Christianity, Libertarianism, And The Drug War

This talk was given on August 8 at the Christians for Liberty conference in Austin, Texas.

Although I have been writing from the perspective of a conservative Christian libertarian for the past twenty years, it was not until 2009 that I first wrote something about the Drug War. This is because I knew the negative reaction I would receive from conservatives—and especially Christian conservatives. But after writing that initial article, there has been no turning back. I now write about the Drug War, not as much as I write about Christianity and war, but quite often.

Do you want to live in an authoritarian society? Do you desire an intrusive government? Do you wish for a government that is a nanny state? Do you yearn for government bureaucrats to tell you what you can and cannot do? Do you want to give up your personal and financial privacy? Do you like puritanical busybodies telling you how to live your life? Do you believe the government should define and enforce morality? Do you reason that vices should be crimes? Then you should support the War on Drugs.

Do you love liberty? Do you treasure freedom? Do you respect property rights? Do you want to live in a free society? Do you prefer government at all levels to be as limited as possible? Do you think people should be responsible for the consequences of their own actions? Do you wish the federal government would at least follow its own Constitution? Do you reason that vices should not be crimes? Then you must oppose the War on Drugs.

If you oppose drug use, you should oppose the War on Drugs even more. If you consider drug abuse to be evil, you should consider the War on Drugs to be more evil. If you think that taking drugs is a sin, you should think that the War on Drugs is a greater sin.

Now, it is unfortunate that before I write or speak about the Drug War, I have to first make it perfectly clear, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that I don’t say and write the things I do because I am a licentious libertine who just wants to be able to legally get high.

So, lest there be any misunderstanding, let me make myself unmistakably and unambiguously clear. I neither use mind-altering, behavior-altering, or mood-altering substances nor recommend that anyone else use them either—for any reason. I don’t even drink alcohol. And not only do I not use what are classified by the government as illegal drugs, I wouldn’t use them if they were legal, and would prefer that no one else use them either—whether they are legal or illegal. I am even skeptical about the health benefits of most legal drugs—prescription or over-the-counter.

Now, just in case somebody still doesn’t get it, let me try again:

  • Getting high on marijuana is a vice.
  • Smoking crack is evil.
  • Ingesting PCP is stupid.
  • Snorting cocaine is destructive.
  • Shooting up with heroin is sinful.
  • Dropping acid is ludicrous.
  • Swallowing ecstasy is immoral.
  • Injecting yourself with crystal meth is dangerous.
  • Eating psychedelic mushrooms is probably not a good idea.

But even though I consider the use of any drug for any reason other than because of a medical necessity to be dangerous, destructive, and immoral, I consider the government’s War on Drugs to be even more dangerous, destructive, and immoral. I don’t think anyone should support the government’s War on Drugs any more than they should support the government’s wars on poverty, terrorism, obesity, cholesterol, trans fat, cancer, tobacco, dietary fat, salt, and liquids over 3.4 ounces on airline flights.

Okay, now that you are certain that I don’t want kids to use drugs, that I would rather air traffic controllers not smoke weed on their breaks, and that I prefer Americans don’t walk around all day stoned out of their minds, I can talk about Christianity, libertarianism, and the Drug War. I will take up these things in reverse order. First, the Drug War.

The Drug War

The War on Drugs was formally announced by President Richard Nixon on June 17, 1971. Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Nixon declared: “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” He continued his military rhetoric in a special message to Congress on drug abuse prevention and control, calling for a “full-scale attack” on drug abuse “on manyfronts.” To wage “an effective war against heroin addiction,” he called for “a worldwide escalation in our existing programs for the control of narcotics traffic.” He said that legislation then recently passed in Congress provided “a sound base for the attack on the problem of the availability of narcotics in America.” Nixon also appointed the first drug czar and oversaw the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Agency—the dreaded DEA. This reminds me to say that I think three-letter words are worse than four-letter words. Words like DEA, TSA, CIA, FBI, NSA, EPA, DHS, FCC, FTC, and IRS.

Although the War on Drugs was formally declared by Nixon, this doesn’t mean that the federal government didn’t fight against drugs and drug abuse for decades before Nixon. The federal government began introducing anti-narcotics laws in 1905. This means that there was a time in this country when all drugs were perfectly legal. Just like there was a time in this country when you were free to do what you wanted with your own property without the EPA declaring it a wetland. Just like you were once free to only associate with whomever wanted to associate with you. Just like you were once free to have a garage sale without getting a permit. Although drug freedom was drastically reduced by the Opium Exclusion Act of 1909, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the Narcotic Control Act of 1956, and the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, it is the actions of Nixon that will forever be associated with beginning the Drug War.

Since the beginning of Nixon’s war, we have had the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988, and George W. Bush’s Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003 and Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. And who can forget the D.A.R.E. school-lecture program and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s television ad featuring a hot skillet, an egg, and the caption: “This is your brain on drugs”? I think this rather describes the brain of anyone who would work for the DEA.

