I had been scheduled to appear opposite Ray Nothstine at the most recent Acton on Tap last month to discuss the question: Are Tea Parties good for America? I had to miss that event, unfortunately, but this week’s Acton Commentary represents my belated engagement on these matters. Check out, “Missing the Boat on the Tea Parties,” and leave your comments here.

While you’re over there, be sure to read Ray’s commentary, “Will Tea Parties Awaken America’s Moral Culture?”

And speaking of Acton on Tap, if you are in the area be sure to join us tonight for David Michael Phelps, “Story & Syllogism: Why do artists tend not to be conservative? How can the works of conservative artists have a greater impact?” Be sure to check out Phelps’ site, The Artistic Vocation.


  • http://www.characters-with-character.com Michael Kerrigan

    Recently I blogged about the tea parties perhaps not as insightfully as Chuck Colson but I thought I would share… DOES TODAY’S TEA PARTY MOVEMENT POSSESS THE PERSEVERANCE AND COURAGE OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS?
    Monday, May 17, 2010 at 03:47PM
    I have been thinking about an earlier tea party, the one in Boston (December 16, 1773) and the parallels with the current tea party movement. In 1772 Samuel Adams and his colleagues devised a committee of correspondence system, which linked like-minded Patriots throughout the Thirteen Colonies. Continued resistance to British policy resulted in the Boston Tea Party and the coming of the American Revolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Adams From the first tea party I saw further parallels with the Committees of Correspondence and today’s blogging movement, including The Character Building Project (CBP) Blog. Various colonies had used these committees to deal with important matters usually between the individual colony and the mother country. They tended to be temporary organizations that were dissolved shortly after their usefulness was exhausted. A momentous examples of such correspondence was Samuel Adams letter to Richard Henry Lee, 10 April 1773 http://www.familytales.org/dbDisplay.php?id=ltr_sam1946

  • almond603

    I enjoyed your treatment of the Tea Party. I do think that they have been too unfairly treated by many, especially by characterizing them based on their extremists.

    I do find it difficult to reconcile some of the rhetoric that is coming from Tea Party leaders. some websites, that understandably have their own agenda but still contribute meaningful insight on this topic, like Tea Party Jesus (a website that puts speech bubbles next to pictures of Jesus with things that Christian Tea Partiers have said) – http://teapartyjesus.tumblr.com/ and a blog posting, What If the Tea Party Were Black (http://ephphatha-poetry.blogspot.com/2010/04/imagine-if-tea-party-was-black-tim-wise.html) aid in this discussion.

    again, I thank you for your handling in this topic.

  • almond603

    oop, strike that, Tea Party Jesus doesn’t just deal with quotes by Christian Tea Party members. my mistake. still provocative though.

  • Roger McKinney

    The problem with mild rhetoric is that it doesn’t work well for recruiting members. People are emotional as well as rational. You can calmly tell them that the bridge is out ahead, and they will register the logic of it, but still may drive off the cliff if it hasn’t grabbed them emotionally. To get people to act, to join something, to vote, to do anything, they have to have an emotional response to the issue. They have to be fired up. Calm rhetoric and cool logic won’t accomplish that.

    But you’re right that Colson misses the boat completely. The high level of combat in political discourse does not come from populists or Tea Partiers. It comes from creeping socialism. Socialism is all about using the power of the state to reward certain groups and punish others. As it progresses, those being punished and those seeking rewards become more combative. As Greece has proven, socialism destroys social cohesion as people fight over the few bones left.

  • Roger McKinney

    Colson: “But this time, a massive wave of anti-government sentiment could shatter the political consensus, which may well leave the country virtually unmanageable.”

    There is no political consensus. Socialists destroyed it long ago. And what does he mean by “unmanageable”? The worst that can happen with broken consensus is gridlock in Congress and what is wrong with that? The best government we have had in the past 70 years was the gridlock under Clinton.

    Colson: “The Bible teaches that God ordains government, appoints leaders, and requires obedience so that we might live peaceable lives.”

    And Christian leaders from Peter on have told the government that we should obey God rather than man. When the state becomes tyrannical, Christians have no obligations to obey it. That was the message of the Reformation. And democracies can be just as tyrannical as monarchies and dictatorships. Just ask the blacks, Jews, Native Americans, Japanese and Latin immigrants.

    Colson: “The inevitable consequence of all of this should deeply trouble Christians, who, of any segment of our society, understand the necessity of a strong government.”

    That is a strange statement. Christians, of all people, should fear a strong government. Nothing and no one has murdered more Christians throughout history than strong governments. The Founding Fathers were great Christians and determined to create a weak government for those reasons.

