Government as God

Bill Clinton several times referred to a "new covenant" between the US government and the American people. You'll recall that the original covenant was that between God and Israel, followed, according to the Christian faith, by a new covenant between God and Christians, mediated by Christ.

Am I alone in being disturbed by such language and the implied equating of government with a god? What a monstrous ego it must take to liken oneself to Moses or Christ, and how different from the point of view of the Founding Fathers, who at least tried to carefully limit the powers of government!

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. —George Washington

Why bring this up when Clinton is, thank goodness, no longer President? Because George W. Bush, while not exalting himself as Clinton did, still uses religious imagery. "Power, power, wonder-working power" belongs in the old hymn to the blood of the Lamb of God, but Bush attributes it to "the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people." Is there any operational difference between that and Clinton's deification of government? Considering the stream of massive new federal government spending programs GWB proposed in the same speech, I fear that there might not be.

(Side note: despite what you might guess from the above, I am effectively an atheist.)


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