the imaginative conservative logo

Liberty Requires Christianity

In an age that seems to believe that Christianity is an obstacle to liberty it will prove provocative to insist, contrary to such belief, that Christian faith is essential to liberty’s very existence. Yet, as counter-intuitive as it may seem to disciples of the progressivist zeitgeist, it must be insisted that faith enshrines freedom. Without the shrine that faith erects to freedom, the liberties that we take for granted will be eroded and ultimately destroyed. Faith preserves freedom. It protects it. It insists upon it. Where there is faith there is freedom. Where faith falters, so does freedom. This truth, so uncomfortably perplexing for so many of our contemporaries, was encapsulated by G. K. Chesterton when he asserted that “the modern world, with its modern movements, is living on its Catholic capital.  It is using, and using up, the truths that remain to it out of the old treasury of Christendom.”[1]

One of the truths of Christendom which lays the very foundations of freedom is the Christian insistence on the mystical equality of all people in the eyes of God and the insistence on the dignity of the human person that follows logically, inexorably and inescapably from such an insistence. If everyone is equal in the eyes of God, it doesn’t matter if people are black or white, healthy or sick, able-bodied or handicapped, or whether babies are inside the womb or out of it. It doesn’t matter that people are different, in terms of race, age or innate abilities; they are all equal in the eyes of God, and therefore, of necessity, in the eyes of Man also. This is the priceless inheritance of Christendom with which our freedoms are established and maintained. If everyone is equal in the eyes of God and Man, everyone must also be equal in the eyes of the law.

If, however, the equality of man is denied, freedom is imperiled. The belief of Nietzsche, adopted by the Nazis, that humanity consists of übermenschen and untermenschen, the “over-men” and the “under-men,” led to people being treated as subhuman, worthy of extermination and victims of genocide. The progressivist belief of Hegel, adopted by Marx and his legion of disciples, that a rationalist dialectic, mechanistically determined, governs the progress of humanity, led to the deterministic inhumanity of communism and the slaughter of those deemed to be enemies of “progress.” The French Revolution, an earlier incarnation of atheistic progressivism and the progenitor of communism, had led to the invention of the guillotine as the efficient and effective instrument of the Great Terror and its rivers of blood. The gas chamber, the Gulag and the guillotine are the direct consequence of the failure to uphold the Christian concept of human equality and the freedom it enshrines. In our own time, the same failure to accept and uphold human equality has led to babies in the womb being declared subhuman, or untermenschen, without any protection in law from their being killed at the whim of their mothers.

Apart from the connection between freedom and equality, the other aspect of freedom enshrined by Christianity is the freedom of the will and the consequences attached to it. If we are free to act and are not merely slaves to instinct as the materialists claim, we have to accept that we are responsible for our choices and for their consequences.

Before proceeding to the paradoxical relationship between freedom and responsibility, let’s return to the philosophical ramifications of materialism, which is to say the removal of God from the picture of reality. Materialists are forced, if they are honest enough to follow the logic of their own first principles, to believe that none of us are free but that we are all slaves to our biologically determined instincts. For all such materialists, commonly known in today’s jargon as the new atheists, there is no such thing as freedom. It is an illusion. Considering the historical record of old atheists, such as the terrorists of the French Revolution, the communist revolution and the Third Reich, it is not likely that these new atheists, with their belief that we are all slaves to our genes, will prove any better in the defence of freedom. Why should they defend something that they don’t believe exists?

In contrast to the atheists’ philosophical acceptance of slavery, the insistence of Christians that we are all equal and that we all possess freewill can be seen as truly liberating. Yet the paradoxical reality is that freedom is not free. It comes at a price. As already stated, freedom is inseparable from responsibility. If we want to reap the rewards of our good choices we must be prepared to pay the cost of our bad ones. It is for this reason that Edmund Burke insisted, quite correctly, that liberty must be limited in order to be possessed. If liberty is not limited it will be lost, or, to put the matter another way, the taking of liberties by some leads to the taking of liberties from others. Rapists and murderers and thieves should expect to pay heavily for the abuse of their freedom and for the taking of the freedom of those with whom they took liberties.

