Saturday, March 27, 2021

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Civil Religion in a Divided America

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Robert N. Bellah described the American civil (or civic) religion as “a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals,” drawn from American history that shape national values and standards of political legitimacy.  It is grounded in the shifting standards of Christian morality, the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and duty and loyalty to the Constitution.  

         Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence and a prophet of the American civil religion.  Jefferson had little use for the institutional church, but he considered the moral teachings of Jesus as “the sublimest morality that has ever been taught.”  The biblical scholars of the Jesus Seminar consider Jefferson a pioneer in “separating the real teachings of Jesus from the encrustaceans of Christian doctrine.”   

The teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves.  It’s a universal moral imperative taken from the Hebrew Bible, taught by Jesus and accepted as a common word of faith by Muslims; and in politics it mandates providing for the common good. 

America’s partisan politics are dangerously divided with no national values to promote the common good.  Most White Christians support Republicans and most Black Christians support Democrats; and most American churches remain racially segregated.  That makes Sunday morning the most segregated time of the week in America.

A politics of reconciliation is needed for a divided America, and that requires national values that promote the common good.  The failure of America’s churches to unify a divided American democracy in the 19th century led to the Civil War; and in 2016 America’s churches lost their moral compass again when most White Christians elected Donald Trump president. 

         Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign was racially divisive with its promise of a continuation of White supremacy.  It may have seemed utopian for older White Americans, but  not for Blacks.  When most White Christians voted to support Trump’s politics of racial division, they left the task of promoting a politics of racial reconciliation to a secular civil religion.

         America’s divided and morally decadent politics are the result of the failure of Christians to follow the altruistic moral standards taught by Jesus.  Christianity has devolved into a miasma of belief systems lacking moral cohesion.  The remedy is not for more religion, but for widely held altruistic secular values in a civil religion that promote a politics of reconciliation.

Most Americans claim to be Christians, but they fail to follow the altruistic moral values taught by Jesus that are needed to hold the fabric of American democracy together.  It will take the secular values of a civil religion to fill the moral vacuum.  It’s ironic that the secular values of America’s civil religion must be based on the greatest commandment, a universal moral imperative of Christianity taught by Jesus that’s ignored by most Christians in their politics.


In 1967 Robert N. Bellah defined [American] civil religion as “a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals,” drawn from American history and “institutionalized in a collectivity” that function “not as a form of national self-worship but as the subordination of the nation to ethical principles that transcend it in terms of which it should be judged.”  On how Trump reshaped the American civil religion, see

Shad Hamid has observed that in America “religious faith has declined and ideological intensity has risen” and questioned “whether the quest for secular redemption through politics will doom the American idea?”  In  America Without God Hamid points out that “The United States has long been a holdout among Western democracies, uniquely and perhaps even suspiciously devout. From 1937 to 1998, church membership remained relatively constant, hovering at about 70 percent. Then something happened. Over the past two decades, that number has dropped to less than 50 percent, the sharpest recorded decline in American history. Meanwhile, the “nones”—atheists, agnostics, and those claiming no religion—have grown rapidly and today represent a quarter of the population. But if secularists hoped that declining religiosity would make for more rational politics, drained of faith’s inflaming passions, they are likely disappointed. As Christianity’s hold, in particular, has weakened, ideological intensity and fragmentation have risen. American faith, it turns out, is as fervent as ever; it’s just that what was once religious belief has now been channeled into political belief. Political debates over what America is supposed to mean have taken on the character of theological disputations. This is what religion without religion looks like [since] America itself is [a creed that’s] “almost a religion.”

No longer explicitly rooted in white, Protestant dominance, ...the American creed [or civil religion] has become richer and more diverse—but also more fractious. As the creed fragments, each side seeks to exert exclusivist claims over the other. Conservatives believe that they are faithful to the American idea and that liberals are betraying it—but liberals believe, with equal certitude, that they are faithful to the American idea and that conservatives are betraying it. Without the common ground produced by a shared external enemy, as America had during the Cold War and briefly after the September 11 attacks, mutual antipathy grows, and each side becomes less intelligible to the other. Too often, the most bitter divides are those within families. No wonder the newly ascendant American ideologies, having to fill the vacuum where religion once was, are so divisive. They are meant to be divisive. On the left, the “woke” take religious notions such as original sin, atonement, ritual, and excommunication and repurpose them for secular ends. Adherents of wokeism see themselves as challenging the long-dominant narrative that emphasized the exceptionalism of the nation’s founding. Whereas religion sees the promised land as being above, in God’s kingdom, the utopian left sees it as being ahead, in the realization of a just society here on Earth. On the right, adherents of a Trump-centric ethno-nationalism still drape themselves in some of the trappings of organized religion, but ...Trump himself played both savior and martyr, and it is easy to marvel at the hold that a man so imperfect can have on his soldiers. Many on the right find solace in conspiracy cults, such as QAnon, that tell a religious story of corruption redeemed by a godlike force.

