Keep Your Eyes Peeled For Dangerous Ideas

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but please keep a lookout for dangerous ideas disguised as innocent ones. I recently spotted a dangerous idea hiding in plain sight in a letter to the editor in the Southwest Times of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The idea came from Curtis Mitchell. He said our elected officials should carry out their duties with a primary emphasis on the will of God. Mitchell said our politicians should pray loudly to Jesus Christ, beg for mercy and forgiveness, and ask God for direction in all matters that come before them (presumably including matters of public policy). Furthermore, our politicians should do it on live television, he wrote, adding, “They lead, we follow.”

Mitchell’s idea seems harmless, but it opens the door to theocracy, a dangerous form of government whose leaders exercise power with claims of divine guidance. In a theocracy, a citizen who dares to confront his leaders is also confronting God. He is regarded as an infidel who must be set straight, ignored, or punished. Modern theocracies include Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Vatican.

Mitchell wants high morals in politics, to which I say Amen. Yet his letter raised a red flag when it implied our elected officials should follow God’s instructions on how to run the government.

The American government gets its power from the will of the people, not the will of God. Mitchell’s letter shows how a dangerous idea can smuggle itself into good intentions. We should stay alert for things like that.