"Thirteen socialists walk into a West Virginia bar," is the opening line of an NPR article published last week profiling the state's chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
The introduction seemed much like the setup for a "walks into a bar" one-liner joke, leading to a punch line. But wait, there was one: "Jesus Is a Socialist," said one of the DSA members interviewed by NPR — a sentiment echoed by Stephen Colbert while praising the face of democratic socialism, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"I might be the only one in our little chapter that's a Christian," said the member. And that might not be a coincidence.
In a study highlighted by the Miami Herald, researchers found that religiosity diminishes with the expansion of government services. The researchers found that they were able to forecast a lower religiosity 1 to 2 years following any given year that government services increased: "If a secular entity provides what people need, they will be less likely to seek help from God or other supernatural entities."
Democratic Socialists, as described by NPR, believe that the ultimate purpose of government is social control of the means of production. "You know, we don’t just want to improve capitalism, we ultimately want to get rid of it," said Joe Cernelli, a founding member of the West Virginia DSA chapter. Like the current Venezuelan regime, they want to supplant private industries and have the government provide several entitlements such as health care, college education, universal income, and more: "Government" is the way, the truth, and the life.
F.A. Hayek, a renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist and philosopher, best characterizes said social control in the classic, "Road To Serfdom": "Collectivist systems may be described, as the deliberate organization of the labors of society for a definite social goal. Our present society lacks such 'conscious' direction toward a single aim, its activities are guided by the whims and fancies of irresponsible individuals."
Consequently, while the DSA might think Jesus is a socialist, the problem is that if he were a socialist, Jesus wouldn’t even be Jesus anymore. As the government expands, religion contracts; the divinity of government supersedes the omnipresence of God. As the Miami Herald puts it, "the power and order emanating from God can be outsourced to the government."
Alexander Ruiz is a graduate of The United States Merchant Marine Academy, a veteran U.S Coast Guard law enforcement officer, and a licensed Merchant Mariner. He is a Californian native and currently a graduate student in political science at New York University.