Religion is the Foundation of Democracy and Prosperity

I learned the importance of religion for the strength of democracy and capitalism in a conversation 12 years ago with a Marxist economist from China who was nearing the end of a Fulbright Fellowship in Boston. I asked my friend if he had learned here anything that was surprising or unexpected. His response was immediate and, to me, quite profound: “I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy and capitalism.” Though de Toqueville also had observed this, I had never made this association between religion, democracy and capitalism in my mind. But it was like this scholar parachuted in from Mars – and this is what he saw.

He continued, “In your past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week. These were institutions that people respected. At church, from their youngest years, Americans were taught to voluntarily obey the law; to respect other people’s property, and not steal it. Americans were taught never to lie. Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe that even if the police or court systems didn’t catch them when they broke a law, God would catch them and hold them accountable. Democracy works here because most people most of the time voluntarily obey the laws.

“You can say the same for capitalism,” my friend continued. “It works because Americans have been taught in their churches that they should keep their promises and not tell lies. An advanced economy cannot function if people cannot expect that when they sign contracts, the other people will voluntarily uphold their obligations. Capitalism works because most people voluntarily keep their promises.”

My friend then invited me to look around the world at those countries where, in his words, “America had snapped its fingers at the country and demanded, ‘We want democracy here, and we want it now!’” Unless there was already a strong religious foundation in those countries, he asserted, democracy has failed miserably. There are religions in every country, of course. But he made clear that democracy-enabling religions are those that support the sanctity of life, the equality of people, the importance of respecting others’ property, and of personal honesty and integrity. Those religions also had to be strong enough that they held power over the behavior of the population. People had to believe that even if the police and court system do not catch them, God would hold them accountable if they do not follow the rules. He then gave some examples.

In Russia, for instance, there are religions – but few people are influenced by them. As a result many people avoid taxes, and the government cannot collect them. Murder, bribery and stealing are a part of everyday life. He noted that American foreign policy has been naïve in Haiti and the nations of Africa that have been torn by such brutal civil strife. “You just think that because democracy works for you that it will work everywhere. It only works where there is a strong foundation of religion.” In the course of researching the issue my friend posed I happened upon an elegant summary of what he was trying to teach me, penned by Lord John Fletcher Moulton, the great English jurist, who wrote that the probability that democracy and free markets will flourish in a nation is proportional to “The extent of obedience to the unenforceable.”

My Chinese friend heightened a vague but nagging concern I’ve harbored – that as religion loses its power over the lives of Americans, what will happen to our democracy? Our prosperity? We are living on momentum. The ethic of obedience to the unenforceable was established by vibrant religions, and some of these teachings have become a part of our culture. As a result, today there are many Americans who are not religious, who still voluntarily obey the law, comply with contracts, value honesty and integrity and respect other people’s rights and property. This is because certain religious teachings have become embedded in our culture. But is culture a stalwart protector of democracy’s enabling values? No – because culture has no mechanism for holding citizens accountable for obedience to unenforceable laws.

Those who seek to minimize the role that religions can play in the public stage are making two very serious mistakes – the consequence of their not having asked the right questions. First, they are seeking to minimize the very institutions that have given us our civil liberties in the first place. And second, the debate swirling in judicial discourse about the separation of church and state is a false dichotomy. If we broadly define them as philosophical traditions, there are two classes of religions: theistic religions and atheistic ones. Zealots of atheistic religions who assert that theistic religions must be swept off the democratic stage are knitting the doctrines of their religions into our legal and regulatory fabric. But the adherents to the religions of atheism and secularism haven’t rigorously asked the right question, and are therefore giving us an answer that may well prove to be toxic to democracy.

My Chinese friend’s insight has helped me understand what the valuable question really is: “Because democracy is possible only when most people most of the time voluntarily obey the laws, what institutions can we rely upon to inculcate this instinct amongst the American people? And how can we strengthen those institutions, so that they do this better?”

When the instinct of even a minority of people in a society is to steal what belongs to others, lie when it suits their selfish purposes, evade taxes, demand bribes and disregard the rights of others, then capitalism won’t work, either. Just look at our economic crisis in 2007-8. It didn’t take many financiers whose instinct was to take what belongs to others and to stretch rather than obey the rules, to cause capitalism to very nearly collapse.

When the extent of disobedience to the unenforceable grows, not just democracy, but prosperity becomes in jeopardy. We treasure democracy because it gives us freedoms of speech and the press. But democracy without near-universal obedience to the unenforceable strips from us other crucial freedoms, which include the freedom from want and the freedom to be employed. I again ask what I believe is a crucial question for America: Because capitalism and the prosperity it brings are possible only when most people most of the time voluntarily obey the laws, what institutions can we rely upon to inculcate this instinct amongst the people, before they arrive in our executive suites and on Wall Street? And how can we strengthen the institutions that teach these things, so that they do it better?

When a nation lacks the requisite foundation of extensive obedience to the unenforceable, what form of government will work? Unfortunately democracy and capitalism won’t. It requires the rule of someone who can define good laws and then wield the power required to compel obedience. Living proofs of this hypothesis cover the globe. Just run this experiment. The next time you’re in a taxi with a Haitian cab driver, just ask whether things are better now under democracy than they were under the corrupt rule of the Duvaliers. I guarantee that every one of them pines for the day when there was an iron-fisted ruler who had the instinct and ability to stomp his heel into the chest of those who didn’t follow the rules and force compliance.

It’s not a coincidence that the countries that have transitioned from poverty to prosperity in the last 50 years – including Korea, Chile, Taiwan, Singapore, Portugal and the Dominican Republic – all were led by iron-fisted rulers, who had the instinct and ability to wield power quite ruthlessly, in some instances, to break the vested interests of those that profited from the corruption that had trapped those nations in poverty. Impoverished countries with democratic governments such as the Philippines, in contrast, struggle to prosper because imposition of democracy has simply democratized corruption to the point that capitalism won’t work: The investments that would stimulate economic growth simply cannot be made, because you can’t bribe enough people to make anything happen.

Those who assume that the atheistic religions of secularism are a better backbone for freedom and prosperity than the theistic ones that they are trying to push under the back seat, have a huge burden of proof which they’ve not had the intellectual fortitude to discuss, let alone propose as viable solutions. What institutions are they proposing to establish that have enduring power to teach the next generation of Americans to enthusiastically obey unenforceable laws?

I have been carefully listening for 12 years for a cogent response to these questions from a disciple of atheism and secularism. So far, at least, they seem to have nothing to say.