Though the United States wasn’t founded as a Christian nation, Christianity was always intertwined with America’s self-definition. Without it, Americans—conservatives and liberals alike—would no longer have a common culture upon which to fall back.

The United States will remain unique, torn between this world and the alternative worlds that secular and religious Americans alike seem to long for. If America is a creed, then as long as enough citizens say they believe, the civic faith can survive. Like all other faiths, America’s will continue to fragment and divide. Still, the American creed remains worth believing in, and that may be enough. If it isn’t, then the only hope might be to get down on our knees and pray.”  See

America’s political divide is evident in the rioter next door: How the Dallas suburbs spawned extremists:

On how dysfunctional politics and conspiracy theories have corrupted a Christian religion that lacks a moral compass, see how pastors are leaving their congregation after losing their churchgoers to QAnon at

Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf consider Jefferson a prophet of American civil religion:

As a young man, Jefferson embraced the tenets of “natural religion,” or deism, rejecting conventional Christianity and any use of religious dogma as a tool to control people. As he aged, however, Jefferson undertook a spiritual quest that focused his attention intensively on the New Testament.

Through Bible study this self-professed “primitive Christian” sought to hear Jesus’ original, uncorrupted voice, imagining himself in his teacher’s presence. Jesus preached to the “family of man,” anticipating the humane and cosmopolitan precepts of the enlightened age that Jefferson was convinced would inevitably arrive. He adhered to the “philosophy” of Jesus while rejecting “mystifications” that offended his steadfast belief in science and were, in his view, the chief cause of religious strife. Jefferson…insisted that his religious faith was nobody’s business but his own. But he believed that religion, stripped of the supernatural, should always be an integral part of American society and created a guidebook, of sorts.

In 1804, Jefferson took a razor to English, French, Latin and Greek versions of the New Testament to construct a clear account of Jesus’ original, uncorrupted teachings. Pressed by public business, he didn’t complete his painstakingly executed “Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” until retirement. Even then, Jefferson did not want to publicize his project — or even share it with his family. But he was confident that enlightened republicans and conscientious Christians could, and must, agree on the fundamental ethical precepts he gleaned from the Bible. Far from being an atheist, Jefferson was a precocious advocate of what was later called “civil religion,” the moral foundation of a truly free and united people.


Thomas Jefferson wrote Henry Fry on June 17, 1804: "I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest morality that has ever been taught; but I hold in the utmost profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invested by priestcraft and kingcraft, constituting a conspiracy of church and state against the civil and religious liberties of man."  Thomas Jefferson, The Jefferson Bible, edited by O. I. A. Roche, Clarkson H. Potter, Inc., New York, 1964, at p 378; see also Jefferson’s letter to John Adams dated October 13, 1813, at pp 825, 826; Jefferson's commentaries are at pp 325-379.  See also, Introduction to The Teachings of Jesus and Muhammad on Morality and Law: The Heart of Legitimacy, at page 10, note 2, posted in Resources at

On Why Progressive Politics and Religion Don’t Go Together, see

On American Civil Religion is Dead, Long Live American Civil Religion, see


On why Trump can’t reverse the decline of white Christian America, see

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Radical Moral Teachings of Jesus

     By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Jesus was a maverick 1st century rabbi who infuriated Jewish religious leaders with his radical moral teachings of love over law-- the Mosaic Law then considered the Jewish standard of righteousness.  Like ancient Judaism, modern church doctrines ignore the universal moral teachings of Jesus and emphasize exclusivist Christian beliefs never taught by Jesus.

Jesus never promoted a new religion or claimed to be divine.  He called his disciples to follow him, not to worship him; but St. Paul reversed those priorities with his mystical doctrine of atonement.  It subordinated the moral teachings of Jesus to exclusivist beliefs in a divine Christ, and that enabled a Christianity bereft of morality to become the world’s most popular religion.

