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.

Share this article on…

More Articles

Our Basic Need

In her first novel, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor says of her character Hazel Motes that “there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that

Read More »

Models of the Church

When I was in seminary, Professor Rick Lints made a memorable statement. After lecturing on the Reformation’s conception of salvation, he asserted that “This generation

Read More »

The Crux of Gospel Preaching

The acclaimed Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti was a nervous wreck before every performance. Perhaps this would be the day that he would finally fail?

Read More »