Religion and secularity have always been in a conflicting relationship, especially when it comes to governing a state and managing a national economy. In general, several main historically formed models of church-state relations can be outlined: the first two refer to the state’s control over the church, or, conversely, control of the church over the state. Next is a position of compromise, when the state favors the church, and the church adapts to the state to maintain its patronage. Finally, there is a model where church and state recognize each other’s certain God-given duties and help each other fulfill them in a spirit of constructive cooperation. However, the functions of the state and the church are different, and thus, their approaches to governing are inherently different. However, Baugus (2019) explains that Bible, too, addresses issues that deal with money management, employment, economic relations, and state regulations. There were many instances when some of the economic policies established by the U.S. government went against biblical principles which prompted heated criticism from American Christians.
Federal Reserve is the main banking organization of the U.S., and it has immense influence over the country’s economy. A distinctive feature of the Federal Reserve is that it essentially performs the function of the U.S. central bank, although its owner is not the state but private individuals. This structure acts as a joint-stock company, the shares of which have a special status. The government directs the Federal Reserve by President appointing its governors after approval by the Senate; however, it does not have full control over the bank. Federal Reserve provides selected financial services to the U.S. government, individuals, financial institutions, and foreign organizations based on the management of the state payment transfer system. Overall, its main role is to stabilize the country’s economy and offer a dependable monetary system, especially during a crisis.
This is where the actions of the state contradict biblical principles: for example, recently, Federal Reserve managed to prevent the U.S. from entering a financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic by suppressing inflation and recession. According to Milstein and Wessel (2021), “the Fed supplied unlimited liquidity to financial institutions so they could meet credit drawdowns and make new loans to businesses and households feeling financial strains” (para. 23). However, in doing so, the Reserve allowed banks give out loans to people who were not able to pay them back, with the banks responding with an increase in interests, and did not mediate the situation. This goes against biblical principles of helping people in need and protecting the poor and weak, especially during times of need. Many individuals and families were put into substantial debt, forced into poverty, or even became homeless due to the banks’ actions and, subsequently, Federal Reserve’s inaction.
The Reserve failed to uphold its duty towards the people of the U.S. and the state which is a severe violation of trust. Additionally, Federal Reserve is also very well capable of committing or covering fraud since it is operated by private owners and does not have to justify its every decision to the state. After the Reserve fails to support the citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic hardships and, essentially, helps banks put them into financial shackles, it is only logical that Christians would consider its ethical obligations violated.
While with the secular structure of the state, government, and church exist separately, it is important to emphasize that the leaders of the country should adhere to moral values in their actions toward people. Some policies, while beneficial for the economy and wealth of the state, are actively harming citizens and thus should be addressed accordingly. Biblical principles might not always apply to the processes of economy and law management but they often offer a more humane, compassionate perspective to specific issues which makes them important to be considered.
Baugus, B. (2019). A biblical path for a prosperous society. Lexington Books.
Milstein, E., & Wessel, D. (2022). What did the Fed do in response to the COVID-19 crisis? Brookings.