The moral teachings of Jesus were debunked by White Chrtistians when they elected Donald Trump as their president in 2016.  Trump’s egregious immorality is the antithesis of that taught by Jesus.  If the church doesn’t now affirm the teachings of Jesus as the standards of Christian morality, it must acknowledge their irrelevance as standards of political legitimacy.       

The teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves.  It’s a moral imperative taken from the Hebrew Bible, taught by Jesus and accepted by Muslims as a  common word of faith.  In politics it’s a mandate to provide for the common good.

In the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus taught that our neighbors include those we detest; and the new command in John’s gospel (John 13:14) to “love one another'' confirmed the moral imperative of the greatest commandment.  The first priority of the love command is that we seek to be reconciled with our adversaries. (Matthew 5:23-26)  

The Sermon on the Mount is a compendium of the radical moral teachings of Jesus in the context of the selfish and sinful inclinations of human nature. (see Matthew 5-7)  In Mark’s gospel Jesus taught his followers to avoid evil thoughts that lead to acts of human depravity, such as adultery, greed, malice, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (see Mark 7:21-23). 

In politics, Jesus told his disciples that worldly rulers “lord it over others,” and then said to them, “Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.” (Mark 10:41-44)  Providing for the common good In America’s polarized partisan politics requires a politics of reconciliation; but our churches either promote divisive partisan objectives or discourage mixing faith and politics.         

Jesus never mentioned democracy since it was irrelevant to his ancient time and place;  but Americans are masters of their political destiny and must be stewards of their democracy, or witness its demise.  Whether they worship Jesus Christ or not, Christians can’t claim to follow Jesus as the word of God unless they apply his radical moral teachings to their politics. 


All religions are both mystical and moral.  The mystical relates to our beliefs in an unseen spiritual power, or God, while the moral relates to how we treat each other.  The greatest commandment in Matthew, Mark and Luke brings together those two components of faith:  We love and serve God by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.  The first letter of John tells us, “God is love...and Whoever loves God must also love his brother/neighbor.” (1 John 16-21).  Jesus was a universalist Jew who never advocated one religion over others, not even his own.  He taught that Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3:35)  

Jesus humbly exemplified the spiritual and moral power of God’s love, and his moral teachings are as radical and relevant in America today as they were in his ancient time and place.   

Donald Trump is a narcissistic and arrogant bully who “lords it over others” demanding their subservience.  He exemplifies the evil thoughts taught by Jesus in Mark 7:21-23, but has said that he has nothing to be forgiven for.  Even so, most White Christians continue to support him.

The church has lost its moral compass by promoting mystical and exclusivist beliefs in Jesus Christ as the alter ego of God and as the only means of salvation, while ignoring the radical moral teachings of Jesus in faith and politics.  The Christian religion needs to be reinvented as a universalist religion based on following the radical moral teachings of Jesus in both faith and politics.  That’s what discipleship and the stewardship of democracy is all about, and it’s the only way Americans can save their church and their democracy from moral corruption.

Christianity is being corrupted by radical beliefs of White charlatans like Jeff Jansen who not only ignore the moral teachings of Jesus but undermine the democratic processes of the Constitution and the rule of law.  Jensen has prophesied that Trump will return to the White House with God’s help and the help of America’s military by the end of April. "You have to realize what's taken place in our nation has been a hostile takeover, and just because there was a fake inauguration [of Biden]…for optics and for posture, let them have their day in the sun," Jansen, the founder of Global Fire Ministries International based out of Tennessee, said during a Tuesday episode of the Elijah Streams YouTube program. Right Wing Watch first reported Jansen's remarks.  It's a tale of two presidents and right now in America—because President Trump has never conceded, he never agreed to anything, never stepped away, never conceded," Jansen continued. "He basically stepped aside momentarily, while things are being sorted out." The evangelical minister said Trump's effort to stay in office by overturning the elections results in the court was stymied by "corrupt" courts and judges.

"The last defense is military [and] the military is actually in control right now," Jansen said. "They've already made their determination. Now it's about execution. Now it's about returning civil power after the 'we the people' factor, the rightly, duly-elected president from this past election comes forward and exposes the corruption—there will be civil power restored in the United States," he insisted. "And that president will be Donald J. Trump."  Jansen later urged viewers to "watch what the Lord does," but he predicted that things will move forward and Trump will be reinstated "by the end of April."  See

The future of the many variations of the church in America depends on what kind of radical moral teachings those who consider themselves Christians choose to follow--whether those of Jesus or those of radical charlatans like Jeff Jensen who continue to support Donald Trump. 



