Religion and Politics

Dr. Chauncey Riddle

The widespread approval in our times of a separation of church and state has led many persons into the dangerous error of supposing that politics and religion must be similarly separated. It is a matter of simple reflection to see that though the formal institutions of society, church and state, may be and ought in most cases to be strictly separate, it is impossible thus to dichotomize thinking about how people ought to relate to one another. Both politics and religion are concerned, in both theory and practice, with the same object: social relations. Unless a man is double-minded or two-faced, his politics is his religion and his religion is the basis of his politics.

The focus of almost every political system known to man has been the problem of how to organize, regulate and perpetuate a society without the direct assistance of God. It is noteworthy that no proposed political system has long endured in this practicing atheism. The lesson of history is that social systems not directed by the true and living God always fail to achieve happiness for the individual and to perpetuate themselves in peace and stability. The major untried social hypothesis of our times is that the individual and the society prosper only when Jesus Christ is the center and governor of all things. The real question in all political discussions is, then: Is a given system under the Christ or is it against the Christ?

We are placed on this earth to work and the will give us a living…It is our duty to strive to till the earth, Subdue matter, conquer the globe, take care of the flocks and the herds. It is the government’s duty to see that you are protected in it, and no other man has the right to deprive you of any of your privilege. But it is no the government’s duty to support you.

I shall raise my voice as long as God gives me sound or ability, against the communistic idea that the government will take care of us all, and that everything belongs to the government…

It is wrong! We wonder, in trying to perpetuate that idea, that men become anti-Christ, because those teachings strike directly at the doctrine of the Savior.

No government owes you a living. You get it yourself by your own acts — never by trespassing upon the rights of your neighbor, never by cheating him. You put a blemish upon your character the moment you do. (President David O. McKay, Church News, 3/14/53)

Let us make no mistake: the true alternative to the present trend of atheistic socialism is not to substitute a “conservative” atheism. The true alternative is to return to the form of constitutional government established by the founding fathers, a theism acknowledged by both them and God, then within the freedom thus mad possible to establish fully the Kingdom of God as a voluntary association of servants of Jesus Christ.

If our religion does not soon affect the politics of more people in this nation, but more especially the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the present possibility of the full establishment of a kingdom ready for Christ may become an impossibility. A wise servant will do all in his power to promote both the kingdom of Christ and the free nation that makes it possible for Zion to be a beacon of hope to the people of every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

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5 Responses to Religion and Politics

  1. Anna Driggs says:

    I would like to know when this article was written or orally delivered? It is oddly pertinent to the times! I would like to add that I have recently discovered Chauncey Riddle through my husband Jeff and have been consumed with the desire to read everything he has written or said ever since. He has the capacity to discern the true nature of the gospel which he freely shares with us through his unique perspective. It’s interesting how intrinsically simple and palpably real our role in the old and new covenant become in his expert hands. I am a better person for having read his works. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  2. Gary Woffinden says:

    I have a typesrcipt of “Religion and Politics” that I got from the BYU library many years ago. Your posted copy is missing a paragraph and there are several typos. I updated a copy of your posted copy in a Word document with “track changes” set so you can see the changes. Is there an Email address I can send it to?

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