Critiquing Tom Snyder’s “Christian Political Manifesto”

The purpose of this post is to give my thoughts on Tom Synder’s “Christian Political Manifesto.” Though I don’t write about Movieguide on this blog anymore, from time-to-time I look at what Tom Snyder has written. I do this because:

  1. Movieguide, if the over 400,000 Likes on its Facebook page and its televised “Faith & Values Awards Gala” are anything go by, influences a lot of people.
  2. It’s an influence that I think does more harm than good.
  3. Tom Snyder is Movieguide’s Editor-in-Chief.
  4. Tom Snyder’s reasoning is often so facepalm-inducing I can’t help but say something about it. For example: He once said this to me: I’m entitled to my opinion, as an expert with a graduate film degree [where’s yours?]!!!

Below is the manifesto, copy-and-pasted from the website (click here to go to “The Culture Watch,” the website it comes from) and below that are my thoughts on it.

By Tom Snyder, Ph.D.

Though this is a “Christian Political Manifesto,” I believe that the New Testament principles and citations herein do not contradict what the Hebrew Scriptures, including the First Five Books of Moses, say and teach. Thus, many of the points below come with Old Testament citations as well.

  • Political issues are, at bottom, philosophical, religious, biblical, and moral issues.
  • God has ordained a Transcendent Eternal Moral Order in the Bible for everyone to obey.
  • That Transcendent Eternal Moral Order transcends sex, race, class, ethnicity, and culture.
  • Prudent and wise thought and action in the cultural, social, economic, and political sphere should be a primary character trait of all people (see the Book of Proverbs, especially Proverbs 1:1-6, 8:12, 12:16, 14:15, and 22:3).
  • Human beings are full of sin, violence, disobedience, and evil (Genesis 8:21 and Romans 3:9-18).
  • Because human beings are full of sin, violence, disobedience, and evil, God’s Moral Order limits the power of the State, the power of the Church, the power of Civic Groups, the power of Commercial Interests or Business, and the power of the Individual (Romans 13). (For example, Governments should not own churches, and governments must be run according to the principles of representative democratic republic, a balance and separation of powers, enumerated powers, and due process (see the United States Constitution, which is based on biblical principles of government). Also, churches can’t execute people or put people into prison, but they do have the power to discipline their members, remove them from group worship, or even excommunicate them from the list of the faithful.)
  • Government rulers, officials, magistrates, ministers, and authorities should be servants of God who punish those who do evil deeds or acts and give praise or commendations to those who do good deeds or acts (Romans 13 and Deuteronomy 16:18-20).
  • The people of each nation should set up a system of representative government that elects and appoints government leaders, officials and judges (Deuteronomy 16:18-20).
  • The right to own private property is the basis for all political freedom and should not be abridged (Exodus 20). Thus, all people, including immoral people, criminals and unborn children, have a right to due process before their property, life or liberty are taken away.
  • The first duty of civilian government should be to protect the human life and property of its citizens and the sovereignty of its counties, states and nation from internal and external evildoers (Romans 13). Thus, criminal law is one of the first orders of business for any government.
  • Civilian governments can organize citizen militias, police departments, immigration agents, and military organizations, but these groups should not get involved in careless, reckless, costly, wasteful, or unwise foreign military adventures and/or complicated foreign alliances that don’t affect the security, freedom and sovereignty of the county, state or national entities (Romans 13).
  • Abortion is murder (Exodus 21:22-25, Job 31:15, Psalm 139:13, Isaiah 44:2, Leviticus 18:1-30) and must be outlawed by local, state and federal governments and their judicial systems.
  • Local governments should execute people who perform abortions or at least remove their license to practice human medicine of any kind and make them do some kind of community service according to the severity of their crime, because they are guilty of first or second degree of murder (Exodus 20 and Numbers 35:31).
  • Mothers who get an illegal abortion are not guilty of first degree murder, but should be fined a significant amount of money, or put in a work program for 5-10 years, with part of the proceeds going to private crisis pregnancy clinics that help poor mothers carry their babies to term and that help married couples who wish to adopt children (Exodus 20 and Numbers 35:31).
  • If they have no record of mental incapacity, the right of all adults age 18 or older to own and bear firearms should be absolute. In fact, scientific studies have proven that gun control on firearms increases violent crime but private ownership of firearms helps prevent crime.
