Journalists, academics try to understand God and government
October 10, 2011 Leave a comment
Here’s an interesting and recent headline from the Christian Science Monitor: “Does government do too much? That could depend on your view of God.”
Some folks at Baylor did a study on the intersection of small government conservatism and Christian faith. When both the journalist and the academic undertake an investigation like this, I think there tends to be an outsider’s bias. They are kind of scratching their heads, asking “Why on Earth would anyone think this way?”
At least the journalist MacDonald does a fair job by getting a counterpoint from Woodard, an academic with rightward sympathies. Yet the article, sadly typical of mainstream media work, smuggles in the notion that conservatives are by nature angry. Researcher Froese conjectures that since small government Christians tend to be poorer and less educated, they are probably anxious and depressed. According to this line of thought, they are then given to believing in a wrathful and angry God. But reading on about the study, one really wonders why the secular/liberal types who believe they cannot find the meaning of their lives wouldn’t be even more anxious and depressed.
To me it follows that any Christian who takes his faith seriously will have peace and hope. I know somewhere there is a statistic that Christians actually achieve higher levels of education than the general population. But ultimately, the article’s discourse is muddied by juggling so many overlapping identities.
Between the two opposing interpretations that Froese and Woodard offer on small government Christians, I have to commend Woodard’s view. After all, it would take a fearful or angry liberal to have such an uncharitable view of his Christian neighbors.