It is nothing new for conservatives to dress their political ideology in religious language. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) justified his opposition to controlling greenhouse gases because “you can’t regulate God.” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of “disrespecting” Christians by considering keeping Congress in session in order to overcome GOP obstructionism. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) even went so far as to compare Democrats to Pontius Pilate, the ancient Roman official who sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
Last week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) added his voice to the chorus while being interviewed on the Family Research Council’s weekly radio show. DeMint told host Tony Perkins that the size of government and the size of God exist in an inverse relationship – “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets”:
DeMINT: Some are trying to separate the social, cultural issues from fiscal issues, but you really can’t do that. America works, freedom works, when people have that internal gyroscope that comes from a belief in God and Biblical faith. Once we push that out, you no longer have the capacity to live as a free person without the external controls of an authoritarian government. I’ve said it often and I believe it – the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. As people become more dependent on government, less dependent on God.
For someone supposedly espousing Christian ideals, DeMint’s notion that God’s power can be limited by the federal government is a surprising argument. Indeed, one of the main tenets of Christian belief is that God is all-powerful – Matthew 19:26 is just one Biblical reference to God’s omnipotence. DeMint is vastly exaggerating the nominal increase in the size of government over the past two years.
DeMint then went on in the interview to make another outlandish statement: “We’ve found we can’t set up free societies around the world because they don’t have the moral underpinnings that come from Biblical faith”:
DeMINT: You cannot have a free society that way. We’ve found we can’t set up free societies around the world because they don’t have the moral underpinnings that come from Biblical faith. I don’t think Christians should cower from this debate, should be told that their views and their values should be separate from government policies, because America doesn’t work without the faith that created it.
In fact, the world’s largest democracy is India. The third most-populous democracy is Indonesia. Japan and Turkey are also high on the list. Despite not having the “moral underpinnings that come from Biblical faith” – Christians make up less than three percent of citizens in all these countries – these countries are clearly capable of maintaining free societies.