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Rick Warren
Hmm, no lightning yet.
(Tami Chappell/Reuters)
Because it was Easter, the Sunday talk show circuit was filled with conservative religious figures telling us the meaning of the season; apparently, it mostly revolves around how religious freedom is being curtailed by not giving old cranks the proper deference in meddling with other people's sexytimes. Saddleback Church's megapastor Rick Warren's contribution to the discourse is being especially noted, as he tells us what Jesus meant by all that, you know, communist-sounding stuff.
OBAMA: And I believe in God's command to love thy neighbor as thyself. And when I talk about shared responsibility, it's because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it's hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills, to shoulder the burden alone."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, is he -- is he right?

R. WARREN: Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor. There's over 2,000 versus in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there's a fundamental question on the meaning of "fairness." Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of  money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.

The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You -- you rob them of dignity. The primary purpose of government is to keep the peace, protect the citizens, provide opportunity. And when we start getting into all kinds of other things, I think we -- we invite greater control. And I'm fundamentally about freedom. You know the -- the first freedom in America is actually the freedom of religion. It's not the second, third, fourth or fifth.

The 2,000 verses in the Bible dealing with the poor are, of course, outshadowed by the nearly 10,000 verses outlining how employers shouldn't have to pay for medical insurance for their employees if that insurance might cover medical needs that those employers have personal moral objections to. But the rest of it is pretty interesting. Apparently we're supposed to care about the poor, but not care for them—that seems to be the distinction, because as long as their souls get saved, hey, screw 'em. Sorry we're cutting your food stamps, little Timmy, but if it's any consolation it looks like you'll be getting to meet Jesus a lot sooner than the rest of us!

It's puzzling how an Obama reference to loving thy neighbor and, rather more specifically, not asking poorer Americans to shoulder the burden of our suddenly-scary deficits "alone" morphs so quickly into tsking about fairness and wealth redistribution and, in the end, "freedom of religion." What the hell does "freedom of religion" have to do with poor people "shouldering the burden alone" unless your religious viewpoint is that they should, yes, shoulder the damn burden alone? How do you get from one part of that discussion to the other?

I get it already; giving poor people food or medical care creates a "dependency." Screw little Timmy, if we let him eat tonight, we're gonna rob him of his dignity, and injure the feelings of all those deeply religious folks who think Timmy can eat a rock and die already. But it's not even that usual Prosperity Gospel drivel at work here—Rick Warren is pushing back against the notion, expressed by Obama, that those poorer people should not "share the burden alone." As far as I can determine, the opinion being expressed here is that rich people shouldn't have to pay more taxes and government shouldn't meddle in God's plan for sick people to get bent because "religious freedom" says "wealth distribution" is bad.

I think, anyway. That's as close to an actual complete thought I can parse out of Warren's dismissals. Or to paraphrase, feed a person a fish and you feed them for a day; don't do a damn thing for them and you get to keep more fish. Oh, because Jesus said so. Happy Easter!

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Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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