Q: What do you think is the greatest social problem in the world today? Some friends and I were talking about this recently, but we didn’t come to any agreement. Whatever it is, do you think churches should be doing anything about it, or is it best left to governments? — M.F.
A: I think the greatest problem is the lack of free societies and open government in all countries. Where these are not in place, people are not free to pursue their lives and express themselves as they wish. In totalitarian countries, especially, citizens are forced to act in very strict ways. They are often forced to practice certain religions, work in dictated jobs, and subjected to arbitrary arrest without judiciary recourse. They have no right to vote and, hence, no mechanism to change their plight. Freedoms of speech, press, and assembly are highly restricted. These people will not be able to develop to their full potential or even live happy, fulfilling lives under these conditions.
I think efforts to force these countries to change must come from countries which already enjoy free society and open government. Organized churches are often operated in a totalitarian manner. While they may not oppress their members the extreme way in which the leaders of Libya and North Korea do, their strict adherence to dogma and lack of democratic processes make them poor agents for this type of change. The world has seen great improvements in political rights and civil liberties over the last 40 years, and I hope this continues until all peoples of the world are free.
Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.