  • High taxes and complicated laws are evil (1 Samuel 8:15).
  • We must abolish all income and property taxes, reduce all other taxes (except perhaps tariffs) to less than 10 percent, and simplify or eliminate complicated laws (1 Samuel 8:15).
  • Leviticus 19:15 says, “Do not pervert justice; do not show favoritism to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Also, in Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Moses tells the people of the Nation of Israel, “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone. . . .”
  • Culture and Family are vitally important, because they are established by the God of the Bible (Genesis 1:26-30). Therefore, governments should not destroy the family and cultural order established by God in the Bible. They should honor it.
  • Except for pornography and things like falsely yelling, “Fire!,” in a crowd, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religious belief and discussion for all citizens must be protected, because these rights come from God (see the Declaration of Independence). However, groups seeking to overthrow an elected government and its civil order (assuming there’s been no election fraud), such as a secret communist cabal or a terrorist cell, have no such rights if convicted of trying to overthrow a duly elected government and its civil order.
  • Local, state and federal governments should help protect married heterosexual families and their children from such things as violent crime and depictions of pornography, sexual nudity, media violence, and sexual perversion, including homosexuality (Philippians 4:8). These things are evil and dishonor God’s Transcendent Moral and Cultural Order. Thus, all government-run “public” schools and universities should be privatized immediately.
  • Victims of adultery deserve protection in family courts and divorce courts (Exodus 20 and Matthew 19:1-12).
  • Local, state and national governments should not be allowed to perform same-sex and/or perverted marriage ceremonies (Exodus 20 and Mark 7:20-23).
  • Governments should not run education systems. Such a policy is clearly anti-biblical, anti-Christian, unconstitutional, anti-democratic, and anti-American. Local families, church leaders, businesspeople, and private charity groups should control their own education systems (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
  • Governments should not give charitable gifts to the poor. Such a policy is clearly anti-biblical, anti-Christian, unconstitutional, anti-democratic, and anti-American (Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24, Matthew 6:1-4, and 1 Timothy 5:3-16).
  • Helping poor people is the moral and religious responsibility of families, churches, private charities, and individuals, but not governments. Able-bodied poor people, however, bear the primary responsibility to take care of themselves and to take care of their own needy family members (Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24, Matthew 6:1-4, and 1 Timothy 5:3-16).
  • Everyone should commend hard work and reward it appropriately, but condemn laziness. As Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” See also Proverbs 14:23, which states, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Thus, 2 Thessalonians 3:15 commands, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
  • National and local communities have a right to control their borders and make laws regarding immigration. Immigrants must obey these laws or they will be deported. However, accepted, or “legal,” immigrants must be treated kindly, justly, equally, and hospitably. (For example, Exodus 22:21 orders people not to mistreat or oppress the legal aliens living among them, but Leviticus 18:26 also says the aliens living among us, including legal and illegal aliens, must obey God’s laws, including God’s Justice. Since illegal aliens in a representative capitalist republic have disobeyed the duly legislated laws of such a just republic, they have forfeited their right, and the right of their families, to remain in the country.)

My Thoughts On This Manifesto

“You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above…” (John 19:11)

I bring up this Bible verse because:

1. Jesus’ words imply that authority comes from God.

2. The Romans, because they’re Romans, didn’t organize their society in the way that the God of the Bible wants people to.

3. God was still, apparently, OK with the fact that Romans (like Pilate) were not living how He wanted them to live since authority had still been “…given [to Pilate] from above.”

4. So: Even, though, yes, there is a certain way that God wants us to organize our political systems, the reality is that not everyone on Earth lives that way — not everyone on Earth has their government set up how He wants them to have it set up, and God, because He still grants authority to people like Pilate, is apparently OK with that.

5. My point being: God works with what He has and makes the most of situations that aren’t exactly how He’d want them to be: The Romans weren’t living how God told people to live, but He was still able to use their system of government for His glory.

