Comments 14

  1. I simply don’t agree that “… social democrats are committed to cultural and religious tolerance.” When one adopts the proposition that it is the job of “… the state to … creat[e] a good and just society, often using taxes to pay for the public services and other social changes they desire,” then political pluralism will take a hit, and often, even usually, a big one.

    I would also suggest that applying the “body of Christ” metaphor for the church to the state (to government) is unwise — inappropriate — in the extreme. I know plenty of real world people, for example, who would call themselves “social democrats” and who believe religion-based day school education — and college — is silly, wasteful, even harmful to society, and should be discouraged by government, perhaps even eliminated. Indeed, there are two currently pending in the State of California a bill that would deny faith base colleges the right to act as faith based colleges, and also deprive college students of otherwise available state funding if they choose to attend a college that holds to commonly held to religious beliefs and practices. See: and

    And in Canada, a (reformed) Christian perspective law school (Trinity Western) has recently been denied accreditation for the same reason. So much for social democrats being committed to cultural and religious tolerance. See:

    A telling question: Have the populations in “social democracies in Europe, countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Austria, Netherlands and Belgium” seen an increase, decrease, or a leveling of their citizenry’s perspective as to religious faith (whether the importance of it, practice of it, or whatever)? The answer of course is a great decrease, with the possible exception of that of the Muslim populations resulting from recent immigration. Certainly, the populations of those countries might be view as becoming more “worldview homogeneous,” but what is the worldview that has become more universally adopted? It isn’t the worldview of Calvinism as Abraham Kuyper would have described it. To be honest, Kuyper would probably have characterized it as something quite other than Calvinism, and that would not have been a complement.

    1. {Have the populations in “social democracies in Europe, countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Austria, Netherlands and Belgium” seen an increase, decrease, or a leveling of their citizenry’s perspective as to religious faith (whether the importance of it, practice of it, or whatever)?}

      You’ve missed the point entirely. Religion does not enter into the political equation of a social democracy. Because the rules (sic!) are simple in said democracy. The principal rule is that the collective is far more important than the individual. Which explains frankly the difference between the US (where the individual is primary) and Europe.

      Americans confuse “freedom” and the “ability to amass income”. European’s do not make this mistake, even if the latter has its fair-share of millionaires and billionaires. The social democracies of Europe simply want no one left behind, as if they were useless adjuncts if unable to “make their own way”. In fact, the primary attributes of a social-democracy are, at present, two – but both are key elements:
      *National Health Services that are very low cost and universal.
      *Free or nearly free Tertiary Education, so that everyone can school themselves in the attributes that will allow them the most professional success possible, in order to make a decent income for their families.

      How more basic can a country get than that … ?

  2. Dave, What you write is why I was for Bernie Sanders. I believe, especially as Christians, we should care about the income of our fellow citizens and be willing to help them out. I see this in the gospels and the early church.

  3. Your candy coated description of social democracy is just a step in the direction of the total destruction of our country. The Democrats promote abortion, homosexuality and the gospel of climate change. The results will be communism and the complete abolition of Christianity.

  4. That was a great article — and clearly stated. Too bad we didn’t start a “Christians for Bernie Sanders” movement. Too late now — and sad. Maybe we could still get some t-shirts made?

  5. Thank you Dave. This was an excellent account of the merits of a social democracy. The arguments against the type of social democracy that you are talking about are grounded in a type of identity politics that makes worse the partisan division. It is sad that people genuinely think that all Democrats “promote abortion.” Anyone who knows their history will know that the United States will never be a communist state. That being said, like all political platforms, it is far from perfect.

    1. “Anyone who knows their history will know that the United States will never be a communist state.”

      What do you mean exactly?

      1. What I mean to say here is that communism is not socialism. Neither is communism Marxism. All three are quite different and the manifestation of communism observed in say, the USSR is not the type of communism that Marx imagined. I am not advocating for a Marxist communist state either, but the Cold war and smaller contingent wars that the United States took part in means that even those who opt for a social democracy will be aware of communist threat and the general aversion toward the communist state taken up by the US in the latter half of the 20th century. Hence, the reason why Bernie Sanders is so careful to use the phrace “social democracy” rather than the word “socialist.” He is aware that the affiliation of “socialism” with historical manifestations of communism is too close for comfort in the minds of most conservatives and even among the neoliberals. This article from NY mag is a good read because it already points out the dangers of a society too democratic, and how that implicates the rise of a demagogue like say… Trump.

  6. I know of no Biblical justification for equating the call for Christians to share according to one’s means with secular, government instituted and managed social welfare programs paid through imposed taxation. As you note, Calvin’s Geneva was a Christian society, so it’s no surprise their “theocracy” held to Christian tenants and values. We are certainly not a Christian society, and to suggest we as Christians should support a secular socialist government, democratic or not, is folly. It is the charge of the church, individually and corporately, to do what we can to create and maintain equality. Consolidation of power into a more centralized and controlling secular government will never, in the end, bring about a more equal society. The exact opposite is true, as history has proven without exception.

  7. “—even though the people in these social democracies that I have just listed have suffered no loss of liberty in their lives.”

    … none at all?

  8. “many of the best current features of our American culture are manifestations of social democracy—things like public schools and colleges, social security, and Medicare.”

    I would hardly consider our not so stellar public schools (compared to private schools), public colleges and universities (compared to GPAC schools), failing social security, and leaky Medicare as this nations “best current features.”

    “most people, given meaningful work and the ability to do it, will choose working over doing nothing.”

    Most people, yes. But those who don’t can create one hell of a drain. But it’s nothing compared to what we spend on meaningless wars. Still doesn’t make it right.

  9. I understand what you are pushing for at the end of your piece, but surely you recognize that even in Geneva, the gov. was more of a theocracy than it was a democracy. And Calvin was NOT tolerant.

    Sure, our calling to help those in need should expand outside of the church and the work of the deacons. Regardless, for it to work, or at least for it to follow the example you give of Geneva, the moral atmosphere of the US would have to transform so drastically that very little of the nation would be recognizable after. And the force that it would require to change the atmosphere to such a degree would be nothing short of the Red Army.

  10. A socialistic dictatorial government never has enough revenue. It will eventually morph into a communistic state. Guaranteed!!

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