Culture

Greater Idaho: The Need for Antithesis

Jason Mills

There is a particular blindness that plagues many Christians today when recognizing what’s at stake in the current political climate. “Going along to get along” and hoping for the best is not a winning strategy. The political struggle we face is a spiritual struggle, a battle of religions. The differences we face are fundamentally moral. Christians have become far too hospitable to the progressive agenda.

Christians need to be involved in the political sphere because we worship a God who cares passionately about His creation, and necessarily how it is governed. Our inflated bureaucratic states would have been unrecognizable to the Founders of these United States, and our compliance to their encroachments on liberty would have enraged them. States and counties across this nation need to bring the constitutional principles of the past back into the present. One of the ways this can be done is to encourage conservative counties in blue states to join their neighboring red states. Creating stronger conservative states strengthens our ability to resist the destructive policies that harm our families and make a mockery of our faith.

Greater Idaho—A Path Forward 

Greater Idaho is a county initiative movement seeking to join Eastern Oregon to the state of Idaho. Oregon is a microcosm of what is occurring all over this nation. In Oregon, the Portland metro area is home to approximately 47 percent of Oregon’s voters, though it covers a mere 3,682 of Oregon’s 95,962 square miles– Less than 4 percent of its land mass. Five of Oregon’s 36 counties control virtually all of Oregon’s legislative activity. [1] Oregon has gerrymandered legislative districts to exclusively help Democrats, which means Democrats will be in control of the state for at least another decade, if not longer. The “State of Portland” is keeping Eastern Oregon under its tyrannical thumb and has become remarkably comfortable with switching their role as servants of the people to being lords over them. In addition, there exists a natural geographical divide in the state of Oregon. The Cascade mountain range running north-south from border to border, separates two distinct sides of the state. Western Oregon (the valley) is green and moist. Eastern Oregon (the high desert) is a semi-arid climate, much like Idaho.

The biggest difference, however, is not the regional population of the state or the geographical landmarks that separate the two territories; it’s the difference in convictions, tradition, and ethics. Northwestern Oregon is embarking on social experiments that should make every Christian horrified—a cultural revolution that rural counties want no part of. Western Oregon wants more tents on their streets; Eastern Oregon wants sidewalks that are clean and clear. Western Oregon wants to decriminalize hard drugs; Eastern Oregon wants them banned. Western Oregon wants the criminals let out; Eastern Oregon wants them locked up. Western Oregon wants to limit the use of natural resources; Eastern Oregon wants to utilize them all. Western Oregon wants higher taxes; Eastern Oregon wants lower. During the COVID lockdowns, Western Oregon wanted to mask everyone (including children) and force the vaccine on its citizens; Eastern Oregon wanted Ivermectin. Western Oregon wants to abort their babies and chemically castrate their teens with puberty blockers; Eastern Oregon supports the sanctity of human life and recognizes God’s good design for male and female distinctions.

In just about every way, Western Oregon and Eastern Oregon already are two different states. These are two different cultures that have incompatible and opposite goals for their governance. The Bible teaches that the purpose of government is to punish evil (Rom. 13:3), but if the two sides can’t agree on what evil is then they won’t agree on what the government should do. Forcing these two regions to live together is like putting two angry dogs in a locked cage and expecting them to get along—it won’t work. Greater Idaho offers a win-win solution that will benefit both sides of the state.

Localism

Like Israel under Babylonian rule, a people group that is subsidiary to the whims of a government bureaucracy is a people in captivity, not freedom. In response to this plight, a small group of like-minded citizens gathered together in October of 2019 at a local pizza parlor in Grants Pass, Oregon to discuss how to thwart the advance of Northwestern Oregon’s immoral policies. As a result of this meeting, that idea gave birth to tangible action. Rather than making 380,000 people from Eastern Oregon move to Idaho, people who love their local communities and whose families pioneered those regions, the movement is intent on bringing Idaho governance to them. The goal is to create a greater (bigger, stronger, more conservative) Idaho which would include sixteen of Eastern Oregon’s most conservative counties.

The Greater Idaho movement began its mission with an email campaign, reaching out to county commissioners, and asking them to put an advisory question on the ballot. After getting the needed signatures, various ballot initiatives were submitted to county clerks, and some began to be accepted in February 2020. The ballot measures were intended to demonstrate popular support for the state legislatures of Oregon and Idaho to negotiate an interstate compact to relocate their common border. To date, thirteen out of the sixteen Eastern Oregon counties have voted to begin discussion to move the border. All it takes to move a state border is an interstate compact between two state legislatures and the approval of Congress. The Oregon/Idaho line was established 165 years ago and is now outdated. It no longer represents the current political, social, and geographical divide in Oregon which leaves the people in the Eastern side of the state with a government that doesn’t represent them.

