33 votes

"Government" is a religion. (Larken Rose)

This post is an excerpt from Larken Rose's new book, The Most Dangerous Superstition. Reprinted with permission of the author.

The Religion of "Government" (TMDS pp. 28-32.)

"Government" is neither a scientific concept nor a rational sociological construct; nor is it a logical, practical method of human organization and cooperation. The belief in "government" is not based on reason; it is based on faith. In truth, the belief in "government" is a religion, made up of a set of dogmatic teachings, irrational doctrines which fly in the face of both evidence and logic, and which are methodically memorized and repeated by the faithful. Like other religions, the gospel of "government" describes a superhuman, supernatural entity, above mere mortals, which issues commandments to the peasantry, for whom unquestioning obedience is a moral imperative. Disobedience to the commandments ("breaking the law") is viewed as a sin, and the faithful delight in the punishment of the infidels and sinners ("criminals"), while at the same time taking great pride in their own loyalty and humble subservience to their god (as "law-abiding taxpayers") And while the mortals may humbly beg their lord for favors, and for permission to do certain things, it is considered blasphemous and outrageous for one of the lowly peasants to imagine himself to be fit to decide which of the "government" god's "laws" he should follow and which it is okay for him to ignore. Their mantra is, "You can work to try to change the law, but as long as it's the law, we all have to follow it!"
The main factor distinguishing the belief in "government" from other religions today is that people actually believe in the god called "government." The other gods people claim to believe in, and the churches they attend, are now, by comparison, little more than empty rituals and half-heartedly parroted superstitions. When it comes to their everyday lives, the god that people actually pray to, to save them from misfortune, to smite their enemies, and to shower them with blessings, is "government." It is "government" whose commandments the people most often respect and obey. Whenever a conflict arises between "government" and the teachings of the lesser gods -- such as "pay your fair share" (taxation) versus "Thou shalt not steal," or "duty to country" (military service) versus "Thou shalt not murder" -- the commands of "government supersede all the teachings of the other religions. Politicians, the high priests of the church of "government" -- the mouthpieces and representatives of "government," who deliver the sacred "law" from on high -- even openly declare that it is permissible for the people to practice whatever religion they wish, as long as they do not run afoul of the supreme religion by disobeying "the law" -- meaning the dictates of the god called "government."

Perhaps most telling is that if you suggest to the average person that maybe God does not exist, he will likely respond with less emotion and hostility than if you bring up the idea of life without "government." This indicates which religion people are more deeply emotionally attached to, and which religion they actually believe in more firmly. In fact, they believe so deeply in "government" that they do not even recognize it as being a belief at all. The reason so many people respond to the idea of a stateless society ("anarchy") with insults, apocalyptic predictions and emotional tantrums, rather than with calm reasoning, is because their belief in "government" is not the result of careful, rational consideration of evidence and logic. It is, in every way, a religious faith, believed only because of prolonged indoctrination. And there is almost nothing which state-worshipers find more existentially terrifying than contemplating the possibility that "government" -- their savior and protector, teacher and master -- does not actually exist, and never did.
It might be nice to have some morally superior, all-powerful deity to protect the innocent and to prevent injustice. And that is what statists hope "government" will be: a wise, unbiased, all-knowing and all-powerful "final decider" that will override and supersede the flawed, shortsighted and selfish whims of man, unerringly dispensing justice and fairness. However, there is no such thing, and can be no such thing, and there are many reasons why it is utterly foolish to look to "government" as the solution to human imperfection. For example, what almost every statist wants is for "government" to enforce objective rules of civilized behavior. More specifically, each individual wants his own perception of justice and morality to be enforced by "authority," while failing to realize that the moment there is an "authority," it is no longer up to that individual to decide what counts as moral or just -- the "authority" will claim the right to do that for him. And so, over and over again, believers in "authority" have tried to create an all-powerful force for good by anointing some people as rulers, only to quickly learn that once the master is on the throne, he does not care what his slaves were hoping he would do with the power they gave him.
To expect otherwise, even without all of the historical examples, is absurd. To expect the master to serve the slave -- to expect power to be used solely for the benefit of the one being controlled, not the one in control -- is ridiculous. What makes it even more insane is that statists claim that appointing rulers is the only way to overcome the imperfections and untrustworthiness of man. Statists look out at a world full of strangers who have questionable motives and dubious morality, and they are afraid of what some of those people might do. That, in and of itself, is a perfectly reasonable concern. But then, as protection against what some of those people might do, the statists advocate giving some of those same people of questionable virtue a huge amount of power, and societal permission to rule over everyone else, in the vain hope that, by some miracle, those people will happen to decide to use their new-found power only for good. In other words, the statist looks at his fellow man and thinks, "I do not trust you to be my neighbor, but I do trust you to be my master."