I invite you to comment on this blog but these are the rules for participate in this discussion: We respect each other. We try to teach each other and learn from one another. That means we assess and comment on the ideas.

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42 Responses to Religion is the Foundation of Democracy and Prosperity

  1. Brigham says:

    Finally, the right question to be asking. D. Todd Christofferson echoed many of the same points in a 2009 talk he gave on moral discipline. A good chunk of economic theory (contract theory) is on how to structure contracts that are self-enforcing, but one of the main lessons is that a lot of potential gains are lost when self-enforcement provisions have to be taken into account. I think even most economists would agree that successful organizations and nations have somehow managed to get individuals to honor unenforceable commitments. I think it’s clear religion has played a role in this. What other institutions have also played a role?

  2. Tim says:

    Great post. As an economist interested in economic growth these are issues I think a lot about, and I found these comments very interesting. It seems logical that trust and patience, two things engendered in a population by religion, are very important for economic growth. I believe there are also some recent studies establishing an empirical link between these variables. A question I’ve been wondering about though is, does this go both ways? While we know that trust and patience help growth to occur in democracies, after a country has reached a certain level of development and democracy, does a lack of these things cause us to go in the other direction? Initially, I thought of Europe as a counterexample for this theory since they are much more secularized than America but still very democratic and they still seem to grow at close to the same rate we do. They also seem to be experiencing slower declines in the level of trust than we are (although due to my lack of any sort of real world practical experience in business, this may not actually be true). But then I thought maybe their experience is due to the less capitalistic institutions they have chosen there. Maybe those types of institutions cement the religious values Europeans had when they set them up and dampen the negative effects of secularization by forcing trust through regulation. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this. Does this theory go both ways? Why is this effect dampened in Europe?

  3. I recently read a piece by an orthodox Jewish rabbi that makes a similar point, although he mostly emphasizes that increased religious belief won’t necessarily do harm; the post here makes the next step in saying it’s actually necessary for a well-functioning society.

  4. Melanie says:

    Clay –

    It’s interesting to me how long this discussion has been part of American history. Leaders of the free world have long-understood that prosperity comes when religion and democracy are equally protected.

    In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the 76th Congress that foreign threats were a direct challenge to three institutions indispensable to the U.S. – the first being religion and the source of the other two — democracy and peaceful international relations.

    He came to the same conclusion you mentioned in your post – that religion and democracy share attackers and where religion and democracy vanish, foreign relations fall victim to individual ambition and brute force.

    This uncharacteristically public utterance of religious devotion from President Roosevelt prompted a story in Time Magazine and an immediate declaration of agreement from the renowned agnostic moralist Walter Lippman. Here’s the Time article with Lippman’s response: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,771376,00.html#ixzz1DPPSibqJ

    So here’s my lingering question – why do you think this relationship is still under debate in countries like the U.S.?

  5. Jeff says:

    Interesting theory. I would love to see some social scientists test it. I had several thoughts.

    First, you mention that democracy and capitalism work when most of the people voluntarily obey the law and keep their promises. You state that a strong religious foundation is prerequisite. Is there any data that non-religious people do not voluntarily obey the law and keep their promises? You seem to suggest that if non-religious people actually do voluntarily obey the law and keep their promises, it is because they were raised in a country which has a strong religious foundation built into the culture.

    Second, you mention that democracy-enabling religions are “those that support the sanctity of life, the equality of people, the importance of respecting others’ property, and of personal honesty and integrity. Those religions also had to be strong enough that they held power over the behavior of the population.” Which religions does this refer to? For example, you list Portugal as an example of developing because of an Iron-fisted ruler. It is now democratic and capitalistic, yet interestingly it shares the same religious tradition with countries like France, Italy, and Austria.

    Finally, like Tim, I immediately thought of European countries as a counter-example. Many European countries have robust democracies, capitalist economies, but also are more secular than the U.S. Maybe like Tim suggested the religious values you talk about are built into their institutions. However, while thinking about that theory—I cannot help but think of Eastern European countries like Estonia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia which are some of the most secular states. Interestingly, they are democratic and capitalistic (arguably more capitalistic than some Western European countries). Maybe their democratic and capitalistic experiences will not endure, or maybe they modeled their institutions after Western European countries (which had their religious foundation built in.) Maybe they are just an anomaly

    • Clayton Christensen says:

      Thanks for each of you for your thoughts. It was a treat, Melanie, to read Roosevelt and Lippman weighing in on this issue!

      I thought I’d respond to your thinking collectively. You’ve helped my see possibilities and problems that I hadn’t thought much about — so thanks to each of you.

      This is what I’m thinking. It is true that to some degree in America and a stronger degree in northern Europe, culture, not religion, keeps most people in line. I refer you to a marvelous book from Edgar Schein on where culture comes from: “Organizational Culture and Leadership.” He shows that culture doesn’t just autonomously emerge. Culture is the result of a group following a process or a set of rules, which led to success, over and over and over. I suspect that religion is the factor that resulted in the culture. Culture of nations does not spontaneously emerge from chaos.

      There is a second way to get a culture whose ethic is that everyone must follow the rules — and that is a dictator who articulates the rules, and hold citizens immediately accountable if they don’t follow the rules. Singapore was blessed with such a ruler — Lee Kuan Yew. As Singaporeans prospered by following his rules, a culture emerged which dictated that everybody all the time should follow the rules.

      Just as culture has moved into the fore and religions have become minor factors in Europe, the culture of Singapore will sustain capitalism even after democracy supplants the prime ministers.

      But if you have a dictator who is corrupt because he doesn’t believe that he will be held accountable for following the rules, capitalism and democracy do not thrive. Corruption becomes rampant, as in Argentina and Russia. There are, unfortunately, not a lot of Lee Kuan Yews around.

      In both cases, however — religions or honest dictators — I submit that culture doesn’t have a self-sustaining mechanism to make it so strong that the vast majority of people will always follow the rules. Without strong religions that keep instilling these values, culture atrophies — as if there is a second law of thermodynamics at work. Culture is a temporary factor that keeps capitalism and democracy viable for a time. But that is all.

      If you have questions about this, just look at Mexico, a magnifcent nation and magnificent people, as it falls off the cliff into chaos over the next 20 years.

