When the Government Becomes God

The other evening I watched one of the debates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a public setting. It impressed me with all that is at stake for our society in this election. As a result, I’m more motivated to be informed and involved in the process. Nevertheless, while listening to the intense concern, even fear, of those around me, I started thinking about how the elections function in relationship to God. The following quote from G. K. Chesterton provides some helpful perspective.

Englishman Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 – 1936) was an accomplished “novelist, poet, essayist, dramatist, biographer, journalist, and apologist” and has been called “the ultimate Edwardian man of letters.”1 As such, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Having attended the international Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932, he wrote the following in his report, Christendom in Dublin.2 His claim: Dethrone God, and the state becomes God.

“[I]t is only by believing in God that we can ever criticize the Government. Once abolish God, and the Government becomes God. . . Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.”3


1 The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, s.v. “Chesterton, Gilbert Keith” (New York: HarperCollins, 1989), 304.
2 G. K. Chesterton, Christendom in Dublin (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1932).
3 Quoted in Mary Kenny, Goodbye to Catholic Ireland: How the Irish Lost the Civilization They Created (Springfield, IL: Templegate Publishers, 2000), 140.

About the author

Chris Castaldo (PhD, London School of Theology) is the lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel and coauthor of The Unfinished Reformation.