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You do not have to smoke marijuana, inject heroin, or understand The Wire to realize that the War on Drugs is unconstitutional and immoral. Indeed, the drug war is anathema to individual liberty, and the thinking Christian should reject it on every level.

Occasionally, there are even thinking Christians in office like Ron Paul, or my friend in the Texas House Representative David Simpson (keynote speaker at the first Christians for Liberty Conference last August). Yesterday, Rep. Simpson introduced legislation (HB 2165) that will completely decriminalize marijuana and make it the equivalent of “tomatoes, jalapenos, or coffee” in the eyes of the law.

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Feb
24

Sniper Theology

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There came out of the woodwork after George W. Bush’s immoral, unjust, and unnecessary invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq certain groups of Christians—many of whom wear cross and flag lapel pins or American flag lapel pins in the shape of a cross.

I have identified them as Christian armchair warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, nuclear Christians, and God and country Christian bumpkins.

With the advent of the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History in 2012 and the movie American Sniper in 2014 — both about Chris Kyle, “deadliest sniper in American history” — there has arisen another class of Christians that many in the previous groups have joined as well: sniper theologians.

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I received an excellent question today from a new reader whom we will call D., and I thought it was so great that it would be worth sharing with you:

Thank you for this website. I have read some of the topics and they are very interesting.

I have just started looking at whether a Christian can be a libertarian. I used to think I was a social conservative, but after watching Senator Rand Paul, I started searching for more information on libertarianism. I found the website libertarianism.com, produced by the Cato Institute.

I reasoned much like them, however, they seem to imply that religion is evil or at least incompatible with reason. Hence my search for more information on libertarianism.

Dr. Horn, what is your religious background? Why doesn’t social conservatism (or conservatism in general) satisfy your biblical and philosophical worldview?

Besides your website, where can I find more information for some one like me who’s just beginning to look for a libertarianism from a biblical point of view?

What is your objective/goal of your organization?

–D.

My response:

Greetings D.,

I’m really glad you emailed me. Thanks for your questions.

My background is in the Churches of Christ (Stone-Campbell tradition, to be clear). It’s a very theologically conservative denomination, but often leans politically conservative as well. I found upon reading economics and political philosophy that I could not reconcile why political conservatism was a good thing. I became increasingly aware of the pathological lying that politicians do, and I realized that conservatism (and, thus, most conservatives) did not actually believe in the things that I knew in my heart were good and right.

Libertarianism was the only logical conclusion. The more I studied, the more I thought that libertarianism was the most consistent expression of Christian political thought. Sure, I still held to most, if not all, the social/moral teachings of the church, but what right did I have to use FORCE against people with whom I disagreed? If a person is not acting in an aggressive manner, I may not raise my hand against them to do harm. Is not my Christian witness the better means of convincing them to change anyway? In this way, we see a convergence of the proper view of Christian tolerance with a libertarian principle of tolerance in the social arena.

Additionally, everywhere I looked in Scripture it was clear that the State was not only NOT the Kingdom of God, but the State was moreover the enemy of God throughout the Bible! Whether you’re looking at the Tower of Babel or Revelation, statism clearly positions itself in opposition to God. You’ll find lots of information about this topic on LibertarianChristians.com, such as my recent talk on the topic.

There are a variety of websites out there that discuss liberty and Christianity, but few that do it as frequently and as thoroughly as LibertarianChristians.com. I would check out the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics and the Acton Institute, although both of those organizations focus more on explaining economic issues than explaining libertarian philosophy. They are good orgs, though, and I highly recommend them. There are also a few other Christian libertarian blogs out there too, such as The Reformed Libertarian and Food For Thinkers, but they do not quite have the same reach as LCC. Of course, you can find articles about Christianity and Liberty at major org websites like FEE.org, Mises.org, Cato.org, the Independent Institute, LewRockwell.com, and many more I imagine. However, they take a more general approach toward libertarianism, whereas LCC is much more specifically targeted for Christians.

It’s funny you would ask about the goals of the organization, because we are going through a major growth phase right now. Last year we hosted the first Christians For Liberty Conference in Austin, Texas and we are hosting another this August. Furthermore, we have begun a new small groups program in which we are connecting Christian libertarians together for fellowship and learning. It’s still very early right now for this, but I hope you’ll join one of our groups when we start one in your area. Of course, our overarching goal is to demonstrate why libertarianism is the natural political philosophy for the Christian, and create more Christian libertarians in the process.