    • Christopher Hansen says:

      Jeff,

      You may enjoy: THE PROSELYTIZING NATURE OF MARXISM-LENINISM.
      by Radial Radic’, Political Ideology as a Secular Religion

      And:

      A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
      Nicholas Kristof, MAY 7, 2016

      And:

      The article on Jürgen Habermas From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      And:

      How Science Is Resurrecting the Religious Imagination
      06/03/2016 08:00 am ET
      Nathan Gardels
      Editor-in-chief, THEWORLDPOST

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  7. Brooke says:

    Yesterday I was discussing with a co-worker (not a citizen of the United States) about what it means to be patriotic and if American’s are more patriotic than other countries. He defined patriotism as someone who wants to help his fellow man and cares for others. That thought related to your article. Caring for our fellowman and helping them is strongly tied to the types of religious beliefs you describe. I agree we should not minimize the role religion plays in our country’s success.

    ps. After living in Singapore, I loved the example of Lee Kuan Yew dictatorship creating a culture. It’s true! (and very interesting to think about and discuss).

  8. I read your similar speach given to the Boy Scouts years ago. You have put well spoken words to my own observations and experiences. I have lived in Haiti on and off since 2002. I have found your ideas to be very, very accurate. I spent years trying to figure out why this is a failing (some would say already failed) State. I have first hand experience with the majority unable to self regulate. I have found that the widespread mentality is that “it is only wrong if you are caught”. Lying, stealing, pretending, destroying are all a part of the cultural fabric. I am working with young Haitians on a daily basis and the difficulty of changing these traits is extremely difficult. It takes more than just converting them to Christianity. Alas, I am thankful that with the use of your articles, I can explain to others what I have previously been unable to express intelligently. Thank you.

    • Clayton Christensen says:

      Wow, Rebecca. I was particularly jolted by your words, “it is only wrong if you are caught. Lying, stealing, pretending, destroying are all a part of the cultural fabric.” It sounds like the only hope is for some like Lee Kuan Yew to ruler at a very detailed level. Even if 80% were motivated by their religious feelings to follow the rules, it won’t work — because even a small percentage can destroy the society.

      What does your comment implies for America? It feels from your report that democracy and free markets are not on a two-way street. If our religions atrophy so that we are relying on culture for the role of maintaining our instincts to obey the unenforceable laws — and if just an additional 1% of the population each year decides that “it is only wrong if you are caught” — after 20 years it is hard for a society to back-track to an earlier time. – clay

    • Christopher Hansen says:

      To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. –James Madison

      [N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend of the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen onto any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.–Samuel Adams

      Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. –John Adams

      The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. From the day of the Declaration…they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct. –John Quincy Adams, July 4th,1821

      The worship of God is a duty…Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature… I never doubted the existence of the Deity, that he made the world, and governed it by His Providence…The pleasures of this world are rather from God’s goodness than our own merit… Whoever shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world… Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. –Benjamin Franklin

      Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God then tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles. –Patrick Henry

  9. Mark Pickering says:

    I am sympathetic to the arguments you make. But I doubt a reasonable atheist would be persuaded. Consider the following objections he or she could make questioning the relationship between morality and religion:

    1. The argument that religion makes people moral falsely assumes that religion encourages only moral behavior. But in many cases religion encourages immoral behavior. Further, different religions contract one another about what is moral and what is immoral, and people within a given religion also sometimes disagree.

    2. The argument that atheists are morally worse than theists is false. Atheists are, for example, less likely to go to prison. While this could be due to sociological factors (e.g., atheists are more likely to be educated, and educated people are less likely to go to prison), it at least casts doubt on the claim that religious people are more moral than atheists.

    Consider also some empirical challenges to some of the other claims you make.

    3. Americans have become less religious than they were 300 years ago. But capitalism and democracy have, if anything, become stronger, not weaker. The economic crisis of 2007-2008 is hardly the first economic crisis in American history. Consider the financial crises of 1792, 1796-1797, 1819, etc. Or consider the undemocratic restrictions on the civil rights of Native Americans, African-Americans, and women. They were lifted only later, as the country became increasingly secular.

    Consider also ways in which religion works against democracy or capitalism:

    4. It is possible that a democracy will pass laws that contradict the tenets of a religion. In such cases religions sometimes work to undermine democracy. Consider, for example, Iran or Saudi Arabia.

    5. Religion often works against capitalism by discouraging the accumulation of wealth, discouraging working on the Sabbath, discouraging women from working, and sometimes seeking to supplant it entirely (in the case of the United Order or other communes).

    • Dan says:

      Mark, great points. I’m curious though how you are sympathetic to the remarks that were made?

      • Mark Pickering says:

        I mean I wish they were true but I’m not persuaded that they are.

        • Spencer says:

          Mark, In response to your points 1, 4, and 5, I would argue that not all religions equally nurture the behaviors that facilitate democratic and capitalistic success – or morality for that matter. Lawrence Harrison at Tufts University has done an interesting study of the topic: http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Sociology/SocialMovementSocialChange/?view=usa&ci=9780195331806

          To point #2: Atheism is a belief system. To what extent do the tenets of that faith promote individual and societal morality? I don’t see any strong moral doctrines in that faith other than the ones that individual ‘believers’ have adopted from religion.

          You claim in #3 that democracy and capitalism are stronger now than in a previous era. I would argue that democracy is on the decline and that we are living on “momentum” as Clayton states. If you look at the gradual centralization of government within the U.S., the decline of social capital, the waning local participation in civic matters, and the number of people who feel like they are powerless to influence their system you find abundant evidence that our democracy is not as healthy as it once was.

          You make some good points on #4 and #5. I would note, however, that since religion is not intended primarily as a value system for increasing wealth and supporting democracy, it will naturally conflict with some of the principles that enable the success of capitalism and democracy. Religion’s interests transcend economic success and public participation. I would argue that true religion is aimed at the comprehensive well-being of humanity.

          • Paul, the convert says:

            Spencer:

            I admire your effort to argue and defend. The problem with this often turns out to be the same, it is far easier to blow up the building than to build the building. Atheist hyperskeptism is very good at tearing down. Every point you make gives the “reasonable” atheist more information to contend.

            I think Clay gets it right. He’s worried about the future, if these intergeneratioanal buildings get blown up. And he asks what do the atheist offer in their place. This argument about the real world, about our possible future and actual children, the atheist will invariably avoid. Atheism is vapid on everything except no God.

            I think as much as admire your effort, we should just cede the point atheist social scientists can manipulate statistics to show atheists are better than everyone else.

            If the atheist offers a better plan to build, I’m all for taking a look at it. Afterall we’re just a bunch of folks modelling our lives after a carpenter.

            “What institutions are they proposing to establish that have enduring power to teach the next generation of Americans to enthusiastically obey unenforceable laws?”

    • Sam Bhagwat says:

      Interesting and cogent comments, Mark. Thanks for your insight!

      I have two real points to make.

