David Iglesias - Director of the Wheaton College Center for Faith, Politics and Economics
In the last newsletter I wrote about 1968 as a watershed year in history. Future historians may view 2021 in a similar way. The COVID-19 pandemic now is being mitigated with highly effective vaccines and most Americans are taking it. At press time we are creeping up towards the ideal 70% “herd immunity” vaccination rate. As the pandemic recedes during 2021 and masks come off one big question to ask is this: what is the new normal in the world of faith, politics and economics?
2021 started off in an ominous fashion when thousands of angry demonstrators stormed the Capitol, looking to apprehend members of Congress and obstruct or prevent the results of the electoral college. Shockingly, there have been other violent attacks on the Capitol over the past 200 or so years, but not on this huge scale. Hundreds of protestors will be prosecuted for a variety of federal crimes by my former colleagues at the U.S. Justice Department. Incredibly, some of the government’s best evidence comes from the social media posts of the accused. The new year also brought a new President and administration after a record setting vote.
This Center supports the idea that smaller government is better government—an idea that gets challenged when the country faces economic depression, significant recession or in this case, pandemic. While we cannot spend our way back into normalcy, I doubt there is much political support for the notion of smaller government in Washington now. Former U.S. Mint Director, Ed Moy, writes in this newsletter about the consequences of flooding the American economy with an unprecedented amount of U.S. dollars.
On a more local scale, the pandemic caused the Center to reschedule the International Study Program to 2022. The Center hosted a virtual colloquium of scholars to debate and discuss the ancient Christian concept of just war. The length of the global war on terror and the emerging phenomenon of cyberattacks were prime discussion points as Dr. Eric Patterson and Dr. Luke Perez note in their articles. To be sure, this Center will continue to host colloquia in the future to bring a Christian voice to macro-issues involving economics and politics.
We will find out soon if we are on the verge of a new America, similar to what emerged in 1921 after WWI/Spanish flu or 1946 after the end of WWII. In one case the Great Depression followed and in the other, unparalleled peace and prosperity, the “Pax Americana”. Let us pray and work for the latter.