The DEA—I speak of the federal DEA; the states all have their own DEA—has over 9,200 employees in 221 offices organized in 21 divisions throughout the United States. The DEA has 86 offices in 67 countries around the world. The DEA employs close to 300 chemists. Its Office of Aviation Operations has 100 airplanes and more than that many pilots. The DEA’s budget for fiscal year 2015 is $2.88 billion. And not only does the DEA relieve American taxpayers of their money, over the past ten years it has stripped drug traffickers of over $29 billion in revenues through the seizure of both assets and drugs. The DEA is also proud of the fact that twice in its history, its administrator has been a woman.

Although twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use (with heavy regulation), some states have decriminalized the possession of certain amounts of marijuana (with heavy regulation), and four states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana (with heavy regulation), the federal War on Drugs continues unabated and unquestioned. It enjoys wide bipartisan sponsorship in Congress; is equally supported by both major political parties; is never an issue in any congressional primary or general election; is not a campaign focus of any of the current crop of presidential candidates; is backed by the majority of Americans; is cheered by most religious people; is espoused by most parents with young children; is championed alike by liberals, conservatives, moderates, centrists, populists, progressives, and Tea Partiers; is encouraged by the majority of law-enforcement personnel, and is even defended by those who say they advocate “the Constitution,” “civil liberties,” or “limited government.”

The gross injustices and absurdities of the Drug War are legion.

Thanks to George Bush and his fellow Republicans passing the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act in 2005, a grandmother from Mississippi was arrested in Alabama for making an out-of-state purchase of Sudafed, abused, humiliated, and jailed for 40 days before being released. In my state of Florida, police in the city of Daytona Beach Shores illegally strip-searched female dancers in front of a group of male officers during a raid on a club because its employees allegedly sold illegal drugs to patrons. In 2010, a mother of four was found guilty of selling $31 worth of marijuana to an undercover cop and given a twelve-year prison sentence–even though it was her first criminal offense. Just this year, a young man in South Carolina spent weeks in a coma and was left paralyzed after police in militarized gear broke down the door of his apartment and shot him nine times. His crime? Selling a plant the government didn’t approve of. Police found $970 in his pocket and 8 ounces of pot in his apartment.

Some unfortunate Americans have been sentenced to life in prison for drug possession because it was their third drug offense. Thanks to the War on Drugs and civil asset forfeiture laws, police regularly practice “policing for profit” whereby they confiscate cash from law-abiding Americans because having a large sum of money on you “must” mean that you are involved in drug trafficking. And then there are the outrages that are generally not seen: Americans incarcerated for drug offenses who are raped, beaten, humiliated, and suffer the loss of their jobs, their money, and their families. And drug warriors maintain that it is drug users who are immoral?

In a nutshell, what is the War on Drugs? It is simply government bureaucrats, nanny state do-gooders, puritanical busybodies, statist drug warriors, and assorted hypocrites telling you want you can and can’t consume, swallow, smoke, sniff, snort, inject, or ingest, and locking you up in a cage if you possess, manufacture, process, buy, sell, distribute, transport, cultivate, or “traffic in” a substance the government doesn’t approve of.

Let us next look at what libertarians say about the Drug War.

Libertarianism

Libertarians may have their disagreements—most of them minor or petty—but if there is one thing they are unanimous on, it is the tremendous evil that is the War on Drugs.

Not so, say liberals and conservatives: The Drug War is necessary because drugs are addictive, unhealthy, dangerous, a bad habit, and self-destructive. Yes they are, says the libertarian. Drugs are addictive like caffeine, unhealthy like high-fructose corn syrup, dangerous like snowboarding, a bad habit like biting your fingernails, and self-destructive like smoking cigarettes. So why are liberals and conservatives not adamant about the government sending people to prison for doing these things?

But, continues the liberals and conservatives, using drugs may lead to premature death. You mean like using alcohol?, replies the libertarian. But using drugs may cause harm to your children. You mean like divorce? But using drugs has societal costs. You mean like obesity? But using drugs may lead to financial ruin. You mean like using credit cards? But using drugs may lead to crime. You mean like gambling can? But using drugs may have unintended consequences. You mean like having casual sex? But using drugs may kill you. You mean like using prescription drugs?

Libertarians are weary of pointing out that the War on Drugs is a complete and utter failure. The War on Drugs has failed to prevent drug abuse. It has failed to reduce drug abuse. It has failed to keep drugs out of the hands of addicts, including prisoners. It has failed to keep drugs away from teenagers and children. It has failed to reduce the demand for drugs. It has failed to stop the violence associated with drug trafficking. It has failed to help drug addicts get treatment. It has failed to end drug overdoses. It has failed to have an impact on the availability of most drugs in the United States. Just last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that heroin use in the United States increased 63 percent from 2002 through 2013. Heroin deaths nearly quadrupled during this period, and rates of abuse doubled among women. This in spite of the fact that the DEA has had a four-fold increase in heroin seizures along the southwest border since 2008.

