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The Humanist Manifesto II, “Democratic Society” (Part 4)

The Constitution of the United States guarantees us a republican form of government (art. IV, sec. 4), not a democracy, which is a humanist idea, and we would do well to understand what humanists mean by it.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon
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Humanists paint a pretty picture of the world they hope to make: “an open and democratic society” with a “full range of civil liberties” and a “decentralized” decision-making process that gives everyone a say in how things are done. There will be “elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, or national origin,” and everyone who needs it will receive “a minimum guaranteed annual income.” It will all be part of “an integrated community.”

Those fine words all come from The Humanist Manifesto II (for full text and source of quotations see, from its section on “Democratic Society.” Because humanism has dominated American education for over a century, most Americans have bought into the humanist sales campaign for “democracy.”

The Constitution of the United States guarantees us a republican form of government (art. IV, sec. 4), not a democracy. “Democracy” is a humanist idea, and we would do well to understand what humanists mean by it.

Spheres of Government

“Without self-government, love for neighbor, and love for God and His revealed order, the state will not be able to stop crime.”

— Rev. Joseph Morecraft III[1]

Traditionally, how does a civilized, more-or-less Christian society govern itself? What keeps these societies from melting down into chaos?

Most individual citizens practice self-government. They do not commit murder when they’re angry, or rob a bank when they need money. If no one had a conscience, and all were bent on lawlessness, no government could restrain them.

People live in families, wherein adults teach children how to behave and bring them up to be moral, law-abiding, productive members of society.

The church, if it functions properly, accurately preaches God’s Word so that the families who attend the churches know how God wants them to live. To some degree, albeit not completely, they uphold God’s revealed order.

Together, churches, families, and philanthropic individuals take care of those in need — whether it’s a small thing, like seeing to it that a poor family’s children have warm clothes for the winter, or a very large one, like rebuilding the city of Galveston after it was devastated by a hurricane in 1900. That major project was done without any involvement of the federal government.

This leaves the civil government with a mandate to preserve order and protect the citizens from evildoers, because there will always be a few who prey on others.

Fallen, sinful man being what he is, sometimes these societies do fail. As Christians we look forward to the fruition of God’s work of regeneration: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Rom. 8:22). Our trust is in the power and the grace of God.

Eliminate the Competition

Humanists, according to the manifesto, don’t believe in God. For them, regeneration must come from man himself, by means of man’s ultimate instrument, the state.

As we have discussed in earlier articles, humanists seek to disable the church by insisting that all religion is false, and to wear away the family by granting wide sexual license. The church can have no authority if its teachings are presumed to be false. The family cannot survive a perpetual avalanche of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, abortion, cohabitation, homosexuality, polyamory, etc.

Humanists would do away with complementary spheres of government — no church, no families. Only the state is to have authority of any kind. The state’s schools will train the children in a humanist way of thinking.

This vision of total statism is what humanists mean by “democracy.”

The Secret Weapon

How do they hope to make their vision a reality?

Humanists’ secret weapon is their claim that humanism is not a religion, not an ideology, but merely “reason.”

“The separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state are imperatives,” says the manifesto. The state “should not favor any particular religious bodies … nor espouse a single ideology” — except, of course, the religion and ideology of humanism.

R. J. Rushdoony long ago saw through this deception, as promulgated in the works of John Dewey, humanism’s most influential spokesman in the first half of the 20th century. Rushdoony called humanism “a metaphysics … veiled behind a facade of pragmatism.”[2]

Humanists, he said, even deceive themselves with “theory … based on implicit and unreasoning dogmatism”[3] and an “inability to see its radically religious presuppositions.”[4] This “faith-based” aspect of humanism, as clearly expressed in the manifesto, has been discussed in earlier articles in this series.

Humanists always try to gain an ideological monopoly by claiming not to be an ideology. Denying any role in public policy-making to Christianity or any other religion, there is to be no one left in that arena but … humanists.

A Stink of Death

The features of a “democracy,” as described in HMII, may seem attractive. But humanists’ lofty sentiments must always be weighed against their not-so-lofty practices.

