Once abolish the God, and the Government becomes the God.
– G. K. Chesterton, English theologian and philosopher
ALMOST all the ancient religious scriptures invoke divinity into government without being influenced by or resorting to extremism, hypocrisy or naivete as expounded by irresponsible interpretations from devious interpreters.
Scriptures have categorically identified a definite relationship between established government, governance and divinity.
The Babylonian Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) fashioned a political and moral code that created a symbiotic relationship between divinity, law and justice. Hammurabi is credited with innovating and advancing the doctrine that “one is innocent until proven guilty.”
Ancient Iraq gave us the seeds of criminal law, and yet George W. Bush callously ignored this wisdom with his WMD propaganda that was quickly endorsed by Tony Blair and other NATO allies. So much for depravity.
Donald Trump, as a presidential nominee, observed that “America is a nation of believers, dreamers and strivers being led by cynics, critics and censors”. Republicans in America are said to be God-fearing. Others are God-smearing with their neo-religions that have wrought nation of pseudo-creators dedicated and committed to creating their own version of a supreme creator.
Divinity is omitted in Malaysia’s Federal Constitution (FC). All oaths of office do not end with a “. . . so help me God.” But our Agong is mentioned hundreds of times in the FC. The divine right of kings – rex non potest peccare (Latin) — the king can do no wrong — does translate to power and potency as evidenced in Articles 32, 33, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 55, 150 (FC) which grants our Agong vast and varied powers with the support and endorsement of the Conference of Rulers.
Surely this constitutional equation and formula defer to divinity impelling the doing of the right thing which hopefully becomes popular.
The fear of God is a divine caveat when and if one believes in eschatology — the final judgment during the hereafter. A very hard sell to those engaged in the dharma and karma of politics. Statistics show that 5.9 billion in this planet believe in a God, a Supreme Being, a Creator with hundreds of ethnocentric names and titles.
Unquestionably humanity’s affinity to divinity can be witnessed with hundreds of religious festivals celebrated with much pomp.
The reason for keeping divinity out of government is evident because of man’s warped sense of sustainable leadership as GK Chesterton suggested. Selected and elected leaders have the luxury to interpret divinity at will, whim and fancy often enthused by the perennial god of consumerism.
There is also a strange refuge in secularism despite the number of mosques, churches, temples and pagodas in Malaysia. The affinity to divinity is unmistakable.
There is a general sense of acceptance of “Westminster conventions” that Parliament should not legislate morals and ethics which sprout from religious texts, and thus forms the basis for acceptable human conduct and behavior. But, Article 11 of the Federal Constitution grants and guarantees freedom of religion.
Certainly not doublespeak. Constitutional amendments to Article 11, if being planned, should contain a strong statement concerning the compliance with morals and ethics as mandated by religious texts for the deliverance of honest services by the government.
The Jeffersonian “wall of separation” between state and religion has strong traction in the west, but it’s totally different in Eastminster. What irreparable rupture or fracture is feared if the governed and government put God first in all matters of governance?
It is not difficult to figure out why we are under the whip of uncertainty, doubt, fear and confusion as we keep divinity out of our affairs.
Or, should we relegate worshipping divinity to certain days of the week only?
God-fearing leaders will be hard-pressed pretending to leave their consciences in their home closets. God-consciousness in affairs of state must be welcomed without encouragement by extremism, or the stoking and fomenting of sensitive religious sentiments.
November 24, 2022 has become a very auspicious day for Malaysia and its citizens as we ushered in the 10th prime minister.
Our combined affinity to divinity must be invoked to protect and preserve this new era in Malaysian affairs. We have everything to gain by not delegating power to theodicy, or to a theocracy.
The Tiger of Jelutong, the late great Karpal Singh, encapsulated the essence of divinity in affairs of state: “In politics there are no permanent enemies or friends, but
there must be permanent principles.” And principles emanate from ancient religious texts that sustain an urgency to permanency.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.