      On your point (2):

      You’re correct, being educated is another explanatory factor. Another one imho, is selection effect: atheism attracts people that are prone to be more ethical than average. Why? Being an atheist now in America requires some willingness to incur social disapproval and stand for up for what you feel is right. This selection effect would vanish should atheism become prevalent.

      My atheist friends from my very Catholic mid-American hometown are fairly moral people compared to the average; not so on the extremely secular Ivy-league caliber campus I study at.

      On your points (1), (3), and (4)

      I think that we need to look into the structure of religion.

      For example, I don’t think ‘religion’ per se was responsible for the Salem witch trials — there was a system of perverse incentives propped up by a particular type of religion, under which is was really easy to get rid of your neighbor. Similar systems of incentives, along with similar amounts of citizen-spying and official intrusion into personal affairs, occurred in Communist countries (see: The Lives of Others).

      What did New England Puritanism and East German atheism have in common? A lack of respect for individual privacy and the proclaimed right of the state to interfere there. It wasn’t the existence (or lack of) religion but the particular belief structure within, and their power to change behavior.

      Clayton points to this, more in passing, as he highlights ‘obedience to the unenforceable’ as the structural factor at play here, or when he highlights the example of Russia where ‘few people are influenced’ by religion.

      As a Latter-day Saint, my concern about secularization is not really the fairly small minority of people that don’t believe in God. I’m worried about the rest of the people adopting hollowed-out religions where they ‘draw near to [God] with their lips’ but keep ‘their hearts far away.’ I’m worried that the religion in their lives may ‘have the form of godliness but deny the power thereof.’
      —-

      (Clayton: on a more personal note, I’m trying to contact you; I sent an e-mail to your HBS address a couple weeks ago but I will re-send it.)

    • rgardner says:

      On your point 2–the author argues that theistic religions tend to promote obedience to “unenforceable” laws. Incarceration rates would seem to measure only adherence to laws tend to be legally enforceable/enforced.

  10. Ian says:

    The basic claim here appears to be that religion provides the best basis for voluntary submission to law. But voluntary submission to law is important for the stability of any political system, not just democratic and capitalist systems. So religion provides a strong foundation for democracy and capitalism, if the law is for democracy and capitalism. And if the law is for, say, monarchy and feudalism, then religion provides a strong foundation for monarchy and feudalism.

  11. Sam Allen says:

    Hello, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important subject. It seems to me that there is a subtler message here: God wants all people to live in Capitalist Democracies. I disagree. First, the rule of the Judges in the Bible, before King Saul, was a theocracy that was hardly capitalistic. Second, 1800’s America was Democratic and Capitalistic and yet my ancestors had to live their life on the run in order to practice their religion, which did not ask them to live capitalism. Third, in modern America capitalism and its accompanying cultural tendencies: monopoly, advertising, war, and national interest-led dictator-supporting foreign policy seem to have left our country’s moral fabric pretty warn out. Fourth, the dictator thing is fascinating. Is prosperity so important? I have spent a few years in Chile. After the rule of their dishonest strongman the now market rules the country. This puts so much strain on the community it is hard to say what the effect is on the people. Money is all-important. Relationships matter to the people culturally, but it is difficult to nourish them because there is so little leisure time for the employed. Religion matters, but family finances are so stressed that only a tiny portion can afford to contribute time, much less money. Over the border, where the market plays a lesser role, all of this is different. It just doesn’t look so simple to me. I agree that religion leads to functioning markets and helps democracy, but I don’t know if there is a positive feedback from these to bolster religion, communities and families in turn. In fact, I think that there is tendency for prosperity to bring pride, which ruins families and churches, and societies. Feeling alone and confused here with this unanimous position. Please help.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      I struggle with this question at a personal a lot, as I have two sons on very opposite theological poles, (I think?) One claims to be an atheist and views the church unfavorably, one is on a mission. Both share the same value set.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a fairly bright line, how you think about God’s omnipotence. (God’s existence seems to be secondary.) If you answer that question correctly than, your world view inclines towards Eyring’s concept of true religion & true science as being compatible. If you answer that question wrong, than your religion is counterproductive.

      In my opinion, Aquinas answered the omnipotence question correctly as God does all that is possible. Descarte answered the omnipotence question incorrectly as God does all that we can imagine.

      (This latter answer is the mother lode for atheists and they clobber our missionaries with this relentlessly. If God can do all that one can imagine, then why did God create a world in which there was so much unfair suffering? So believers are left defending this God of an infinite set of unjust results. The only boundary on the list is the atheist’s imagination.)

      Catholicism is by definition universal and hence tries to answer the question both ways. So Irish & Hispanic Catholics come to the USA and thrive, because our culture is highly practical. This is to say our USA culture inclines Catholics to think of God as doing all that is possible. Whereas many other Catholic countries are trying to integrate more imaginary culture such as Voodoo. This inclines those Catholics towards a less constructive interpretation of their religion.

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  13. Johannes says:

    As a swede just stumbled in here.. I must say I am dumbstruck..

    First
    It wasn’t better in the past. Look at the data.
    Second
    As you may or may not know Sweden was a deeply religious country not so long ago.
    Not so much anymore. I think thats fairly easy to explain as our economy grew after WW2 our living standard became better and people better educated. Now almost 80% don’t believe in god. But we still have a pretty decent democracy. And maybe you will claim that it’s because our christian background. But theres no evidence for that. I realize your need to validate your beliefs. But you don’t learn morals from Christianity. People had laws against stealing long before christianity. Because it just works better that way.

    Actually mosaic law isn’t very moral at all today. So believe what you want but don’t try to hold back secular behavior on account of your beliefs. We’ve seen how that went in the past.

    I’m sorry if I’m if it seems like I’m rude it’s not my meaning. But as you see my English skills are a bit rough around the edges..

    • Paul, the convert says:

      We have more money, this is true. Money does improve the quality of life.

      However, in the USA our incarceration rates have skyrocketed. Things appear better. but there are vast swathes of our lower classes that are very dysfunctional. Our solution is to put the worst in jail and that leads to even more problems.

      In Sweden it seems the country has gone form a haven for Jews during world war 2 to the most Jew hating country in Europe. To Mormons, who view Jews are our religious cousins, this doesn’t seem like progress.

  14. NickT says:

    I agree with Johannes here. Morality is subjective and therefore attributing a set of morals to religion (which religion(s) are we speaking of by the way?) is pointless, since all religions vary (some more than others) in considering what is moral.

    Also, new scientific research (http://emr.sagepub.com/content/3/3/313) hypothesizes that the brain does indeed promote moral behavior by simulating physical sensations to prompt self-examination, which is then capitalized to promote moral behavior.