But, to be fair, libertarians also acknowledge that the War on Drugs has succeeded. It has succeeded in clogging the judicial system with non-crimes. It has succeeded in swelling prison populations with nonviolent offenders. It has succeeded in corrupting law enforcement. It has succeeded in fostering violence. It has succeeded in destroying personal and financial privacy. It has succeeded in militarizing the police. It has succeeded in hindering legitimate pain management. It has succeeded in hampering the treatment of debilitating diseases. It has succeeded in turning doctors into criminals. It has succeeded in destroying the Fourth Amendment. It has succeeded in eroding civil liberties. It has succeeded in making criminals out of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Americans. It has succeeded in turning America’s inner cities into war zones. It has succeeded in unreasonably inconveniencing retail shopping. It has succeeded in ruining more lives than drugs themselves. It has succeeded in wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.

But even if none of these things were true, libertarians would still be right about the Drug War. Here are some things they say about it:

  • The War on Drugs has financial and human costs that far exceed any of its supposed benefits.
  • The War on Drugs is an assault on individual liberty and personal freedom.
  • The War on Drugs is a monstrous evil that has ruined more lives than drugs themselves.
  • The War on Drugs negates personal responsibility and accountability.
  • The War on Drugs violates property rights.
  • The War on Drugs is incompatible with a free society.
  • The War on Drugs violates the Constitution, the principle of federalism, and increases the size and scope of government.

It is on this last point that libertarians say that conservatives ought to be standing with them when it comes to opposing the Drug War. Conservatives are always talking about their admiration for the Constitution, their support of the Tenth Amendment, and their belief in limited government. Yet, the biggest supporters of the Drug War are the conservatives who talk the most and the loudest about these things.

But, reasons the libertarian, how could anyone who said he believed in following the Constitution support the federal government’s War on Drugs? Did not James Madison write in Federalist No. 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite”? Does the Constitution authorize the national government to intrude itself into the personal eating, drinking, or smoking habits of Americans? Does the Constitution authorize the national government to regulate, criminalize, or prohibit the manufacture, sale, or use of any drug? Does the Constitution authorize the national government to restrict or monitor any harmful or mood-altering substances that any American wants to consume? Does the Constitution authorize the national government to ban anything?

Libertarians have conservatives over a barrel when they point out that when progressives in and out of the national government sought to prohibit the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” after World War I, they knew they could only do so by amending the Constitution. That is why the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1919. The Amendment’s repeal in 1933 was perhaps the only good thing to happen during the Roosevelt era.

The libertarian position on the Drug War may seem radical to some, but it is consistently and straightforwardly so:

  1. There should be no laws at any level of government for any reason regarding the buying, selling, growing, processing, transporting, manufacturing, advertising, using, or possessing of any drug for any reason.
  1. It is not the proper role of government to prohibit, regulate, restrict, or otherwise control what a man desires to eat, drink, smoke, inject, absorb, snort, sniff, inhale, swallow, or otherwise ingest into his mouth, nose, veins, or lungs.
  1. The War on Drugs should and could be ended immediately and completely. All drug laws should be repealed, all non-violent drug offenders should be pardoned and released from prison, and all government agencies devoted to fighting the Drug War should be eliminated.
  1. There should be a free market in drugs without any government interference, regulation, taxing, or licensing.
  1. It is individuals, not government bureaucrats, who should decide what risks they are willing to take and what behaviors are in their own best interests.
  1. A person should be free to live his live in any manner he chooses as long as his activities are non-violent, non-disorderly, non-disruptive, non-threatening, and non-coercive.
  1. The heavy hand of government is not the solution to any problems resulting from drug abuse. The solution is to be found in family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, anti-drug organizations, treatment centers, religion, churches, and ministers.
  1. A free society has to include the right of people to take risks, practice bad habits, partake of addictive conduct, engage in self-destructive behavior, live an unhealthy lifestyle, participate in immoral activities, and undertake dangerous actions—including the use and abuse of drugs.

Libertarians reason that every crime needs a tangible and identifiable victim, not a potential or possible victim. Having bad habits, exercising poor judgment, engaging in dangerous activities, and committing vices are not crimes. It is on this latter point that Lysander Spooner so famously explained: “Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.”

Libertarians maintain that everyone—even those who are the most adamantly opposed to using drugs—should be interested in ending the government’s War on Drugs. For, as the economist Ludwig von Mises so eloquently said: “As soon as we surrender the principle that the state should not interfere in any questions touching on the individuals mode of life, we end by regulating and restricting the latter down to the smallest detail.”

Libertarians argue that once the government claims control over what a man puts into his mouth, nose, and bloodstream, there is no limit to its power. Again, as Mises said: “If one abolishes man’s freedom to determine his own consumption, one takes all freedoms away.”

