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View Diary: Why Do Fundy Christians Love the Rich and Hate the Poor? (324 comments)

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  •  The classical defense is that the state should (11+ / 0-)

    not take care for the poor, Christian charity should.

    This argument fails for this reason: Poor people are much better off in (atheist) welfare states like Sweden and Denmark, so if you are ACTUALLY concerned about the poor - rather than some bullshit and non-Christian principles about a minimal state - then you would support redistribution and the welfare state.

    Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

    by Joe B on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:23:08 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  The argument also fails because... (4+ / 0-)

      ...there are places in the Old Testament (when the Jews ran their own country) where the prophets call on the RULERS to care for the poor. Or so I've been told -- I haven't done my own study on the subject.

      •  I think you're right (0+ / 0-)

        but I would need to check on that myself; the Prophets haven't been my primary area of Hebrew Bible study.

      •  You're right--it's part of their general critique (0+ / 0-)

        of the failure of the powers that be to be faithful to the demands of the Covenent.  Beyond that I can't give you chapter & verse -- my knowledge of the prophets comes mostly from a paper I wrote for OT class about 45 years ago.  (Arghh!) But reading them and Michael Harrington at the same time had a profound effect on my outlook on life & society. I went pretty quickly from a conventional middle-class Catholic to a afficianado of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Caesar Chavez, the Berrigans, Liberation theology, etc.  

    •  I always reply (12+ / 0-)

      that we have had to install state solutions because the christian charity thing has never worked very well.  Children starved, people with curable disease died in the streets in large numbers because christians just didn't do enough.

      Everyone! Arms akimbo!

      by tobendaro on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:18:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The welfare state SUPPLEMENTS private charity. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe B, Only Needs a Beat, native, Philco

      If the primary responsibility to care for the poor lies with the state, then you and I have no obligation to them other than contributing our tax dollars.  It becomes all to easy to let someone else get his/her hands dirty actually working with the poor and trying to help them get back on their feet.  

      There is an element of truth in the conservative claim that government largesse encourages people to avoid their own responsibilities.  How does private giving and volunteer work in Denmark and Sweden (or all of Western Europe) compare with the United States?

      Jesus and his earliest followers certainly practiced a form of socialism, but no government was there as an intermediary.  The redistribution of wealth was voluntary.  Then again, those followers also expected that the world would come to an end in their lifetimes, so they assumed that there was little point in hoarding worldly goods.  The fact that the world didn't end was one of the main reasons the Church began to institutionalize (sheer survival) and slowly but surely lost sight of Jesus' original message.

      I'm an advocate of the welfare state solely because I realized long ago that private charity alone was not sufficient to cope with large-scale shocks to the economy that leave massive numbers of people impoverished through no fault of their own and that some degree of involuntary redistribution of wealth was necessary to set things right.

      Hard-core libertarians and hard-core socialists both fail in their arguments when they present public versus private charity as an either/or question.  It's both/and.

      •  Well written but there is also (4+ / 0-)

        the argument that poor people are poor because of our economic system (being born into a certain position) rather than individual faults, while rich people are rich for the same reasons, and that charity introduces assymetrical power relations between the giver and the taker while the state is neutral and does not stigmatize the poor.  

        Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

        by Joe B on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:40:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  In an ideal world, a constitutional world, a world (2+ / 0-)

        of sane people, shouldn't private charity supplement government care for the sick, needy, a mentally ill?  This reliance on private charity is the problem.

        And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

        by MrJersey on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:04:20 AM PST

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      •  People in, say Denmark, don't think of it this (0+ / 0-)

        way.  They consider that a part of their taxes go to good causes that have just about eradicated all poverty in their country. Sure, they aren't working the front lines in soup kitchens, but that countrywide monetary contribution makes a big difference.

        •  While I don't want to demean anyone... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          INMINYMA, Miggles

          ...who genuinely volunteers at a soup kitchen or equivalent out of a desire to help, the nature of such a charitable action is widely open to exploitation of those who merely seek a public display of piety. Take for example Paul Ryan back during the campaign washing already clean dishes.

          Jesus had a really big problem with public displays of piety.

    •  I watched a British documentary once about (14+ / 0-)

      churches in America. This episode featured the First Baptist Church in Dallas.

      The interviewer talked to the head pastor....who was sitting in his plush office, dressed in a suit that did NOT come off the rack at Sears, behind an authentic  Louis XVIIII desk, bragging about the church's professional TV studios that they use to create the shows they run on local TV and satellite.

      The documentary then switched to an "outreach" operation the church runs down in the poor sections of Dallas. It showed a bunch of weary-looking, shabbily dressed people, sitting in fold out chairs in a bare room, while a preacher haranged them for a solid hour about their sins and why they should join the church. At the end of the hour, they were given a cup of coffee and a plain sandwich.

      The contrast was gut-wrenching.

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:23:32 AM PST

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      •  I always think of the Poor House board members (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yamara, YsosadisticGOP

        feasting from a table groaning with delicious food while half-starved little Oliver (Twist) begged for a second bowl of tasteless, pasty, gruel.

        There is nothing wrong with faith.  It's just that religion too often gives faith a bad name.

        And who the hell is Grover Norquist???

        by ZedMont on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:13:42 AM PST

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