Bizarrely, almost every statist admits that politicians are more dishonest, corrupt, conniving and selfish than most people, but still insists that civilization can exist only if those particularly untrustworthy people are given both the power and the right to forcibly control everyone else. Believers in "government" truly believe that the only thing that can keep them safe from the flaws of human nature is taking some of those flawed humans -- some of the most flawed, in fact -- and appointing them as gods, with the right to dominate all of mankind, in the absurd hope that, if given such tremendous power, such people will use it only for good. And the fact that that has never happened in the history of the world does not stop statists from insisting that it "needs" to happen to ensure peaceful civilization.
The belief in "government" does not make everyone agree; it only creates an opportunity to drastically escalate personal disagreements into large-scale wars and mass oppression. Nor does having an "authority" settling a dispute do anything to guarantee that the "right" side wins. Yet statists talk as if "government" will be fair, reasonable, and rational in situations where individuals would not be. Again, this demonstrates that believers in "government" imagine "authority" to have super-human virtues that should be trusted above the virtues of mere mortals. History shows otherwise. A twisted sense of morality in one person, or a few, can result in the murder of one person, or even dozens, but that same twisted sense of morality in just a few people, when they get hold of the machine called "government," can result in the murder of millions. The statist wants his idea of the "good rules" forced on everyone by a central "authority," but has no way to make that happen and no reason to expect that it will happen. In their search for an all-powerful "good guy" to save the day, statists always end up creating all-powerful bad guys. Over and over again, they build giant, unstoppable "government" monsters in the hope that they will defend the innocent, only to find that the monsters become a far greater threat to the innocent than the threats they were created to protect against.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
ChristianAnarchist's picture

"Beware the cult of

"Beware the cult of 'government'"...

Beware the cult of "government"...

Sonmi 541: "Truth is singular. Its "versions" are mistruths."

Asclepius's picture

I think framing government as a religion is becoming a very

useful way for understanding how new collectives are ever spawned to suppress the individual. This was the subject of a recent blog an excerpt of which follows:

"There is a difference between decentralized political power (for example, state nullification of unconstitutional federal actions) and racial, ethnic, and religious groups walling themselves off from the rest of society and claiming special status. The melting pot doesn’t melt anymore. It devolves into collectives hating other collectives.

And ultimately, the individual is on the outside looking in at a nightmare. The best ideas of the original flawed Republic go begging. The ideal of the free and independent individual drowns in cultural propaganda, aimed at dragging us back to an earlier time, when George Washington found it necessary to warn Americans to stay clear of entangling foreign alliances.

Well, those words now have new and strange meaning. America is now being recreated as a series of separate enclaves, in which all competing groups are psychologically foreign to each other, on domestic soil.

A Republic limits the power of government, and what power government legitimately possesses is supposed to be in service of freeing the individual to pursue his goals.

That agenda has been attacked since its inception.

Group consciousness=group separation=mutual group hostility is a major aspect of the attack.

Governments favor this equation. They use it every day:

“We are the peacemakers. We will resolve these differences…as we encourage and stimulate them.”


Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. - Bob Marley

Isn't libertarianism a religion?

Isn't libertarianism a religion? Does that make it bad or wrong? Do libertarians have to be atheists because believing in God isn't scientific, just superstitious nonsense endorsed by weak-minded fools?

I've been thinkg about this..

I've been thinking about this for some time now, and this article stole every thought I hadn't thought of yet! Great post, thanks for sharing!

"Life is just a candle, and a dream must give it flame.."


Bump this.

All rights reserved and no rights waived.

"Gov't is more like a

"Gov't is more like a religion..." or in this case more like a CULT.