    In addition to this, there are the countless studies that show that altruism may very well be an evolutionary trait. (See: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/40/1/121/)

    On a different note, I would hardly say “our” (The U.S.) form of capitalism is working. The U.S. uses a diluted form of capitalism, which takes some of the attributes of true free-market capitalism and combines them with just enough government intervention to not allow the free market to work on it’s own, but to allow large corporations to succeed while, in fact, they should fail in a true free market capitalism. Also, in a true free market capitalism there wouldn’t be nearly the amount of corporatism that the U.S. experiences.

    • Samuel says:

      Jeff,
      For your first point, the best evidence is looking at America, and contrasting it with the world’s history. America was probably the most Christian nation ever to be outside of at least a partial theocracy, probably close to the most religous, if not the most religious. No one has paralleled the success of the American experiment in providing freedom, wealth, or innovation.
      Unfortunately, I don’t know there can be any concrete evidence for such sweeping negatives.
      My inability to say much on your other points makes me realize how much I need to learn.

  15. Cedric Whetten says:

    Dr. Christensen, thank you for your essay. Voluntary compliance with social rules and standards is an important topic. Religion, stewardship, personal responsibility and free markets (ability to both choose among competing product offerings AND to control where to reinvest personal capital) are both mutually inseparable and essential for creating circumstances of voluntary compliance.

    A review of your friend George Gilder’s tremendously important books “The Israel Test” and “Knowledge and Power” help shine the light of truth on the topic.

    Interestingly, the need to prioritize capitalism (free enterprise/market economy) over democracy is critical as free markets will produce democracy while democracy may not produce free markets (see democratically elected terrorist groups in Palestinian-controlled areas sans a hint of free markets).

    Additionally, utilizing principles of Information Theory formulated by Claude Shannon, Gilder demonstrates that a non-capricious conduit is essential for carrying information-rich content–content manifested as creative surprise. New information always comes as a surprise; creativity, creation, growth–in contexts of liberty and freedom–will always produce marvelously positive and unexpected results. To the contrary, central planning with coerced implementation can never match the quality and quantity of production stemming from voluntary compliance.

    The U.S Constitution, providing the rule of non-capricious law and the ability to retain/own personal property–personal capital–is the conduit that allows for the tremendous flourishing of creative technological growth. Personal stewardship, personal responsibility for the use of capital–to reinvest and allocate it to areas of personal expertise and knowledge in a context of liberty–voluntary compliance–is what has produced the economic miracle of the last 240+ years.

    Religion, free markets and personal responsibility/accountability create circumstances for voluntary obedience.

  16. Alexis says:

    I think Jeff put it very eloquently. And I have more questions than statements but I did want to touch on Spencers statement about how atheists always invariably avoid the question as to what institutions would we replace religion with when it comes to the real world, possible future and “actual” children. Let me correct that avoidance now.

    I don’t know why morality is automatically lumped with religion but why does it have to be taught in an institution? Religion keeps people obedient by the fear of God. If the only reason you’re bring good is because you’re scared of retribution then I wouldn’t consider you a very moral person. Natural instinct shows “right” and “wrong”. You can learn good values just as easily from family or education for example. Religion teaches unquestionable obedience. You can have respect for people and things but that you should think before following blindly.

    Questions:
    What are these right questions that aren’t being asked that you have referred to multiple times?
    It was mentioned that atheists are trying to get religion out of democracy but that could be turned around. Why are you trying to completely remove us from this? Why are you so against removing religion from government, like it’s supposed to be?

    The last thing I wanna say is about the comment about how atheists don’t have the “intellectual fortitude to discuss, let alone pose solutions.” The worst thing about religion is that it breeds judgment, intolerance and hatred. Someone having different beliefs obviously gives others an excuse to be condescending without any cause our reason.

    • Samuel says:

      “Why are you so against removing religion from government, like it’s supposed to be?”
      like it’s supposed to be? I can tell you the US constitution calls for freedom of religion, and says that “congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.”
      I believe you should vote for and support your values, and I should mine. People say things like “you can’t legislate morality,” but in the end, the question is “whose morality are you going to legislate and how?” Sometimes Christians do shove their values down others throats, but it’s pretty minimal considering the majority that are Christians in the United States.

    • Christopher Hansen says:

      The U.S. Constitution is clear that the Constitution was written in the year of our Lord. That Lord is Jesus Christ according to the documented words of the vast majority of Founding Fathers.

      The Constitution clearly states that there must be a Separation of Church and State. But not the U.S. Constitution. That phrase is found in the 3 constitutions of the USSR and ONE letter by Thomas Jefferson. It has NEVER been the position of the vast majority of the Founding Fathers of this nation and was not even the position of Jefferson except on a Federal level.

      Of the 13 original united States only New York’s constitution did not have a religious requirement. Most had State religions. In many States if you were not a Christian you could not vote or hold office. Because they understood what would happen to liberty if that was allowed. The First Amendment was not applied to the States until the 1940s. This “Separation of Church and State” fraud was perpetrated upon us by those that support Marxist principles, like atheism, including a Separation of Church and State.

      When I want to know how to make something work I like to read the instructions given by the people that invented the product. In the case of the USA that would be the Founding Fathers. Here is what the Father of this Country said in answer to your question: “I don’t know why morality is automatically lumped with religion but why does it have to be taught in an institution?”

      “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.” –George Washington

  17. Diane Livingston says:

    Thank you for putting into words what has been rolling around in my head for a long time. Our children are hit on many fronts with dishonesty through the media, etc. It is important for us to keep pressing home the importance of honesty in the little things which will translate to the big things in their future work. Just as it is meaningful to point a child’s teacher on their homework requirements, teaching a child about integrity is more powerful when they understand that it is not merely a parent requiring if of a child, but their God who loves and wants the best for them. Unenforceable behaviors of integrity-what a perfect way to verbalize it.

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  19. Great Insight Clay! I am a practicing Architect from India. My mother is of Thai origin and so I am quite familiar with Thailand and its culture. I remember my mother used tell me how Thailand has grown as a developing nation during her early years from a humble agricultural economy to a industrialized nation with all the world class facilities. The major religion practiced in Thailand is Buddhism. If you look at Buddhism and jot down its principles such as Compassion, Kindness, Service to the society, spiritual growth etc., you will find that in almost every place in Thailand, whether a local vegetable market to a 5 star hotel, you can see the same principles manifest into good moral conduct of helpful behaviour and kind hospitality. Interestingly, the Tourism sector of Thailand is the biggest contributor to its GDP, in fact, larger than any other Asian nation. I would say that the spirit of service to others and good moral behaviour is prevalent throughout the country and it might be so because its people are deeply rooted to their religion, whether rich or poor. In addition to that, Buddhism emphasizes on the sufferings in life and teaches, that the only way to live a happy life is by performing your duty well and selfless service to others. This could be one of the reasons, that in spite of many economic recessions, political turbulences and natural disasters like floods, the people of Thailand have risen up every time with good results and with a large number of tourists visiting the country every year, vastly contributing to its economy.

