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View Diary: US Christians Face Judgment by Christ - a sermon (176 comments)

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  •  very well (4.00)
    i don't deny that the modern liberal movement in america better provides for these things than the american conservatives, my problem is with conflating, say, providing for the sick with liberalism per se. or even communal [cenobitic] living! one of the most natural things in the world is a hospital run by the church, after all, and state funding of the church made such things possible in many countries, but at times continuing such funding was an essentially conservative thing to do, while wild voices of Progress were shouting something else - something which, at least temporarily, reduced aid to the poor and needy. the modern american liberal way is not the only possible manner of implementing the mandate to feed the hungry and such.

    anyways, reading the gospels, you should realize that supporting government action is not the same as personally attaining virtue. giving a loaf of bread to a hungry man is far better than subscribing to liberal ideology. remember the pharisees, it cuts both ways...

    Join the battle against cosmic evil!

    by gzt on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 07:48:21 AM PST

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    •  Excellent point (none)
      Christ didn't say how you should feed the hungry, just that you should feed them. If your preferred approach is government assistance, that's fine. But if that approach isn't working (whether because of lack of funding, mismanagement of the program, whatever), then people are still hungry, and doing something about it is still your problem.

      This is one of the reasons why people talk about "limousine liberals." Advocacy is great, but you can't eat it.

      •  He Did Say How....... (none)
        Jesus says the hungry should be fed and the sick should be healed through the abundance of others.  He calls us to be our brothers' keeper.  Jesus says to feed the poor, heal the sick, and the blind.  He says that we will be blessed even though they cannot repay us; He says we will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

        That is what the Church was when I was growing up - it was Liberal - it was giving.  And it was through our abundance.

        What happened to us?

        The members of the Church were our government reps. and this ideology went to DC with them.

        Now they're all bought and paid for.

        Kill and ban the DC lobby - Solve most of the problems!

        Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

        by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:35:02 AM PST

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        •  Keeping your brother (none)
          Which is more "Christian:"

          Vote for a tax cut. Donate all the money you receive as a result to a charity that feeds the hungry and cares for the poor.

          Vote against a tax cut. When it passes anyway, use the money you personally receive to support the election of progressive candidates.

          •  When will Churches cut Social Secuity checks? (none)
            Not ever.  The Churches can't, won't and haven't ever done it all.  The government is needed to carry the load.

            Saying you believe in non-governmental help of your fellow-man is a dodge.  

            •  Two-edged sword (none)
              Remember that Social Security itself is a relatively recent development. Until very recently, there was no governmental safety net. If your church, family, or union/guild couldn't take care of you, you were pretty much stuck. The New Deal was necessary in part because the Great Depression hammered much of the non-governmental support system.

              When churches and their members are committed to "doing it all," they can and have. The Amish are exempt from paying Social Security tax, and are not eligible for Social Security, unemployment, or welfare benefits: their community looks after its own as a religious duty.

              One can (arguably) do one's Christian duty to the poor by direct charity rather than through the government. In fact, forcing other people to act (through taxes) in accordance with one's beliefs is (arguably) a state establishment of religion, and therefore prohibited.

              Now, I'm not personally opposed to government programs. But if you raise the "Christian duty" argument with political conservatives, you're likely to see exactly this sort of response. Best to be prepared.

              •  Can't convince right-wing theocons (none)
                I agree that theocons may respond by stating that they don't need the government to help their fellow man.  And, yes, the true believers of the theocon philosophy will not be convinced no matter how cogent the argument.

                But those subject to persuasion would have to admit that not enough theocons give a 10% tithe to their churches, and there are simply not enough theocons, to take the place of the government.

                I am convinced that the hard-core theocons can only be convinced by some type of event or crisis in their own personal lives.  See Dick Cheney.  It is good for us to make our arguments for the future, planting intellectual seeds.