Libertarians insist not only that it is just simply not the purpose of government to protect people from bad habits, harmful substances, or vice, but also that doing so leads to greater evils. As Mises explained in Human Action:

Opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments…. And why limit the government’s benevolent providence to the protection of the individual’s body only? Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and seeing bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious, both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs.

Okay, so now that we have established with certainty the libertarian view of the Drug War, it remains to be seen if some, or all, or none of what libertarians say about the War on Drugs is compatible with Christianity.

Christianity

Even if libertarians make many valid points about the evils of the government’s War on Drugs, even if they make rational, reasonable, and logical arguments for ending the Drug War, what really matters to us as Christians is: “What saith the Scripture?” Jesus said to the chief priests and elders: “Did ye never read in the scriptures” (Mat 21:42)? Jesus said to the Jews: “As the scripture hath said” (John 7:38). Jesus said to the Saducees: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures” (Mat 22:29). The Bible says to “try the spirits.” The Bible says to “prove all things.” What the Bible says about the Drug War is really the most important thing, is it not?

Let’s look first at what Christians generally say about the Drug War. It turns out that they basically say the same things as their secular drug warrior counterparts. And, of course, when they do, they sound just as nonsensical. Here are two examples.

Most Christian drug warriors would agree with their secular comrades that the government should ban drugs because using drugs is addictive. Yet, none of them think the government should prosecute people for partaking in other addictive behaviors like surfing the Internet, having sex, shopping, masturbating, drinking beverages with caffeine, smoking cigarettes, playing video games, viewing porn, eating junk food, watching television, and playing the lottery.

Most Christian drug warriors would also agree with their secular comrades that the government should ban drugs because using drugs is dangerous. Yet, none of them think the government should prosecute people for partaking in other dangerous behaviors like skydiving, bungee jumping, coal mining, boxing, mountain climbing, cliff diving, drag racing, MMA fighting, pro wrestling, riding in a hot-air balloon, using a chainsaw, and crossing the street at a busy intersection.

The argument that Christians usually add is that using drugs is immoral or sinful. I won’t argue with that. I said at the beginning of this talk that I consider the use of any drug for any reason other than because of a medical necessity to be dangerous, destructive, and immoral. I can add to that now that I regard drug abuse to be a vice, a sin, and an evil that Christians should seek to avoid or pray that they be delivered from if they are caught up in it.

The question is whether vice, immorality, and sin should be designated by the state as crimes.

As I pointed out just a few minutes ago, libertarians reason that because every crime needs an victim, vices are not crimes. And they are right. There is no support in the New Testament for the idea that Christians should seek legislation to criminalize victimless activities like taking drugs. Just like there is no support in the New Testament for the idea that the state should legislate morality. And just like there is no support in the New Testament for the idea that private sins should be crimes.

The burden of proof is on Christian drug warriors. Where did the Apostle Paul, in his travels throughout the Roman Empire, ever express support for any type of legislation or state action against vice, immorality, or sin? He certainly told Christians how they should live their life, and even provided lists of vices, immoral actions, and sins that Christians should avoid. Things like: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, covetousness, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, effeminacy, idolatry, hatred, strife, reveling, witchcraft, evil speaking, lying, and bitterness. But Paul never expressed a desire for the civil authorities to arrest, fine, or imprison anyone for engaging in these things. And neither do modern Christians. Just like they don’t call for the government to prosecute people for committing one of the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lust. So what is so special, so egregious, about someone using drugs?

At the top of the list of why Christians shouldn’t support the War on Drugs is that, biblically, there is no warrant in the New Testament—the Christian’s rule of faith—for Christians to support a government war on drugs or anything else. And Christians can also agree with libertarians that constitutionally, the federal government has no authority whatsoever to regulate drugs; philosophically, it is not the purpose of government to be a nanny state that monitors the behavior of its citizens; pragmatically, the War on Drugs should be ended because it is a complete and utter failure; practically, the War on Drugs should be ended because of all its injustices and absurdities; financially, the costs of drug prohibition far outweigh any of its supposed benefits; and medically, the War on Drugs is misguided since alcohol is the most harmful, and most abused, drug, and thousands of people die every year from using prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

And speaking of alcohol, everything bad that could be said regarding drug abuse could equally be said of alcohol abuse—and even more so. Alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of premature deaths in the United States. Alcohol abuse can be a contributing factor in cases of cancer, mental illness, anemia, cardiovascular disease, dementia, cirrhosis, high blood pressure, and suppression of the immune system. Alcohol abuse is a factor in many drownings, home accidents, suicides, pedestrian accidents, fires, violent crimes, divorces, boating accidents, child abuse cases, sex crimes, and auto accidents. In fact, the number one killer of young people under twenty-five is alcohol-related car crashes. Numerous studies have shown that smoking marijuana is much safer than drinking alcohol. In fact, a study by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, ranked alcohol as the “most harmful drug,” beating out heroin, crack cocaine, and ecstasy.