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  21. Christopher Hansen says:

    How wonderful to read these words in your article: “atheistic religions of secularism”.

    These “religions” are being unconstitutionally established in the USA. I am a tax avoider not a tax evader. I have letters from the IRS that I am not required to file and my TWO licensed attorneys have informed me that I am doing everything legally. Income tax is a Marxist tax and I refuse to pay for their religion. I do not have a Social Security Number because the LDS First Presidency told us that we are not to lend aid or even sympathy to socialism. President Grant stated that Social Security was in opposition to the teaching of Jesus Christ, therefore I cannot be a part of a Satanic system. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 100% supported by the LDS Church leadership has been my tax avoidance protection. I have not filed now in over 37 years. Your belief about our government was repeatedly stated by the Founding Fathers. My favorite is by Ben Franklin to Congress at the Constitutional Convention: “We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a bye word down to the future ages.”

    We are becoming a reproach and a bye word because we have not followed the plan to protect liberty in this nation.

  22. Greg Buttars says:

    Might I suggest another possibility? It seems to me that the democracy we hold to in the United States has at its core a determination to find a common set of values which could be respected by all while maintaining the right to individual thought and interpretation especially on the subject of religion. This was no small undertaking. The effort continues today, as we confront what seems to be a growing list of conflicting ideas and interests. To me our struggle has lost it’s original focus, that of determining common values which could and should be respected by all. Instead, we have substituted an almost unrelenting determination to find ways to separate. Perhaps in our effort to be unique and to find some level of laudable success, we have given up on the peace and joy that come from our association and respect for one another. We would, it seems rather be right than happy.

    • Christopher Hansen says:

      Thank you so much for your comments. But when you say: “the democracy we hold to…” I have to declare that I don’t hold to democracy. I hold to the long dead republic that died in 1913 AD. The Founders did not support a democracy and considered it mob rule. I also agree with George Washington and James Madison that you cannot have liberty without morality and you cannot have morality without religion. They were correct. The religion of the Founders was, to a large extent, Protestant, according to the original 13 State Constitutions. In the vast majority of USA States you had to be a Protestant to hold office. I am NOT a Protestant but history is history. The people of the USA were united in that faith and so they could work together. That cannot occur again in the USA and so we are in need of masters because: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” –Benjamin Franklin.

      The USA has established these new “atheistic religions of secularism”, born of Marxism, in a largely successful attempt to make people to be good little devout socialists. But socialism by force of law enforced by the IRS, is anathema Christianity. The “Sacred trust” of Social Security and the IRS are in direct opposition to the words of the Founding Fathers. “We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.” Today Americans CAN endure that infamy and guilt and passionately enforce that bondage on the youngest generations. This generation and the one before it has been under hereditary bondage because of “Sacred” Social Security and paper debt notes people falsely believe are dollars. I loved this article an others like it by social scientists because it adds to the weight of evidence that the U.S. has an unconstitutional establishment of the secular religion of socialism. This gives me a well founded legal argument that the U.S. government has unconstitutionally established a secular religion. This greatly assists me in remaining free of this Karl Marx inspired religion and tax system by using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as my greatest shield. You see I don’t have a Social Security Number and I don’t pay income taxes because I am required by my religion and church and prophets to “eschew socialism.” I cannot be a member of this civil religion that I believe is Satanic. I cannot have common values with people that would enslave my children and grandchildren into the hereditary bondage of the “Sacred Trust” of Social Security. There is no common ground there. Rebellion to tyrants is, after all, obedience to God.

      My religion/church is the same as Dr. Christensen’s and our leaders have repeatedly stated that this secular socialist religion is Satan’s counterfeit religion. I can see no solution to this difficulty as the practitioners of the Socialist religion will not let us live in peace unless we pay their tithing/tax. These two religions cannot go along and get along. As the Bible says: You must choose upon which side of the fence you will stand. I made my choice and I rejected the “atheistic religions of secularism” established unconstitutionally by the U.S. as my duty to God. And everything I do I do peacefully using peaceful civil disobedience and the courts.

      I hope you can understand my reasoning and faith. I simply cannot have common ground with people that support and enforce hereditary bondage. I love my children and grandchildren too much to compromise in the smallest degree with such beliefs. And again I thank you for your comments.

  23. Greg Buttars says:

    Christopher,
    I must admit that I did just a bit of baiting, purposefully choosing the word democracy. I am aware that we live under the auspices of a very loose republic. Your post is in itself instructive. I can imagine you and I sitting in that oppressively hot room among the founders, now nearly forgotten, sitting on opposite sides of the room, convinced that we could never come to any agreement. That division could have proven insurmountable, and would have doomed our fledgling union to almost certain failure were it not for the determination of some incredible, and yes flawed individuals, who would not be deterred in the effort to find common ground. Who is to say what motivated the individuals call upon to undertake such an impossible task. Fear of failure, perhaps? You may be interested to know that I am a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, much like yourself. Though we share a core value system we would likely disagree on a number of issues relating to the topic at hand. You seem, as do many, to have given up on the hope which drove the founders, suggesting that we can no longer hope to live together in any sort of harmony. You will prove yourself prophetic, if you are not willing to seek the good, that I would submit to you, exists in every person you encounter. Some of the greatest life lessons I have experienced have come through associations I have been blessed to share with individuals with whom, on face value, I had nothing in common. It is not my practice to engage in this type of discussion, as it seem that such exchanges all too soon to deteriorate into some type of name calling or other useless banter. I have chosen to do so in the hope that someone, perhaps you,one much more eloquent than I, would come to understand that our success as a nation really depends on our ability to find the good in one another, and that those champions of what some might call a long dead notion, would speak up and give voice to my hope. I don’t know you, or for that matter anyone else who will participate in this discussion, but the very fact that you are here, gives me hope that you are contemplating our world and trying to find a meaningful future. I would ask all to step back from the hopelessness that can so easy to overcome us, as we watch the latest horror brought to us in living ultra high def., and see that good does still exist. It may be hard to find, but it does exist. It is up to each of us to seek for it. It is a very simple undertaking to find reason for fault or division. Much more difficult is the quest for unity and understanding. I am a simple man, perhaps delusional in the belief that there are those in the audience of this discussion who can provide voice to my desire for the rising generation to sue for the ever more challenging peace instead of the all too simple hate or even worse surrender to complete apathy. We are better than that.