          •  Inequitable Policy Will Be Judged Harshly ! (none)
            The poorest 20 percent of American workers, who earn on average $16,600 annually, will get a tax break of $250 this year, about 1½ percent of their income. That amounts to about 68 cents a day.  

            The richest 1 percent of 'workers', with average incomes of $1.1 million, will receive $78,460 in tax cuts this year. That's more than 7 percent of their income.

            I wonder how Jesus would react to such `moral clarity'?  His Gospel, being based in truth and equity, leaves little doubt to the answer.

            How many 'workers' making over 1 million dollars this year do you know that donated their $78K tax refund to the homeless and hungry?

            In my view, such inequitable policy will certainly impart a harsh judgment in God's court.


            Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

            by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 01:11:08 PM PST

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            •  Individual responsibility (none)
              Governments aren't called to account for themselves in the hereafter. Individuals are. A rich man who spends his tax refund on golf vacations and private jets while his neighbors starve will clearly have quite a bit to answer for.

              On the other hand, advocating progressive positions and candidates is not necessarily enough to satisfy one's moral obligations. If I were having an argument about "Christian duty" with a religious conservative, I don't think I'd want to claim that a check to John Kerry's campaign was "better" than a check to a homeless shelter.

              I'm bringing this up because of a statistic that I vaguely remember (but can't find a reference for), indicating that red states give more per capita to charity than blue states. I'd certainly agree that the Republican party's positions are unChristian, but that doesn't mean individual red state voters are as well. Being judgmental is as dangerous for progressives as it is for conservatives.

              •  But Advocating the Destruction of the Safety Net (none)
                As the repressive conservatives do, is clearly not what Jesus had in mind. Listening to Jerry Falwell congratulate himself on having social programs at his church reminded me how far Christianity has fallen from the ideals that Jesus taught.

                Helping all through the government shows a true compassion for the neighbors that Jesus spoke of. Restricting it to your congregation or religious body is just one more example of selfishness that Jesus condemned.

                A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. - Emerson

                by freelunch on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 03:40:20 PM PST

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              •  Government must be accountable to its citizens - (none)
                The less this government is called to account for its actions, the more it will continue to act with impunity.

                Whenever this government is called to account for its appalling record on poverty, it tries to hide behind some lame child tax benefit or other bullshit excuse.

                The fact is nearly 36 million Americans - one in eight- now live in poverty and millions more are considered working poor.  That means many of those are HUNGRY!

                This governments actions and policies are SINFUL!


                Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

                by ssolice on Wed Dec 01, 2004 at 06:10:18 AM PST

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    •  Point Taken (none)
      But the actions of well-meaning conservatives in some third world country are not necessarily what I would expect in the behavior of the right-wing Christians in America.

      These people say they vote on "morals" while they ignore this theology-of-war emanating from the Oval Office. They confuse their role with God's. They practice political idolatry and the politics of fear.  In short - they lie.  And many on the left or in the center are simply afraid to say it.

      As Christians, we should all accept the commandment to a strong presumption against war.

      As Christians, we should all accept the commandment to respect all life - to be "pro-life" not just anti-abortion.  

      But instead we show very little compassion for the poor, we're indifferent to poverty and capital punishment and we fight unjust wars and ravage the earth, which God entrusted to us.

      I agree with what you say, but staying silent about and unjust government (conservative or liberal) is betrayal to Christ in my view - and therefore, inhibits my personal attention to Grace.

      I appreciate the dialogue.


      Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

      by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:28:11 AM PST

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      •  oh, i agree. (none)
        but i'm not talking about third-world countries, i'm talking about first-world countries decades or centuries ago. third-world countries tend not to have state-supported churches, after all. other than that, i pretty much agree, though the religious sorts i hang with are pro-life in its original dorothy day-esque sense. all i'm saying is that saying 'jesus was a liberal' or 'conservative christian is an oxymoron' is a bit silly.

        Join the battle against cosmic evil!

        by gzt on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 04:54:03 PM PST

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