Semantic Mistake – Government vs. Country

Jimmy Carter’s statement is almost correct. Because he is talking about tax dollars, which are inherently government action, his statement should have been: “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a government based on Christian values, because you don’t”.

Considering state-church separation, and that congress isn’t supposed to make any law respecting the establishment of religion, this is a very supportable notion. But that would require Carter to admit that the government is not the country.

Edit: Turns out this is also factually wrong, because it is misattributed. I owe president Carter an apology for claiming he didn’t understand the different between “country” and “government”.

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2 thoughts on “Semantic Mistake – Government vs. Country

  1. Ori, it’s really more complex than that, as I’m sure you’re aware but the text here doesn’t cover: many libertarian or conservative Christians believe that their scriptures present a model for what government is for, what it’s correct purposes are – and by extension, what it’s not for. And they don’t believe that redistributive taxation and charity are part of the God-ordained function of government. In other words, from their perspective, a government based upon Christian principles will do exactly the opposite of what President Carter suggests, and one that follows his advice is rejecting Christian principles…
    (The fact that extremely intelligent Christians have disagreed fairly radically about such things for centuries is one of several reasons I don’t believe we can be as certain of what the Bible says about government as some of my friends are…)

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    • Good point. I forgot that while Christianity is not a complete legal code, in contrast to Halacha and Shari’a, it does prescribe some of what government should or should not do.

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