Filling the Void: The New Political Religion

Called Unto Liberty, Albert E. Bowen

A very eminent English philosopher has pointed out that “In the 19th Century there was a general agreement among thinking people as to the nature and end of the individual. His nature was that of an immortal soul; his end was to attain eternal salvation.” He then points out that broadly speaking and particularly in western democracies, there was general agreement as to the kind of government under which man could best work out and realize his end. Individual freedom was essential. All agree to that. The point of difference among men was about the means of achieving the agreed upon ends. Different programs were offered based upon different views for reaching the accepted goal. When men differed about politics they were merely differing about the best method of realizing the individual’s nature and ultimate end. Politics thus were mere programs put forward as affording the best means to the agreed purpose.

But a change has come, due to religious decline, and people are no longer in general agreed that man is an immortal soul nor destined to eternal salvation. What formerly were programs for attaining an accepted end cease to be such for there is no acceptance of that end. Programs, particularly political programs, have accordingly usurped the place of ends and have instead of being means become ends or goals in themselves. Thus politics instead of being programs have become religions, filling the void made by the discarding of the ancient faith. “Political doctrines such as Fascism and Communism assume for the 20th Century the status which religious doctrines possessed in the nineteenth.”

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Source: Albert E. Bowen The Church Welfare Plan, p. 79, 1946. Albert E. Bowen (1875–1953) served as a mem­ber of the Quo­rum of the Twelve Apos­tles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to his call to full time church ser­vice he taught at Brigham Young Col­lege, then grad­u­ated with hon­ors from Uni­ver­sity of Chicago law school, prac­ticed law in Logan, Utah, and later Salt Lake City, where he also became involved in many impor­tant busi­ness ven­tures such as the Utah Con­struc­tion Com­pany, the Amer­i­can Sav­ings and Loan Asso­ci­a­tion, and the Utah Fuel Company.