Society & Politics

Social Leveling: Socialism and Secularism

Hunter Baker

In this article Hunter Baker argues that socialism and secularism should be seen as related to each other as different expressions of social leveling. Whereas socialism seeks to eliminate material differences between human beings through state-controlled redistribution of wealth and property within society, secularism seeks to eliminate religious differences between human beings by making religion irrelevant to the life of the community. From Baker’s perspective this presents a problem as these forms of social leveling can only be achieved by one entity—the state—which will progressively marginalize and suppress other social institutions. He concludes that the church must resist this social leveling in an effort to safeguard and enhance freedom.

Through this line of argument, however, Baker too easily dismisses a long tradition of Christian thinkers who see a place for government involvement that is not all-encompassing. Baker also seems to give little weight to other possible endpoints that could also flow from secularism’s loss of overarching meaning, such as laissez-faire capitalism. While at socialism’s extremities, a link might be made between it and secularism, there are many alternatives which are worth paying more attention to—a place where both the state and other institutions can exercise care without becoming the sole source of sustenance, or the sole redistributor of wealth.

Source: Religion & Liberty

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