An Apostate From the Government Religion

Column by Paul Bonneau.

Exclusive to STR

I was reading an article about Roger Williams. The more I learn about him, the more impressed I become.

"Roger Williams was not a man out of time. He belonged to the 17th Century and to Puritans in that century. Yet he was also one of the most remarkable men of his or any century. With absolute faith in the literal truth of the Bible and in his interpretation of that truth, with absolute confidence in his ability to convince others of the truth of his convictions, he nonetheless believed it “monstrous” to compel conformity to his or anyone else’s beliefs."

It seems that Williams was concerned with separating church and state, which the author obviously agrees with. However, I wonder if it ever occurred to either of them that church and state might be inherently inseparable? If government is itself a form of religion, as it increasingly appears to be, then talking about “separating church from state” is like talking about “separating church from church” or “separating church from itself”! Can’t be done . . . .

I searched for the phrase “government religion” and found remarkably little about it; most hits seemed to be articles in which government and religion were used as distinct concepts, or that were pleas to maintain the separation of the two. But surely it must be dawning on a lot of people by now, how similar they really are? At what point does “similar” become “identical”?

To have a religion, there must be some kind of Bible or Torah, and the Government Religion has one--the US Constitution--along with supporting documents (call them Sunnah or Talmud) such as the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and state constitutions. Like the Bible, they are held in reverence, and simultaneously ignored in deed.

A religion has priests of some sort, in a hierarchy; the Government Religion has that, too--judges up to the Supreme Court, along with acolytes we know as media talking heads in support of the Government Religion. Think of them all as explainers of the dogma.

Then of course there are the adherents. Lots of those around here, essentially everyone who is not an anarchist or voluntaryist. They support the One True Church with their money (the tithes we call taxes), and send their children to be sacrificed in modern-day Crusades in the Holy Land, which is the Land of Oil and Source of Power. Primarily though, they support the Church with their belief; they are so immersed in the belief system that they find it hard to think outside the boundaries of church worship. They go to “church” every Election Day.

Pretty much every religion has good ideas, such as the Golden Rule in Christianity. The Government Religion has that too; for example, the Second Amendment. Often these good ideas just get a lot of lip service.

Every religion has its dubious beliefs, such as the virgin birth. The Government Religion has that too; “representative government” is one of the more fanciful views, as if someone in power above you acts as your proxy, while doing the same for your opponents at the very same time. Government restrained by parchment is another howler. Yet another is the notion of being “protected” by the most murderous agency in human history.

“Making the world safe for democracy” and “nation building"--can one imagine a more obvious example of proselytizing and of conversion by the sword? Just another Islamic conquest . . . .

Of course, anarchists and voluntaryists are apostates from the Government Religion. Every religion has its apostates, right? We used to believe, but something opened our eyes to see what is really going on.

I’m finding it harder and harder to look at government as anything else but religion. No wonder we find it so difficult to get people to question it. As one wag put it, it is hard to reason someone out of a place he didn’t use reason to get into. That’s what it means, to have a faith. Most people are simply born and raised in the religion; the government schools are really Sunday schools.

Take your average Catholic or Jew or Baptist. He spends a lot of lip service on his professed religion, but when you examine his actions, it is clear his true allegiance is to the Government Religion. It is the center of his life; it is the first, if not the only solution he turns to for any problem he encounters.

We don’t have separation of church and state in this country, nor do we have religious tolerance. Instead, we have an established church, with all that implies. We will have religious tolerance only when Panarchy becomes the norm.

Even panarchists typically get this point wrong, by the way, as they hold up the example of religious tolerance as an analogy that can be emulated in the political sphere. It never seems to occur to them (unless I missed it) that government and religion are not just like each other, but are in fact the very same thing.

Just as Roger Williams supported tolerance while simultaneously being very much a true believer, anyone can support Panarchy, which is complete tolerance. All one has to do is to give up imposing one’s will on others, and supporting those who do the same. In other words, a person must give up war and aggressive violence. He must fall away from the established church--the Government Religion--and rejoin the one he professes to believe in (assuming he has one).

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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 106


richyankee's picture

There is only one problem that I can identify with tolerance of religion, and that is that the religious are aggressive and intolerant of those of us who choose not to participate.

This holds with government (as religion) also. Insofar as I am tolerant of the religious, they are not so tolerant of me and others who would not indulge their schemes and aggression but for the threat of imprisonment and/or death (for examples: not volunteering for internal revenue oppression and not obeying many of their rules about harmless and private activities.)

I think it is safe to say that here, but not so in the general public. Perhaps Roger Williams would have tolerated me (we who would tolerate a truly benign religious culture or people), but, as you pointed out in this very well articulated piece, tolerance is not the currency in this place today.

I was born and raised in a religious family and after all this time, it is still very difficult for them to accept my contrary view on it. I believe that they are sincere, and as you said, 'it is hard to reason someone out of a place he didn’t use reason to get into.'

So, as long as you don't 'get in their faces' with the truth, they may tolerate you but only because they are unaware (curiously, they seem to enjoy that state).

Thanks for this article.


Paul's picture

"and that is that the religious are aggressive and intolerant of those of us who choose not to participate."

We have to be careful not to fall into collective-speak. Of course lots of people are tolerant; others are not. Most people are inconsistent in this respect, seems to me.

Also, keep in mind the word "tolerance" in no way implies approval. If anything, it implies hostility; for example, "I will tolerate you" is not a friendly thing to say. It just means the hostility is not great enough to go to war over.

I don't need people to approve of me; I just need them to stop warring on me, and supporting those who war on me. Tolerance does not actually ask much of people, if you think about it.

Of course one has to be tolerant of others, to receive it in turn.

Samarami's picture

This was a good essay, Paul.

Those evangelists promulgating religion and those conquerors who initiated government have been inextricably yoked from the beginning of history. The unwashed masses are simply sucked in through the natural state of victim mentality.

Lets not us be victims any more.


Suverans2's picture

Ten stars. In light of this essay, you will no doubt enjoy this, Paul.