    • Christopher Hansen says:

      Funny. My daughter is Gay. I attended her wedding and was and am fully supportive of her decision. I see great good in her. She is, to me, a much better and more righteous person than most, if not all, of the people I go to church with. She puts liberty above all else and eschews socialism while members that believe themselves to be true the faith can not be true to the faith because they are practicing socialist. They made a choice about which religion they follow. They choose which side of the fence they wanted to be on.

      LDS doctrine is: “Latter-day Saints can not be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies (socialism, communism, fascism). The WAR in heaven was fought over that issue. Liberty. It is the most important LDS religious doctrine. Without it no other doctrine holds any meaning. Satan has won. Do you think that Lucifer and Michael looked for common ground? Or was that why there was a WAR? How have the peace negotiations gone between Heaven and Satan do you think?

      I have been called an ultra conservative by the State news agencies repeatedly (I was very politically active for 50 years) and yet I have worked closely with the ACLU on many issues. I have worked with the LGBT community and done charity work for them. I have worked with Democrats to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment and worked with Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and even Greens fighting against the USAPATRIOT ACT. But these “good” people are the everyday, go to work, struggle with life kind of folks. The people that run our democracy/tyranny are the Bankers. They own the U.S. government and they seek to steal liberty from my children. They are Satan’s minions. They are his priests. They support evil. They are a very dangerous enemy that cares not for life, liberty or MY property. And I don’t hate them any more than Captain Moroni hated his enemies. Hate is Satanic.

      The Founders tried for Common ground with the King. It didn’t work and they took up arms because: “Death is more eligible than slavery, a free-born people are not required by the religion of Jesus Christ to submit to tyranny, but may make use of such power as God has given them to recover and support their laws and liberties…”

      If a thief broke into your home and threatened your family would you seek for common ground and a peaceful resolution or shoot him to free your child and protect your wife?

      I have never met a “good” IRS agent. I have met some wonderful ex-IRS agents. I have never met a Cop that wasn’t crooked since about 1976. They all know other dirty Cops and do nothing about it because if they do they will be kicked off the force today. I do have many ex-Cop friends. They quit because it was too corrupt. I have great hope because the debt is 50 trillion and cannot be paid off. This will cause a collapse that cannot be stopped. I have great hope because the Hancock prophesy has only one major section that has not been fulfilled and that is the invasion of the USA by foreign troops. I look forward to the Men in the mountains coming down and reestablishing the Constitution toward the end of the conflict.

      As Elder Benson told General Conference: “The war in heaven is raging on earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle?”

      Not the peace negotiations. War. Not peace but battle. I fight that war peacefully and in the courts and I have, to date, won. I am not a Socialist while living in a Socialist nation. Neither are my children or my grandchildren. That is more than just HOPE. That is knowledge. I don’t have faith I can succeed in remaining free. I have confidence because of past victories.

      I not only believe in a meaningful future I expect it. After all…Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth… Who can ask for more?

      When Christ reigns do you think that I will need to defend my life, liberty, religion and property from Socialists?

  24. Greg Buttars says:

    Christopher,
    I am sorry it has taken so long for me to get back to this. I found myself wishing you and I were in the same place and could have time to talk in depth on many topics. Let me try, if I might, to address just a few things. I think your experience with your daughter will one day be one of those choice blessings you will be forever grateful to have worked through. I think in many ways it is an example of the point I am trying to make. On some level it would have been an easy thing for you give up on her, simply because she has made choices you disagree with. However, as you have so eloquently pointed out, your daughter is an amazing person with wonderful talents and abilities which will enable her to contribute much. I hope that she has had the opportunity to hold on to her faith. I spent many years working in the recording industry and have several friends dealing with similar issues. I am sad to think that there are many within and outside the church who will not be kind to her. I guess I would ask you to apply the same understanding vision to anyone you meet. While I would agree that there is evil on the earth today on a level never know in the history of the world, I would submit that there is a level of goodness just as powerful. A couple of your examples really hit home to me. I had an experience many years ago while incorporating my small business. I found myself at the local IRS office seeking information and some required documentation. I have to admit that my attitude toward the IRS at the time was not unlike your own. I entered the building fully expecting an unpleasant encounter. A man came to the counter to provide assistance, and I really have to say, from the very first words he spoke there was something special about him. He provided me with excellent help and quit honestly made my day. Some years later I moved into a new neighborhood. As we entered the chapel, on our first Sunday there, I saw that very man across the room. I had the pleasure of getting to know him and, as you might imagine,soon asked him what could have possible given him reason to work at the IRS. His answer was instructive. He was not unaware of the, for lack of a better term, corruption in the IRS. He, however, wanted to do what he could to help people navigate the treacherous waters at the IRS. My point? Here was a great man, doing a great and perhaps rare service in an unlikely place. I am glad to know him. I have learned from him, that sometimes, in order to do good, you have to venture into the belly of the beast.
    The next comment that caused me to think was your question about Michael and Lucifer. I would submit to you that Michael did everything in his power to find common ground with Lucifer. I think that that the rebellion of Lucifer and a third of the hosts of heaven was heartbreaking to all of us. These were our brothers and sisters choosing a completely unthinkable path. To be honest I wonder from time to time about the “average Joe” so to speak in that group. Did they have any concept of where this would lead them. Could the possibly envision just how much they were giving up to follow an obviously charismatic but wicked leader. I think of the prophet leaders from the Book of Mormon who, as soon as they were personally converted to the gospel, quickly turned there hearts to their Lamanite brothers who, more often than not we trying to kill them. Every effort was made to find “common ground”. Enos comes to mind. Then of course we have the wonderful descriptions of the sons of Mosiah who, against the advise of every other sensible Nephite, ventured into the Lamanite world and were able to save so many. Think of that first encounter with King Lamoni. Here is a King who only days before had killed a number of his servants simply for “allowing” the kings sheep to be stolen. What a change came to this man when he learned the truth. Captain Moroni is such a great example of what we can still be when faced with uninvited war. We are told of his goodness in spite of his duty in a horrific war. I think often of Mormon as he attempts to lead his wicked people, all the while praying that they would repent of their evil. He, for a time, refuses to lead them but in the end can’t stand by to watch their destruction. The good news for you and I is that we know how this ends. Yes, there will be destruction, likely similar to the destruction described in 3rd Nephi but, life will continue. To be honest I long for that day when peace will finally be returned to the Earth and for a thousand years Lucifer’s efforts will have no effect because of the goodness of the people. Please consider, that at the beginning of that thousand years, there will still be people of many faiths. It will take some time, even with the Savior living among us, for all to be taught the fullness of the gospel. If you recall it was nearly a year after the Saviors visit to the Americas before the people were all of one faith. Well, I am rambling. Let me just suggest that you not allow Lucifer to rob you of the immense joy which will be part of these last days as we prepare to welcome our Savior home. Yes, there will be plenty of trials but blessings will also be in rich abundance as well. Interspersed in the tide of evil in the world are wonderful, amazing people who will bless your life richly if you will allow them in. In my mind I have a new cherished friend in you. I wish you great joy in the years to come. Should you find yourself in Utah, I would love to meet you.

