June 20, 2019


Protestant Duty & American Democracy (Mark Tooley, June 20, 2019, Providence)

I disagree with Walker that liberal democracy, if understood as the Anglo-American political/constitutional tradition, is not a "good unto itself." Fervently I believe this tradition has been not just a positive good but a unique and tremendous contribution to the uplift of humanity, politically, materially, intellectually and spiritually.

The Anglo-American political tradition ultimately is based on a Christian anthropology about the God-ordained dignity of each person. Its Protestant and especially Calvinist-influenced realism about human nature and society constructed safeguards against supreme trust in any individuals or institutions.

This Anglo Protestant tradition's animus against centralized power has generated constitutional monarchies and republics of unparalleled endurance and stability. Its protections of private property and intellectual rights have generated unequaled wealth, ingenuity and beneficence. Its premise that each person carries the political image of God, irrespective of caste or class, has been the most democratizing and egalitarian force in human history.

These regimes and their egalitarian principles have, for all their warts, offered relative liberty and protection to hundreds of millions across time and culture, including of course persons and groups outside the Anglo-Protestant tradition. And these regimes remain inspirations, consciously or implicitly, for billions globally who live outside their rule. These regimes of British Protestant origin also are the primary bulwarks against authoritarian alternatives.

We who are Anglo-American Protestants should be especially protective of this political tradition of ordered liberty since it is we who were its primary crafters and have been its main cultural stewards across four centuries. The tradition was brewed during the struggles between Protestant established churches and Protestant dissenters in Britain of the 1600s.

Posted by at June 20, 2019 6:01 PM