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Not the Messiah

Posted By Russ Roberts On March 13, 2012 @ 11:18 pm In Politics | Comments Disabled

(This is a re-posting of a post that was lost when we switched our hosting service. Comments were also lost so if you’d like to comment again, please do)

I caught about 30 seconds of some Republican forum last night and heard someone ask Newt Gingrich about what he was going to do to lead the nation back to God.

I am a religious person. I think Godliness is a good thing.

But the right answer to that question should be to say that it is not the job of the President of the United States or in in the skill set of the President of the United States to lead the nation back to or toward God. For starters, a lot of Americans don’t believe in God and don’t want to hear about God. I don’t want a President to lead the nation toward meat-eating or vegetarianism or any of the myriad of other choices we make privately in our day-to-day lives.

More importantly, the President doesn’t know how to lead the nation back to God. He is just as likely to lead the nation away from God. There are people who specialize in Godliness–they are called “the clergy.” Having the President get involved in religion or belief in God inevitably crowds out private efforts or has unintended consequences.

In other words, the right answer is that the President of the United States is not the Messiah or a prophet or even a member of the clergy. Leading the nation back to God is the job of private voluntary acts. The President’s job is to leave those alone.

Gingrich did not give the right answer.

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