This is all very well and may be taken to be self-evident. Yet the whole of contemporary society and the whole of contemporary politics seem to be based on a denial of this fact. On the so-called “left” of the political spectrum the philosophy of the libertine is in the ascendant. This is the belief that we should be able to do what we like with our bodies and the bodies of others and to hell with the consequences. If we become pregnant, we can kill the baby. If children are abused by dysfunctional parents doing their own thing in dysfunctional relationships, so be it. Nothing, least of all children in the womb or in the home, must get in the way of the right of “adults” to do what they want with their lives and their bodies. Children are the new untermenschen. Broken in mind by the broken homes and broken relationships of their libertine parents, they are the forgotten ones. They are voteless and voiceless in a culture of death in which they are increasingly seen as an expensive inconvenience. This was the sense in which Oscar Wilde lamented that anarchy was Freedom’s own Judas, betraying liberty with a lustful kiss.

So much for the libertines of the so-called “left.” On the so-called “right,” as a so-called alternative to left-wing libertines, are the right-wing libertarians, who support the freedom of pornographers to corrupt everyone they touch, the freedom of drug pushers to deal death to vulnerable youngsters, and the freedom of global corporations to rule the world unhampered by political or economic constraint.

The libertines believe in Big Government to ensure that they can continue to take liberties by taking the liberties of others, specifically in recent years by taking the liberties of Christians who wish to live in accordance with their anti-libertine consciences. The libertarians, on the other hand, believe that Big Business should be left free to use the bullying powers of the economies of scale to destroy small businesses. Libertarians believe that huge corporations should be free to take liberties by taking the liberties of small corporations, turning downtown into ghost-town.

Faced with the choice between the libertine and the libertarian we should echo the words of Mercutio and call down a curse upon both their houses. Instead of choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, or Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, we should choose the faith that leads to true and lasting freedom. After all, as an idiot [2] once said in an entirely different context, we have nothing to lose but our chains.

Books by Mr. Pearce may be found in in The Imaginative Conservative BookstoreThis article originally appeared in Crisis Magazine and is republished here by permission.


1. G. K. Chesterton, The Thing (London: Sheed & Ward, 1939), p. 16.

2. Actually two idiots: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the Communist Manifesto (1848).

Print Friendly
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
13 replies to this post
  1. We all love Pearce, but I get sick of Christians who declare "that Christian faith is essential to liberty’s very existence" when they are clearly ignorant of other faiths, which of course they never mention.

    All he talks about is the poisonous materialism filling the Western void, and fine there. Does he know much about this issue to Buddhists or Sikhs or Muslims? Does he mean that there is no scintilla of liberty in other lands (rather than preferring Christianity as I do too)? Then he should jolly well say so or be prepared to look like an ignoramus.

    • Others faiths do not take saving grace seriously, if any grace at all, therefore, their doctrine of freedom is qualified by some notion of self-centered reliance, or “work makes one free”. That idea rather enslaves in the long run.

  2. The religious writings of Paul Elmer More might support the author's main thesis that human freedom is most fully developed in Christianity. The reason is that the mythology of Christianity uniquely portrays the human predicament in its most authentic form, with the human person as an incarnated divinity or god-man.

    In recognizing this, man is forced to confront all the terrible consequences, responsibilities and potentials that implies. But only in confronting this stark and virtually incomprehensible dualism, which the mind desperately tries to deny, can someone be truly free.

    Other religious and philosophical systems (except Platonism), More argued, try to deny this dual existence through various means. For example, the Eastern religions tend to dismiss material reality as merely illusion, and scientific reductionists deny man's spiritual nature.

    Only Christianity has the cross, which is the fullest expression of the principle of pathos mathos, suffer and learn. And only the man who is willing to embrace suffering, if need be, to learn, can be free.

    Such, in any case, I believe, might be how More would see it.

  3. Applied Christian "liberty" 101:

    At last, and inevitably, the ancient religious rulerships have all failed, and "official" Christianity (along with all the other "great-world-religions" of worldly religion power, is now reduced to all the impenetrable illusions and decadent exercises that everywhere characterized previously privileged aristocracies in their decline from worldly power.