    And as I wrote above, creeping socialism in the US has caused the lack of consensus and the fracturing of social cohesion. Socialism is all about rewarding one group and punishing another. Socialist Greece has learned that when the spigot runs dry, people fight even more fiercely over the small drops that fall from it. Those wanting rewards and those trying to avoid punishment fight even more fiercely than before. When the state is small and treats all citizens equally, as the US government did in its first century, there is political consensus and less fighting over rewards from the state.

    Colson: “God recognizes that even a bad government is better than no government. No government leads to chaos and mob rule.”

    Colson argues like a socialist. I’m really worried about his politics lately. Socialists always create false dichotomies in order to win arguments. Colson creates a false dichotomy between a strong government and chaos. Something in between exists and that is what real conservatives want. A true conservative would say that a government governs best when it govern the least.

    If you want to talk about God and government, let’s talk about the only state that God created – the ancient nation of Israel. By today’s standards, that was a pretty weak government that governed very lightly. The US is a brutal dictatorship in comparison. And God disapproved of the move toward a strong government with a king, but he allowed Israel do go ahead and anoint a king as punishment for their rebellion against him.

    Colson: “John Calvin, considered the magistrate the highest of vocations.”

    And Calvin’s Geneva was an unbearable tyranny. Colson should read about it. Calvin had spies who would sneak around at night a listen through the windows to catch people in heresy. The city had wage and price controls and dominated commerce.

    Colson: “The tea party movement may have a lot of traction in America today, but it makes no attempt to present a governing philosophy.”

    That’s simply not true. The Tea Party movement wants less government, which is the conservative motto: less government is better government. That is a governing philosophy.

    Colson: “We should be instructing people enraged at the excesses of Washington and the growing ethical malaise in the Capitol to focus their rage at fixing government, not throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

    That’s a straw man and therefore dishonest. No one is advocating getting rid of government entirely. I realize that Colson doesn’t write these articles, but he should be more careful about what others write in his name.

    I have my own disagreements with the Tea Parties. I think their stance on immigration is evil, unchristian and not at all conservative or classically liberal. And I don’t think they oppose government as much as Colson thinks; they simply want to use the power of the government for different ends, such as war, stopping immigration and preventing the selling of drugs. Surveys of Tea Partiers have shown that they overwhelmingly want the state to spend more to stimulate economic growth. They are populists, not conservatives or classical liberals. But they are not mush-headed anarchists as Colson portrays them.

  • Neal Lang

    “When the state becomes tyrannical, Christians have no obligations to obey it. That was the message of the Reformation.”

    I hope you are not trying to make the point that the pro-Reformation government was less tyrannical than those that proceded it? If not “tyrannical,” just how would define the action of Oliver Cromwell?

    As for the Reformation, as I recall, Jesus, the Christ, built His Church on Earth on the “rock” of St. Peter, giving to him and successors the “Keys” to Heaven. The Reformation has done more to destroy that “rock” than to build make it stronger.

    While the Church was in no position to be “tyrannical” – else Luther would not survived past the posting of “The Ninety-Five Theses.” BTW, Luther’s concept of Justification by faith (Sola fide) is totally discredited by Scripture, include the words, of Jesus, the Christ. God is not a God of Confusion and the Reformation merely sewed the roots of confusion within the Chrisitian faith.

  • Ken

    Roger, I know you don’t write all these comments you make but you really ought to edit or choose more carefully those who do it for you.

    I’m not going to plod through the many points of this entry’s observations or make remarks about Colson. I am going to tell you that controlled immigration is not evil if one considers the nature of nationhood and cultural relevancy. I like the foundations of tradition.

    When I see a census form available in ten languages and election ballots mirroring that form I use some deductive tools and start to think that folks who have been granted or have taken their leave to participate in governmental decisions by way of elections DON’T KNOW ENGLISH. That means they likely don’t understand what they’re voting for. Many of this description also happen to be second generation U.S. citizens. Ignorance is an equal opportunity condition.

    Why don’t you Google Magna Carta, U.S. Constitution and Roe v Wade and see how many editions of them are available in Vietnamese, Spanish, African dialect, Farsi… you get my point? We have a substantial number of people in this country who haven’t and aren’t likely to meld into our cultural tradition if there is no measure of their numbers. “It’s the [demographics] stupid.”

    As Mark Steyn says, “If you’re not on idealogical offense, you’re gonna get rolled.” He’s right. The West may not have the will to defend itself and that may include you, but it doesn’t include me.

  • Neal Lang

    “Colson: ‘The Bible teaches that God ordains government, appoints leaders, and requires obedience so that we might live peaceable lives’.”

