Is America the Last, Best Hope of the World?

This guest article is by Jeff Wright. Jeff is the founder of the Evangelicals for Liberty blog. He is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. You can also find him on Twitter at @jeffwrightjr. 

The idea that America is the last, best hope of the world is the spirit that animates a great deal of political activity in our country. The “last, best hope” is one of the most enduring rallying cries preached to garner support and enthusiasm for major government initiatives throughout American history. It has become such a widely accepted notion that its veracity and relevance for lawmaking and executive action is simply assumed, even among Christians.

In his first inaugural address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson reasoned, “I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want [lack] energy to preserve itself? I trust not.” Jefferson lifted America’s republican form of government up as the world’s best hope.

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The Christian Case for Drug Law Reform

Photo by Paciarotta

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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The Death Penalty Red Herring

During debate, red herring statements are designed to distract hearers from better made arguments. Although irrelevant, red herrings appear so nearly germane to a topic that they are frequently accepted as evidence by all but the most discerning listener.

When discussing the death penalty, two “conservative” red herrings are frequently offered. If asked whether the death penalty should remain a sentencing option, individuals often assert that some crimes deserve the harshest penalty imaginable. Additionally, there are criminals who cannot be rehabilitated – prison will not instigate the behavior change for which it is designed. These statements can be accepted as true.

Furthermore, Christians acknowledge that God – the Creator of life – includes provisions for the death penalty in his revealed word. The Pentateuch commands the death penalty for murder (Numbers 35: 16), adultery (Leviticus 20: 10), blasphemy (Leviticus 24: 14) and numerous other crimes. Again, this assertion can be accepted as true.

Although these statements are factual, they remain red herrings. The capital punishment debate asks whether the state should be permitted to intentionally end life as a means of punishment. Responses which affirm that some crimes deserve death, that some criminals cannot be rehabilitated, and that the death penalty is included in the Bible appear compelling, but they evade the question.

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