The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

God's Politics

Here is something near and dear to my heart. This Washington Post article reports on protests by Christian groups against the budget cuts to programs for the poor. The protesters, led by Jim Wallis of Sojourner Magazine, plan to get arrested in the Cannon House Office Building while they kneel in prayer. The article discusses why the Religious Right is not taking up the mantle of the poor when it comes to budget cutting. Explanations range from there are higher priorities to there is no biblical support for government welfare.

This leads to interesting questions.

Is there biblical support of welfare programs run by the government?

What responsibility do Christians have to advocate for the poor in budget negotiations?

Has the Christian Right sold out its responsibility for social justice to buy the Republican Party's support of abortion, gay marriage and judicial nominees?

And most importantly, What would Jesus do?

(Since this is national politics and not state or local, I will tie it in to this blog thusly.) The Valley Family Forum has made it a legislative priority to oppose tax increases as well as support abortion restrictions and oppose gay marriage.

My view is that taking a position on gay marriage and abortion are easy. These position do not cost a Christian anything because typically, the Christian is neither gay nor likely to have an abortion. On the other hand, advocating higher taxes that would pay for healthcare for the poor would directly cost the typical Christian voter money come April 15th. People who advocate only for laws that would condemn another's sinful behavior but ignores Christ's call to minister to the poor are dangerously close committing the same sin as the Pharisees.


  • At 12/14/2005 12:14 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    The valley family forum opposes higher taxes? So i guess they somehow can make a connection to lower taxes and good clean family liviing? Let me guess they probably support the elimination of the ungodly Clean Air Act too? Please excuse me if I don't see the connection...

    My whole problem with these organizaiton (VFF, Focus on the Family) as they tend not to be interested in issues of justice or basic fairness (which might in return actually better the lives of many families) but instead they focus and advocate rock solid tried and true right wing ideals.

    Wouldn't increasing the minimum wage actually help more struggling famalies, then say eliminating the inheritance tax?

  • At 12/14/2005 1:50 PM, Blogger republitarian said…

    Jesus never mentioned anything aboutthe gov't FORCIBLY taking monet from people. Don't attempt to put words in his mouth.

  • At 12/15/2005 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    so i guess jesus would be down with gorver norquist then?

  • At 12/15/2005 10:52 AM, Blogger valley iconoclast said…

    No, Jesus did say "Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar and Render unto God that which is God's"

    Pretty strong evidence that Jesus, at the minimum would not support a "Christian" position on lowering taxes.

    Christ was clearly angered by society at the time that marginalized and oppressed the poor. The biblical support for caring for the poor is stronger than even the biblical support for opposing abortion.

  • At 12/15/2005 12:00 PM, Blogger valley iconoclast said…

    Actually, the Republitarian makes a good point. Jesus never specifically said that the government should tax in order to pay for social programs. Although he also never said that the government should criminalize gay marriage or abortion either. The message of the Bible is personal, it speaks to how an individual should live. From that we try to determine what type of government would support Christian values.

    My view is a Christian government would not only protect the sanctity of life and of marriage but would also help those who need help. The message of helping the poor is consistent and overwhelming in the Gospels. So if the government should do some things that are "Christian" then why not others.

    Is outlawing abortion and gay marriage God's priority or is it Man's?

  • At 12/15/2005 12:12 PM, Blogger zen said…

    This is a very interesting topic. I've always wondered how and why the religious right maintains such a narrow political agenda, and ignores (politically) the number of people falling into poverty every year and children without healthcare as it grows by the millions every year.
    Is it not a Christian value to help the poor by at the very least advocating policies that will serve to curb this steady decline, even if it is not a direct support of government assistance?
    Does this speak to an inherent conflict of ideologies between Christian values and modern conservative polotics?

  • At 12/15/2005 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What's really interesting about the Religious Right is their seeming ignorance of government. In America, government is by the people, thus if the people, through their elected representatives, decide to tax themselves (remember, the income tax was codified via constitutional amendment whereby 2/3 of Congress, plus 3/4 of states voted for it). Ergo, we ASKED for it.

    -- Conaway

  • At 12/16/2005 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    nicely stated Conway! I'd like to see mr. republitarians response to that, he would probably break a quoate from revelations on you!

  • At 12/16/2005 11:59 AM, Blogger valley iconoclast said…

    I give the Republitarian credit, I know he is a religious conservative. At least he is willing to engage in the debate. No other person posted a contrary position. I have become convinced that most blogging is preachin to the choir.

  • At 12/21/2005 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In order to directly refute republitarian's statement, you have to accept the premises. Saying, "Jesus never mentioned government focibly taking money from people" is a false premise because, as I tried to point out, government isn't forcing people into anything - in a republic or democracy like America, "The People" choose to create governments and be taxed. It doesn't matter whether a conservative hates government or not - the fact remains that American government is the creation "of, by and for the people" to paraphrase Lincoln.

    Now, if republitarian wishes to take issue with government structures that do force money out of people's pockets, better cases can be made for the socialist regimes of Latin America, many of which were/are supported by Catholic clergy via liberation theology.

    To paraphrase Jesus (in the book of Matthew): anyone who is not against us is for us. Thus, neutrality on an issue or a lack of direct refutation is not an "anti" position. It simply is what it is. We shouldn't confuse the loudness of an argument with the soundness, or lack thereof, of that argument.

    -- Conaway

  • At 12/29/2005 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime"

    Therfore, I am opposed to PERMANENT social programs with no incentive to ever get out of them. I DO support immediate help for the poor IE food and shelter, but would require them to make an effort to lift themselves out of the hole. The problem is, we have free schools in this country, and more examples than you care to name of folks who pulled themselves out of poverty, but many more who drop out at 14 and hit the sreets voluntarily. One wonders WWJD about the welfare mother who has a child every year to incresase her check amount?

    And I'd have no real problem giving to Ceasar if he'd spend the money with any shred of common sense...


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