Monday, July 11, 2011


Missionary Zeal in American Politics

As a college student I took a course in medieval history.  The Christian Church was an important institution then and the teacher spent a lot of time discussing the history and the nature of the Church.  His name was Professor Harry Hubert Kimber, and I may have mentioned him before in these opinionated musings.  He stated that Christianity was and is a missionary religion.  Its adherents are bound to convert all people to Christianity, and more particularly to their particular sect.  Catholics try to convert others to Catholicism; Baptists to the Baptist belief; and so on.

The same is true of Islam.  Muslims are similarly bound by their belief to convert the infidel to Islam, the one true faith.

The same is not true of Judaism or Buddhism.  It's next to impossible for a non-Jew to convert to Judaism.  Buddha taught that each person should make up his or her own mind about whether to accept his teachings.

All of these reminiscences introduce the idea of this post.  Many Americans have deep ideological beliefs about what kind of government and what kind of society we should have.  These beliefs are not based on public opinion or public judgment or democracy.  They transcend all that.  I refer to the beliefs of some members of the Republican Party.  These beliefs seem to be as follows, in part:
Just as the missionary religious used force and fear of death to convert the infidel and heathens to the true faiths, so these missionary Republicans are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring about the society they believe in.  It's too bad that they have to drag the rest of us along with them.


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