  25. Christopher Hansen says:

    YES! That would be fun to sit down and talk.

    The experience with my daughter is already known to me to be a choice blessing. Her faith in the gospel and Christ and the Book of Mormon is rock solid. Her faith in the membership and local church leadership is non-existent. It is difficult to support practicing socialists pretending to be “true to the faith” LDS. She has been involved in liberty politics since she was old enough to carry a political flier. She is not hurt by voluntary American serfs that believe she is scum. It is a family talent. You learn it or wallow itself-pity.

    My other daughter, my adopted daughter, has Multiple Personality Disorder now called Dissociative Disorder…27 documented personalities. Male, female and even animal. That taught me more about humanity and forgiveness than any other experience in my life.

    Concerning your IRS friend: The IRS is very kind to those that give them “voluntary compliance”. The man that assisted you helped you to comply with tyranny and the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto. Is that actually being helpful?

    “The real point of audits is to instill fear, not to extract revenue; the IRS aims at winning through intimidation and (thereby) getting maximum voluntary compliance.” –Paul Strassel, Former IRS Headquarters Agent `Wall St. Journal’ 1/28/80

    To be blatantly frank… The IRS employee helped you be a “voluntary slave,” in the words of the Founding Fathers. Much like a master patting an obedient dog on the head. But growl and ask them for the Delegation of Authority Order or what law requires you to obtain a Social Security Number or how did you “volunteer” or which of the many U.S. dollars (to FRNs) you MUST use to measure the “value” of your income, or what law requires you to file or how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to the IRC and watch the horns emerge. Satan will tell a thousand lies to get anyone to believe a lie. The IRS is very good at following their Master’s techniques.

    If a member of the Nazi party helped you to comply with the Nazi rules to capture and arrest Jews and Gypsies would you consider him a great man helping you out so you could help the Nazis with their laws while you/they were in the belly of the beast?

    I agree with you about Michael and Lucifer BEFORE the war in Heaven. But the prophets have said we ARE at war and informed us who the enemies are. The negotiation stage is long gone. “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – but there is no peace. – The war is actually begun!” I don’t compromise with known active enemies of liberty. I WILL let THEM compromise with ME. My work with the Democrats, Republicans, LGBT groups and the ACLU was done because they were helping to fight government tyranny in a single issue. They were helping me fight and I did not need to compromise.

    The Book of Mormon is, indeed, a very good example. The prophets let the wicked compromise THEIR principles. They let them repent. If they didn’t then…”But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword…”

    “And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom.”

    Just like Michael and Lucifer. Try to let them repent and if not then go to WAR! But NEVER compromise your Godly liberty loving principles. The same thing the Founding Fathers did. “We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. – Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us.”

    I have no doubt that there will be people of many different faiths when Christ returns. What makes me sad is that I believe that the LDS will be a VERY small minority because they have rejected the prophets and embraced the counterfeit religion of Satan, which is Socialism, and therefore, “CAN NOT be true to the faith” according to the prophets.

    The blessings in my life have already been incredible and I EXPECT more of the same. I was saved by an angel in a triple rollover. That angel spoke to me and told me to, “Let go, I’ve got you.” My faith turned into knowledge. My eldest son’s broken neck was healed instantly by a priesthood blessing and medically confirmed (7 tests). We raised my youngest son from the dead after he was killed in an accident. Weeks later he was able to accurately describe the whole incident after he was out cold and not breathing but was watching us from about 20 feet in the air. Christ personally put my daughter on His lap and comforted her when her mother was very ill. He told her everything would be all right if she just loved everybody. She has kept true to the counsel. I was TOLD to adopt another daughter during a very angry prayer. In very clear words when I asked if I really had to adopt her I got the answer. “YOU’D BETTER.” That is a very short list. So I EXPECT miracles. I expect wonders. I don’t fear my enemies. I weep for them. My wife and I even have a belief that Judas was actually Christ’s best friend and Judas was the only apostle He could trust. The Jewish Priests then lied about what really happened in a conspiracy to create a patsy fall guy.

    My friends are everyone from Wiccans to Odinists. Gays to Protestants. Atheists to Catholics. And of course Pirates. I have few friends in the Church as I just don’t do well with blatant hypocrites (my weakness). My belief is that where much is given much is expected. I simply expect more of LDS.

    Concerning meeting you: My father’s family moved to Ogden, Utah from Denmark. My wife’s family includes the Hales (not Emma’s) who, when they completed over 5,000 names of family names given to them by their ex-communicated former apostle (he refused to be a polygamist) the Logan Temple lit up, inside and out (before electricity), for two days. The singing of angels was also heard coming from the top floor in the temple (as reported in the newspaper). I cannot believe that the excommunicated apostle is not now sitting on the right hand of Christ with those that excommunicated him.

    So if I come to Utah I would love to meet you. My wife and I are doing our genealogy and have met many of her unknown non-member family members from around the country. She was even able to discover, due to her research and new friends, that her family had a disease, pernicious anemia, that had killed several grandmothers. The doctors had misdiagnosed her for 30 years as having MS. They were wrong and she actually has PN. She is now getting well slowly. Another miracle. Well of course it was. I am a native Nevadan. My Dad moved here from Ogden after his parents divorced (and yet later sealed due to a dream by my grandmother). We both want to travel around the USA and the Logan Temple, Salt Lake City (to see where the Hales had their property just down the street from the temple) and the school in Idaho that brother Hale built in the 1800s.

    My wife has family from the Northeast (since 1620) and I have many from the Southeast (since 1622) so we want to travel the country to see their cities, States and homes and hopefully find more names. We also want to go see the battlefields from the Revolutionary War as we have 26 documented U.S. patriots in our genealogy.

    So maybe we will get the chance to meet.

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