Thanks again for your questions.

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During a breakout session at the 2015 International Students for Liberty Conference, I was part of a panel with Norman Horn, Jason Rink, and Chris Wolske. In brief comments before a Q&A for the panel, I shared a word on why I am a libertarian and a Christian. Below are the notes I wrote down and shared with the audience. 

Being a Christian and a libertarian are not merely two groups with whom I happen to identify. I am not a libertarian who happens to be a Christian, nor a Christian who happens to be a libertarian. The connection between liberty and my Christian faith runs deeper than that.

We live in a world dominated by empire, and I believe the message of Jesus is relevant to and necessary for healing what is wrong in our world.

Whether we are citizens of the empire or citizens of nations dominated by the empire, we have a joint responsibility to communicate the alternative message of peace in an age where violence is an acceptable means to achieve worthwhile goals.

Because I am an evangelical protestant I can only speak of my knowledge in evangelicalism, but there is a major paradigm shift happening that some say happen every 500 years or so. We are experiencing a Great Emergence in society, an emergence away from centralizing authority and concentrated power. This shift presents an opportunity for libertarians in the Church because the Church has yet to build a coherent theology of the State. (There are indeed academic works available that address the issues near and dear to libertarians’ hearts, but the active living out of these ideas is foreign to American Christians.)

This conversational shift typically focuses on issues such as peace, reconciliation, and social justice. Faith communities dedicated to a theology of peace and reconciliation are often either non-participatory in nature (Anabaptism) or gives the State a pass for wielding violence (Progressives). Those who press for social justice are often naive and appear to need of a heavy dose of economics to bring them back to reality. This is not to be an excuse to do nothing, but ought to provide a framework from within which human beings can move forward in cooperation in a pluralist society.

It is often assumed that Jesus was not political, which sort of delegates his role to Secretary of Afterlife Affairs. But the gospel of Jesus is indeed political, but in ways we have not always expected. The gospel of Jesus is the announcement of God’s movement through the world, and is essentially an invitation to join God’s movement. In context this meant a movement away from the violent impulses against the Roman Empire’s occupation of Israel. Jesus picks up on the prophetic tradition that eschews violence and envisions a world where those who are otherwise at odds with one another are no longer in conflict.

As pastor-poet Brian Zahnd has said, “Empires are rich and powerful nations which believe they have a right to rule other nations and a manifest destiny to shape the world according to their agenda. God regards this as a transgression upon his sovereignty… The throne of God and political empire will always be in opposition to one another. God and Satan will always be in opposition to one another.”

If the gospel is the announcement that Jesus is Lord, by implication this means Caesar is not. By further implication it also means, “and everybody else is not.”

This is why I’m a libertarian Christian. I believe God’s nature is such that God gives us the freedom to choose how we act in a world stricken by violence. I believe that God has spoken to us the truth in Jesus. Jesus is what God has to say. The message of Jesus, the gospel, is a counter-script to the oppressing narrative of empire and its demand for allegiance.

I’m very passionate about how to converse with those with whom we disagree, whether they are antagonistic or mildly interested. I strive for discussing the following three basic principles:

1. Anything Peaceful – if our solutions are not predicated upon a commitment to peace, we’re doing it wrong

2. State ≠ Society – a single institution does not represent society, especially the larger the number of persons is supposedly represents

3. Don’t Tread on Anyone – the logical implication for liberty is that it applies equally to all, especially for those who are otherwise unable to defend themselves

For more details about these three principles (and comments I had to leave out due to time), please check out my talk from Christians for Liberty 2014.

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This guest post is by Ben Jones. Mr. Jones is a campaign strategist for Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) and works in support of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, a project of EJUSA. Even if you disagree with Mr. Jones, you must admit that it is worthwhile to challenge and to evaluate occasionally our deeply-held ideas. Take this opportunity to expand your mind and consider another point of view.

Especially for death penalty proponents, Romans 13:4 has come to occupy a central role in debates on capital punishment. There Paul writes: “[I]f you do what is wrong, you should be afraid for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.” Notably, Southern Baptists cite Romans 13:4 in their church’s official statement supporting capital punishment. Read More→

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Who is behind LCC?

Norman Horn is the creator and primary writer for LCC. Learn a little bit about him in the About Page. You can write him a note or ask a question at the Contact Page. Follow him on Twitter.
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