Saturday, March 13, 2021

Musings on the National Debt and Providing for the Common Good

        By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

In a democracy, providing for the common good is the measure of political legitimacy.  The inherent weakness of a democracy is its inability to distinguish between what the majority of people want and what they need; and that has caused America to ignore budgetary constraints and imperil its economic future with a massive national debt on its progeny.

It has been said that when a majority in a democracy realize they can vote to enrich themselves, they will do just that; and If and when that happens, democracy will be doomed.  The unborn cannot vote, but they will have to bear the oppressive burden of debt incurred by their profligate forebears.  No democracy can survive that kind of fiscal irresponsibility.

A majority of Americans now embrace the Epicurean ideal to eat, drink and don’t worry, be happy, while leaving the bill for their irresponsible spending for their progeny.  The greatest commandment defines the common good as loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, and that includes unborn Americans who will inherit a massive U.S. national debt of $30 trillion.

The last year the US had a budget surplus was 2001, and since then the deficit has increased from $billions to $trillions.  All the while Keynesian economists have assured us that our debt is nothing to worry about.  While the free spending has produced a booming stock market during the pandemic, it has also exacerbated America’s increasing income disparities. 

Even so, President Biden and Democrats emphasized that America must go big with a pandemic stimulus of $1.9 trillion that would shower cash on 90% of Americans.  It had broad public support since it went far beyond COVID relief and promised cash to most Americans, even though it would make the national debt an unconscionable burden on future generations. 

No Republicans supported Biden’s bill, but they are complicit in running up the debt after passing a 2017 tax relief bill that benefited the rich and increased the deficit.  By increasing an astronomical national debt, America’s polarized partisan politics are leading it to ruin.  The lack of a voice for fiscal restraint in Washington portends the demise of American democracy.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a bipartisan government agency that has projected that in 2031 “the national debt would equal 107 percent of GDP,  its highest level in the nation’s history.  Growth in outlays would outpace growth in revenues in subsequent decades, leading to growing budget deficits over the long term. As a result, federal debt would continue to increase, exceeding 200 percent of GDP by 2051.”  Imposing such an oppressive burden on future generations of Americans is obviously not providing for the common good.


        The common good in American democracy has evolved from Thomas Jefferson’s enlightened belief that “the moral teachings of Jesus are the most sublime moral code ever designed by man,” to Donald Trump's egregious immorality that is the antithesis of the moral  teachings of Jesus.  President Biden is now promoting a free spending ethic that jeopardizes America’s future, so that defining the common good in America remains a work in progress.



Jeff Stein has observed that Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan reflects seismic shifts in U.S. politics.  “In 2009 a new Democratic administration faced down a massive economic crisis with a $800 billion stimulus package. A bloc of centrist Democrats balked at the price-tag, and Republicans were thrown into a frenzy warning about the impact to the federal deficit.  A little more than a decade later, another new Democratic administration took office facing a different economic crisis. This time, it proposed spending an additional $1.9 trillion, even though the federal deficit last year was $3.1 trillion — much larger than during the last crisis. The disparity between the reception to President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan and President Biden’s is the result of several seismic shifts in American politics — the most dramatic of which may be the attitudes about the role of government in helping the economy.  Since the outset of the coronavirus, polling has found substantial support among Americans for providing more government aid for those in need. That is partially due to the nature of the current crisis, which for a time opened a deeper economic hole than even the Great Recession. But the shift is also the result of a reorientation on economic policy — both on the left and on the right — that has transformed the political landscape.  On the right, congressional Republican lawmakers may still fret about higher deficits — but the most popular politician among their voters does not. Both as a candidate and as president, Donald Trump blew past Republican concerns about the deficit, pushing for trillions in additional spending and tax cuts and running unprecedented peacetime debt levels. And on the left, Democratic lawmakers have increasingly learned to ignore fears about spending too much. Democrats also repeatedly tout the 2017 Republican tax cut, which is expected to add approximately $2 trillion to the national deficit, as a reason to be skeptical of GOP concerns about fiscal restraint. 

