Not only is this an example of a minister unafraid to confront the civil rulers of the day with truth, but also a man who was unafraid to compromise on his principle even when it would seem to be unpopular (roads, bridges, agriculture, etc.).
Machen spoke to this point even more explicitly. A member of the committee asked why a certain group of educators had voted almost unanimously in favor of the proposed department, yet when asked in person afterward almost to a man repudiated the measure. Machen’s response is priceless:
A great many men feel that there is no use in voting against a thing unless you can defeat it. I do not feel that way. I think it is a very important thing to vote exactly in accordance with your conscience, quite irrespective of the immediate success of your vote in your dealing with that measure.
And with that, we circle right back to the problem mentioned in this article on Americans’ greatest fear. People know what the problem is, and they know in general what to oppose on principle. When asked in private, they can tell you they oppose it on principle. But when the great machine is running and it looks like standing on principle may be in the minority or unpopular, they fold. They vote for the corrupt government time and again, cajoled by arguments based on unprincipled fears, short-term fears, compromised fears, corrupt fears. They are cajoled by all the things they say they fear the most. They hate socialism with a passion, but they vote for the socialists in both parties and protect socialism in their schools, police forces, health care, retirement, jobs, roads, bridges, agriculture, military, etc.—virtually every place it really matters.
In short, Americans know their worst fear, they know what it is, and yet they run back to it over and over. It’s like a twisted Stockholm syndrome in which the captor is corrupt government. America’s greatest fear is also our greatest failure.
Rearranging the chairs and parties in DC will not change anything. No major advance for conservative or Christian values has occurred in federal politics for decades with the sole exception of corporate tax rates. We need radically to decentralize power, loose the strings of federal and state grants, privatize the school systems, privatize money, banking, markets, health care and old age insurance, as well as everything else except an elected court and jury system.
This study shows us one thing: we know what the problem is. The big step is having the courage to break from denial and admit the addiction when it counts. Then, we can have a discussion about sacrifice and steps to freedom.