Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Purple Knight
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Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Purple Knight »

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Religious people certainly believe the government has the authority to make and enforce some laws, but can they at once hold their religion is absolutely correct about morality and have any loyalty to what the government decides regarding all laws?

https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_Id ... ov2017.pdf

Religious motives account for the largest chunk of terrorism, however, it would be horrible and false to claim that the vast majority of religious people aren't peaceful. The vast majority of religious people are peaceful, and don't attack Caesar, even when they think he's wrong. Asking why religious people are terrorists is a misleading and accusatory question that only reinforces unjustified bias against the religious. Only a tiny fraction of them are violent.

The better question is why most religious people aren't terrorists. If the law goes against their religion, they believe their religion is right and the law is wrong. The law is not the highest authority; God is. If God says a law is wrong, then it is. I don't see how there can be loyalty in this scenario but perhaps I have got it wrong. It seems to me that even if they don't act, the religious are always terrorists in their hearts because they are without any loyalty to the laws of the land.

We need loyalty for the sake of sanity. We have the democratic process for the sake of sanity. One person may believe that the right to travel is a basic human right, and another may be staunchly anti-immigration. Arguably the fellow on the Left has morality on his side because his is a human rights concern (higher) and the other fellow is worried about morally insignificant issues such as whether his family starves due to overcompetition for jobs. But regardless, each one decides to engage in the democratic process and abide by the result even if it doesn't favour him. This is loyalty, and without it, up to 49% of the country would be terrorists.

Question for debate: Is it possible for the religious to have that loyalty?

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Dimmesdale »

Democracy is not a Monarchy, that is true. It does indeed seem incompatible; worldly institutions versus the Kingship of Jesus/God.

But it can be argued, whether accurately or not, that democracy is ordained by God. Athens and Jerusalem after all are close bedfellows in the realm of ideas, historically and to some extent philosophically. The NT was written in greek and appeals to Greek concepts ("Logos"). The American Founders appealed to God given rights. Perhaps God ordains democracy because the alternative would be authoritarian totalitarianism - arguably a worse deal than the corrupt and, to some, lecherous system we have now.

Perhaps it's all about damage control. Democracy inoculates society against any "King" but Christ. Only when He returns will Perfect Government be inaugurated.

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Athetotheist »

Purple Knight wrote: Fri Feb 26, 2021 12:18 am Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Religious people certainly believe the government has the authority to make and enforce some laws, but can they at once hold their religion is absolutely correct about morality and have any loyalty to what the government decides regarding all laws?

https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_Id ... ov2017.pdf

Religious motives account for the largest chunk of terrorism, however, it would be horrible and false to claim that the vast majority of religious people aren't peaceful. The vast majority of religious people are peaceful, and don't attack Caesar, even when they think he's wrong. Asking why religious people are terrorists is a misleading and accusatory question that only reinforces unjustified bias against the religious. Only a tiny fraction of them are violent.

The better question is why most religious people aren't terrorists. If the law goes against their religion, they believe their religion is right and the law is wrong. The law is not the highest authority; God is. If God says a law is wrong, then it is. I don't see how there can be loyalty in this scenario but perhaps I have got it wrong. It seems to me that even if they don't act, the religious are always terrorists in their hearts because they are without any loyalty to the laws of the land.

We need loyalty for the sake of sanity. We have the democratic process for the sake of sanity. One person may believe that the right to travel is a basic human right, and another may be staunchly anti-immigration. Arguably the fellow on the Left has morality on his side because his is a human rights concern (higher) and the other fellow is worried about morally insignificant issues such as whether his family starves due to overcompetition for jobs. But regardless, each one decides to engage in the democratic process and abide by the result even if it doesn't favour him. This is loyalty, and without it, up to 49% of the country would be terrorists.

Question for debate: Is it possible for the religious to have that loyalty?
In the case of Christians specifically, it's a mandate:

"Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men...." (1Peter 2:13-15)

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Purple Knight »

Athetotheist wrote: Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:41 pmIn the case of Christians specifically, it's a mandate:

"Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men...." (1Peter 2:13-15)
I get that the Bible says this, but this reads like somebody wrote it who frankly didn't put too much thought into it. (Or being charitable, it could be read to mean if there's any doubt, go ahead and follow the law, but what do you do if there's not doubt?) If the ordinance of man says man must only lie with man and woman only with woman, would a Christian obey?

Mandatory homosexuality. Or perhaps mandatory blasphemy. It's not difficult to imagine; there have been horrid countries and horrid leaders. One gets elected and then what? What do you do when he cries, take to the streets, and do as the Christmas Critters do! Hail Satan!