Christians are woefully inconsistent, and their arguments hypocritical and unconvincing, when they support the government arresting, fining, and imprisoning people for abusing drugs but not for abusing alcohol.

What, then, should be the Christian’s attitude toward those who abuse drugs—legal or illegal?

First of all, the Christian should mind his “own business” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) and not be “a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Timothy 4:15). The great H. L. Mencken famously defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” That is the attitude of some Christians. Hey Christian, what business is it of yours if some guy wants to relax after a hard day’s work by smoking a joint? You puritanical prude. You wouldn’t give it a second thought if instead he smoked a pack of cigarettes. I like what C.S. Lewis said about moral busybodies: “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

And second, the Christian should only use persuasion. Persuasion, not coercion. Persuasion, not legislation. Persuasion, not legal action. Persuasion, not threats. Persuasion, not compulsion. Persuasion, not violence. Persuasion, not incarceration. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4). There are, unfortunately, too many people in the United States—including too many Christians—who want to remake society in their own image and compel others to live only in ways that they approve of. Did you ever notice that there is no shortage of Americans—including no shortage of American Christians—willing to kill for the military, torture for the CIA, wiretap for the FBI, grope for the TSA, and destroy property for the DEA? It is not just libertarians who can appeal to the wisdom of Ludwig von Mises: “He who wants to reform his countrymen must take resource to persuasion. This alone is the democratic way of bringing about changes. If a man fails in his endeavors to convince other people of the soundness of his ideas, he should blame his own disabilities. He should not ask for a law, that is, for compulsion and coercion by the police.” That is the spirit of New Testament Christianity. And Mises was a nonreligious Jew, not a Christian.

So, to end this section, it turns out that everything libertarians say about the Drug War is totally and completely true in every respect.

Conclusion

If the War on Drugs is such a complete and utter failure with financial and human costs that far exceed any of its supposed benefits, then why do so many Americans—and so many American Christians—support it?

If the War on Drugs has resulted in so much unnecessary violence, crime, injustice, suffering, corruption, inconvenience, expense, misery, and death, and has ruined more lives than drugs themselves, then why do so many Americans—and so many American Christians—support it?

If the War on Drugs violates the Constitution, the principle of federalism, increases the size and scope of government, and is impossible to reconcile with a limited government, then why do so many Americans—and so many American Christians—support it?

If the War on Drugs is a war on individual liberty, personal freedom, private property, personal and financial privacy, personal responsibility and accountability, civil liberties, the free market, and a free society, then why do so many Americans—and so many American Christians—support it?

Why do so many Americans—and so many American Christians—think that the property of other Americans should be confiscated, and that some of their fellow Americans should be fined, arrested, put on probation, subject to no-knock SWAT team raids, be treated as criminals, or locked in cages for buying, selling, growing, manufacturing, cultivating, processing, distributing, “trafficking in,” using, or possessing some substance the government doesn’t approve of?

Simple. They trust the government. And even worse, they trust the evil, lying U.S. government. Most Americans—including most American Christians—have an irrational, illogical, and naive trust in government. Americans who are not firmly committed to the freedom philosophy intuitively and instinctively believe that when there’s a problem, the government should do something about it. When there’s a problem, like drug abuse, government action is the best or the only way to solve the problem. They trust the government:

  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to classify all drugs on a schedule.
  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to have a DEA.
  • They trust the government when it says that it is just trying to keep people safe.
  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to monitor what Americans eat, drink, sniff, inject, snort, swallow, smoke, or otherwise ingest into their bodies.
  • They trust the government when it says that one drug is more powerful or addictive than another.
  • They trust the government when it says that certain drugs should be legal while other drugs should be illegal.
  • They trust the government when it says that it is just protecting the public health.
  • They trust the government when it says that it is just looking out for the welfare of children.
  • They trust the government when it says that the War on Drugs is worth its cost.
  • They trust the government when it says that it is okay for alcohol to be legal but not okay for most drugs to be legal.
  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to lock people in cages for possessing plants it doesn’t approve of.
  • They trust the government when it says that certain drugs need to be kept behind the counter and have the names of their purchasers recorded.
  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to monitor what Americans put in their noses, mouths, and bloodstreams.
  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to lock people away in prison for life if they get caught selling drugs multiple times.
  • They trust the government when it says that it needs to ban certain substances.

I don’t trust the government. As a believer in Jesus Christ, a theological and cultural conservative, a believer in moral absolutes, an adherent to the ethical principles of the New Testament, and a believer in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, I reject the government’s War on Drugs because I believe in the power of religion, persuasion, and education instead of the power of legislation, police, and prisons.

Legalize freedom; legalize drugs.

Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. His newest book is The Making of the King James Bible—New Testament. Visit his website.