Deescalating Political Tension

As the political Left and Right in America grow further apart and the friction between them grows more and more hostile, moving state borders can help de-escalate rising tensions. Today, most states (especially blue states) do not respect conservative liberties or ethics. If you live in one that’s worse than average, there are some practical ways to improve things. Greater Idaho is one of many movements that can be found in blue or purple states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado which also have rural (red) counties bordering a red state. Rural counties seeking to join red states should consider advocating for a state split, following the process provided in the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Sec. 3), in the same way that West Virginia split from Virginia. We have a cultural divide in America and realignment of some sort needs to happen.

Why Christians Should Care

Being a faithful Christian requires more, but never less, than the broad scattering of the gospel seed. Watering, fertilizing, and careful pruning are also vital components of our Christian mandate. This demands a high level of commitment from our local communities and churches that often have political implications. The state needs Christianity. Christians provide an essential anchor for politics and culture. Christianity is a statement regarding the ultimate source of law and authority, and if Christians do not put forward this fact, some other religion of the state will. We simply cannot accept the presuppositions of liberal policies or the myth of political neutrality. To do so is a sure path leading to destruction because liberal practice and policy will increasingly produce principle, and when that happens there will be no room for escape. [2]

The strength of Greater Idaho and other like-minded movements is the emphasis on localism. And localism means everyone having a say in what happens to you directly. It means individuals rolling up their sleeves and getting involved to keep accountable those who legislate laws that affect us. G.K. Chesterton said, “Keep your politicians near enough to kick them.” [3] If Christians allow government overreach without even a stern kick, then our most precious institutions (families and churches) will be the ones to bear the bruises. Christians ought to do all they can to ensure the growth, spread, and vitality of their biblical convictions. Realigning state borders is not about running away from our problems or replacing the gospel with politics, as many accuse. Rather, it allows Christians who live in those regions to strengthen their prophetic voice. It allows Christians to more effectively build and to help the culture become what God intends it to be.

Politicians are constantly calling for unity. But what Christians need most today is antithesis in the world. By antithesis, we show what is right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, lawful and unlawful.[4]  C.S. Lewis said, “Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibility of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing.”[5]  The realignment of states allows the culture to recognize the difference between good and bad by way of contrast. As Christians, we do not celebrate the valleys getting lower, but we should be happy to see the hills getting higher because it enlarges this necessary antithesis.[6]  This inverse may lead to God-ordained jealousy because the progressive agenda cannot compete with the fruit that comes from a culture and government influenced by Christian ethics.

Christians should always advocate for things that strengthen, not weaken our witness. Some conservative states like Idaho have substantially limited abortion and banned all puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and gender surgery on minors. Meanwhile, neighboring liberal states like Oregon fully support abortion on demand and instead place restrictions on the parents who desire to adopt or foster children. As God-fearing Christians, why would we not advocate to enlarge and strengthen a state that protects our most vulnerable citizens from these evil ideologies? It is not that these political maneuvers are salvific, but they are causal. God can use them to achieve proper jealousy and point those who have been deceived to the good that comes from a biblical, social, and ethical order. In this sense, Christians have an opportunity to propagate our influence.

Conclusion

It is sobering to remember there is nothing more local than our families. Scripture teaches that God gives parents the responsibility to care for, raise, protect, and educate their children (see Prov. 22:6; Deut. 6:6-7; Eph. 6:4). This ought to be done without the interference of the State. As Christians, we should support political movements that seek to preserve a social and legislative culture that honors and strengthens this mandate. Greater Idaho, and movements like it, are a step in that direction. Greater Idaho started small, with a discussion between a few local families in a pizza parlor. Lord willing, it will continue to grow as the leaven spoken in the parable as the kingdom of God works through his people to reach every sphere of life—including our local county and state government, all for the Glory of God!

Sources

  1. Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, “Christian Political Action in an Age of Revolution” (WordBridge Publishing, 2015), pg. ix
  2. Chesterton, as quoted in an interview that appeared in the Cleveland Press in 1921
  3. Raymond Simmons, The Confessional County: Realizing the Kingdom Through Local Christendom (New Dunedin Press, 2021), 107
  4. North, Political Polytheism, xviii, quoting Lewis in C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (New York: Macmillan, 1946), 283. 
  5. Raymond Simmons, The Confessional County: Realizing the Kingdom Through Local Christendom (New Dunedin Press, 2021), 107

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