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Lewis on Church and State

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Lewis on Church and State

Postby nomad » 18 Sep 2006, 16:55

I have been reading a bit of 'God in the Dock', and I came across this statement in 'Answers to Questions on Christianity'.

I detest every kind of religious compulsion: only the other day I was writing an angry letter to The Spectator about Church Parades in the Home Guard!


I vaguely recall Lewis refering to this elsewhere - I think his complaint was that it made hypocrites out of those who did not normally attend church, and kept those that did from attending their own respective churches. Also there are his comments to the effect that a theocrat would be far worse than a secular tyrant because, while the dictator might sometimes relent through a bout of conscience or mere whim, the theocrat would never neglect to enforce their tyranny because he views it as the will of god.

Does anyone know of any other comments Lewis made regarding church and state?

And do you have an opinion as to whether this view on the Home Guard was
a) on theological grounds,
b) because it kept him away from his church, or
c) because of experiences he might have had while he was an atheist?

I rather suspect it might have been a, given emphasis by b and c.

quick caveat: I do not intend here to start a debate on the separation of church and state; only to investigate Lewis' views on the matter.
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re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby Jservic2 » 20 Sep 2006, 19:55

I cant remember if it was in "Good work and Good Works" or "Lillies that Fester" that he talks a lot about this topic. I think it was lillies that Fester though.

think his complaint was that it made hypocrites out of those who did not normally attend church


I think it is quite the opposite, it makes hyppocrites out of people that normally attend church. The church needs to guard it self angainst spreading religion, one of the things that C.S. lewis and Jesus spoke out angainst.
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re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby nomad » 21 Sep 2006, 01:23

Thanks, J. I'll look those up.

I'm not sure I follow you on the second comment. In what way would it make hypocrites out of those who normally attend church? I might be confused because I was referring to the people who are being forced to attend a church whether they are believers or not - not to those who are forcing them to go.
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Re: re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby Sarah N. » 21 Sep 2006, 02:43

Jservic2 wrote:The church needs to guard it self angainst spreading religion, one of the things that C.S. lewis and Jesus spoke out angainst.


Really? I thought Jesus said "go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." I would distinguish strongly between spreading religion and forcing religion on people.
Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing. ~ St. John of the Cross

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re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby Biff » 21 Sep 2006, 05:54

I seem to remember that Lewis was pretty keen on leaving Christian views out of politics....
"With hindsight perhaps it wasn't a good idea, oh well must be my hind cataracts..." Prof H.J. Farnsworth

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Re: re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby rusmeister » 21 Sep 2006, 11:11

Sarah N. wrote:
Jservic2 wrote:The church needs to guard it self angainst spreading religion, one of the things that C.S. lewis and Jesus spoke out angainst.


Really? I thought Jesus said "go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." I would distinguish strongly between spreading religion and forcing religion on people.


Amen to that!

Biff wrote:I seem to remember that Lewis was pretty keen on leaving Christian views out of politics....


Actually, I believe Lewis was pretty keen on leaving politics out of his Christian views...
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re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby nomad » 23 Sep 2006, 02:04

Well, the quote above would indicate that he was against any religious participation required by a government entity. It doesn't say what he thought about religion sponsored by the government but with voluntary participation, nor what he thought about how one's faith should affect the political behaviour of either politicians or voters. I seem to remember reading something where he talked about that last point, but I don't recall where or exactly what he said. I still have to find "Lillies".
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re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby Solomons Song » 25 Sep 2006, 23:31

I am fairly certain that Lewis wouldn't like a sanctioned religion, but he would be the first to say that religion in a politician's life would help mold his convictions and philosophies regarding political issues, which would certainly influence his political leanings.

I find that when most people say they think religion ought to remain seperate from the state, what they really are saying is that any policy that happens to be in line with Christian morality should be reversed immediately.

Government politics should pass laws based on whether or not certain activities are beneficial, or detrimental, to that government's society. If a politician's ideas regarding certain issues was defined by his or her religion, I see no vice in that, and am fairly certain that Lewis wouldn't either.
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re: Lewis on Church and State

Postby nomad » 30 Sep 2006, 05:28

I found Lilies That Fester finally. I actually had it. It does have something to say on the issue, though it's main focus is on the development of what Lewis calls "Charientocracy"... the rule of the so-called "cultured". Here are the two bits I found most interesting for this thread:

Culture is a bad qualification in the same way as sanctity. Both are hard to diagnose and easy to feign.


Lastly I reach the point where my objections to Theocracy and Charientocracy are almost identical. "Lilies that fester smell worse than weeds." The higher the pretensions of our rulers are, the more meddlesome and impertinent their rule is likely to be and the more the thing in whose name they rule will be defiled. The highest things have the most precarious foorhold in our nature. By making sanctity or culture a moyen de parvenir you help to drive them out of the world. Let our masters leave these two, at least, alone; leave us some region where the spontaneous, the unmarketable, the utterly private, can still exist.


I find those last two sentences particularly inriguing. If we demanded sanctity in our leaders, would we be driving sanctity out of the world? I think Lewis is saying that making religion a requirement for ruling (or for getting our vote) would only create a cadre of hypocrites. I'm inclined to agree with him.
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