When does a racket become a cult?

And when does a cult become a religion? Is there any reason an organization can't be all three simultaneously? Religion is in the mind of the follower, not in the mind of the charlatan/prophet/witch doctor/king/President.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

And yet...

...does Larken believe in the overarching authority called 'natural law'? (non-aggression principle, etc.)

I agree with his thoughts about worship of government, but it's interesting how the idea of an overarching reality called 'God' is bashed, while an overarching reality of 'natural law' is usually upheld by these same people. Somehow it seems like the idea of there possibly being a Personal aspect to the overarching reality is to them like a cross to a vampire.

Does being a religion discredit it?

I've noticed this line of thought amongst many atheistic/agnostic libertarians: Rational is good, irrational is bad. Religion/belief in God is irrational, therefore libertarians who believe in God are somehow dupes or irrational.

The idea of government shouldn't be discredited because it's a religion. Using this line of argument may help convert (isn't it interesting that we use the word "convert" when we talk about getting people to accept liberty) the non-religious, anti-religious or irreligious. But isn't what government does what is really objected to?

There are plenty of good libertarians who are religious and believe in God. They are not mutually exclusive. Are Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, Dean Ahmad, Jacob Hornberger et al. weak-minded idiots? The anti-religious bigots in the liberty movement (and yes they have a right to be against religion and even to mock it) should stick to logical arguments. On a practical level, there are more believers than non-believers. Mocking people's faith is less fruitful that appealing to it. For example, one of the Commandments says "Thou shalt not steal". If we can convince Christians that taxation is stealing, they will have to come to our side.

The Idolatry of the State has its own symbols:

"We have rites, symbols, songs, honorific titles, processions, and holidays (holy days) -- all the trappings of religion, that we devote to our love of The State." ~~Perry Willis


"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

It's BS

It's a racket.. it's a HUGE international corporation.

Yes, it's a racket; but no,

it's not a HUGE international corporation. Corporations are grants of fictitious personhood which are established and recognized by governments, not the other way around. You've reversed cause and effect. Like they say about the maxim "I think, therefore I am" -- don't put Descartes before Dehorse.

And calling government "a racket" doesn't exclude it from being a religion. No matter what goes on the the minds of the purveyors of a religion -- obviously most of them are created by charlatans, because you've got hundreds of religions and ALL of them can't have a monopoly of truth -- it's the existence of true-believing followers that defines a religion. If people use something to guide their moral choices and to distinguish right from wrong, then it's a religion to them, no matter what chicanery goes on with the people who run the racket/cult/religion. Government is a religion, and undoubtedly more popular than any other religion in the world. Yes, it's ALSO a racket and a cult and a violent gang -- but it surely is a religion to those who believe "it's wrong to break the law" -- regardless of what "the law" prescribes or proscribes.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose


from a treasurer's perspective, it is a huge international business because many corporations are international and duel citizens from all over the world particpate.

You think the government does not reconize the GOP?

I've participated and experienced many religious events, and if the GOP is religious.. I don't see it. Not once have I or anyone I know bowed down to kiss the elephant.

This is truth. The United

This is truth. The United Nations Inc., with all of its subsidiaries (EU, USA, China, ect….).

"Ehhh, What's ups Doc?" B.Bunny "Scwewy Wabbit!"E. Fudd
People's Awareness Coalition: Deprogramming Sequence


I've seen you comment, elsewhere on this post, information over being a Citizen of the U.S. and being subjected to the taxation authority imposed by the federal government as legitimate.

I did lots of research over this and wonder what you thought about the book "Lost Horizons" take on the "income" tax and the definitions therein under Title 26 of U.S.C.

From what I can tell, and since Obama's second term, the language in this Title has been changed extensively and has even OMITTED previous long standing definitions within it. I've even gone so far as to inquire at my place of employment as to why we are subjected to the tax code. If you know, or have looked into it, in the publication from the IRS the Circular E, that is handed out to every company, it states that the publication is for federal government employees and employers. I still have not received an answer for this and as to why our company is required to participate in the governments programs, ex: Social Security, Medicare, FICA, and the like.

Tis true

And I have always thought of what could possibly be the end time religion that seeks to usurp GOD yet is desired by the people of the world including those who "believe" in God?