6. So, even if a person isn’t a conservative, gun-rights-supporting Christian capitalist, God can still use them to fulfill His plan for humanity.

Other thoughts:

Mothers who get an illegal abortion are not guilty of first degree murder, but should be fined a significant amount of money, or put in a work program for 5-10 years…

How is putting a woman who had in abortion in a labor program supposed to do anything beneficial for her?

If I was a woman and I got an abortion because I truly believed that it was my only option, I don’t see how hard labor would make me think “I now know that abortion is the taking of an unborn human life, and I repent of the sin I realize I committed and ask God for forgiveness.”

I would be convinced that the system of government I live under sucks, and that a God who would do this to me — force me into hard labor — isn’t one worth worshiping.

Funny

Local, state and federal governments should help protect married heterosexual families and their children… (Emphasis mine.)

(For the purpose of this post, I am defining “Family” how the state seems to define it: One or more adults raising kids.)

What about protecting families that aren’t married, or heterosexual?

What do I mean? This:

The reality of 21st Century America is that not every single family is made up of a man and a woman. Sometimes it’s just one man or one woman (because of divorce, the death of a spouse, or the man left the woman as soon as he provided his seed and so now she’s a single mom) and sometimes it’s two men or two women. So, what about them?

Because I’m a Catholic, I do wish that all families consisted of a man and a woman (CCC 2202), but the reality is that that’s not how a lot of families are. And as a follower of Jesus, I am supposed to acknowledge reality. (Matthew 10:16)

And: Acknowledging reality is not the same as accepting reality. For example: I acknowledge that this Christian political manifesto exists, but I won’t accept it — I won’t say “This is how our society should be set up.” And neither, I think, would a lot of people. If everyone in the U.S. woke up tomorrow and this political manifesto now dictated the laws of the land, there would be riots.

Police

If they have no record of mental incapacity, the right of all adults age 18 or older to own and bear firearms should be absolute.

Why?

The reason I ask is: Where in the Bible is the verse about the right to keep and bear arms?

You don’t include any Bible verse at the end of this sentence to justify what you’ve said, so I conclude that there is no Bible verse to justify what you’ve said.

So: What is a non-Christian value, a value that is not in the Bible — the right to keep and bear arms — doing in a Christian political manifesto?

…complicated laws are evil (1 Samuel 8:15).

How can you tell if a law is “complicated”?

The reason I ask is: A law that is complicated to one person can be simple to another. Everyone understands things differently. (Psalm 139:14)

groups seeking to overthrow an elected government and its civil order (assuming there’s been no election fraud), such as a secret communist cabal or a terrorist cell, have no such rights if convicted of trying to overthrow a duly elected government and its civil order.

Where is the Bible verse justifying this? You didn’t put one. So I conclude that there is no biblical justification for talking away the rights of people convicted of trying to overthrow an elected government.

If you’re going to write a manifesto that is grounded in the Christian faith, than shouldn’t you ground it in the Christian faith?

And wasn’t rebelling against a government and its civil order how the U.S. was founded? One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Do you think the British government saw George Washington as a freedom fighter?

History4

Governments should not give charitable gifts to the poor. Such a policy is clearly anti-biblical, anti-Christian, unconstitutional, anti-democratic, and anti-American…

The last time I looked, America is never mentioned in the Bible. So: Why the focus on America in a Christian political manifesto? (Calling charitable gifts “anti-American.”)

You say “anti-biblical” and anti-Christian” like they’re two different things. How is being “anti-biblical” different from being “anti-Christian” since teachings of all denominations of Christianity, in one way or another, come from the Bible?

And how is government charity “anti-democratic”?

You keep saying “anti-___”

Helping poor people is the moral and religious responsibility of families, churches, private charities, and individuals, but not governments.

But sometimes families, churches, and individuals suck and refuse to lift a finger to help people in need.

And private charities can’t always help everyone.

If families, churches, private charities, and individuals all helped each other, than there would be no need for the government to step in and do something to try and help. But that’s not the world we live in.

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