 

This article originally appeared at LewRockwell.com and is reprinted here with permission under a Creative Commons License. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Only Full-Blown Libertarianism Works

Many people think the Internal Revenue Service was violating civil liberties when it harassed tea party groups. After all, the groups were targeted because they wanted to exercise their civil liberty to challenge government policies. However, the specific issue in the IRS case was the groups’ application for tax-exempt status, which seems to be an aspect of economic liberty. In fact, the IRS case demonstrates that there is no meaningful distinction between civil and economic liberties. A true friend of the free society defends both civil and economic liberties.

Many “civil libertarians” who oppose government laws interfering in the personal choices of consenting adults support laws preventing consenting adults from working for below the minimum wage. Other civil libertarians support government programs forcing consenting adults to purchase health insurance. Many liberals who join libertarians in opposing the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping fail to protest Obamacare’s assault on medical privacy. Even worse are those “First Amendment defenders” who cheer on government actions preventing religious individuals from operating their businesses in accord with the teachings of their faith.

The hypocrisy of left-wing civil libertarians is matched by the hypocrisy of many “economic conservatives.” Too many conservatives combine opposition to high taxes and Obamacare with support for authoritarian measures aimed at stopping individuals from engaging in “immoral” behavior. These conservatives do not understand that using force to stop people from engaging in nonviolent activities that some consider immoral is just as wrong as using force to make people purchase health insurance. Obamacare and the drug war both violate individual rights, and neither has any place in a free society.

In a free society, individuals must respect the right of others to make their own choices free from government coercion. However they do not have to approve of those choices. Individuals are free to use peaceful persuasion to stop others from engaging in immoral or destructive behavior. They can also avoid associating with individuals or businesses whose actions they find immoral or simply distasteful.

Many civil and economic libertarians also mistakenly believe that they can defend liberty while supporting an imperialist foreign policy. It is impossible to be a true civil libertarian, or a true fiscal conservative, and support the warfare state.

America’s imperialist foreign policy is the underlying justification for the rise of the modern surveillance state, and the reason Americans cannot board an airplane without being harassed and humiliated by the Transportation Security Administration. The warfare state is also the justification for the government’s greatest infringement on personal liberties: the military draft.

The United States government’s militaristic foreign policy costs taxpayers over $1 trillion a year. The costs of empire are major drivers of the American debt. Yet many of the most fervent opponents of domestic spending oppose even minuscule cuts to the defense budget. The government’s budget will never be balanced until conservatives give up their love affair with the welfare state and military Keynesianism.

Scholars, commentators, and other public figures who defend liberty in some areas and authoritarianism in other areas — or combine a defense of economic or civil liberty with a defense of the warfare state — undermine the case for the liberties they claim to cherish. Restoring the link between economic liberty, civil liberty, and peace is a vital task for those seeking to restore a society of liberty, peace, and prosperity. I examine the link between an interventionist foreign policy and a loss of our civil and economy liberties in my new book Swords into Plowshares. You can purchase a copy of Swords into Plowshares here

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute.

This commentary originally appeared at RonPaulInstitute.org and is reprinted here with permission. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Watch: After Trading Written Jabs, Hannity And Beck Just Faced Off On TV Over Donald Trump

Contrast and context, more than conservatism, make Donald Trump a candidate to support, Sean Hannity insisted Monday night as he and Glenn Beck debated how and why conservatives can support Trump’s candidacy for the White House.

Last week, Beck took to Facebook and questioned Trump’s lack of policy principles and alienating personality. Hannity blogged a reply Monday that Trump’s outsider attitude makes him an “impressive” candidate. The two then met up on Hannity’s Monday night show.

Hannity argued Monday night that Trump’s appeal and importance lies not just in what he says, but how he says it.

“I think there is a reason for his success,” Hannity said. “I think the reason is Republicans are weak, and they are timid, in Washington especially … They have broken so many promises, Americans are fed up, the problems we face are severe.”

“Here’s a guy that’s been successful, loves the country, sees what both of us see: America in decline,” Hannity said. “He is entering the political arena for the first time because he seriously wants to make the country a better place.

Beck was not entirely sold. He cited policies that Trump once supported, from abortion to a wealth tax. He does not like Trump’s answers for why he holds different beliefs now.

“If you’re a person that accepts those answers, I just ask that people would say, ‘Why didn’t I accept these same kind of answers from Barack Obama?’” Beck said

Beck noted that Trump’s style creates both positive and negative aspects to his candidacy.

“I like about Donald Trump. … I love the fact that he’s not listening to advisers,” Beck said. “But I think that’s what people are really zeroed in on. He doesn’t care. And we are a society where everybody bows and says, ‘Oh, no, no. We have to do this.’”

Beck called it “refreshing” to see somebody who doesn’t apologize or bow to the media, but he’s still concerned about what Trump actually believes.

