September 1, 2003
[Ed. Note: Anthony Judge, the Assistant Secretary-General, Director of Communications and Research of the Union of International Associations (Brussels, Belgium), has graciously written for Swans this short introduction to his thorough paper, Future Challenge of Faith-based Governance. The full paper is posted on his Web site, laetus in praesens, and can be directly reached with its TOC at http://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs00s/richris.php. At our request this introduction principally covers the first part of the paper, Patterns of the Past: Christian Complicity in Global Disorder.]
This paper is an attempt to address the possible consequences of faith-based governance implemented worldwide as a consequence of the aspirations of the Christian-inspired Coalition of the Willing to impose a global American hegemony. It is suggested that this endeavour will be seen as an ideal opportunity by many evangelical Christian supporters of George Bush through which fulfilment of the long-standing missionary aspiration can be brought to completion. This "Great Commission" to evangelize the world derives from the Biblical injunction: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28 : 16-20).
The first part of the paper is entitled Patterns of the Past: Christian Complicity in Global Disorder. It reviews the implications of faith-based governance, policies and programmes in the past. Specific attention is given to the emerging notion of infallibility in Christian leadership as typified by the cases of George Bush and Tony Blair. This leads into an exploration of democratic contradictions in faith-based politics and raises the question of how political parties such as the Republicans and Democrats may be obliged to position themselves in the future. Given the Republican faith-based leadership, is it a case that a vote for Republicans can be framed as a vote for God?
The point is made that many strategic dilemmas that have proven problematic to past decades are easily resolved under a faith-based leadership whose decisions -- guided by God -- must necessarily be appropriate. Critics can readily be framed as expressing the voice of Satan. Under such circumstances, the treatment of faith-based evidence becomes a matter of pre-selecting and enhancing evidence so as not to confuse investigators and lead them to conclusions contrary to God's will. In the light of such evidence it becomes a relatively simple matter to identity Evil and its agents, and to frame the latter appropriately. This provides a coherent context for faith-based justice. A particular difficulty is sustaining such coherence lies in the problematic relations between the various faiths, and notably between the various Christian sects who may not wholeheartedly buy into the belief system of the faith-based leadership.
Under Christian-inspired faith-based leadership, it is nevertheless important to recognize the degree to which those of Christian faith buy into the current process of withdrawal of hard-won human rights. More precisely this extends to the effective support of Christians for torture undertaken in their name under such leadership.
The paper explores the long tradition of faith-based military action and the role of military chaplains -- notably in relation to torture undertaken by their colleagues who may well be born-again Christians. The intolerance of disagreement, and the avoidance of dialogue with dissenters, under faith-based leadership is explored. The point is made that, despite the traditional Christian disposition to dialogue, with respect to dissenters this is now preferably undertaken under restraint and torture.
The particular approach of Christianity to the transference of moral responsibility for deferred pain is considered, notably in relation to the empty promises made in the present to those in desperation -- in the full expectation that they will be broken in the future under circumstances that can be plausibly blamed on others. The manner in which the various "Christian" faiths allow a "Christian leadership" to act in their name is considered in the light of the ability of each sect to opt out of responsibility for any specific actions undertaken by another.
On the assumption that present trends -- reinforced by the faith-based leadership of the Coalition of the Willing in support of American world hegemony -- will indeed result in a faith-based approach to world governance, the second part of the paper explores (from a much more positive perspective) some of the challenges to be faced in the process of bringing about a viable postsecular society. It is entitled Towards Fruitful Patterns of Faith-based Governance. Such a society is one with a renewed interest in the spiritual life. It is postsecular rather than presecular because it renews the inquiry into the spiritual life by building on the hard-won rights and democratic freedoms of expression in the secular world.
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Being There - Anthony Judge
Anthony Judge is Assistant Secretary-General, Director of Communications and Research of the Union of International Associations (Brussels, Belgium), a nonprofit clearing house founded in 1907 for information on over 40,000 international organizations and constituencies. This piece was first published on his own personal Web site, laetus in praesens. To learn more about Anthony Judge please read his bio.
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