HMII calls for a “full range of civil liberties,” mirroring the lists of rights and liberties found in historical documents “from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights.”

Before the first paragraph on this subject concludes, the manifesto brings up “a right to die with dignity,” euthanasia, and a “right to suicide.” HMII also supports unlimited abortion “rights,” while insisting that there is no God, “no divine purpose or providence for the human species,” and “no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.” The manifesto has a stink of death.

What is the source of civil liberties? According to the Declaration of Independence, men “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” For humanists, it’s the state that does the endowing.

“Decision-making must be decentralized,” says the manifesto. “All persons should have a voice in developing the values and goals that determine their lives.” For Christians, the eternal, unchanging Word of God tells us what’s valuable. Humanists mean to decide this for themselves. In practice, such decisions are made by small elites or “experts” and handed down to the masses via the schools and the media.

In practice, workers’ soviets, college student senates, focus groups, etc., have only one role to play under a humanist government: to parrot the party line, as handed down by the self-anointed elite. Rushdoony scored Dewey for preaching that “there is no morality beyond the state and its social interests.”[5] With all citizens having been educated in state schools where only the ideology of “reason” is allowed, dissent, or even a divergence of opinion, becomes unreasonable.

HMII is “open to alternative economic systems,” meaning socialism and Marxism, and claims that a democracy ought to provide “a minimum guaranteed annual income” for all. Do you think that might encourage some people not to bother to work — especially when they’re being oppressively taxed to pay the fare for those who choose not to work?

The Bible teaches “that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). All who receive HMII’s guaranteed income would be wards of the state; all who continue to work would be its slaves. How such an economy could be sustained for any length of time is left to the imagination. Western Europe tries to make the system work by importing vast numbers of Muslim immigrants to serve as a kind of helot class. Western Europe’s problems with this scheme are rapidly approaching a full-blown crisis.

But it’s all supposed to lead us to “an integrated community.” What does that mean? “Although we believe in cultural diversity and encourage racial and ethnic pride” — how “reasonable” is that? — “we reject segregations which promote alienation and set groups against each other.” That it’s human nature to move into competing, even antagonistic, interest groups is not acknowledged by the manifesto.

In practice, wherever we see “diversity” touted as an end in itself, most notably at universities and colleges, we see an insistence on uniformity of thought, enforced by speech codes, the use of “sensitivity training” as a disciplinary measure, and dissenters subject to penalties ranging from ostracism and mockery to failing grades or even expulsion.

This humanist concept of democracy, Rushdoony said, requires “the total unification of society under a common goal.”[6]

We may think we’re buying into liberty; but what the humanists are selling is totalitarianism.


A century and a half of humanist politics has done its work. The federal government has moved into and taken over areas never assigned to it by the Constitution. State employees, not parents and pastors, educate most of America’s children. Bureaucrats, not churches or families, dominate the promotion of public health, the relief of the poor, child welfare, and so on, replacing charity with taxation and personal benevolence with government red tape.

Worse still, many Americans have grown accustomed to it and can hardly imagine any other way of governing the nation. A flabby, uninspired church neglects its duty to preach and teach the Word of God, and too many families are content to let the state schools indoctrinate their children further into humanism.

The state has increased, while the other spheres of government have decreased. This will not be reversed unless the people’s hearts and minds are changed, and they turn away from the state and back to God and rediscover such virtues as self-reliance, tithing to empower the church, and face-to-face good works.

Meanwhile, not even the rise of statism here at home is enough to sate the humanists. In the next article in this series, we’ll look at the manifesto’s vision of a global government — a colossus state bestriding the world.

[1] Joseph Morecraft III, With Liberty & Justice for All, (Cumming, GA: Chalcedon Media Ministries, 1995, 2006 edition), 69.

[2] R. J. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1963, 1995 edition), 145.

[3] Ibid., 145.

[4] Ibid., 147.

[5] Ibid., 156.

[6] Ibid., 160.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at

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