Democracy has always been at the top of my suspect list because it pretty much meets the criteria. Now I'm not so sure because the health care industry seems to also meet that criteria. But then again there is a Dragon, a Beast and a False Prophet that represents the end time religion so perhaps they are both part of it.

Government is Government

"Ehhh, What's ups Doc?" B.Bunny "Scwewy Wabbit!"E. Fudd
People's Awareness Coalition: Deprogramming Sequence

ConstitutionHugger's picture

Love this.

Posted it on Facebook, just in case someone reads it, and just in case someone gets it. My fingers are crossed that this whole "liberty" thing catches on. Great post.

Two years later, someone steps into the minefield . . .

I'm curious -- how did you come across this post? It's always been one of my favorites, nice to see someone still reading it.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose


That is great to send to Government loving friends. The perfect argument against the God of Government.

I especially love the comparison as many Government loving people see themselves as "above" religion and totally "logical" and "rational".


for posting.

And thanks to TxRedneck for the good info below.

I can see it.

You can too right here on the DP.

Notice when you post a comment that is not favorable to religion, notably Evangelical Christianism. Watch the believers swarm in to attack and discredit.

And for comparison look at the State Worker / Public Union threads as of late and the heated "trollish" attacks. Very similar responses, almost identical activity.

You are so right, dabooda.

When any group is given more rights than any individual, liberty dies. And yes, belief in government is the true religion of most people.

Problem is, liberty requires more responsibility then people can deal with, so they try to preserve their individual liberty by giving up their individual responsibility to a group supposedly dedicated to preserving it for them.

It doesn't work. It can't work. You cannot give away your responsibility. It remains with you.

But, since most people will always TRY to give away their responsibility, the only way left open to the rest of us who recognize our responsibility is to cooperate with them the best we can. That means working within the "law" most of the time and "breaking the law" when necessary. It's a very uncomfortable reality, but I think an unavoidable one.

The law of the jungle (kill of be killed when limited resources put the survival needs of one in unavoidable conflict with the survival needs of another), and the law of interdependence (we can all survive better when we cooperate with each other to meet our needs) are the only true laws of human relations, and they cannot be repealed. What happens at any given moment is the result of the confluence of those two laws in the interactions of all the individuals capable of action.

There is no substitute for virtue or for wisdom. Those will always be the scarcest resources.


"Liberty means responsibility, that is why men dread it."

Quoth George Bernard Shaw.

Nice post, well said. My only quibble would be with

the law of interdependence (we can all survive better when we cooperate with each other to meet our needs)

Consider the law of diminishing returns. The more other men steal and extort from you, the less advantageous it becomes to live among them. There is a point at which one would be better off on a self-sustaining farm than living among predators. I think our present government is fast approaching that point of predatory self-destruction.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

"Government" is a religion

... and vice versa.

Ĵīɣȩ Ɖåđşŏń

"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln

If anyone is still reading this thread...

...and is interested in this topic, here are 3 links I highly recommend (in order).

All from the Introduction to a Stateless Society


I've read all of those except for the Anna Morgenstern one. Will have to get right onto that now.

Went out looking for some good material this past weekend and found some at a not-so-local bookstore called "Quarter Price Books", and yes the name does say it all. Since I've been a customer there I've always received a 20% discount coupon upon entering or while sifting through the massive amounts of books stacked everywhere, and they really are.

Ran across some old manuscripts from the late 1800's on the rise of empire in America that I have yet to delve into. The book was atleast 30 bucks but has writings from several individuals within, all collected. Will try to post the name but for the life of me I don't know why I didn't bring them along to work, nervous about the rain outside I guess.

Thanks for the info, more links to save!

And anything from Stefan

And anything from Stefan Moleneux.

One More...

Thomas Woods and Doug Casey on YouTube: Is Limited Government an Oxymoron?

Not to difficult to

Not to difficult to understand why people see "government" as their saviour. In the school systems for about 100 years now, religion has been slowly removed from any mentioning, that is religion EXCEPT for a class that is mandatory, called "Government".

"Ehhh, What's ups Doc?" B.Bunny "Scwewy Wabbit!"E. Fudd
People's Awareness Coalition: Deprogramming Sequence