Christians have been in this position. They were, I believe, banned in Rome at one point, and they did neither quit Rome nor their faith; they worshiped in secret. I'm not on the side of Rome here for feeding Christians to lions, but I worry that if God tells them to break even a necessary and good law, they will.

In fact, they already have. They broke the law against discriminating against gays, despite nondiscrimination being an ordinance of man.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/05/opinions ... nion-gupta
The court did not rule that the Constitution grants the right to discriminate but maintained the longstanding principle that business owners cannot deny equal access to goods and services.

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Athetotheist »

Purple Knight wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:35 amI get that the Bible says this, but this reads like somebody wrote it who frankly didn't put too much thought into it. (Or being charitable, it could be read to mean if there's any doubt, go ahead and follow the law, but what do you do if there's not doubt?) If the ordinance of man says man must only lie with man and woman only with woman, would a Christian obey?

Mandatory homosexuality. Or perhaps mandatory blasphemy. It's not difficult to imagine; there have been horrid countries and horrid leaders. One gets elected and then what? What do you do when he cries, take to the streets, and do as the Christmas Critters do! Hail Satan!

Christians have been in this position. They were, I believe, banned in Rome at one point, and they did neither quit Rome nor their faith; they worshiped in secret. I'm not on the side of Rome here for feeding Christians to lions, but I worry that if God tells them to break even a necessary and good law, they will.

In fact, they already have. They broke the law against discriminating against gays, despite nondiscrimination being an ordinance of man.
You raise a valid question, and it does seem to put the Christian in something of a dilemma. However, Acts 5:29 provides politically-minded Christians with an "out":

"But Peter and the apostles answered and said, 'We ought to obey God rather than men.'"

Thus, when their political party is in power they can "submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake", and when another party is in power they can "obey God rather than men".

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Purple Knight »

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:00 amThus, when their political party is in power they can "submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake", and when another party is in power they can "obey God rather than men".
This is kind of what I'm getting at. The government would have to kowtow to the religious in order for the religious to be loyal, while the rest of us must submit to the democratic process and simply be loyal to the result because we got our say. (I argue that if you somehow didn't get a vote, you have no obligation to be loyal, but that's a separate issue.)

For two hundred years the government has handed the religious a free pass in the form of religious freedom, and it still isn't enough. Religious people want to break laws: The law against nondiscrimination, for example, because their religion says gay ain't okay. Now, I side with progressive society of course, but I would be even angrier at this if I didn't. I want to discriminate against Big Gay Al, but I don't get to, because I must submit to the result of the democratic process, but the religious don't? They get special exception?

Ultimately, if society goes in a different direction, religious people must have special exceptions to the law in order to be loyal. That's not fair to the rest of us.

That's why I say this, but I do so with a heavy heart.

Perhaps religious people should only be allowed to live in societies of only them. Theocracies, in other words. Secular societies that want a democratic process should ban religion, not grant special exceptions for the religious so they alone get to win even when the democratic process doesn't give them their way. Either that, or no one should have to submit to laws they don't like, and that would be chaos.

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Athetotheist »

Purple Knight wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 1:44 pmPerhaps religious people should only be allowed to live in societies of only them. Theocracies, in other words. Secular societies that want a democratic process should ban religion, not grant special exceptions for the religious so they alone get to win even when the democratic process doesn't give them their way. Either that, or no one should have to submit to laws they don't like, and that would be chaos.
The trade-off is supposed to be that religious entities get tax exemption if they stay out of partisan politics. The problem is that some want a take-and-take instead of a give-and-take.

Since you bring up theocracies, it's important that we not overreact in shielding the political process from sectarian intrusion. The problem, as you have indicated, comes from theocrats, who by no means represent the religious in general. I don't see banning religion as holding any promise either; the Soviet Union, for example, kept religious expression tightly constricted (the Soviet constitution prohibited religious proselytizing) and the USSR ended up none the better for it.

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Re: Can Religious People be Loyal Citizens?

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Post by Purple Knight »

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:22 pmThe problem, as you have indicated, comes from theocrats, who by no means represent the religious in general.
I think that as long as society generally plays by their rules - here meaning Christian rules - most of them are fine. But if society wanted to move in a different direction, the ones that don't seem like they're theocrats now would show their true colours.
Athetotheist wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 6:22 pmI don't see banning religion as holding any promise either; the Soviet Union, for example, kept religious expression tightly constricted (the Soviet constitution prohibited religious proselytizing) and the USSR ended up none the better for it.
I'm not saying ban them. It's too late for that.

I'm saying that the next time somebody wants a free and equal society, don't let them in.

Religion is incompatible with a free and equal society because the religious don't ever have to submit if the law doesn't go their way. If they're let in, they need special exceptions so they don't have to follow the laws that go against them. So let them live in theocracies of their chosen religion.

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