“Taking up Machen’s Torch: An Archetype for Christian Libertarians”

In “Taking up Machen’s Torch: An Archetype for Christian Libertarians,” Kerry Baldwin explains how Machen stood against both the political right and political left. He “staunchly opposed ideas that jeopardized the proper roles of Christian faith and civil governance and so opposed these two movements in both realms of church and state.” From this enlightening article:

Theologically, Machen distanced himself from fundamentalism’s political, eschatological, and revivalist tendencies. Against the right, he opposed prohibition, protestant character education and Bible reading and prayer in public schools. Machen recognized that Bible reading in schools would strip Christianity of its doctrine and therefore should not be done in schools at all. Stripping doctrine would result in diluting doctrinal issues. This would inevitably arise through the standardization of education. Machen knew state control of education was bad enough, but to “put God in the schools” was to sterilize the Gospel.

For Machen, education on doctrine and the Bible is the responsibility of the church and Christian parents, not the responsibility of government and in a society where the state can show no favoritism toward one religion over another, it would either have to allow all religions to be taught in schools, thus opening a Pandora’s Box of new esoteric ideas to children, or there should be no religion taught in schools at all, thus maintaining the integrity of the spheres of family, church, education, and civil governance.

Against the right, he also voted against Herbert Hoover and the elimination of foreign language instruction from public schools. He criticized military conscription as a greater threat to liberty than World War I Germany and opposed registering immigrants and fingerprinting suspected racketeers because of its connection to the police state. And Machen even considered jaywalking laws as de facto discrimination against the poor (walkers) who had to stay out of the way of the rich (drivers).

Read more at the Libertarian Christian Institute: “Taking up Machen’s Torch: An Archetype for Christian Libertarians,” 

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