arrogant thought police would seek to strip them of their beliefs. For example; early Jews under the Egyptian Pharos and Christians under early Roman Emperors were members of world changing movements. Both were accelerated by brutal oppression. Indeed, it appears to matter greatly if an earthly authority suppresses spiritual expression. Indeed, suppressing an individual’s relationship with their God strengthens spiritual relationships. It does so most likely because earthly oppression of the divine only validates the perception of illegitimacy of the earthly authority.
The Buddhists of Myanmar, the Yazidi of Northern Iraq, the Bahai’ of Iran and the Falun Gong of China are modern examples of cohesive spiritual interpretations persecuted for their political beliefs derived in part for their spiritual explorations. Although not the case with the Falun Gong or the Bahai, in some cases, state sponsored oppressions of religious expression has empowered the sense of righteousness and militarization of the oppressed.
The U.S. Declaration of independence handles the argument with unparalleled spiritual and political precision. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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.”
Within the first two sentences of the American definition, Americans’ political decisions are legitimized by the Laws of Nature and the inalienable rights endowed by their “creator”. But these two indisputable authorities are not given an anthropomorphic consciousness to govern. The United States is not a theocracy or governed by the laws of nature. Instead, government is the responsibility of fallible human beings. The responsibility to govern belongs to the intellect of the people, yet the authority for people to govern themselves is endowed by God.
This is an important point that all militant atheists and militant theocrats should learn: Americans are not successful because we are an arrogant society. Americans are successful because we modestly accept our fallibility and compensate for it with tolerance for ourselves and others. Our admission of fallibility is manifest in the separation of powers, checks and balances, regular elections and basic human freedoms such as freedom of [speech, religion, press, assembly]. The accusations heaped upon the United States by despotic regimes are almost always an unwitting self referential statement about the accuser, not the policies of the United States. Militant atheists and militant theocrats are irredeemably arrogant. They both formulate governments that legislate as if their great leaders hold a monopoly on genius. It is their arrogance that guarantees their failures (or limited success) will repeat ad infinitum.
While there are many official government interpretations of almighty God; from pure disbelief in the existence of God, to God as the source of legitimacy for the authority of consensual government, to unadulterated submission to God’s will; only one interpretation affords sustainable peace. The official American interpretation of God is the most durable interpretation applied to a society. The fact that it is the most durable implies that it is also the most accurate and honest, either with respect to humankind’s perception of God or God. Either way, the American interpretation is subtle. It is so subtle in fact that it often goes unnoticed. Its low profile belies its importance. Without it Americans would not sustain domestic tranquility as we do. The Founding Fathers of the United States took strides to make room for spiritual interpretations other than Christianity in American society. They also took strides to ensure the definition of American governance closed the door to interpretations of God that coerces Americans spiritual submission or attacked their benign spiritual beliefs or traditions.
The spread of the American interpretation of God is not any more hegemonic than the spread of successful behavior. The official American interpretation of God is not being adopted around the world because Americans are hegemonic or because the United States is a new kind of global empire. The opposite is true. The act of spreading the American interpretation of God in government is a somber request for humility. It is no accident that such a request primarily targets arrogant groups of militant atheists and militant theocrats.
HUMINT: Americans’ War on Terror is not a crusade! It’s an appeal to justice and reason. If forsaken, arrogant liars will be devastated. Do you suppose that reality follows one of: A) Nature’s Laws, B) one of God’s Laws, C) both or D) neither?