The Role of Religion, Morality, and Worldview in Public Policy

Everyone has a worldview. Many hold to a ‘religion’ even if it is not theistic and almost all individuals in society adhere to some form of morality. Thus, religion, morality and worldview always shape public policy.  The central question then becomes, particularly in a pluralistic representative republic, what role does the traditional and conventional views on morality and worldview play on public policy and should these views be considered salutary and preferred.  

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It is inarguable that everyone holds a worldview. Religious views, theistic and non-theistic, are ubiquitous. Everyone among us, even the most immoral and those whose morality is based upon nothing more than self-interest, have a moral view. Therefore, religion, worldview, and morality are the key inputs to public policy development because these views and their variations fundamentally shape the entirety of how one views the world. Necessarily, the central question before us centers on the role that traditional and conventional views play in public policy creation.

Science, or empiricism, requires ‘religious’ faith to account for something arising from nothing.[i] Big History, an academic and ideological movement that attempts to paint a thematic metanarrative from creation to consciousness, is an organized attempt to synthesize this ‘faith’ into a counter-narrative to traditional religious stories. [ii] Modernism shapes views of morality and religion toward progressivism and Monotheistic Therapeutic Deism.[iii] Postmodernism denies metanarratives entirely and defines truth as being subjective.[iv] All three of these worldviews require faith, adhere to elements of dogma and in some cases have features of doctrine, they influence their adherents' views of public policy as much as a Christian, Muslim or Jewish view.

What value should these newer worldviews hold relative to the traditional and conventional positions of a people of a nation? What role does, or should, the permanent things of a people play in shaping policy? Christians understand that man is fallen and all ideas, idealism, and constructs of man are imperfect. (Romans 5:12) Russell Kirk argued that permeant things are “those elements in the human condition that give us our nature, without which we are as the beasts that perish.” [v] One could argue that Christianity is a permanent thing of American culture.[vi] If we accept the arguments of Edmund Burke, as paraphrased by Kirk, we must take into account the history, the moral order, the resources, and prospects in all that government is and does.[vii] History, tradition, and convention are, therefore, important. America’s four-hundred plus year history is replete with significant examples of Christian influence. Our traditions and conventions deriving from our British heritage of culture, language and law is a Christian heritage. Therefore, not only is it important for a Christian worldview to have input into the creation of public policy, it is arguable that such a position should be privileged if we want a culture and a government for the common-good that aligns with tradition and convention.[viii]

@onlyBarryLClark

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[i] See previous argument that “Nothing comes from nothing’, http://barryclark.info/first-principles-axioms-and-syllogisms/

[ii] See, Behmand, Mojgan., "Big History and the Goals of Liberal Education." In Teaching Big History, edited by Behmand Mojgan, Simon Richard B., and Burke Thomas, 21-26. University of California Press, 2015. Accessed April 4, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt9qh2dw.8. And “Gates’ Big History Project Closes Young Minds to God”, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/08/big-history-project-closed-to-god.html

[iii] Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. United States: Fordham University Press, 2009. p. 9.

[iv] David W. Scott, Lecture on postmodernity, THiC, Boston University, May 3, 2011. http://blogs.bu.edu/dscott/files/2011/05/Lecture-on-postmodernity-David-Wm-Scott.pdf

[v] Kirk, R. 1969. Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormality in Literature and Politics. Arlington House. https://books.google.com/books?id=xLCBAAAAMAAJ . And “The Permanent Things”, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/02/russell-kirk-the-permanent-things.html

[vi] See previous argument, Clark, Barry., The Philosophy of Commonsense: A Cultural War Primer, Abbeville: The Calhoun Institute, 2019, https://books.google.com/books?id=CK6-DwAAQBAJ. As well as, DeMar, Gary. America's Christian Heritage. United States: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.

[vii] Kirk, Russell. Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered. United States: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ORD), 2014. And “Edmund Burke and the Constitution”, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2012/05/russell-kirk-edmund-burke-and-constitution.html

[viii] See previous argument, “Government for the Common Good”, https://calhouninstitute.com/government-for-the-common-good/

Author: Barry

Southerner, father, husband, Christian and a retired Army field grade officer. Author of five books and of several papers and articles on ethics, culture, history, geopolitics and military affairs. He is the Executive Director of The Calhoun Institute and a partner at B&B Clark Consulting.

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