    I hope Mr. Colson doesn’t really believe that God appointed Barack Obama President along with the Democrat Congress so that good Chrisitians must all support and obey their mandate to take the innocent of lives of unborn children. If good Christians are required to be “obedient” to government I guess St. Peter and St. Paul, along with all the other martyrs missed that message, as they failed to obey their government’s command to renounce their religion and Christ, their Savior!

    The “Old World Order” was “God – Government – Man.” THe “New World Order,” since 1776, is “God – Man -Government.” This “New World Order” is based on “Self Evident truths” that every man is endowed by their Creator with Unalienable Rights, that must not be violated by man or government. Should a government instituted by men violate these God given Rights, than man has the duty to abolish that government and establish a new government to secure these God given Rights.

  • Neal Lang

    “When I see a census form available in ten languages and election ballots mirroring that form I use some deductive tools and start to think that folks who have been granted or have taken their leave to participate in governmental decisions by way of elections DON’T KNOW ENGLISH. That means they likely don’t understand what they’re voting for. Many of this description also happen to be second generation U.S. citizens. Ignorance is an equal opportunity condition.”

    While a “multi-lingual” census form might make sense, a “multi-lingual” should illegal. No who cannot read, write, speak, and understand English is eligible for Naturalization as an American citizen. The States do not have authority to make anyone a US Citizen or even a Citizen of their State. Citizenship is conveyed by the US Government either Naturally, by birth, or through Naturalization. The State have no authority in this regards limited merely to determine “Residency” status, which does not convey a right to vote on non-US citizen residents.

  • Neal Lang

    “Many of this description also happen to be second generation U.S. citizens. Ignorance is an equal opportunity condition.”

    If a “second generation U.S. citizen” is not fluent in English, sufficient to read a ballow or newspaper, then the blame is on the Education System and their parents, which have the responsiility to educate the child in their jurisdiction from the age of 5 years up until reach the age of consent. A non-english literate “second generation U.S. citizen” should not be either acceptable nor permitted.

  • Neal Lang

    “Chuck Colson, for instance, cautions in Christianity Today that the Tea Parties are more dangerous than previous populist movements. ‘A massive wave of anti-government sentiment could shatter the political consensus, which may well leave the country virtually unmanageable,’ he warns. Colson is certainly right to point to the dangers of political divisiveness, and indeed, the level of current political discourse on both the Left and the Right offer little in the way of constructive dialogue.”

    Hmmm! I believe a similar “wave of anti-government sentiment” was noted in 1775, and I don’t recall that outcome of that “wave of anti-government sentiment” turned-out all that bad.

    The current government is destroying our Nation’s Faith and Culture while at the same time destroying the “Rule of Law.” It would seems that a political solution to our Nation’s problems may not be possible, especially when the Supreme Court delights in expand Federal Authority far beyond the bounds of our Constitution. It may just be a miracle that our Republic has lasted over 200 years. Most don’t!

    If you believe that our Nation was Founded upon the Principles they supported with the lives, fortunes and sacred honor of our Founding Fathers, as stated in our Declaration of Independence, then you must agree that “We, the People” have not only a right, but also a duty to abolish and to institute new government, whenever government becomes destructive to man’s Creator endowed, unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

  • Roger McKinney

    Neal: “I hope you are not trying to make the point that the pro-Reformation government was less tyrannical than those that proceded it?”

    No. That wasn’t my point. The US has produced periods of great tyranny, as I mentioned. Some Catholic scholars and several Protestant scholars applied the principle of natural law to all rulers who violated the natural rights of citizens. Those rulers who violated natural law abrogated their rights to rule. That’s how Protestants justified rebelling against kings intent on murdering them, such as the Spanish King.

    Ken: “I am going to tell you that controlled immigration is not evil if one considers the nature of nationhood and cultural relevancy.”

    Limiting immigration violates a person’s natural right to pursue a better life. It is a form of imprisonment. Immigrants violate no natural law when they move to the US as long as they respect the person and property of others. In fact, they are merely exercising their natural rights. At the same time, immigrants have no right to expect everything to be published in their language. Nevertheless, someone voting and knowing no English is no more ignorant than ¾ of voters. There is no law forbidding you to vote because you’re ignorant, although I wish there were such a law.

  • Patrick Powers

    Jordan,
    I visited the Artistic Vocation site and found it very interesting and insightful. Thank you.
    As to the discussion of Charles Colson, his work, along with Dr. Robert George, at http://manhattandeclaration.org is worthy of both reading and action.

  • Roger McKinney

    Watching a documentary on the border fence with Mexico on the History Channel recently, I had flash backs to the Berlin wall. Then I realized that the US wasn’t trying to keep people in who wanted to escape, as the communists wanted, so what would be the appropriate analogy. It then occurred to me that our situation would be similar to that of a West Germany that refused to allow East Germans to enter even if the East German government allowed them to escape. Do we really want to be that nation?