The mentor of the then young Woodrow Wilson at Johns Hopkins University, Ely was a dedicated opponent of individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and classical liberal principles of limited government. Indeed, he was a moral relativist who believed that “the end justifies the means” and championed socialism, fascism, racism, eugenics, colonialism, imperialism, historicism and militarism. As in his converting Wilson to “Progressivism,” Ely was highly influential in developing the “social gospel movement” of many liberal Protestant denominations in the U.S. in deifying the State as the agent of God. The essential tenets of the “social gospel” were to abandon the orthodox Christian teachings of natural law and the divinity of and salvation through Jesus as the Christ for a secularized “social salvation” of “social justice” achieved by regimenting society into a statist “heaven on earth.” Ely championed racial supremacy, war, and government control of schools, health care, employment, business, immigration, marriage and the family, housing, food, welfare, security, energy, and all other aspects of human life. His books became the key textbooks for the teaching of countless students across the country including many, many Protestant clergy, and to this day, the Episcopal Church (USA) honors him as a “saint” in their liturgical calendar with a feast day on October 8th.
In this podcast, Professor Thies is interviewed by the economist Lawrence H. White and explores Ely’s actual ideas, values, and impact, stripped of the whitewashing found at the AEA and elsewhere.