    Exoteric Christian-ISM has now inevitably been reduced to a chaos of over 35,000 corporate cults and Barnumesque propagandists that now "rule" nothing more than chaotic herds of unconscious self-deluded religion-consumers in the marketplace of whats-in-it-for-me consumerist religion.

    Therefore the myth/lie of the "cultural superiority" of "official" Christian-ISM has now come full circle. The religious mythologies of the semitic "world-religions" are not only now waging global wars with one another (like so many psychotic inmates of asylums for the mad, each confronting the other with exclusive claims of personal absoluteness), but the public zombified masses of religion-bound people – who, all over the world, for even thousands of years, have been controlled in body and mind by ancient power-and-control-seeking institutions of "religiously" propagandized worldly-power) – are now in a globalized state of grossly-bound "religious" delusion and collective psychosis.

  4. I would kindly suggest to author that big business only runs amok when enabled by government (i.e. special protections, corporate welfare). Also, that it is the responsibility of individuals and families to resist self-destructive behavior like drugs and porn.

  5. "Equality in the eyes of God" has been twisted into "equality by nature".

    "Equality" is the new religion, and it has absolutely ZERO basis in reality.

  6. Interesting thoughts, thanks.
    Concerning the phrase"at the whim of their mothers":
    While the law may allow this, the actual situation is even worse: often mothers are pressured by relatives or the father to kill their child.
    Also, S Masty is right to bring up other religions. A friend of mine, born into a Hindu family in India and now a respected professor at a prestigious secular university, insists that there is no basis for human equality and dignity in Hinduism. Many in India believe in human dignity anyway, thankfully, but it is not inherent to their faith for them to do so.

  7. It is interesting to me how confused many of the educated have become in these last days. In the book of Isiah, we read that eventually, "the knowledge of the Lord we cover the earth as the waters cover the sea". We see this happening in our life time yet so few can see it. At the founding of this Christian nation, it was easy to see the "freedoms" enjoined by other religions. You could go to any pagan/athiest country in the world, and see the "fruits" provided to their poor, wretched adherents.

    Today, while this is more true with American pagans, even in the home countries of pagan religions, everyone strives to live the christian ethic. Even the vast majority of Athiest's live on the outside as good Christians. Its all part of the world wide Satanic delusion which will lead to a world faith which will of necessity include all faiths.

    There is only one true religion which is responsible for anything good in this world, which really isn't a religion, but rather a surrendering/total allegiance to the Lord God, Creator of all things as revealed to us through His Holy, infallible and inerrant Word which the whole world refers to as the Bible.

  8. It looks as though a concise, yet with footnotes, article refuting the standard old Jacobin and modern Dawkinsite atheist calumnies against Christianity needs to be compiled and linked to for these discussions.

  9. This is where conservatives lose the narrative, in my view.

    Our goal is not “equality,” which is a leftist trope, but a working social order based on the good, the beautiful and the true. Equality is a step in the other direction. With equality, human preferences come before these timeless things.

    Further, equality is an effects-first type of reasoning, which means that when you declare people equal, it’s natural to look for inequal outcomes and find someone to blame for them.

    The result is constant internal strife.

    A better goal is to say that we each have a place in the order of God. This does not imply the false god (there, I said it) of equality, liberty and fraternity that led our French brethren to murder the best of their own population, but instead, encourages us to collaborate toward a realization of God’s order on earth.

  10. It seems to me that if one follows the doctrines of other religions to their logical consequences, one is left no better off than those who qualify as Tweedle dumb and Tweedle dumber. I have not studied all of the obscure religions on Earth(I doubt anyone has), but I have looked at many of the more common ones. Christianity is by far the winner in terms of respect for life and liberty.
    As for the comments on business being enable to run amok by government, this is simply one more demonstration that the personal responsibility that attends Christianity is necessary for a truly healthy economy. Those who take personal responsibility for their actions and those of their businesses will not be corrupted by government money.
    Just my two cents worth.
    Excellent article and I think the author.

Leave a Reply