A Monmouth University poll taken in late February found more than 60 percent of Americans supported the $1.9 trillion measure. More than two-thirds of Americans also said they would rather the relief package include $1,400 stimulus checks than see bipartisan support for the effort. Quinnipiac University found in a poll released in February that 78% of Americans supported $1,400 stimulus payments. 

Every Republican in both the House and Senate voted against the bill, undermining Biden’s campaign promises to work across the aisle and find common ground. The president’s difficulty at points securing the support of centrist Senate Democrats — a process that led to a nine-hour standoff with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) on Friday — also suggests the challenges he is likely to face securing support for his next legislative effort. 

“In the background leading to the Obama era, $300 billion deficits were considered a crisis, and in that context an $800 billion stimulus was an enormous sticker shock even among Democrats,” said Brian Riedl, a former aide to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) now at the libertarian-leaning Manhattan Institute. “It has been a massive shift toward the view [that] almost no level of borrowing will have negative consequences. Billions just became trillions.”

In the 1990s, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), now vice-chair of the House’s Joint Economic Committee, supported the Democratic presidential candidates who campaigned on closing the national deficit. Beyer’s thinking has changed. He cited conversations with a range of economists on wonky issues such as the relationship between employment and inflation, as well as watching the impact of covid relief aid as it was sprayed across the American  economy. Beyer added: “I was knocking doors for Joe Biden last fall the most memorable conversation I had was with a guy who said, ‘I just want to know who will send me the checks.’ See

For the CBO’s 2021 long term budget outlook, see

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Musings on Socialism, Capitalism, Democracy and Debt in Politics and Religion

       By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Most conservatives in America think of socialism as a political evil and capitalism as a political good; but in Europe they coexist and thrive.  Hitler rose to power in a socialist and capitalist German democracy; and Trump, like Hitler, exploited public anger to gain political power, and they both favored authoritarian politics over freedom and democracy.

Socialism emphasizes the public welfare, while capitalism favors the welfare of the rich.  While both can coexist in a libertarian democracy, socialism with no budgetary limits and unregulated crony capitalism have created dangerous economic disparities, and the mega-mergers of Wall Street have reduced the competition essential in a healthy democracy.

 In politics, it’s all about the economy.  The real threat to American democracy is an oppressive national debt created by unrestrained social spending and dangerous disparities in wealth created by unregulated crony capitalism.  A healthy democracy requires balancing Individual rights and wants with providing for the common good, and that’s lacking in America.  

Social Security and Medicare are popular socialist programs in America that provide for the common good; but massive increases in spending on stimulus and relief programs and dangerous disparities in wealth created by unregulated capitalism on Wall Street have increased the wealth of the rich and powerful at the expense of the common good.

The altruistic moral imperative in the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves is taken from the Hebrew Bible, was taught by Jesus and has been accepted by Muslims as a common word of faith.  In politics it requires providing for the common good and welfare of all--not just some.

Jesus was a radical socialist Jewish rabbi in an authoritarian Roman Empire.  It’s ironic that the U.S. has long asserted the moral supremacy of its “Christian” democracy over those in Europe.  While the church in Europe is no longer the powerful political institution it once was, the altruistic teachings of Jesus are more relevant in European politics today than in America.

American churches emphasize worshiping Jesus as the alter ego of God over following his teachings as the word of God.  But American churches are in decline and may reverse those priorities and put following the teachings of Jesus over worshiping him.  It would cost churches their popularity and political power, but it may happen anyway, just as it did in Europe.  

In authoritarian regimes socialism is oppressive, but in a democracy socialism can be consistent with freedom and Christian morality.  The real enemy of freedom and democracy in America is the oppression of excessive debt and unregulated capitalism.  Europe has shown that socialism can work in a democracy; America would do well to consider Europe’s example.