“He’ll get it done because he doesn’t care,” Beck said, summarizing Trump’s attitude. “Well may I just point out, we have a president now who do not care what you or anyone else says. As I have said from the beginning … you don’t want to give anyone this kind of power because if it swings back the other way, gang … are you going to like the things he decides to do?”

h/t: Mediaite

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Do Christians And Conservatives Really Desire A Police State?

A Nazi-like, Stalin-like, Mao-like Police State is being constructed in earnest in America. It started with the Patriot Act in 2001. And it has only gotten worse every year since. And, in reality, this burgeoning Police State has no serious opposition–with the exception of 75 million + gun owners.

Democrats and Republicans alike are actively facilitating the American Police State. About the only time one party or the other opposes Police-State-type legislation is when their party is in the minority; and this is only done in an attempt to make the other party look bad. But as soon as the minority party becomes the majority party, it immediately supports the same Police-State-type legislation that it had previously opposed. A classic example is the Patriot Act itself.

I remember standing with former congressman and former Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr against the Patriot Act at a rally in Florida. I clearly recall Bob noting that when Bill Clinton was President, Democrats tried to pass the Patriot Act (under another name)–but it was rejected by a Republican Congress. But when George W. Bush proposed the same bill under the name of The USA Patriot Act (which Congressman Barr said was almost word-for-word the same bill that the GOP had defeated just a few years before), a Republican Congress quickly passed it.

That’s the way things work in Washington, D.C. Neither party cares a flip about the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. All they care about is power. Face it, folks: both parties are working in tandem to turn the United States into a giant Police State. Furthermore, the national news media (including FOX News) is in total lockstep with this proliferating Police State.

Writing for GlobalResearch.Ca, Stephen Lendman reports: “Freedom in America is being systematically destroyed: one police state law at a time–with most people ignorant and/or indifferent about what happening.

“Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan–in lockstep against government representing everyone equitably and fairly, serving privileged interests only.

“S. Res. 1705: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 compromises free expression and privacy rights already gravely eroded.

“If enacted, Section 603 will require online companies to inform Washington of any ‘actual knowledge’ of ‘facts and circumstances’ related to undefined ‘terrorist activity’–meaning warrantless searches and seizures of personal electronic content will be authorized, potentially subjecting countless numbers of innocent people to unjustifiable scrutiny.

“Vague language makes independent journalists, political, anti-war, and social justice activists, academics and students doing legitimate research, as well as others vulnerable to being called suspected terrorists.”

The report continued, saying: “One definition of terrorist activity can be another’s way of describing freedom fighting. Legitimate government criticism could be misinterpreted and misused.

“Anyone ideologically opposed to US policies could become vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for expressing their views online. Police states operate this way.

“Provisions like Section 603 violate fundamental constitutional and international law guaranteed rights. At stake is further erosion of First and Fourth Amendment freedoms.

“Senate members overwhelmingly support S. 1705. Before recessing until September, they were set to pass it by voice vote [meaning automatic passage with no recorded votes of individual senators] until Senator Ron Wyden objected.”

The report goes on to say: “He [Wyden] knows of no law enforcement or intelligence agencies suggesting Section 603 will help identify terrorists. He urges revision or elimination of this section altogether.

“Thirty-one civil liberties organizations and trade associations expressed opposition to Section 603 in a letter sent Senate leaders.

“They include Project Censored, the Media Freedom Foundation, the ACLU, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and American Library Association among others.

“They warned of concerns raised above. Innocent people committing no crimes would be at risk. ‘Complying with Section 603 would create a chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech and would impermissibly burden individuals’ First and Fourth Amendment rights,’ they said.

“‘Whether a given comment is a true threat of violence, an expression of a sincerely held religious belief, or a simple joke among friends is a determination that providers are ill-suited to make, particularly when the consequence is reporting a person to the government under the suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.’”

See the report here:

Spying on Americans: Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, Would Allow Arrest of Journalists, Anti-war Activists, Academics and Students

If it wasn’t for independent Internet news sources such as the one quoted above, most of us would not even know anything about Section 603 of the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act. No more than most Americans know anything about Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA that authorizes the indefinite detention of American citizens based purely on the federal government’s suspicion of undefined and vaguely-described “terrorist” activity–an unabashed totalitarian provision that was passed by both Democrat and Republican congresses. The national news media (including FOX News) is completely apathetic to informing the American people about the constant and deliberate manufacturing of a Police State by our federal government.

See this two-part report on sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA:

The NDAA Explained

And this review by Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan):

The Truth about the New Detainee Policy

And also this review in the Harvard Law Record:

Indefinite Detention Under the NDAA: the Great Attack on Civil Liberties You May Not Have Heard About

But the thing that really galls me is the apathy and indifference to this proliferating Police State by my fellow Christians and “conservatives.” I looked at the complete list of the organizations sponsoring the letter of objection to senate leaders referenced above, and the majority of them would be considered “liberal” by most folks. One notable exception is Ron Paul’s Campaign For Liberty. And, yes, there are a few others.

