Jody Hice thinks theocracy creates smaller government.
As a huge fan of political comedy, I'm delighted Georgia's Jody Hice won election to Congress this month, because he's funny as hell.
Consider just one wacky bit of humor from before the election. According
to Hice, the best way to shrink government is to make government actively support religion. How will that work, you ask? Because theocracy will create "a moral people who are self-governing of their own lives, and thus don't need the big arm of intrusive government all over us."
That's the funniest thing I've heard since ... oh, wait. He was serious?
I mean it's still kind of funny if he was. Hice is a guy who believes in banning gay marriage, denying Muslims their First Amendment rights and bringing back state-sponsored prayers in school, yet he claims he's in favor of getting government off our backs. Well, it would be funny, if he weren't going to a congressman.
The idea that religion in government will shrink government is as big a fantasy as the communist dream of the state magically withering away. It won't happen. Ever. There will never be a point where Hice or anyone like him (and by that I mean both other Christians and theocrats of every other faith) looks at society, decides religion has done its job and cedes control of the government. Not during Hice's lifetime, nor this century, nor this millenium. Power doesn't work like that.
The truth is that religion in government is always intrusive, and always has been. Look back at early Massachusetts, when the Puritans banned Christmas festivities (not biblical, not the real date of Christ's birth, and people had too much fun) and hung Quakers for dissenting from God's chosen church.
Or consider blue laws. Today they're just about closing businesses on Sunday, which is intrusive enough. In the colonial era, various laws also banned Sunday travel (except to church), forbade working on your yard and sometimes imposed mandatory church attendance.
Large chunks of American Christianity have fought for intrusive politics over the years. Against birth control, divorce and women's right to vote. For slavery and segregation. None of that really hews to a small-government agenda. Not that I'm singling out the United States -- religion has done the same everywhere it's gotten into power.
Contrary to Hice, religion wants government power precisely to make government bigger. Theocrats don't want people governing their own lives -- well, maybe people who belong to their church and have all the right beliefs, but non-believers? No way! And that requires more laws, more power, anything but a shrinking government.
Hice, a Baptist pastor, is perfectly free to preach and convert Americans to what he thinks is a more moral way of life (as he's anti-gay rights and anti-women's rights, I'd say he's on the immoral side, but I'll let that pass). Any church, or mosque, or synagogue or coven or deeply committed individual has that right. Religion doesn't need government's support to spread what it considers the holy truth. It's been doing it for centuries.
What religion needs government support for is force. Force to make people listen. Force to make nonbelievers obey. And that requires a more intrusive government, not less.
If it turns out the new Georgia senator isn't chomping at the bit to impose his views on everyone else, I'll happily admit I'm wrong.
I'm not holding my breath.