According to Steven Klein, America Is Learning to Reject Socialism, but Love the Welfare State.  “Klein has cited Sen. Mitt Romney’s recently released bold proposal for a cash family benefit that breaks with decades of Republican Party orthodox: markets good, government bad. Romney’s proposal has sparked an extensive debate about how best to design a family benefit, with the Biden administration releasing a rival plan. What Romney’s proposal embodies is essentially an effort to remodel the American welfare state—and, by extension, the Republican Party—along the lines of European Christian democracy. Romney’s “Family Security Act” would provide a monthly cash benefit of $350 for young children and $250 for school-aged children, paid by the Social Security Administration. Romney proposes eliminating the targeted anti-poverty program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); the Earned Income Tax Credit, a means-tested tax credit that varies depending on the size of your family; and the State and Local Tax Deduction, which largely benefits better-off voters in states that regularly vote Democrat. This reflects an underappreciated fact about conservative visions of the free market: From Edmund Burke to Joseph Schumpeter, conservative thinkers argued that the family created, for its (male) leader, a sense of responsibility and a longer time horizon, things capitalism needs but cannot itself create. Government financial support for families would complement, not undermine, a market order. Family benefits could establish the family as the key mediating institution between the state and the market, as opposed to socialist demands for politicizing wage labor. Romney’s plan is summoning this conservative attitude. The overlap between conservative concerns about the family and liberal and socialist worries about poverty marks family policy as an important arena of cross-ideological welfare state building. Romney’s plan may also be cunning in securing a conservative welfare state equilibrium, where popular government programs are focused on strong families rather than strong unions and workers’ protections. It will be up to a Democratic presidency to embody that shift in new policies. Romney has a knack for crafting the landmark policies of Democratic presidencies, and his family benefit may be no exception.” See

The Federal Reserve is emerging as a White House Ally in rejecting concerns about overdoing stimulus. “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell is waving off concerns about an over-torqued economy producing long-feared inflation, saying the job market has a long way to heal before such fears are justified. In recent weeks, the position has been repeatedly embraced and cited by top Biden officials who make a similar argument when they say Congress needs to “go big” to ensure an economic revival.”

Powell said a more accurate measure of the unemployment rate is close to 10 percent, not the official rate of 6.3 percent. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain tweeted: “The danger is not in doing too much. The 

danger is in doing too little.” At a news conference this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Biden’s “legislation is necessary, and mentioned Powell’s 10 percent figure, his lack of concern about inflation and his reminders that monetary policy can’t finish the recovery alone. A number of economists and lawmakers say Biden’s bill goes overboard and could actually overwhelm the economy. Harvard professor Larry Summers, who was President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and nearly picked by President Barack Obama to lead the Fed, raised alarms this month when he wrote that a big stimulus package could “set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation.”  Skeptics such as Summers cite recent research that suggests $1.9 trillion in new federal spending this year would more than close the gap between where the economy is running and what its potential could be. Going far above that could lead to inflation, a problem the country hasn’t seriously experienced since the 1980s. Heavy inflation, in turn, could force the Fed to raise interest rates, which would crimp economic growth and also raise the cost of servicing the growing national debt.” See


A national debt is represented by treasury bonds that are normally paid off with tax revenues, but the U.S. has extended and increased its debt by renewing treasury bills as they come due and issuing new bonds, some of which have been purchased by the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low.  The U.S. could reduce its national debt by creating new dollars to pay it off, but increasing the money supply would be inflationary.  Even so, the Federal Reserve continues to create new dollars through its monetary policies, and recently its chairman, Jerome Powell, defied traditional economic principles when he said that printing money does not lead to inflation.  “In response to a questions posed by Congressman Warren Davidson about whether ‘M2 [money supply] going up by 25% in one year’ is going to ‘diminish the value of the U.S. dollar,’ Powell responded, ‘there was a time when monetary policy aggregates were important determinants of inflation and that has not been the case for a long time.’” See  German hyperinflation in 1923 illustrated how printing money to pay a large national debt can undermine an economy and democracy.  It opened the door for Hitler and his Nazi Party to assume power in Germany.  See

Interest rates on treasury bills have been rising in spite of Fed efforts to keep them at or near 0%, portending greater costs to maintain America’s astronomical national debt and a threat to a booming stock market.  Former NY Fed president Bill Dudley has predicted that Wall Street is in for a rude awakening.  “Treasury rates will eventually climb to between 3% and 4% — or higher.  And that's a big deal because risk-free Treasuries are the yardstick by which all other investments are valued. Just as ultra-low rates make stocks look attractive, higher rates would steal serious thunder from stocks.”  See


On religion and morality in socialist and libertarian politics, see

On the danger of an excessive national debt to freedom and democracy, see Debt as a Vice or a Virtue at

On the conflicting priorities of following Jesus or worshipping him, the title of Robin Meyers’ book says it all: Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshipping Christ and Following Jesus, Harper One, 2009.