What is it with most Christians and conservatives? Do they really desire a Police State? Do they have a death wish for America? Is the Church’s misinterpretation of Romans 13 truly sedating Christian people into accepting a draconian Police State in this country? I believe the answer is a resounding “YES!”

For at least the last half-century, America’s Christians have had “obey the government” beat into their heads like Chinese water torture. The result is an omnipresent attitude among Christians that we must ALWAYS submit to government–no matter what. This helps explain many things, doesn’t it?

Since Christians are taught to not resist government, they don’t believe they should resist legalized abortion, or legalized same-sex marriage, or legalized anything else–including a legalized Police State.

Most pastors and Christians will not be willing to admit it, but the erroneous “obey-the-government-no-matter-what” interpretation of Romans 13 has made idolatry fashionable in most churches. In reality, the Hitlerian interpretation of Romans 13 commonly taught in America’s churches today means government, not God, is sovereign. This makes Christians who embrace such a doctrine practicing idolaters.

I again remind readers that my attorney son and I co-authored a book entitled, “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission.” In this book, we expose the myth that the Bible teaches unlimited submission to civil government. We show from both testaments that God NEVER expected that His children should voluntarily submit to tyrannical government. Find the book here:

ROMANS 13: The True Meaning of Submission

Think of it: if your pastor did not warn you about the legalization of murdering unborn babies, and if he did not warn you about the legalization of same-sex marriage, what makes anyone think he would warn you about the creation of an American Police State? He didn’t; he hasn’t; and he won’t.

Plus, in the minds of millions of Christians around the country, if FOX News doesn’t cover it, it must not be important. And, except for John Stossel (on FOX Business News), FOX News is not saying diddly squat about the burgeoning Police State taking shape in our country. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. You noticed the subject was never broached by the FOX News moderators during the recent Republican presidential debate.

Where is James Dobson? Where is Pat Robertson? Where is Charles Stanley? Where is Joel Osteen? Where is Rick Warren? Where is Bill Hybels? Where is Jonathan Falwell? Where is Bob Jones University? Where is Pensacola Christian College? Where is Oral Roberts University? Where is Franklin Graham? Where is Benny Hinn? Where is Kenneth Copeland?

Think what could happen if just a few of these men would start being watchmen on the wall for freedom in this country and begin calling our politicians (of both parties) to task for their willingness to facilitate a form of government resembling those created by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The time to do something about it is before the curtain falls, folks. Not after.

Winston Churchill once said: “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.”

It appears that many of our pastors and Christians would rather live as slaves.

Churchill also said: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Is that what our pastors and churches are hoping? Are they really hoping that by feeding the alligator of a burgeoning Police State, they will be eaten last? It appears so.

When it comes to the Bill of Rights, including the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, etc., there is no such thing as “liberal” or “conservative,” or Democrat or Republican; there is only freedom or slavery. So, I don’t care if Oregon’s Senator Wyden is a “liberal” Democrat; he stood up for the Bill of Rights when he opposed Section 603 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. I wish our “conservative Republican” friends in the Senate had the guts to do the same thing.

P.S. In addition to the book, “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission,” I have a DVD containing four messages on the same subject. The DVD is entitled, “The True Meaning of Romans 13.” If you would rather watch the DVD, it can be ordered here:

The True Meaning of Romans 13 Series-DVD

The four-message DVD is a highlighted digest of the more detailed book. So, actually, the book and DVD combination would make a great set.

Again, to order the book “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission,” go here:

ROMANS 13: The True Meaning of Submission

© Chuck Baldwin

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Exclusive: 13-Year-Old Conservative C.J. Pearson Explains What Shaped His Views

A quote often attributed to Winston Churchill advises: “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.”

C.J. Pearson, however, opted for a brain from the very beginning.

“I’ve been involved in politics since 2nd grade, rooting for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election,” the 13-year-old political commentator told Western Journalism in an exclusive interview. “The liberal agenda was never attractive to me and, quite frankly, never will be.”

The Georgian admitted his strong conservative opinions have not always been accepted by some in his social circles.

“Many of my friends have mixed emotions regarding my involvement in the political arena,” he explained. “Some are curious, some are confused, and most are somewhere in between.”

Although many in his family have opposing ideals, however, Pearson noted that he receives nothing but support.

“As far as my family,” he said, “despite our differing views, they have been nothing but supportive of my political involvement.”

Whether based on ideological differences or concerns about his age, Pearson is already used to dealing with critics.

“While my age has definitely turned quite a few heads,” he explained, “I strongly believe that age is irrelevant in politics and all that matters is your drive and dedication to make a difference.”

According to Pearson, young people in America are poised to become active in the nation’s political future.

“I have had the opportunity of not only meeting these young conservatives through social media,” he said, “but working alongside these individuals for the betterment of our country. Many young people are optimistic. They’re energized and they’re ready to fight. They’re ready to fight for our future.”

Do you agree with this young conservative’s view? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth