Secretly being liberal.

(I don’t write about politics that often because it’s not a topic I can write about very well. There are so many good political blogs that I tend to avoid it. Plus, political comments usually get really ugly, really quickly. But my friend Rachel is going to change that. Today, she checks in with a funny look at the secret life of Christian liberals. Enjoy.)

Last month, Jon Acuff wrote a piece for CNN.com about Christians treating secular media like Satan’s newspaper. A faithful reader of both SCL and The New York Times, I laughed along until about midway through the article when Jon joked that Christians are “pretty sure Fox News is baptizing people in their lobby,” at which point I completely lost my sense of humor.

It is an unspoken rule among liberals that only one Jon is allowed to make us laugh about Fox News—and it’s Stewart, not Acuff.

But how was Jon supposed to know? He’s an evangelical Christian, which means he is statistically obligated to have only one liberal friend.

So as a Christian and an occasional democrat…(yes, we do exist)…I’ve decided to be that friend, offering SCL a brief list of stuff liberal progressive Christians like:

1. Calling ourselves “progressive” instead of “liberal’

The word liberal (like evolution and sex) carries with it negative connotations in the Christian subculture, and is often used in the context of play-by-play accounts from a pastors or Sunday school teachers about the dangers of competitive slippery slope sliding. Progressive is better. People like Jesus and Donald Miller are considered progressive. Progressive communicates the fact that we’re not headed down, but forward…and just a little to the left.

2. Assuming our daily fair-trade latte from Starbucks makes us committed to social justice

I may drive a gas-guzzling clunker to Wal-mart to buy a trunk full of out-of season fruit, but I’m certain that the steam pouring off of my free trade Cinnamon Dolce Latte is a sweet aroma to God.

3. Agreeing with the Democratic Party on everything except abortion

I am one of many progressive Christians in the unhappy predicament of supporting things like health care reform and environmental stewardship, while remaining steadfastly pro-life. To compensate for our insecurity about this situation, we progressives like to try to one-up conservative pro-lifers by noting that we’re also against the death penalty and war. This does little to actually advance the conversation, which usually ends with people yelling at one another about who is being more judgmental. Sorry about that.

4. NPR

To borrow a metaphor from a friend, we progressives are pretty sure that Ira Glass is mystically distributing the Eucharist through the airwaves during “This American Life.”

So, what would you add to the list? What else do progressive Christians like? (Conservatives, please don’t say “going to hell,” as it kinda hurts our feelings and messes with the whole Christian unity thing.)

(Rachel Held Evans is a liberal progressive Christian from Dayton, Tennessee, home of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Her first book, “Evolving in Monkey Town” officially releases with Zondervan in July, but is currently available on Amazon. She blogs at rachelheldevans.com.)

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Comments

    • Gretchen says

      The number and nature of responses to this column suggests that we are still only taking baby steps in the church towards real political conversations. And that we have less sense of humor about this topic than even about the question of whether U2 is a Christian band!

  1. says

    Love this. Ira Glass is the mellow, ironic voice of Friday nights here. And “yes” on being super pro-life. There are many of us liberal (yes, I did use the l-word) Christians in Seattle – I’m always confused by the assumptions (by Xians elsewhere and nonbelievers here) that because I’m an evangelical I must watch Fox News. Conservative theology does not equal conservative politics. I’ve noticed that Christians who differ on the party line often end up keeping their mouths closed in the name of unity. I think the intolerance of different political ideas is why so many Christians of our generation (X & Y) claim political apathy. To me, “I’m not into politics”, seems like a cop out. We need more grace in our discourse.

      • says

        Add me to the Amen chorus!

        Limbaugh makes me break out in hives and Fox News can induce a full-on epileptic fit. In fact, I'm shuddering right now, just thinking about it.

    • Karen says

      Excellent post! I've been the shut-mouth liberal (politically) conservative (theologically) Christian for many years now. It's a strange place to be.

    • SkagitMomma says

      Oh my goodness! A Christian in Seattle? I'm from Skagit county to the north, and all we know is that you all love Chris Gregoire and taxes. (just kidding!) If there was a city that needs more Christians, it is Seattle!
      Rock on!

      • Cara says

        I'm from Clark County (Vancouver, WA area). I know her better by her full name, Chris "Don't-Call-Me-Christine" Gregoire ;)

    • Angela says

      Maybe it's Christians like you — who think you're "progressive" — that have turned many liberals of our generation toward religious apathy. And you're not really pro-life. You are anti-choice. There IS a difference. Progressive my ass.

    • Alicia says

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this!! I used the "I'm not into politics" thing for years while living in the bible belt. I was afraid that if I actually said what I was thinking out loud, I would loose all my friends and be branded a heretic. It was so liberating in so many ways to move away.

  2. says

    Well said.

    As a slightly more conservative christian (I say slightly more conservative because I can only take so much of Rush Limbaugh before I want to show up at his studio & rip that stupid gold microphone off his desk) I can't do anything but chuckle as I read this.

  3. Lynnette says

    "Assuming our daily fair-trade latte from Starbucks makes us committed to social justice " – Until you buy two and offer one to the homeless single mom, you haven't even started to care about socdial justtice. To quote Dorothy Day, "If you have two coats, you've stolen one."

    Shane Claiborne also states, "It's not that Chirstians don't care about the poor, they don't KNOW the poor."

    Let's get serious about poverty and actually care about our brother or sister in need through our actions, not our words. Go to where they are and try living out what Jeus taught. It will probably change your life.

    • TBA says

      "Until you buy two and offer one to the homeless single mom, you haven't started to care about social justice."

      Hellllllo! All aboard the judgment train.

      Rachel's post is satire, and I find it troubling that you assume because she does not buy an extra coffee for the homeless moms who apparently hang out in Starbucks, she has not started to care about social justice.

      Is that the social justice standard as defined by Lynnette? Certainly I agree with you that we should all do more for our brothers and sisters–actions and not just words, but I found the first part of your comment comically judgmental.

      • Lynnette says

        I wasn't trying to be judgmental, just insert awareness. You won't find the homeless mom in Starbucks – she'll be a little harder to find, but still well worth the effort when you do. There are a lot of people in desparate situation out there.

        It's the small things done with great love (Mother Teresa)) that will allow Christians the opportunities to be God's hands, feet and listening ears. When we're doing THAT, it becomes a "sweet aroma" to God, not the smell of over priced fair trade coffee.

        It just didn't strike the satire cord with me this morning. Sorry.

        • TBA says

          No worries. I get what what you are saying now. Any dialogue that challenges Christians to act more like Christ is beneficial.

          Good point.

    • katie says

      The problem of thinking someone stole a coat if he as two is this: the man who has two coats also may own a business. The business employs people. It pays them. It provides money for food, shelter and coats. The business supports the economy, which supports people providing for themselves. This way they don't have to look to someone else to give them a coat.

      • says

        oh katie. those dang africans with hiv/aids i sure do wish they'd get a job. those lazy jerks. and man the homeless men i see all the time, they sure are worthless to society. i'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that your comment wasn't implying that people who "don't have a coat" just need to get a job. surely, you understand that it's not that easy. even if mr. 2 coats employs a zillion people, he still has (if he's a Christian) to help the poor & the needy. that's ALL over the Bible, and Jesus talked about that a lot. so maybe instead of mr. 2 coats having more stuff, he should give more stuff away. maybe just maybe that's why God blessed him with such a great job in the first place.

        • April says

          Guys! We're doing that whole "not united thing" again… (Think whiny little sister voice here)

          Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Everyone is entitled to think what they like. But please don't attack each other on here! It looks bad for Christians for one, and really spoils my laughter induced euphoria for the other! :)

          • says

            I can't stop apologizing enough if I came across as an "attacker." Katie is so allowed to her own opinion as am I. This is a subject that I feel very strongly about as I think too many Christians blame the poor for being poor and also that the wealthy "deserve" their money because they worked hard for it. Therefore the wealthy can do whatever they want to do with their money. That was what I got from her comment. My attempt was to educate not attack. I realize my sarcasm in the beginning could come across as jerky but I was really trying to not be so super serious. That's the problem with not hearing how someone says something. Anyway, my apologies for coming across as "one of those jerky Christians." I got nothing but love for Katie & everyone for that matter.

          • peba says

            You didn't come accross the least bit educational. Just so you know. I think that your own bias prevented you from seeing her point. she wasn't attacking poor people in the least. I think that she was trying to illustrate the short sightedness in a comments like the "two coats"one. There is a whole spectrum of needs in a world that needs to be reached for Christ. As a result I believe that God's plan included a whole spectrum of people and their economic situations to meet those needs. I think that she was trying to illustrate that the dude with two coats fits differently in that than a person who feels compelled to never have what they considerto be too much. Both of those people have the capacity to be odedient and disobedient. The problem in Church is that we get to thinking that everybody else's contribution has to look just exactly like my own or it is no good. Paul argues against that all over his writings. Oh and, Christ was "saying " something like that when he toosed the Temple. It's a heart thing, and we get caught up in what we can see.

          • Casey says

            I guess we can agree to disagree then b/c I think as long as 30,000 people die (from preventable diseases) today, tomorrow, yesterday, a week from now and everyday until we do something about it then I do not get to have nice luxurious things. Very few people agree with me on that and that's ok b/c it's very unpopular. I do not think that God called me (or anyone or Mr. 2 Coats in this scenario) to have a lot of stuff and then someone else to have a little less and then another person to have nothing. I may be misunderstanding what you are saying, so I apologize if I am. In my study in the Bible on this topic I keep understanding that our treasure is in heaven and not here on earth. I'm to sacrifice here to help others less fortunate. So, no I don't get to have "two coats" while someone else has none. That is what I think that original quote is about. This of course very hard to live by and keeps me in constant conviction. Do I really need that? Could the money I'm spending on ____ be sent to someone who needs it more? I suggest everyone to read: Radical by David Platt, Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, Hole in Our Gospel by Rich Stearns, Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn and of course take a good look at what the Bible has to say about "stuff" , money, and the needy. I do get what you are saying about not judging people and not looking at my neighbor and judging him b/c he's not giving as much as me. Yes, I totally agree with you there b/c judgement is reserved for God. However, I do think people can use that as a cop out that oh well God isn't calling me to give ___ away. I go to church in one of the wealthiest counties in the country, and people come in with their designer purses, shoes, fancy cars, and live in mansions when they just have 3 people living there and I struggle with not judging them. That is something I'm in constant prayer about b/c no I don't believe that is ever ok. Bottom line is any money that we spend on wants is money that could be spent on saving a life. It's that black & white to me. However, I'm so guilty of this which is also why I cannot judge. I have as much to learn about this as the next guy. So that's where I'm coming from. Again, I apologize for any misunderstanding

          • Jane says

            Well said. I think the point that Casey was trying to make is that Christ never said to set in motion the "invisible hand," he said to give to the needy. Mr. 2 coats does help the economy, and it trickles down to helping others (which is great!), but it's through an indirect way that serves himself first. I think Casey is saying that truly loving God and loving others as yourself (the two greatest commandments) means to start the factory and employ people, but don't let it stop you from also giving away the extra coat that isn't necessary to have. If owning a business means that you make enough of your own money to buy two coats, then it also means that you have enough to provide comfortably for yourself, as well as be generous to others.

            I personally think it's a wonderful idea, and what Christ had in mind, but extremely difficult to put into practice. Loving others seems so simple, but to truly die to yourself is the most selfless and difficult thing that you can do.

        • Natalie says

          Totally agree with you, Casey. I'm very tired of the argument that since Mr. Two Coats contributes to the economy, he should not be confronted or even questioned about the superfluous coat situation.

          I'm sure I have a bias as well (as we all do), but, as a downstate transplant living in the Chicago 'burbs, I have met WAY too many wealthy evangelical Christians with insane amounts of "superfluous coats" in the form of cars, mansions, clothes, spa days, etc who have their expenditures justified or at least never questioned, and I think it's one of the very worst things that is happening to the Church in America.

          I think it was Tony Campolo who said the a Christian should NEVER drive a BMW. Period.
          I remember thinking, when I first heard that as a student at a Bible college, I had never heard a preacher or a professor state something like that without watering it down or making it more digestible "so as not to offend," and it has stuck with me for years because of that. It simply cannot be justified.

          Just wanted you to know you're not alone in your sentiments. :)

          • says

            whether or not they have too much is an issue between them and God. who are you or i to judge what is too much? is there no sin in your life that you think you can cast a stone at mr. bmw?

            life is a lot less tormented when we learn to be grateful for what God has given us instead of focusing on what we lack compared to others. covetousness comes to mind…. there's a sin equally as hazardous as greed.

          • says

            It is not "covetous" to say that the rich man should give his money to help the poor. It would be "covetous" to say that the rich man should give his money to ME.

      • Ptg says

        I tend to think, as a liberal Christian, that marriage needs to be defended from the heterosexuals more first. Any gay marriage law ought to have an entire provision in it banning no-fault divorce or it’s utterly hypocritical as a “defense” of marriage. Now, i don’t want to get into a gay throwdown involving thread/fabric types in Leviticus…

      • says

        I don't want to make a blanket statement here: I speak only for myself, but I, as a progressive Christian, through a series of events unrelated to progressive politics came to realize that the generally accepted interpretation the Bible's passages generally used to tear down gay and lesbian people have been gravely and tragically misinterpreted by people looking for justification for their prejudice. As such, I believe in same-sex marriage (homosexual marriage is a loaded term, on par with "Obamacare" and other such buzzwords), for the same reason I believe in different-sex marriage: because marriage is about loving another person the way God loved the church, and that kind of love knows no gender

        • Lauren says

          I adore your allegory there. I find it hard to believe God would want us to judge others simply for loving someone. True, the issue is confusing, but at its very basic, it's all about love.

          • says

            Thank you, though I'm far from the first person to describe marriage that way (it's pretty much straight out of the Bible), many people fail to make the connection when it comes to same-sex love.

    • Talia says

      my soul dies a little every time i hear this show talked about…..and huge….and pretty little liars…..what are these soap operas doing on the family channel?

    • Amber says

      The woman behind that show is the same one who was responsible for 7th Heaven. I assumed she had already achieved her goal of producing awful television, but then she came back with a show that made me *wish* I was watching the Camden family take in yet another bratty teenager like a hoarder takes in another stray cat.

  4. says

    This is one of the hugest cross-pond divides there is.

    My British mind simply cannot fathom how someone can be a Christian and not think that everyone has the right to means-tested food, shelter, education and healthcare. Also, the death penalty baffles me. But, I don't think that someone who is unemployed should receive enough money to go clothes shopping and own a smartphone, nor do I think that having children should be financially incentivised as it seems to be in this country.

    To Americans, I am a crazed leftie. To Brits, I'm a hardnosed Conservative. The current international political climate suits me just fine, but only a few years ago, I was living in a very frustrating world.

    I read an interesting article in The Guardian last year about Catholics defecting to the Democrats because they started to acknowledge that anti-immigration policies weren't necessarily Christian in nature.

    • says

      And Christianity and politics works differently again in Australia. Here the 2 major parties are very much alike on a lot of issues. The political sentiment I'm getting from a lot of my Christian friends is not support for a party but frustration with both major parties.

      • says

        I agree. And we do have independents, but we have to know where their preferences are going, and who has a bigger chance of getting a seat and making a difference.

        Sometimes, though, I feel it is the lesser of two evils…..

    • Missy says

      I do think everyone has the right to food, shelter, education, and healthcare. As a conservative, I don't believe that means the government needs to control or provide these things. That is the difference, people think conservatives lack compassion. I don't, it's just I don't want my giving to be done by means of taxes!

      • says

        Missy – thanks for your reply. I'm just not sure who should, if not the government – they can do it in the most cost-effective, efficient and fair way.

        I saw an interview with some Conservatives in Dallas who (I am assuming – apologies if I am incorrect) agree with your sentiment that it oughtn't be through tax, but through charitable giving and volunteering. It seemed like a wonderful idea in theory, but in practice people just don't do enough, and the weight would rest upon the shoulders of the few, or those in need would lose out.

        I am very interested to hear how you would like things to work in an ideal situation – I'm grateful to be able to talk about this sort of thing with an American, as the majority of my online friends aren't people I'd bring up politics with.

        • Dubya P says

          Becca – I have to agree with Missy here. The people should be the ones directly responsible for taking care of the poor and widows. If we just send money to the government, are we really helping them out?

          Also – there is no way the government can provide these services in a cost effective or efficient way – too much bureaucracy and too many hands to go through. If we were to truly help those in need in a direct and personable manner, then 100% of the funds and efforts go to them, but if we even add one layer, then that percentage has to drop and the more layers we add the less efficient it gets, which is why the government can never fully take care of or support those that need the help.

          I think the biggest issue is apathy – it is much easier to claim we help by paying taxes or even tithing than it is to get involved at a personal level and until we do this, these problems will only magnify…

          P.S. – this is fun!

        • Joel says

          Who would? The Red Cross. The Church. You and me. Government cannot do anything more cost-effectively or efficiently than the private sector or individuals can. Post office anyone?

          As for the weight falling on a few, that seems to be one of the driving issues for liberals. There is an underlying assumption that I'm not spending my money on the wonderful things I should be (according to the liberal), so the government should take it from me and decide what those wonderful things are. Problem is nobody knows how I spend my money and the government decides wonderful things include abortion, endless welfare, and other garbage.

          There is no ideal situation, because any scenario carries with it the potential that fallen humans will act like… well… fallen humans. My ideal scenario is one where i keep as much of my hard-earned money as possible so that I can give more to the charities and ministries that are doing the very things you describe.

          I may come across as strident (I tend to write very directly), but please do not read any antagonism in this. You are a sister in Christ and His kingdom supercedes any of our earthly political quibbles.

          • says

            If government cannot do anything better than the private sector, then why don't you privatize the police, fire department, and military?

          • @dnealphillips says

            Many companies are just that, Michael. There are several communities and companies that have privatized police(Naratoone in Boston and ALL security guards in SC) and fire protection (Elk Grove, IL).

            Military – AirScan, DynCorp, MVM, Northbridge, XE, Pathfinder…a few of the many PMCs (Private Military Companies) in the US alone. Many of them are under US Gov. contracts.

          • Dubya P says

            I don't know that I understand your comment. These are private companies who are paid by the government, therefore it's being privatized. This is no different than my company (engineering) where we do work for the local governments. The government either doesn't have the knowledge or ability so they hire private companies to perform these services for them…

          • Bridge says

            The difference is who is manageing the work being done. There is a different mindset when the government manages it vs. private sector.

          • JFK says

            They charge that price because the government will pay it. Heck, the government employees who make those buying decisions, it isn't their money, they aren't concerned with stewarding it well.

          • says

            So do you feel we should get rid of the military then, on account of the fact that it's wasteful? If we're going to apply that logic to welfare, we should be consistent and apply it to the military.

          • says

            if you look at the intentions of our founding fathers, the military was put in place as a defense for the country. the government was meant to help facilitate the defense of our country.
            it's when we start to get into the area of entangling alliances that i believe the government needs to step back as far as military.

          • says

            Your founding fathers? The racist slave-owners who hypocritically spoke of liberty? Please.

            Americans are brainwashed to think of those men as gods. The rest of us have no such illusions.

          • says

            Yes, I mock someone who drives around in that van. It's quite frankly an extremely disturbing image to see someone combining nationalism, militarism, and religion like that.

          • Otter says

            Hmmm, very noice bilding you got here, chum. Be a shame if somthin were to, say, light on fire…

          • Andrea says

            Leave the post office alone. :(

            Yes… the government is generally not as efficient as the private sector, but they pick up people who fall through the cracks of christian charity. We christians love soup kitchens and homeless shelters and foreign missions. But what about the woman with three children who just got laid off? Chances are, if she doesn't go to our church, we don't know about her and can't help.

            Charities focus on helping people who are really struggling, but there are very few that help BEFORE a person hits rock-bottom. Thoughts?

        • Lisa says

          I think families are broken & government is trying to fill the void. I think the backup plan was for churches to do it. I blame us.

          The Bible speaks of the poor AND oppressed. The government/financial giving cannot fully free people from spiritual oppression, but Jesus can! Money can go a long way but some problems can't be resolved by writing a check.

          Also,cost-effective and efficient are not words that come to my mind when describing government! lol

        • peba says

          The falacy in your logic is that with our taxation policies it is still a realtive few who end up paying the taxes. Look at the statistics. Almost half of the potential tax paying public actually end up not paying any federal imcome tax. The vast majority of the dollars come from the smallest percentage. We are supposed to think that is ok as long as it is from those nasty rich people who can "afford it". Is it really ok for them to be forced to fund someome else's convictions?

          • says

            if anybody can explain this to me, i'd really appreciate it… i've never understood the term "fair share" when it comes to making the rich pay so much more than everyone else.
            wouldn't it be more fair to tax everybody the same percentage? the rich would still pay more, but they wouldn't have to carry the majority of the burden either.

            so… i'm a little confused.

          • says

            It's easier for rich people to make money than it is for poor people to make money. It would be absurd to tax both rich and poor at the same rate.

            If you reduce the tax rate penalty for wealth, then the inevitable result is that the rich gain an increasingly larger share of the nation's wealth. We've seen that in the last 30 years. In the 1970s, the top 1% of Americans held 8 to 9% of the nation's wealth. Today, after reducing the wealth tax penalty, the top 1% hold almost 24% of the nation's wealth.

            The reason for this is simple: rich people have built-in advantages. While a poor person must desperately work 60 hours a week just to barely pay bills, the rich man can play golf while his money works for him.

            I made a bunch of money on bank stocks over the past year. Did I work hard for that money? Did I earn it? Nope, I had a bunch of money I put into bank stocks, and it made money for me. For the very rich, it's the same, times a hundred.

            Higher tax rates for the rich are justified by the adage: "easy come, easy go".

      • says

        Oh yes, the "I believe in helping the poor, just don't make it mandatory" argument.

        That's what conservatives always say; they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want their low low taxes, yet they want to be able to claim they're compassionate. Well it's a bald-faced lie, quite frankly. Americans had 50 years to show that their approach to health-care worked just as well as the Canadian and European approach. 50 years, and in that 50 years, what did we see? Did private charity step up to bring health coverage to the millions of uninsured? Did churches step in to fill the gap? No.

        America's infant mortality rate is on par with the rest of the developed world IN ITS AFFLUENT COMMUNITIES, but it approaches that of third-world countries in its poor communities. This is a country which has shamelessly left its poor behind to die, all in the name of low taxes and "conservative" economics.

        • Josh says

          Wow Michael, just wow. That's what you think? Sometimes, liberals scare me – i think they are the things that go bump in the night or live in my dark closet.

          Seriously, though – Every single person in this county has access to health care. Every doctor and hospital is duty-bound and law-bound to accept any patient, regardless of their ability to pay. Now, not everyone has healthcare insurance, which is a totally different thing. But nonetheless, no one is going to walk into an ER with a gunshot wound, or dying of malaria and be turned away to die in the streets. Those are the lies that the liberal left would have us believe.

          • says

            That's not health care. That's just emergency care. What about preventive health care? What about doctor visits, checkups, etc? All the things that make people healthy, not just stave off death at the 11th hour?

            Claiming that ER access (which they bill you for afterwards, by the way, even if it drives you into bankruptcy) is the same thing as "access to health care" is an incredible lie.

          • Vy Tran says

            I agree that all people should have access to and a means to pay for preventive care, but there are other issues (besides money) that affect this issue as well.

            1) Very few medical students want to go into primary care. The doctors are overworked and underpaid. I spent some time out in a kinda-rural area in British Columbia, and I had a hell of a time trying to find a doctor that would see me out there for something as simple as a skin problem I was having.

            2) Because there aren't enough primary care doctors, giving EVERYONE "access" to primary care wouldn't do much to help the situation since not everyone is going to be able to see a primary care doctor anyway.

            3) No one's quite figured out how to make primary care more attractive to medical students yet. I get the feeling specialists aren't going to put up with getting a reduction in their reimbursements for the sake of helping out the primary care docs. No voluntarily, at least.

            4) Even the countries with socialized healthcare are fighting the battle of rising healthcare costs. They're getting to be less and less manageable by the year, and that's a problem regardless of where you are. Do you keep raising taxes, ration more, and/or cut back on benefits?

            Just a few thoughts from someone who plans on being very involved in the healthcare industry in the future.

          • says

            I'd say a lot of the solution comes from the re-alignment we're already seeing in the primary health care field here in the U.S.: Physicians are primarily becoming specialists, partly for the pay, and partly because Medicine is becoming so complicated that being a generalist is quite difficult – there's just too much to know.

            The role of Primary Care Provider is falling to Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants – even Registered Nurses in some cases (E.g. a simple cold or sprained ankle). That's not a bad thing: studies have shown that people often get better care from NPs than Physicians, and you can train a person in Nursing (even Advanced Practice Nursing, like NPs) for far less, and far quicker, than you can a Physician.

          • KatR says

            Oh, this comment makes me so angry.

            I have ulcerative colitis. Its an inflammation of the colon that causes bleeding and intense pain. Right now the only thing that keeps me in remission is a medication that I get infused every two months that costs FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS a treatment. If I didn't have health insurance, do you really think I could just waltz into an ER and have them give me it for free?

            I mean, yes, when the anemia and dehydration got to the point where it threatened my life, an ER would give me the care I needed to keep me alive (and charge me an arm and a leg for it).

            No one should have to choose between health and being impoverished.

          • says

            "No one should have to choose between health and being impoverished" – EXACTLY. Under the American right-wing health care "system", their motto is "your money or your life".

          • Dubya P says

            KatR – honest question – how will your situation change under the new healthcare bill? Also – would your situation be any different in Canada or Europe? I don't know the answer, but am curious to see what these bills do to real people…

          • says

            I'm glad to see someone expressing curiosity about the issue.

            I live in Canada. I took my kids to the doctor to get a physical this week. I paid nothing. I had to have a hernia surgery a few years ago; that also cost nothing, and it was done at the world-renowned Shouldice Clinic. My father-in-law has had multiple back surgeries, and they cost nothing. Hip replacements: same thing.

            Medications are not free unless you're elderly or on welfare, but the government has price controls on them, so the pharma companies can't gouge the middle class the way they do in the US. You can get insurance to cover medications, and it will cost a lot less than comprehensive insurance in the US because it doesn't have to cover anything else (and the cost of the drugs themselves is lower due to the price controls).

          • Jon says

            To be fair… I also live in Canada and it didn't cost "nothing". Healthcare is paid for by taxes, taxes come from the people (like you) and flow out to the people providing healthcare. So in essence it did cost you something, it just wasn't up front at the doctor's office. Also, I had a co-worker who was VERY sick and he had to go to the emergency room 3 times before they would admit him, each time he went he waited approximately 8 hours to be seen by a doctor. This is simply because there aren't enough because the government doesn't pay enough to doctors.

            There was also a recent news story about a woman who needed surgery on her ankle but couldn't get it because every doctor in the Edmonton area was booked for SIX MONTHS!!! She couldn't afford to go to Calgary or someplace like that so she was just left suffering.

            Please, please, please don't pretend that the Canadian healthcare system has no problems and is the shining light of the world. I agree, there are some cool things about it, but there are many, many problems as well.

          • Kira says

            I'm glad you brought in this balanced view. Having lived in Canada and Europe and the US I see definite pros and cons in each system.

          • JLynn says

            I have a close friend who also lives in Canada. He is in need of a total knee replacement, but he can't get it through their 'health system' because they say he is too young. He must wait 15 years.

          • Bridge says

            Michael, you're wrong. You didn't pay a copay at the time of service, but you pay for that healthcare in taxes. And the only way those new drugs come into being is because of the high prices other countries (USA) pay for the research.

            Perhaps capping the cost on everything would not hinder the new drugs we seem to need to keep up with the continual degrading of the human condition as we face super bugs and AIDS and other such epidemics. It would be wonderful if people were motivated by more altuistic reasons, but often this is not the case.

          • says

            Of COURSE I pay for that health care in taxes; do you honestly think I don't know that? I just spent numerous posts explaining that I accept the need to pay taxes for these things!

            This is exactly what's annoying about defending liberalism: people talk to you as if you're a child.

          • Talia says

            to lend a little balance to this attack, michael, i appreciate your eagerness to inform. politics are complicated and i haven't spent much effort on researching this stuff myself. maybe it's lazy of me, but it's nice when someone can break things down into real world applications like you have here. doesn't mean i have to agree, but it's nice to hear facts stated and not opinions. thank you. :-)

          • Jessi says

            Good grief, how can you actually say that "every single person in this country has access to health care?!" That is really naive. I was without health insurance for two years. I got a light case of bronquitis. Bronquitis. I get it like every year, and it's easily treated with 10 days of ammoxicillin. However, with no health insurance I couldn't go to the doctor (because I couldn't afford it) and therefore couldn't get the medicine needed to cure the bonquitis. (And I COULD have paid for the ammoxicillin, it was like $30 for the whole treatment, but I had no access to it since it's perscription). Thankfully, after a week of getting worse and worse, a family member paid for me to go to a clinic.
            PLEASE don't assume that everyone in the USA has access to health care just because you are blessed with (I assume) a job that provides that benefit. Look around you – there are people who haven't been in for a check-up or a denal visit in years, much less getting treated for potentially life-threatening diseases…

          • ryan says

            I really don't know where you're from, but I don't see how you don't have access to Healthcare OR Insurance. My job tried to gouge us with a so called "Insurance Plan" that cost over $900. Considering my gross income was only 41,000/yr, we obviously couldn't afford. We searched around for a healthcare plan and found one for my wife, daughter-2yr old, and myself for $325 a month. It wasn't the best insurance out there, but it was what we could afford AND provided for preventitive treatments/check ups. Also, before we found a suitable plan, we went to a free clinic put on by a group of local churches that provided care when needed. We live in Texas but I have heard similar stories to ours. Have you shopped around for private plans?

          • says

            If any of you had gotten seriously ill, thus requiring very costly care, your insurance would have let you down. Your co-pays would have killed you, and your insurance provider would have found an excuse to drop you eventually.

            Medical expenses are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US. Does that not bother you?

        • Anna says

          So, as someone who just chose to have a super hippie midwife birth in a birth center, not the hospital, I thought that the reason that we had a high infant mortality rate because of too much intervention, not too little care. Isn't the fact that the infant mortality rate is so high in America's affluent communities proof that it has nothing to do with being able to afford healthcare?

          By the way, part of the reason that I even looked into my options so much is because I don't have maternity insurance. Being honest, if I had, I probably would have gone for a "normal" hospital birth without thinking about it, hoping to go natural, but when I was in the thick of it, if a nurse had asked if I wanted drugs, I would have said YES! (costing more money). Not having the illusion that someone else was paying for it made me look into my options more, which I'm convinced that I chose the absolute best option which actually cost thousands less.This is part of what makes me think having gov't run healthcare is a bad idea.

          Personally, I don't think health insurance as it is run now is a good idea either. I'm not sure what the best idea is, but I do wish people could have a dialog about it instead of acting like there's only two sides of "Support universal healthcare or else you're heartless" or "Healthcare needs to be private or else you're a communist."

          • darooda says

            As someone associated with pediatrics and government healthcare, the infant mortality rate isn't higher because of lack of access. It's lifestyle and appathy. The services are availible, I have openings next week. However, we are daily reminded ot the consequences of substance abuse, busyness, or flat out not caring about the unborn child. We can provide the services, but we can't make the people come or treat their bodies well. As I weekly see children die, the causes aren't lack of access or expense and they are preventable within the current system.

            I'm not attacking you, but your assumptions related to causation are incorrect. I don't want this site to be about arguements so I will not respond to the rest, because it quickly becomes opinion and you nor I are open to concensus on these points.

            I'm working very hard to not be offended by the implications that not agreeing with you makes me heartless or condecending. I live in the system, I know it's flaws, I know it needs fixed, I don't agree with the methods you support, but you can't live my life and be heartless.

        • Casey says

          there actually are a few Christian "insurance" options out there. Shane Claiborne uses one & I cannot for the life of me think of the name. Basically you pay what you can afford every month, and when something medical comes up, your bills are covered. However, it does not cover prescriptions which i totally get is a huge deal. i absolutely agree there needs to be healthcare reform. i'm not sure it's been handled the right way. one problem people ignore when wanting everyone to have access to healthcare is that there simply aren't enough doctors for everyone to have healthcare. most people going through medical school are going into specialist fields & not general practice. this is a huge issue. i think part of healthcare reform should involve offering incentives to medical students to become GPs. that's my 2 cents.

      • JFK says

        Word, Missy. More conservative Christians aren't opposed to everyone having adequate shelter, food, or health care. But it should be the choice of each individual to give, then will it be a worshipful act. God gave us the choice to either love Him or not so that our love means something. Same goes for our giving. If we choose to give, it means something…so don't tax us for these things. (Some gov't programs along these lines are good, some are wasteful and superfluous)

        As for the original post, I personally don't care for the term "progressive." While some use "liberal" as a derrogatory term, I prefer to see it as a classification generally opposite to conservative. Progressive carries with it other connotations and inferences I like even less than liberal. But this is coming from a conservative, so I guess it doesn't matter much what I think about these labels.

        • says

          So you don't believe in charity unless it's a "worshipful act"? That's pretty sad. It means you don't want to help others unless you can glorify God (or yourself) in the process.

          I want to help the poor because I feel sympathy for their plight. You only want to help the poor if it makes you look "worshipful". Which one of us really cares more, hmm?

          It's pretty sad when the atheist has to lecture the Christian on what it means to love thy neighbour.

          • JFK says

            When I give, I give in ways that I hope glorify God. Helping and serving others WILL glorify God (it's what we're called to do, see Matthew 25 i think), so your comment that I "don't want to help unless it glorifies God" is null. These kinds of acts give glory to God and bring joy to us. The times I feel the most joy about what I've done for others is when I do something anonymously, then it isn't about me. That may sound strange but it is so true.

            I too feel for the poor, and I help them in ways the Holy Spirit puts on my heart. If I start helping others for reasons other than worshiping God by serving others, then it becomes about me and what I'm doing, not what God is doing through me.

            I appreciate your reply…it helped me think about my motives for helping and serving others, and where I probably need some work. Thanks!

          • says

            Michael. may I say that the tone of your posts makes me think you are one of the most hateful people I have run across in recent memory. I imagine you wouldn't talk to people in person the way you're talking to them here.
            For the record, if one doesn't believe the govt should be the way to take care of the poor or the sick, that's not a 'bald-faced lie"–it's a difference of opinion. I respect your right to an opinion without calling you names. Please do the same. Thanks.

          • says

            How am I "hateful"? I hate certain OPINIONS, but not people. I'm not one of the people who wants to withhold assistance from the poor, or the weak, or deport families, or do any of those other things to human beings.

          • Bridge says

            Perhaps hateful is the wrong word. Angry may be more appropriate. The assumption that the collective "we" don't give or care because we disagree with the government controlling things is inacurate. I can argue just as stridently from another point of view that we are trading our freedoms for comfort and that this is a slipery slope we will not easily (if ever) recover from. "The Government" is not some benevolent being, but a money hungry, power weilding beast who is constantly striving for more of the same. While there are a few "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington's" in the group, they are quickly infected with the idea that compromise is the only way to stay in order to do any good which quickly snowballs to a point where they are caught up in "the machine" and rendered useless. It's not a conspiracy, there are no secrets, it's all being done right in front of us and we do nothing about it.

          • Bridge says

            That is why I do not trust the government to run anything. Because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

            OK, maybe I'm a little angry too.

            I can't imagine why Jon doesn't do more political posts…

          • says

            I'm angry because I think most conservatives are lying about their true motivations. I believe their true motivations are simple selfishness. I believe they want their own personal taxes lowered so they can buy more things for themselves and enjoy a better lifestyle, and they make up moral-sounding arguments to justify this without looking selfish.

            I believe this because I used to be a conservative myself, and I made all of those arguments myself, for that very reason. Sure, I believed that these arguments were quite valid at the time, and it was just "convenient" that they happened to coincide with my self-interest.

            I voted Conservative all throughout the 1990s. We had an economic boom. We lowered taxes. And what did people do? Did they take the extra money and give it all to the poor? Of course not; they bought bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger television sets, fancier vacations, nicer clothes.

          • eastern ky pastor says

            Michael, I agree that there is a lot of selfishness, but it is hardly a conservative problem. It's a human problem. Both liberal and conservative politicians use some sense of morality to further their political ambitions. That's life. Politicians manipulate people by using those things that we're the most passionate about.

            As for the 90's. Although folks did spend a great deal on themselves, it was also a decade of some of the highest giving to not-for-profits.

          • says

            I never said it was exclusively a conservative problem to keep most of the money from tax cuts and give just a little bit of it to charity. I do that myself. It's human nature.

            What I said was that conservatives are wrong when they say that private charity would replace tax-supported social programs if given the chance. There is ZERO evidence to support that.

            If you cut $1 in taxes, you'd be lucky to get a few cents of that going to private charity. The rest would go to bigger houses, bigger cars, etc. That's exactly what we saw in the last couple of decades, as taxes were cut and the gap between rich and poor sharply increased.

            Have you ever seen personal finance books which tell you to adopt a "forced savings program" which takes money out of your bank account before you can spend it on frivolities? That works because of the very same facet of human nature that we're talking about here. Yes, taxpayer-supported social programs are forced charity. But just like forced saving, it works better, because of human nature.

          • Dubya P says

            The problem is that in either scenario only pennies are going to help the poor – whether we keep the majority of the dollar or whether the government wastes the majority of the dollar. In that instance, I'd much rather have the remainder of my dollar just in case I'm feeling frisky and want to donate…

          • says

            The actual facts on the ground say otherwise. When governments have strong social programs, the poor fare much better than when governments cut taxes leave it to charity. It does NOT work out the same either way in practice.

          • says

            First: you should not judge anyone else's motives, because you do not know their story. This is something I struggle with and am learning to be better at.

            Second, and most important: Political conservatives and religious people give more money percentage-wise than liberals/progressives and non-religious people. That is shown in every research study about charitable giving. Religious people even give more to secular charities than secular people do, and rich people give more of their income percentage-wise than the middle class does! Some links:
            1) http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/
            2) http://www.mint.com/blog/trends/charity-who-cares

            Third: Health insurance is not as expensive as you think. I know this because when my husband and I were first married, we both worked for a non-profit, which paid us very little. We were just under our state's poverty line… but we bought our own health insurance. But we were government-designated as poor! Liberals say there's no way we should've been able to have health insurance! But we did, and it was a decent plan, too. So how did we afford it? We made it a priority. We didn't have cell phones (landlines are cheaper), internet (free at the library), or cable (DVD rentals are also free at the library). We never ate out unless someone had given us a gift card, we never went shopping even at thrift stores unless we needed something, and we never drank or smoked. We lived in a tiny apartment and drove an old car. We got groceries from Walmart and used coupons. We drank mostly water. And our life didn't suck. In fact, it was a very contented life "despite" not having those things. But we had good health insurance because we had our priorities straight, even though we were officially poor. Anyone else could do that if they really wanted to.

          • says

            You're misinterpreting that study. It defines "religious" people as people who go to church "every week or more", and "secular" people as people who go less than once a week (read it for yourself). Think about this: most of the "secular" people according to this definition are probably still religious; they just don't go to church every single week.

            The study doesn't really compare believers and nonbelievers; it compares keeners and slackers. Of COURSE the keeners are likely to give more. That's part of what it means to be a keener.

            It's phrased in such a manner as to be very convenient for people who claim that secularists are proven to be less generous (I have to wonder if that was slyly intentional), but that's not what it actually means.

          • Ryan says

            Your first argument puts an even greater emphasis on the comparison between "Religious" givers and secular. By what you posted, it seem that the study used such a loose definition of secular that in actuality some of the secular givers should in fact be religious givers. This creates an even larger chasm between the amount religious people give and secular gives.

          • says

            To say that your argument incorporates unwarranted assumptions would be rather generous. It is more like propaganda. You are assuming that the atheists give less than religious people even though you lack any data to support this claim. Atheists, after all, constitute only a tiny fraction of the population: less than 5% in most estimates. They would not significantly influence the results either way.

          • Ryan says

            The blog post is merely showing the statistics found by reputable organizations, not the bloggers on personal opinions. The bottom of the post states it's resources (read it for yourself). Also, a lot of your posts seem to be more judgemental than any other post on here considering you are saying that it's your belief that ALL Christians are giving more out of selfishness than out of love. That really sounds like you are judging Christians, not the other way around

          • Tyler says

            Btw, nothing wrong with anger – if it's righteous. Jesus got angry.

            Carry on ….

            *goes back to eating popcorn and watching*

          • Talia says

            probably michael is just frustrated at so many people arguing with him in an aggressive manner. he's just talking….like all of us are….i don't think he's sounded hateful at all. jeez, give him some room to breathe.

          • says

            I stand by my statement about his tone being hateful. I don't see where you see the "aggressive" talk, though. By the way, that's not a slap at him. I feel bad for the guy. He sounds sad and bitter, like he has a chip on his shoulder, honesty.

          • says

            I'm actually a pretty happy guy. I have a six-figure salary, plenty of money in the bank, no debt, two kids, a beautiful wife, a cute dog, good health, etc.

            My anger comes not from bitterness, but from the genuine belief that real human beings are suffering because of a disturbed ideology of naked self-interest cloaked as morality, which sells tax cuts as the ultimate moral good and treats social programs as a kind of evil. It comes from the belief that people are making arguments which just happen to coincide with their material self-interest, and trying to pass them off as morality.

            And partially, it comes from a certain amount of shame that I used to be one of those people.

          • says

            Love the judgement, folks. I can just feel the love. Go ahead, tell yourselves how right you are and how wrong I am, and what a bad person I obviously am. I know you want to. It makes you feel better about yourselves, doesn't it?

          • Sure says

            I suppose you should remove the plank in your eye!

            "I'm angry because I think most conservatives are lying about their true motivations. I believe their true motivations are simple selfishness."

          • says

            Yes, I said that. What does that have to do with peoples' eagerness to attack me personally? Conservative "ethics" just happen to coincide with their perceived financial self-interest. I just personally have less faith in coincidences than you. That doesn't mean I've been accusing any individual person here of being evil, or immoral, or being a bad husband or father, as some people are slyly trying to do me. They're going far beyond anything I said, and it's pretty clear what they are insinuating.

          • Randar "that guy" says

            I hate to be "that guy" and turn all spiritual but… I believe that, in view of God's holiness we are all wrong, that includes myself and you Mr. Wong. You would agree that the human nature is not inclined to give, you are right in saying that core motivations can often be selfish. But you and i both fall into that category more often then we admit. Even in the good we do we still fall short. "No one is good, even one" because we all sin, and "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" How does this relate to this post? Well in our discussion about which is right or wrong, the only right and true thing is (objectively and historically) the gospel. Because of our sinful nature we are separated from God and deserve his wrath and punishment. But because God's infinite love for us supplants his righteous wrath, he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, in our place, bearing our punishment. He then rose again 3 days later, defeating death and sin, proving that he is God. And if we call on him and place our trust in him, and turn from a self-directed life, and have faith that Jesus is the answer, the solution, our loving savior, we will be saved. How does this relate to this discussion? The gospel is the meta-narrative of EVERY aspect of our lives, including gov't and health care… I love that you Mr. Wong were intrigued enough to discuss this topic with a community of believers!! I WONDER IF THIS EXTENDED DIALOG IS A WAY IN WHICH GOD IS ACTIVELY PURSUING YOU, SO THAT YOU MAY COME TO KNOW HIM INTIMATELY!!! Love ya bro, thank you for the many valid points you brought up and i enjoy listening (or reading rather) to your comments!

          • Bill says

            You need to read Atlas Shrugged… and again you are in a country that follows your socialist beliefs, not in America. WE will take the country back in 2010 and remove this socialist in power in 2012. Back to capitalism for me.

          • Samford Mom says

            Talia, all of the responses to Michael have been oozing with grace and humility. They have even thanked him for making us give more thought to our motives.

          • Tib says

            I think people mistake being passionate for anger…. Or hate, I suppose. Great discussion. Thanks!

        • fellow canuck says

          But the people who give the most are the people with the least. The wealthy (and that includes the middle class) give a very small percentage of their funds to charity. The highest percentage of giving in America comes from the bottom 10% income levels. I really don't think that decentralizing is the answer, as someone pointed out, where are the Christian hospitals giving afordable preventative health care to those in need?
          My sister in law has a friend in America whose 1 year old baby got a lung viral infection, she HAS health care, but they refused to pay as the baby had a pre-existing condition….namely jaundice at birth. That's RIDICULOUS. Most babies have juandice at birth and it has NOTHING to do with the infection. But now she is stuck with a 40,000 dollar hospital bill for the week and half of care her baby needed. How is that right? How is that a better system?

    • Kim says

      Wow. From reading this whooooole thread, I really gained some insight on why political liberals and conservatives have a tough time talking to each other. It seems that the conversation inevitably deteriorates when one side believes that the other side has insidious motives. When liberals assume that all conservatives are selfish and don't want to spend their own money, or conservatives assume all liberals are selfish b/c they want to spend other people's money, the debate simply breaks down. To me, impugning motives is an arrogant ("I know you better than you know you"), and ultimately ineffective way to debate. After all, how many people are going to say, "You know? You're right–I AM selfish. I'm going to stop being selfish now." When we impugn the motives of those who disagree with us (or when we are overly defensive and ASSUME our motives are being impugned), we are more likely to set off a volley of ad hominem attacks ("Well, you are hateful and angry." "Quit acting like I'm stupid." Etc).

      In order to effectively debate, we have got to have a measure of faith in our adversary's character, and we have to have the humility to recognize that their are many, many Christians who genuinely care about the poor, and that those Christians live on both sides of the political defense. If we can't do that, there is no point in talking. It just degenerates into a rant.

      Okay, end pep talk:).

    • Kim says

      It has nothing to do with one side thinking people deserve to eat and health care and somewhere to live and the other side doesn't think so. anyone who puts it that way is framing the argument to make someone else look bad, not being honest. People just differ greatly on agreeing how this is best accomplished.

    • says

      It's not a question of whether conservatives think people should be able to have enough to eat and be taken care of… Liberals seem to assume that when a conservative is against the government doing something they're against it being done at all.

      Of course it's inconceivable for a Christian not to want to care for the poor, conservatives just think the church and family should be doing it, not the government.

  5. says

    I'm somewhat more conservative than liberal, although I certainly listen to NPR (except Ira Glass, his voice is like a freshman at a college radio station) and am sick of the culture war politics and right-wing talk radio is only rivaled in annoyingness by Sojo ;)

    Still, here's a few things I noticed Liberal Evangelicals like (and I like some of these too, I'll happily admit).

    - Saying "God is not a Republican," conceding to add "nor a Democrat" if pushed.
    - Begrudgingly admitting that Bush did a stellar job with his AIDS initiatives in Africa.
    - Jim Wallis
    - Watching Fox News, Complaining about Fox News
    - Derek Webb
    - Social Justice, endlessly arguing about exactly what "Social Justice" is.
    - Begrudgingly admitting that Rick Warren's got a good sense of missions and social justice
    - Thinking about being Catholic up until the point they talk about celibacy and birth control.
    - Billy Graham (because he's a Democrat, and he seems to like all the Presidents equally)
    - Portraying Mormon Glen Beck, Catholic Sean Hannity, and lapsed mainliner Rush Limbaugh as representatives of conservative Evangelicalism.
    - Bono
    - Francis Collins (me, too — he rocks! Yay for Obama for nominating him.)

  6. says

    Of course, the term "progressive" has become more-demonized than "liberal" now, thanks to a certain talk show host who cries on demand.

    • says

      And don't forget about how that same crying pundit has managed to drag "social justice" through the mud.
      Another thing progressive Christians like, and other Christians should.

  7. paul says

    I'm one who has never really understood why those who self identify as conservative in theology are also the ones most likely to vehemently oppose ideas that come straight out of the Bible. Ideas like compassion and forgiveness. Ideas like the fact that it is our responsibility to take care of widows, the elderly and the poor. Ideas like feeding the hungry and clothing naked. I can't say I'm all that liberal or even progressive. But let's be honest. Those ideas are neither liberal nor progressive. They are commands from God.

    • Kerry says

      call me cynical, but i just can't be convinced that any politician does anything out of compassion and forgiveness……and if the church was doing these things, as it should, we wouldn't have to argue politics quite so much!

      • paul says

        I agree. I didn't mean to imply that these things should necessarily be done by government. I rarely see much support for such initiatives in church or anywhere else. Generally speaking, we set aside a very small portion of our resources for this type of work. Now if you want to build a new sanctuary, on the other hand, we can get a capital campaign up and running in no time.

    • says

      I'm very conservative – which it seems few on here are wiling to admit – and I think you are mistaken when you say we oppose the ideas of compassion and forgiveness (which I don't see how you can say we oppose forgiveness, so let's just stick with compassion). We oppose the ideas of forced compassion – is that even really compassion? I do believe it is my moral obligation and responsibility to follow Jesus' lead when it comes to the poor, the hungry, the downtrodden, but I also believe it is my moral obligation not to force others to fulfill that role. If you're saying that the government is passing entitlement legislation after entitlement legislation because they are "being Christian" then I have to say that you are being fooled. I agree with Kerry on this point. Politicians (on both sides of the aisle) do these things to secure votes for the most part.

      How can forcibly removing private property (read tax dollars) from one citizen to give that property to another citizen be seen as anything other than outright robbery? That is not moral to me.

      I agree that we must lift our struggling neighbors up, but it is not the federal government's job to do this. It is ours. As government continues to wrench compassion from our hands in order to create a dependent class, we lose more and more of our concern for the poor because, like them, we believe that government will take care of them.

      • says

        Just wondering Tyt, how do you feel about the government of our country forcibly removing property (tax dollars) to kill thousands of innocent civilians in a country half a world away?

        To put it statistically, over $600 billion will be spent on defense in the U.S. Budget in 2010. That's a lot of "personal property" being spent on something neither I nor the majority of tax-payers agreed to.

        There's no better way to wrench compassion away than to kill someone. Just food for thought.

        • says

          Except that War and Defense of our nation is part of the Constitution. Now Abortion isn't but liberal Christians don't seem to raise as big a stink about the MILLIONS of people killed every day that way, as much as the tend to "apologize" for it. "Oh, well, I know that's not good, we're going to work on trying to get that change. Not every thing's perfect…" But you'll scream and shout and hold picket signs because our volunteer military is fighting terrorism that came to our shores!!! Because you somehow think that will never happen again if we just bow down to them enough times. Yes, enemy-combatant states LOVED when we bow down to them, that's exactly the kind of behavior they respect. Are Liberal Christians mostly Catholic? Because you sure are doing away with a LOT of the Old Testament where God holds a nation responsible for protecting its people.

        • says

          That kind of came out of nowhere – but, okay. First you insinuate that the goal of defense dollars is to kill innocent civilians. I would disagree there so that makes the rest of your comment kind of N/A. I believe that supporting a national defense is a necessary expenditure. I feel the wars we are currently fighting are wasteful and inefficient, but I also know that the current state of that region of the world is very dangerous to America and our allies. I don't claim to know the solution, but no I don't view the expenditures the same way.

      • paul says

        Perhaps you might like to re-read my first response. I'm not talking about the government being compassionate nor did I ever mention taxes. I'm saying that inside our congregations there seems to be very little room in our budgets for the sort of work that lifts up others. The idea I was trying to get at is that, in my experience to date, the most conservative theologically tend to also be the most legalistic and self-serving.

        • says

          Paul – I do apologize. It seems as though I've hijacked your post by mistakenly connecting your conservative comment to the political rather than the theological realm.

          I'm probably not considered conservative in my theology only in other areas of my life, so the church I attend devotes a very large amount of the budget to serving the community needs. That is one of the things I love most about it. If conservative Christianity is self-serving, I'd question whether it is Christianity really. I don't believe that such a thing can truly exist.

          Once again – my apologies.

      • Jessica says

        Your use of the word "entitlement" intrigues me. Mainly because while you use it to disparage legislation intended to provide support to the vulnerable, I'm beginning to think a sense of entitlement is attached to many of those who so vehemently oppose "their" tax dollars going towards anyone's good but their own. As in, you're entitled to keep all your money and not pay taxes because you deserve whatever wealth you own (and maybe the poor deserve to be poor?). This may be a troubling side-effect of the myth of the American Dream and what seems to me to be a cult of self-reliance. If this is not the case with you, I do apologise if I'm causing offense. Unfortunately, I suspect that it has become part of American culture, and that many people feel this sense of entitlement without giving it much thought.

        Also, once again I feel compelled to point out that compassion is not the exclusive domain of the Church or even the individual. We're allowed as a society to decide how (or if) we want to take care of each other, and if that includes freely elected legislators using taxing dollars towards those means, then so be it. You can be unwilling, and you can disagree with the methods or philosophy behind it, but it's hardly robbery, and it shouldn't lessen your individual capacity for compassion.

        • says

          You do make a good point Jessica in that we do live in a society where we can change our laws or institute new laws to "take care of each other." The problem with that type of system is that someone has to pay for the care.

          Alexis de Tocqueville said it best:

          "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. "

          You see it as compassion. I see it as bribery. What is the bribe for? Votes.

          And it seems to me that we have already seen that day – unending unemployment benefits, unending welfare, tax dollars given to you for having children, medicare, social security, free health care on its way…all designed to have the public turn to Congress for their provision rather than to God or to the church for charity or to their God-given abilities. As the number of people who rely on our government grows, the number of people who pay for their reliance shrinks until one day there is no one left to pay. Then what?

          And it's happening already. Just look at the statistics of the shrinking middle class as they move to wealth in a few cases or to poverty in most cases – some say that can only be corrected by government intervention. I say government intervention causes it.

          And yes, I do deserve to keep every single dollar I've worked hard for and so does everyone in this country – whether you've earned $10 or $10 million. Now that may not seem very Christian, but who's to say that everyone in this country is Christian and therefore must abide by Christian calls to charity? Do people deserve to be poor? Sometimes. Bad decisions have consequences just the same as good decisions. Does that mean we aren't supposed to help those who've made bad decisions? Of course not! But that falls on each individual man. Not at the feet of our government. To me that's lazy and dangerous – "just let government take care of them, so I don't have to actually go to a rough neighborhood or be around someone who makes me feel uncomfortable." All the while, Congress is slowly becoming god to our downtrodden.

          And to your final point – of course it lessens my individual capacity for compassion. We live in a society that runs on money. So I can show compassion by either giving of my time or giving of my possessions (read money). If money is taken from me that I could use towards other means (compassion) then I have lost some ability to provide compassion. It doesn't mean that I can't provide compassion, but I can't provide it to the extent that I could have before. It is robbery, but at the point of a vote rather than the point of a gun.

          I don't see this issue as one of selfishness vs compassion. If it were simply that, I'd roll over and let my resources be taken without a word of protest because I fully agree with the need to lift up our poor and our struggling through the love and compassion exampled to us by Christ. No, I see it as one of reliance on God vs. reliance on government. The more that government is seen as the provider for this nation rather than God, the less time our nation has left.

          • Jessica says

            Thanks, TyT, for your thoughtful reply. There are quite a few different ideas popping up here, and I find myself going back and forth between looking at things"in theory" and "in practice". The truth is I have very little business looking at much "in practice" because I am simply not well informed enough. I'm an ex-pat now, and though I still care about what goes on in the US (of course), I just don't keep up with the details as well as I should. So I can't really talk about the statistics of the middle class with you and what's behind them. Sorry. :( I bet Michael can, though! That guy knows some stuff!

            Let's make a deal, though; I won't assume conservatives are selfish when they don't want to provide welfare or healthcare through tax dollars if you won't assume we're "lazy" because we do. I agree with you that this doesn't have to be a selfishness v compassion situation, but as I think I pointed out before, it also is not a choice between individual responsibility and group responsibility. Wanting to provide assistance through government doesn't mean we don't also want to provide assistance at an individual level. Likewise, I don't see it as a choice between God and government. They are not in competition with each other.

            Now, as to whether those tax dollars coming out of your pocket affect your ability to give as an individual, well of course, theoretically, you have less at your disposal. However, in my mind that could as easily be subtracted from what you spend on personal luxuries as what you spend on charity. I'm not insinuating that you'd be living it up while reducing your charitable giving. I just think that those of us who are fortunate enough to make enough money to pay taxes have so many luxuries we don't even give a thought to. Those taxes can take a chunk out of our personal spending, but why should they necessarily have any effect on our charitable giving? I just don't think that most people give so much to charity that taxes would force them to give less unless they chose to keep their personal spending the same.

            OK, now as to deserving. So you know what's in the back of my mind as I write this, I recently finished Barbara Kingsolver's book The Poisonwood Bible, set in the Congo. It's made me very aware that there are people in this world that work exponentially harder than I do, but have exponentially less. I owe what I have to being born in a developed country into a family that cared about education, that were financially stable and psychologically healthy. And umpteen more factors that I haven't even thought of. The lazy and the hardworking, the honest and the cheats, the good and the bad exist among both rich and poor. Our economy doesn't award money to people who deserve it, and there's no way that I can think of that any economy possibly could. That's not the point. I guess my point is that when I am aware of how little entitled I am to whatever I have, it's easier to give it away, whether it's tax dollars or charitable giving. Maybe humility and compassion go hand in hand.

            On to Toqueville. Yep. I agree that's a danger. But again, because I don't know my facts and figures, I can't make a call on whether or which politicians are just bribing rather than working in the public's interest. Shame on me for that because citizens should be holding their representatives accountable for the choices made and money spent. We're imperfect people with imperfect systems, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying to create a more just and equal society.

            Thanks again, TyT, for the dialogue.

          • says

            Jessica – I'm totally with you on how blessed I am to be born in the United States instead of a lot of the other places I could've been born in. And I do see your (and others) point that we are ridiculously fortunate in that regard. But once born into that system, some of us choose to work hard and some of us choose not to work hard. Undoubtedly, there are some who get lucky and some who have no luck at all as well. I guess my belief is that one can feel like they deserve the fruit of their labor and still humbly acknowledge the ultimate source of that fruit is the Lord. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the right of other men to then take those fruits and give them to others instead of giving of them out of one's own realization of how amazingly blessed he or she is.

            And I certainly didn't mean to assume that you are lazy in charity – perhaps that's not even the right word for those who see only the government as the solution for the downtrodden. Maybe it's just disengaged – which I don't believe you are for a second. You seem very engaged.

            But what would you consider a just and equal society? I don't believe one exists on this earth, and attempting to legislate one will only cause equality in poverty based on previous attempts we have seen throughout history. To me, that's sad – when the alternative, though not perfect as you rightly state, has proved so much more effective to lifting people out of poverty.

            Thank you for the dialogue as well, Jessica. I enjoy these types of conversations.

            I

    • says

      Its in the Bible that GOVERNMENT should take care of widows and orphans by UNDEMOCRATICALLY TAXING EVERYONE??? Or did Jesus say God loves a cheerful giver? Did Jesus do ANYTHING from within the government? Did any of the Apostles? And since when are all these welfare recipients "widows" and "orphans"? Taking care of the poor – IS the CHURCH'S job. No one should be trying to legislate the church into social welfare programs. The only "healthcare" program I see in the Bible is, "Be healed in Jesus name", and it's not paid for by force. Even Jesus gave his blood willingly. If you are so allfired about feeding and clothing the widow and the orphan please stop wasting your mom on a computer – and your time BTW and go out and DO IT! The Bible says if you don't do what your conscience pricks YOU about, YOU are sinning. Me, I'll choose to live in freedom and believe GOD convicts me and uses MY CHURCH to help those who need help.

      • says

        Yes. Let Caesar have what is Caesar's. Money is a government invention. The entire modern sophisticated economic and monetary system was created by government; no one is stopping you from going back to primitive barter.

      • paul says

        Again folks,my comment was about conservative theology not conservative politics. I never mentioned the government, taxes, war, health care or abortion. My comment was directed at those who are theologically conservative who tend to be legalistic and self-serving.

      • deerpark buck says

        Perhaps, if christians were better at or for that matter even attempting to feed the widows and orphans, the government would get out of the widow and orphan feeding business. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder then words, but I hear much talk and and I see sadly little action from the conservative christians.

        • says

          Private charity will never be as effective as forced charity. Not unless humans truly become the super-generous, super-loving people that we all pretend to be, but which none of us actually are.

          • says

            Taxes in reality are less effective in helping the poor because they have to create a government organization to distribute the "charity" to people and are paying government employees, taking away from the tax money dedicated to that issue. The government cannot effectively share compassion when it is the employees job to provide certain services. In effect, government programs try to relieve poverty and in many instances create more poverty. There is "incentive" for women to have more children because they will receive more welfare. I know that probably sounds ugly but the facts speak for themselves. After having interaction with government employees who deal with these women on a daily basis, you can't distort those facts.
            The reality is that charity comes from the heart of individuals who make choices to serve other individuals. Until we stop seeing "the poor" as groups, we will not care about them individually. The effectiveness of charity is not answered by how much money is given out, it is answered by how has the individual and his or her circumstances changed. It is easier to give a person money or materials than to teach, train, and educate them. The goal of poverty relief should not be creating more dependence, it should be to give the person more freedom. Poverty is a type of slavery, meaning that it restricts the freedom or choices of a person.

  8. says

    Very cryptic liberal bumper stickers. I've got at least 3 on my mini-van that indicate that I'm PROBABLY liberal, but maybe not, since it IS parked at a church, anyway.

    So very happy to see you over here Rachel! Great piece! ;-D

  9. Heather says

    Thank you for this. As a Democrat/Liberal/Progressive Christian, I often feel left out in the cold. I can't talk about politics with my familiy, and when I find the odd Christian friend here or there who thinks as I do, it's like an oasis in a desert.

    • says

      Hi, pleased to meet you. I'm an oasis. ;) My whole immediate family is both Christian and Democrat, so it was a bit of a shock upon discovering that we were supposed to be such an enigma. It's one of the things I love about the church I attend now: the numbers really are quite balanced compared to others I've attended in the past.

    • says

      One oasis saluting another :)
      (I feel the same way. Living in the South will isolate a liberal Democrat Christian like none other)

    • Ashley says

      i wear jeans or capris, a t-shirt, and Toms every Sunday. And a hoodie if it's cold. Which reminds me.. Tom's shoes should be on this list.

    • says

      Hi, fellow oasis!

      (I don't identify as Democrat or liberal, rather as staunchly independent, but this post hits pretty close to home. I didn't know there were others like me out there!)

  10. says

    5) Grousing about the conservatives hijacking Jesus as the official mascot of the Republician party. As someone who is probably a "conservative liberal" who is still technically a republician, I'm increasingly aggravated by both parties. I find it particularily annoying that so many Christian Conservatives seem to assume Jesus is like the official mascot of the Republician party … good to be trotted out at political rallys etc.
    6) Social Justice – caring for the physical needs of the poor and the broken regardless of whether the above mentioned overly emotional talk show host above thinks we are all going to hell in a handbasket. I just doing think Jesus is going to see us and say… "that's six laps around the lake of fire for you for caring for the "widdows and orphans and strangers in the land."
    7) Yearning for freedom of expression. Sometimes I feel like I have to keep my real views under cover so my more conservative friends won't leave… "oh yeah, well you're a doo doo head" comments on my blogs and facebook page.

      • says

        I totally agree. Like I said I'm more of a liberal Conservative. It's my combo of friends who end up in the back and forth bantering any time I post anything remotely poliitical. I tend to be more liberal personally when it comes to caring for the poor etc. I believe that if the church stepped up and really cared for the poor etc., that the government wouldn't need to do nearly as much.

    • JFK says

      I agree that he won't have you do laps in a lake of fire. But look at it this way…Individual christians or groups within our faith get a bad rap for forcing their beliefs and ways on others; we call them legalists. Tell me, how is voting for big government and tons of welfare programs any different than forcing on others your desire to give and help the widows and orphans?
      I agree they are our collective responsibility, but some don't believe this, and if we force them to give we are loving widows at the expense of others (to contrast, Jesus didn't love one group at the expense of anyone else. Heck, he pleaded with the Pharisees to see and know Him). Don't force others to do things through legislation, encourage them to give as you do, of your own free will.

      • says

        Hi JFK… actually I'm a female. I am definately not a big government kind of gal. Like I mentioned above to James, I really believe that if the church stepped up and started focusing more on loving the people that populate the world around them, instead of spending such insane ammounts of money on new mega-champus buildings etc., The government wouldn't have nearly as much to do. I liked Pastormatt's comment below about being Conservative in Theology and liberal in love. I think what I see teaching and mentoring a lot of 20 – 30 somethings is they are not nearly so willing to just follow a party line and that most of them that are more liberal politically are not extreme liberals. They, like me wrestle with the fact that yes, there are a lot of people who abuse the system, but there are a lot of people who are struggling. I have tons of friends who work hard who can't afford health care, and can barely afford to feed their families. I'm frankly aggravated with both political parties. My main comment here would be that most Christians who are more liberal or moderate even are not as far in left field as other believers think we are. I love being able to dialogue about this stuff.

    • says

      LOL. I'm right there with you on the "doo doo head" comments. I'm always getting into trouble on facebook!
      (thankfully not so much my blog. but I don't talk politics there often and when I do I usually lose a follower…and gain a couple!)

      • says

        It's amazing how reactionary things can get on facebook. I have friends who are all over the map and I'll make a comment that is actually more moderate… and I'll come back at the end of the day and people will be out doo doo heading each other. That even happened one time when I mentioned loving having dogs… by the time I got back that evening it had degenerated into a couple of people going back and forth with… "we shouldn't love animals, they have no souls… we should concentrate on people." and "they are pets and we care for them but not in a weird way and not more than people" back to the "well you're a less spiritual doo doo head for loving your animals" thing.

        • Lexi says

          True, true… I have had similar experiences, so now I leave anything that seems vaguely "political" off of my Facebook page. And sometimes I do indeed yearn for freedom of expression!

      • says

        "Doo doo head" – yes, because we dumb Conservatives couldn't possible offer actual debate. We have to resort to calling baby names – because, afterall, that's all we are right? Just stamping our foot and demanding things our own way. And if you don't like it tough! We're going to do it anyway… Oh wait. That's the current Congress/Administration… hmm….

        • says

          Yikes… That's not my point. My point is that Both sides tend to resort to that when we work in stereotypes. I probably should have been more clear on my first response since I was mainly adressing what liberals like as opposed to conservatives. I love debate and dialogue. I just find it interesting that it often turns into a more knee jerk thing without really listening to and responding to each other. It's so easy to write the other side off without really communicating about the issues. Both sides have exaggerated stereotypes of the others. Do I like Obama's solution to the health care crisis… not at all. Do I think we need to do something? Yes. I think both extreme sides have failed. I wish there was more willingness to really work on the issues and come up with an actual workable plan. As believers I would love to see us deal with issues more individually looking for solutions rather than just by party lines. As a country we are so polarized that very little that's actually helpful is happening.

  11. says

    One of my personal mottos: Conservative in Theology; Liberal in Love.

    I wrote an article in a local newspaper a few years ago about how Christians responded to some "Anti-Christian" statements made by Kathy Griffin in an un-Christlike manner that generated several e-mails to me from readers calling me liberal. I was able to convince some of them that what they were calling liberal was actually me being biblical. Labels will often cause us to pre-judge instead of looking at things openly. You can see the article in mention here: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/oct/07/like-chr

    • Kate says

      But….in your article you say:

      If Jesus allowed His name to be mocked, shouldn't His followers do the same?

      JESUS allowed it to be mocked….but doesn't he tell US to not disrespect him or deny Him?? I don't think people were upset that Christians were mocked, they were upset that JESUS was mocked. I think they were defending HIM, not themselves. I didn't see the ads though, so perhaps I don't have all the facts. But turning the other cheek does not mean not standing up for Jesus.

      I do agree that money could have been put toward much needed food/clothing for the poor.

      • says

        Thanks for the comment. I do not like when Jesus is mocked, either. However, that is what those who are apart from Christ do; either explicitly or implicitly. As I read the Bible, I see that our response should be to exalt Christ, not to attack those who mock Him. I believe that we are to be as He was and is–He allowed (and still allows) His name to be mocked which means that I should do the same. In speaking to Pilate, Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world; if it were then His servants would fight. Add to that the Sermon on the Mount and Romans 12 where we learn that vengeance belongs to the Lord and that we are not to be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (plus many other passages) and I have a decent case for my beliefs.

        I agree that we should not be ashamed to speak up for Christ, but I believe that this should be done by proclaiming Him through word and deed; not by fighting those who mock Him. Jesus never instructs us to fight those who do not believe in Him.

        Thanks again for your comment. We are all in this together.

        • Izzy says

          "We are all in this together" is starting to become my motto, thanks to the movie Brazil.

          Well, that or, "Dinosaurs is the new vampires." Grammatical mistake intentional.

  12. Amanda says

    Let me just say as a secret left-leaning moderate (or maybe as a full-out "progressive"): Rachel, you rock!

    • harmoni says

      Finally! Someone trotted out the M word (moderate). I don't feel I'm conservative OR liberal. There are things from both sides that have merit. Same with Republicans and Democrats – things just aren't black and white very often. I believe in balance, but it's difficult to attain.

      • says

        I'm right there with you… so moderate that all my conservative friends think I'm conservative, but my progressive friends let me into their "Progressive Christian Secret Society." It's fun being a double agent. =)

          • says

            "My conservative friends think I'm too liberal, and my liberal friends think I'm too conservative. Alas, what's a girl to do."

            … I think you might be my alter ego!

    • says

      Moderate here too. Slightly progressing. There is good and bad to both conservative and liberal philosophies. I take what I feel is best from both. Extremes are unhealthy, yet political extremists are everywhere. They are the ones who are going to be fighting in the comments here.

    • says

      ahhh, I love Jon Stewart. Why? Because even when hes wrong he's still funny. And I don't mean Fox News funny where the people on the screen are laughing and I am feeling really awkward.

    • Jeff says

      I might watch if I actually thought his head would explode, but I think it will just keep expanding infinitely.

  13. says

    For the record, I think it's terrible that we have this system where most people think in terms of only two sides. I have strong opinions which are Left (anti-death penalty, anti-Iraq war), and Right (pro-life, anti-tax, pro-small govt). I don't think labeling someone like me a "moderate" is accurate because it implies someone who's a fence-sitter and can't decide.
    I am a bit disheartened as I see what appears to be a "if this candidate agrees with me about abortion, I'm gonna support whatever else he says" mindset which leads to the 2-party setup we have now, where most people, or at least the most vocal people, think in terms of us-vs-them. It's sad. As trite as it sounds, God really isn't Left or Right. Anyone who tells you different is wrong. And He certainly isn't an indecisive fence-sitter.

    • says

      Yes! I think this applies to politicians themselves just as much as the voters. I'm excited for our current coalition government as two fairly different parties are forced to actually have dialogue rather than just disagree with everything that the other party says.

    • Otter says

      This system was designed to allow any party in, but the current system has shut out anyone who doesn't toe the line. Sad, but true. Unfortunately, democracy in general tends to weed out anyone fit to do the job by its very nature of Lowest Common Denominator representation. Frankly, I'm not either Rep or Dem. If I had to call myself anything, I'd go with Centrist, or more likely, Monarchist.

      • says

        Said it before, but it bear repeating . . . and I think George Washington said it far better than me:

        "However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."

    • says

      I agree. I've become more vocal about similar issues. I don't think it's about republician or democrat or liberal or conservative. It's about being willing to take a hard look at the issues. It's always sad when we have knee jerk reactions to the labels and miss the bigger picture. I hate it too when I mention that I'm anti-Iraq war and people immediately label me an extreme liberal. Thanks for being able to communicate that so clearly.

    • Matt T. says

      AMEN. It's always been confounding to me that two parties assembled stances on multiple, unrelated issues, and I am expected by family and friends to subscribe to all of them.
      I too have stances on both sides. Conservatively, I am opposed to government intervention in the economy (to a certain point–some is necessary), and I prefer their educational stances infinitely. Liberally, I am opposed to the belief that Christian morals ought to be forcibly imposed on people who are not Christians, and I am also anti-death penalty and anti-war except in the most necessary of cases.

    • says

      As George Washington said in his farwell address:

      "However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."

  14. MattG says

    As the "young' deacon, I get to sit with the older generation and hear them go on about what Fox news said and how America is in so much trouble because the "left" is in power. I bite my lip, and then agree with them about how the left is screwed up. I then like to point out how much the "right" is screwed up as well. I like ideals from both parties and fall into the category that pretty much dislikes both of them. I don't see how we can align ourselves with either party when we should be aligning ourselves with Christ's ideals.

    The first time I got to vote in a Presidential election, I voted for Ross Perot. I haven't voted for a Democrat or Republican since. If only we could get people to get behind Ron Paul…sigh.

    Disclaimer: I found out about this blog from CNN's website…gasp!

    • says

      Ron Paul? The guy who thinks America should go back to the gold standard? It's sad that people actually think his ideas make sense.

      PS. For those who don't understand what's wrong with the gold standard (you know who you are), it reduces the price volatility of gold to zero, but it increases the price volatility of everything else. Under a fiat currency, the value of money is based on the size of the economy, which does not fluctuate anywhere near as much as the value of gold (just look at a historical chart of the price of gold). If you fix the dollar to gold, then the prices of all other goods will be expressed RELATIVE TO GOLD, not relative to the size of the economy. If gold fluctuates in value, then the price of EVERY OTHER GOOD AND SERVICE in the entire economy will wildly fluctuate in response. By tying the dollar to one particular commodity, we make the economy a hostage to that commodity. During the Great Depression, the countries which used the gold standard did much worse than the countries which didn't. That was one of the reasons everyone dropped it.

      • Amelia says

        Michael, thanks for explaining that. I worry folks (and I'm not even being sarcastic here) hear that we're "not on the gold standard" and think something is very wrong and has recently changed, neither of which are true. NO economists think it's a good idea.

  15. says

    I loved this post. I was raised as a very conservative Republican and would be disowned by my West Point grad, army officer for 22 years father if I even thought about being a "progressive" Christian. So needless to say, my views on Democrats and Liberals were less than positive when I entered the world. However, through the years as, my own person, I've learned that people are people and we are all going to have different views. Liberal Christian or Republican Christian, we should be all in agreement when it comes to the serious issues and what the bible has to say about it.

    • says

      "Other peoples' money?" What makes you think liberals aren't paying their own taxes? Are you one of those mouth-breathing Rush Limbaugh fans who buys all his rhetoric? Liberals are just as likely to have jobs and pay taxes as conservatives are.

      I help the poor with my own taxes, thank you very much. I probably pay a lot more tax than you, and I accept this burden as part of my social responsibility to others. The fact is that private charity is no substitute for government welfare programs. Charitable donations tend to dry up in economic recessions, which is precisely when they are needed most. Charitable donations vary wildly from region to region. Charities make no effort to assure that everyone is covered; they help who they can help and then stop.

      It's a conservative LIE that government programs are unnecesary to help the poor. Private charities have the greatest of intentions, but there are a lot of reasons why they are inadequate.

      • E_Lee_MacFall says

        "The fact is that private charity is no substitute for government welfare programs. Charitable donations tend to dry up in economic recessions, which is precisely when they are needed most. Charitable donations vary wildly from region to region. Charities make no effort to assure that everyone is covered; they help who they can help and then stop. "

        Two problems with this.

        First, private charity was quite sufficient until the government took it over. And if the charitable sector isn't getting enough money, it certainly won't help to siphon more of it away to a bloated bureaucracy with 75-90% overhead.

        Second, compulsory wealth distribution is NOT CHARITY. There is no such thing as moral action under compulsion. Jesus never advocated the use of violence to achieve his ends, even rejecting political power whenever it was offered to him. And violence is the only tool the state has to accomplish its goals.

        2 Corinthians 9:7 "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

        Don't you think that God is able to move within the Church to provide for the poor without employing political force, which is against his very nature? Perhaps the problem is not that people aren't willing to give – which they clearly are, as most people still donate to charitable causes even after having their money confiscated by the state. Perhaps the problem is that the Church – which is supposed to be the instrument of God's mercy in this world – is too quick to employ the political means.

        We have all authority through Christ, and the worst thing we can possibly do with that authority is use it to employ violent means. We can accomplish through love that which the state tries to accomplish through force. We can do as a family that which the state tries to do as a bureaucratic leviathan. We can do it better than the political class ever could hope to do it. But first, the Church must lay down the sword.

        • JFK says

          Thank you sir! Very well said. I wish I had that 2 Cointhians verse in one of my earlier replies. It's sad that MW seems to be taking comments as personal attacks. Nobody said liberals weren't paying their own taxes… *sigh*

        • says

          First, private charity was NOT "quite sufficient until government took it over". Look at what happened to people during the Great Depression. Your entire argument is based on a historical falsehood.

          Second, compulsory wealth distribution is not charity if you voted against it, I agree. I voted for it, so it's voluntary for me. That makes it charitable for me.

          • says

            The great depression was a period of liquidation caused by the Federal Reserve tripling the money supply during the 1920's. If it had been allowed to run its course, it would have lasted a few months instead of years. You know, like the depression of 1921. But then they don't teach about that one, because it is an example of how quickly the market corrects itself in the absence of government meddling.

            So the state caused the depression, then acted in exactly the opposite manner they should have acted to correct it, instead prolonging it by years. THEN the government started confiscating private wealth that was previously being given to charity, and created a welfare state. And now their schools and court-following intellectuals like to tell people that it was a failure of voluntaryism? Spare me. There is no condition in which violence ever works better than voluntary action, nor can violence ever be excused because voluntary action fails to achieve some arbitrary "optimum" result.

            As for the second point, when you voted for the state to take away your neighbor's money, you were not voting for charity. If you want to give, then give. If you want your neighbor to give, then encourage him to give. Ask him, persuade him, pray for him. And if he will not, that is between him and God. Nowhere along the way does a right to force others to be moral appear.

          • says

            First point: please give the sources for these claims, which fly in the face of every other discussion of the Great Depression that I've ever heard of. People in the Great Depression were suffering long before FDR raised taxes and created social welfare programs.

            Second point: the fact is that people do NOT voluntarily give enough money to charity to make up the social shortfall. Name one country in which people give so generously to charity that they actually do this. America didn't do this before it had welfare systems; that's why people suffered so much during the Great Depression.

          • says

            1: To start with, this book and its sources: http://mises.org/rothbard/agd/contents.asp
            Start at Part II for the historically relevant parts. Before that it's mostly the history of business cycle theory.

            2. That is not the point I was making. What I said was that violence is not excusable simply because voluntary action fails to achieve an optimum condition (and the question of who decides what is "optimum" is also worth asking).

          • says

            1) That's not what "sources" actually mean. I'm talking about the numbers you base your assertion on, and the sources for those numbers. Giving me the name of a book which agrees with you (especially when it comes from an advocacy group like Von Mises instead of an academic journal) is facile and means very little. I could easily do the same, and what would that accomplish?

            2) That is an axiomatic statement which ignores the fundamental fact that more people do demonstrably suffer under your proposed system. In short, you are creating a moral rule and disregarding the observed empirical consequences.

            Do you or do you not acknowledge that before the creation of welfare systems, private charity was NOT keeping poor people from destitution? How do you explain the suffering of the poor during the Great Depression? Are you saying it didn't happen, or that the New Deal was enacted BEFORE the Great Depression started?

            If you want to trade sources, try this one:

            "Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

            Each of America's two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. America's median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class can boost its purchasing power is to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn't pay their bills, and banks couldn't collect."

            From Robert Reich (look him up; he's no lightweight). http://www.thenation.com/article/36893/unjust-spo

          • John says

            You aren't going to find any mainstream economist who agrees with that. Austrian school "economists" only believe that nonsense because their theories are based on political positions instead of numbers. Incidentally, that's why they haven't been in the mainstream of economic thought for nearly a century.

          • says

            Right, right. Just disregard the ideas without examination, because "mainstream economic thought" doesn't take them seriously.

            That's an awful lot like the way Marx admonished his followers to reject criticisms of his theory because they were, after all, based in "bourgeois logic" and hence not to be taken seriously by the enlightened proletariat.

            Dismissal of a position without refutation is tantamount to conceding the point.

          • Amelia says

            Tone aside, you're making an important point. Were most children educated before public schools? Did most people have a safety net for job loss before unemployment insurance offered by the government? Did most people who today receive food stamps get help from private charity in the past? How about healthcare prior to Medicaid? Did most seniors escape poverty prior to Social Security? The answer is no to all of these.

            Personally, I cheerfully pay my taxes. I have no problem with the level of taxation (and I'm childless, and don't own a home, and make a decent salary, so it isn't as though I'm not paying anything) my husband and I are subject to – we've worked hard (as do many who don't see a monetary benefit to their labor) and we don't see any problem with giving back via programs that are vetted by the government. I would gladly pay higher taxes if it meant family leave for new parents, for example, or better quality meals in schools.

          • Diane says

            Seniors escaped poverty because their families took care of them. We respected the elderly rather than shoving them into a nursing home.

          • says

            I agree. We find in 1 Timothy 5 that the widows the church was feeding were only those who had no other family, and that extended families were expected to help their relations. And while life expectancies were probably lower in that time period, so was discretionary income.

          • says

            Diane, do you have actual sources for these glowing claims about the 19th century, which seem to fly in the face of everything I've ever read about the era? I'd be curious to see them.

        • Jessica says

          Have you ever considered that by supporting the taxation that provides welfare, healthcare, etc, you would be cheerfully giving, and "not of compulsion"? Just a thought. No taxation without representation in this country, you know.

          When it comes to individual versus government responsibility, or, as some would have it, individual versus Church responsibility, I don't think it's a matter of either/or but of both/and. It should be a priority of our society, regardless of religious beliefs, to take care of each other. And as the elected representation of our society, it is entirely appropriate that our government be part of ensuring that happens. The poor and the sick shouldn't have to rely entirely on the whims of charity.

          Likewise, it should be a priority of the Church and, frankly, of pretty much any other religion I know of, to care for the stranger, the poor, the sick, and the otherwise down-and-out. Again, this should happen on both an individual and systemic level. Bottom-up and top-down. Supporting one shouldn't be trying to cop out of the other.

          • says

            "Have you ever considered that by supporting the taxation that provides welfare, healthcare, etc, you would be cheerfully giving, and "not of compulsion"? Just a thought. No taxation without representation in this country, you know."

            No, I would not. I would be supporting the violent expropriation of everybody who is unwilling to give (which is a matter between them and God) and who is unable to afford the costs imposed upon them (which is without a doubt the very opposite of charity).

            "When it comes to individual versus government responsibility, or, as some would have it, individual versus Church responsibility, I don't think it's a matter of either/or but of both/and. It should be a priority of our society, regardless of religious beliefs, to take care of each other. And as the elected representation of our society, it is entirely appropriate that our government be part of ensuring that happens."

            Society and government are not the same thing. Society is the result of people coming together for a common goal. Government is a territorial monopoly on violence. The two rarely have anything to do with one another.

            "The poor and the sick shouldn't have to rely entirely on the whims of charity."

            Sorry, but yes they should. They do. People are supposed to care for the poor and the sick, yes. But if and when they fail, that does not excuse the further moral failure of initiating violence against them. God did not say "force one another to care for the poor." He said "love one another". Love does not demand its own way, and there is no purer form of demanding one's own way than to force another person to act as you would have them act.

            "Likewise, it should be a priority of the Church and, frankly, of pretty much any other religion I know of, to care for the stranger, the poor, the sick, and the otherwise down-and-out. Again, this should happen on both an individual and systemic level. Bottom-up and top-down. Supporting one shouldn't be trying to cop out of the other. "

            Here, at least, we agree. Except that top-down organization rarely works, Doesn't matter whether we're talking about governments or corporations or churches; top-down organization is inefficient, slow, and prone to corruption. The Church, and consequently its works, should be based upon mutual accountability, not hierarchy.

          • E_Lee_MacFall says

            Will you argue that violence is not morally condemnable? Have you never read the words of Jesus Christ?

            What part of "love thy neighbor as thyself" don't you understand?

            Perhaps the part from Corinthians that tells us that "love does not demand its own way".

          • says

            I understand it well. Like most Christian statists, you left out the next part: "and unto God, what is God's".

            To the Jews present during that conversation, God was regarded to be the lawful owner of EVERYTHING. Tiberius Caesar, meanwhile, claimed to be a god himself (as the inscription on the denarius being examined revealed), and likewise regarded himself as the owner of everything. The two claims (God's and Caesar's) were utterly irreconcilable and mutually exclusive.

            The people confronting Jesus were trying to force him to either denounce Caesar, thus giving the Roman government an excuse to arrest him before his time had come; or to endorse Caesar, which would have implied that Tiberius' claim of godhood was justified. Jesus instead replied in a way that told them to choose their allegiance – to God or to Caesar – but without implicating himself as either a blasphemer or an anti-Roman zealot. But clearly, his loyalty was to God. The same could not be said of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

            My loyalty is to God. All I have belongs to him, and I will cause as much as possible to go to his works rather than the works of the state. I will not pay for their social experiments, their dependency programs, nor their wars. If they put me in jail for it, so be it. In the meantime I will go on donating to churches and charities that I feel best do God's work in my community, rather than placing it in the fattened, bloody hands of the political class.

          • says

            I didn't ignore that part. It's simply not relevant to money: an entity which was completely manufactured by government. What do you think money is? Money is literally based on the credibility of the state. It has nothing to do with God, no matter what people decided to print on the bills.

          • says

            Money is a medium of exchange. It existed long before the state as we know it existed, and will exist after the state fails. Without it, there can be no indirect exchange, no division of labor, no technology, and billions of people would starve. It represents a person's labor and the fruits of their labor. It's how we get things done in this world. It's how people get fed, clothed, housed, and everything else that is necessary for them to survive.

            Of course God cares about it. He cares about how it is made (literally), how it is gained, and how it is spent – because each of those things have moral implications. Do you really think God doesn't pay any attention to the billions of dollars that governments create through fraudulent means (i.e., counterfeiture), confiscate from their citizens, and then use to feed the greed and avarice of the political class, suppress the free will of their peoples, and build armies that commit mass murder around the world? I assure you, he does.

          • says

            Sorry, but you're quite simply wrong. Money did not exist before nation-states, and it will not exist without nation-states. In fact, the first thing a nation does when it attempts to form is to issue its own currency.

            It's true that nothing can realistically happen in a modern economy without money, but that's because the entire modern economy exists because of nation-states.

            Does God care about money? That's irrelevant to the point here. Jesus pointed out that Caesar created the denarii, and so too, it is the state which creates the dollar. To portray taxation as a form of tyranny is great crowd-pleasing rhetoric, but it's quite frankly downright silly as actual policy.

          • Jessica says

            A territorial monopoly on violence? Really? That's the definition of government? I never said the government was the same thing as society, but what other body better represents our society as a whole? We have formed our governments to, well, govern our societies, which includes implementing systems to try to create a more just society, a society that "we the people" want to be. Yes it's imperfect, because WE are imperfect. But reducing it to a monopoly of violence seems unreasonable.

            You said, "People are supposed to care for the poor and the sick, yes. But if and when they fail, that does not excuse the further moral failure of initiating violence against them. God did not say "force one another to care for the poor." He said "love one another". Love does not demand its own way, and there is no purer form of demanding one's own way than to force another person to act as you would have them act."

            Again, your use of the word "violence". How is fairly distributed taxation legislated by elected representatives an act of violence? (You may jump on the "fairly" part, and I'll admit, it would be impossible to ensure perfect fairness, but broadly speaking, we tax those who can afford to be taxed. Not a lot of politicians are clamoring to tax the already poor. It's a little unpopular.) Also, I'm not sure how your description of love can logically apply to governmental responsibilities. By your reasoning, we would have no laws whatsoever, and no consequences for illegal actions, because that would be "forc[ing] another person to act as you would have them act". Why do you interpret things like laws and taxes as violence rather than accountability?

            I'm willing to debate the ways we can most responsibly care for those who need it, but I seem to find myself suddenly in a debate about whether or not government in any form is evil. This is like trying to debate a point of theology and then suddenly finding out we're actually having to debate whether or not the Word of God is literally the words of God, that he just happened to have other people write down. (And no, I'm not trying to start a new argument.) I just mean it's difficult to have a meaningful conversation about something specific when the broad starting bases are so completely different. If you can only see government as an instrument of violence, then it's really kinda fruitless to discuss how much it should be involved in our societal obligations.

          • says

            The issue is that any time you talk about the moral legitimacy of a political idea, you end up facing the question of the morality of force. I have come to believe that initiatory force is always immoral, because I can reconcile nothing else with the words and works of Christ. Anyone who says otherwise is going to have to prove to me that Christ endorsed violence.

            This does not mean that there can be no law nor enforcement of law, but it means that the law must act only in response to violence or the threat thereof, and must not itself surpass the amount of force required to repel violence, end threats, and address harm committed through violence and coercion. Call that organization "government" if you will, but as the concepts of government and the state (the definition of which long having been accepted to be a territorial monopoly on violence) have for so long been intertwined, I don't call it "government". It is definitively a form of governance, but cannot properly be called a state.

            I have no problem calling myself an anarchist so long as people understand that this does not make me opposed to law. Rather, it means that I believe in equality under the law – God's law as revealed to us by Christ, under which no initiation of force can be justified. To attempt to do so would violate all of his commandments. And if everyone is equal under the law, then nobody has the moral superiority required to break the law – to initiate force, in other words – and be justified in doing so.

            This means that we will have to be creative and consider other ways of resolving our problems than calling for the guys with uniforms and badges and law degrees and guns to FORCE other people to behave as we wish. There is a proper place for defensive force in meeting and canceling aggressive force, but force cannot justly be used to effect morality, nor prosperity. The second is merely an extension of the idea that morality can be created through violent means, as it implies the distribution of wealth to be a morally prescribed action. But a moral end cannot be achieved through immoral means. And again, anyone who wants me to believe that initiating force can be morally justified is going to have to show me where Jesus said it is just, in contradiction to all his other teachings.

          • says

            You're stating a lot of opinions as if they are universal moral laws. You personally believe that it is always wrong to use force, even to reduce the suffering of the poor. I don't. This is what we call an impasse.

          • says

            Obviously. Well, you can go on supporting the violence of the state and calling yourself a follower of Christ at the same time. Do it for as long as you can. Maybe you'll die at a ripe, old age trying to reconcile the two views. And then afterward, you can try explaining to Jesus why you fell back on legalized violence every time you encountered a problem with your fellow man. Have fun with that.

          • says

            I never said I was a follower of Christ. But that's irrelevant to the fact that your rhetoric about taxation being "legalized violence" applied just as much in Jesus' time as it does today, and he seemed to have much less problem with paying taxes to Caesar than you do.

          • says

            Well, first, the entire book of Revelation is Christ coming in righteous violence against the wicked, so there's that. Second, remember the part in Romans 13 about submitting yourself to the government that has been placed over you (i.e. you have to pay your taxes)?

          • E_Lee_MacFall says

            First, no it isn't at all. Although if you are a dispensationalist I suppose there will be no arguing with you, so we might as well not discuss it.

            Second, Romans 13 endorses only government which rewards good and punishes evil. A government that legalizes the plunder of a people by the political class does neither; in fact, it rewards evil. And a government whose second-biggest budget item is expanding their program of mass murder abroad is even worse. I will not support such an institution, even if it costs me my life.

          • says

            Paul was specifically referring to the Roman government, which was in fact a violent government full of corruption.And while it isn't a righteous government, Christians are still called to respect and submit to authority. Romans 13:6 addresses taxes, and Paul calls the current Roman authorities "ministers of God." I would find it hard to believe that he was saying these people were righteous people or were Christians because the historical records show many instances of Roman emperors, governors, and soldiers mistreating, killing, and unfairly taxing their subjects. Yet, still, the "Christian thing to do," the very thing the Bible commands us to do, is to "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
            (Romans 13:1-2 ESV)

            And I would argue that most major governments in the world today, apart from possibly the Chinese, have a much higher respect for the human rights and freedoms of their citizens than did the ancient Roman Empire.

          • says

            Also, the Romans quite frequently taxed people into poverty, sometimes as much as 75-80% of their income, with no distribution of that wealth to anyone but the ruling class. Yet Jesus still paid his taxes, and Paul wrote that we should do the same.

          • says

            I would like to second Aaron Harris's comments. There is no asterisk in the Romans 13 passage that qualifies what governments we're supposed to follow. The Romans were the biggest plunderers of history. They took from whatever territory that they conquered, and taxed them ferociously.

          • Bri says

            As a Brit I admit I'm a bit unsure of the context that these liberal/ conservative discussions are placed so please do tell me if I've misconstrued them. This comment isn't supposed to be a personal attack but I am having a lot of difficulty with grasping this concept from what I understand to be a Christian perspective.

            I don't understand why the 'moral failure' of having people pay taxes is seen as worse than continuing to allow people who need help be denied it. Surely letting others die or live lives of unnecessary hardship because of issues that in a different financial context could have been dealt with is much, much worse than having to pay taxes, even if you don't like them much yourself. Wouldn't the command to love one another encourage us to pay taxes that benefit others even if we don't want to, because we know they can be used to provide for others in need? Why should the poor and sick have to rely on the whims of charity? That implies that they are almost a secondary consideration, undeserving of a part in our initial government or individual spending, ignoring the needs of others for our wants. If all our money is God's anyway then what's the problem with taxation when it's used for purposes such as feeding the hungry and providing for the widows and orphans in our societies? The phrase widows and orphans turn ups a fair bit in the Bible and I understood it to be that it is because these are some of the main groups in society who were unable to support themselves. Everybody in the society is expected to look after these people, which is why there's so much in the Levitical law about creating a just and supportive society which (in the ideal shape of the law) automatically provides for these people as a matter of course rather than a matter of charity, and why God often gets angry with them when they don't live according to these principles, because the needy are being neglected. I know that my interpretation of the Bible isn't paramount but to use 'love one another' as the basis for denying healthcare or food to live on seems to be taking one verse out of context and not interpreting it within the tenor of scripture as a whole or even within the immediate context. Jesus has just told his disciples he is about to give up his very life for them he loves them so much, and just before that has done the menial, practical job of washing each of their feet. The general impression here is that love is a matter of giving, why draw the line at giving taxes?

            I fully and fervently believe in there being constant enquiry and assessment of how those taxes are being used to ensure they actually are benefiting those in need. (Defence budgets being one element that I'm particularly uneasy about considering the discrepancy between what is spent and what it appears we actually need, never mind that I disagree with a lot of the military stuff in the first place but that's for another blog.) But I also believe that the risk of some of that money being misdirected is less destructive than the risk of people being denied access to food, shelter, healthcare, education and other basic necessities.

          • E_Lee_MacFall says

            "I don't understand why the 'moral failure' of having people pay taxes is seen as worse than continuing to allow people who need help be denied it."

            It's not worse. There are no varying degrees of immorality; either something is right, or it is sin. A person who refuses to be kind to the needy sins, and anyone who attempts to correct his sin with violence sins. Violence simply is not one of the options we have in dealing with sin. Unless you're without sin, then have at it. But last time I checked the only person who qualified to throw stones at sinners by HIs sinlessness, refused to do so and rebuked those who would have.

            Also I dispute the idea that you need taxes to be charitable. It seems that way when the government has a near-monopoly on welfare, but it is not true. People are still charitable even after having been expropriated by the state, and would probably be more charitable if their property were not being confiscated in the name of charity (and then mostly fed to middle-class bureaucrats).

          • says

            Your argument is based on a clash of competing absolute moral laws. You take one absolute law, ram it up against another absolute law, and try to work things out so that you can determine which absolute law applies in any given situation.

            I understand this thinking: I used to employ it myself. But we can't close our eyes to the consequences of our decisions. You can have all the rationalizations and clever statements of principle that you like: at the end of the day you are still working for a policy which demonstrably leads to more suffering, not less.

      • says

        "I accept this burden as part of my social responsibility to others."
        People who see taxes as covering their social responsibility to others are less likely to give apart from taxes. And sorry, but conservatives easily outgive liberals – far and away.

        "Charitable donations tend to dry up in economic recessions, which is precisely when they are needed most"
        So do taxes. But honestly, religious giving is not down at all in this recession – only giving to secular groups goes down. Amazing statistic, but true.

        Taxes for welfare cause less employment. The government is horrible at taking care of the poor, and is a terrible judge at what is best to spend money on. The more they take responsibilities and rights away from the family, the church, labor, and the community (the other social spheres), the more oppressive and, actually, unbiblical it becomes.

        • says

          If the government is so horrible at taking care of the poor, why is it that nations without welfare systems do so much worse at taking care of their poor than nations with welfare systems? Name a country with no welfare system which does a great job of taking care of its poor, please.

          • says

            Name a country with no welfare system that isn't Christian. Countries who aren't by and large associated with Christianity are the ones who don't take care of their people on any level – welfare or charity. It has more to do with their worldview than a welfare system. Our own government is corrupt! How much more are most of those.

          • says

            You're only supporting my point; Christians are the ones who created welfare systems, because they are the only way to make sure all of the poor get taken care of, and that is a very Christian thing to do. Private charity is spotty; it helps some people but not others. If there is no or inadequate private charity in your part of the country, there is no one to appeal to.

          • says

            The much-maligned "trickle-down" is basic economics. I could explain it to you, but I doubt you'd actually listen. For the record, the top 1% of taxpayers (AGI over $364,657) earned approximately 21.2% of the nation's income (as defined by AGI), yet paid 39.4% of all federal income taxes. (Source: http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2007/10/t… I'd say they are paying more than their share.

          • says

            Actually, "trickle-down" supply-side economics treat the economic supply-and-demand equation as if it has only one side, which is hardly "basic economics". It's more like voodoo economics, which is precisely what George H.W. Bush (the last Republican with integrity) called it back in the 1980 primaries.

            Yes, the top 1% pay a disproportiontely large share of income tax. But they used to pay much more, and the share that they ARE currently paying has not stopped the meteoric rise of their income. They have made massive gains during this recession: there are 16% more millionaires in the US than there were two years ago.

            Rich people can make money off of other peoples' misfortunes. There are so many means of making money which are available to rich people which are not available to poor people. The top 1% of the population has seen its share of the nation's wealth TRIPLE since the 1970s, yet they keep insisting they're paying too much tax.

            How much is too much, in this case? When 1% of the population rakes in more than 20% of the money, something is wrong.

        • Michael says

          "But honestly, religious giving is not down at all in this recession." My friend, you are quite mistaken. Please provide any reference to support this claim….giving is down across the entire country.

          • Ryan says

            @Michael, just going to point out that you didn't provide any proof for your claim that giving is down either. If you don't want to go back and forth with unreferenced claims, then accept the burden of proof as your own. Just saying.

            I also disagree that you can force money from my hands and constitute that as cheerful giving. When I give, I know where it goes and what it accomplishes. When I give to missions trips, I am given updates and newsletters of how the trip went and I love that. I would cheerfully give every dime I have not necessary to my basic survival to those because it goes towards saving a soul and not just a serving line food bank. I expect more from the money I give than just a bowl of soup. I want a message. And I don't want some of my giving to cover a beaurocratic salary. There's so much wrong with giving through taxes that is much better accomplished by private charities and missions organizations. So no, I can't "cheerfully give through taxes" because I can't be happy with inefficient giving when efficiency is an option.

          • says

            Feel free to name a country which has no government welfare, and which manages to take care of its poor entirely through private charity with equal or superior effectiveness.

          • says

            The fact that governments monopolize charity is no proof that that is how it ought to be. Ideas and practices that are imposed on society by force cannot be used as proof of their own righteousness.

          • says

            In other words, you cannot name an example of your paper theory EVER working anywhere on Earth in the history of mankind, so you just repeat your talking points and ignore the demand for supporting evidence.

          • Ryan says

            @Michael Wong – The point was that no country like the one you wish us to name exists. This is not an argument that puts to rest the idea that, without welfare, the poor can be taken care of. The fact is that your expectation of us to name a country like that is highly inappropriate. Every country with enough wealth to support it's own poor has a welfare system and that makes it impossible for us to name a country for you.

            Never in my life have I had to live a year without a family earned income of $50,000 or greater. I believe I can be just as happy if I had an income of less than $50,000. But if you ask me to name a time when I've been happy in that situation, I cannot do it. It doesn't mean I can't, it just means it hasn't been given a chance in practice yet. This is the same with your question.

            I'm sorry I can't satisfy your desire for supporting evidence when you refuse to allow the theory to be tested in practice. You can't say it isn't for a lack of trying. I vote conservative.

          • says

            On the contrary, the theory HAS been tested. We don't have to go all the way: we can look at the effect of the tax cuts of the last 30 years. Over the last 30 years, taxes have been cut sharply, particularly for the wealthy. Over that same period, the top 1% income bracket has seen its share of the wealth grow from 9% to 24%: nearly three times.

            In other words, we have seen that when you shrink taxes and the welfare state, the rich do not create a new voluntary charity state: they just give most of it to themselves. That is a fact, not a theory, and I have not seen anyone ever produce a satisfactory rebuttal to it.

        • Mark says

          religious giving is not down at all in this recession – only giving to secular groups goes down. Amazing statistic, but true.

          Strange, seeing how my wife's hours and pay were cut, and so were about a third of my community's pay and hours who all work for a worldwide fiscially responsible christian organization…because donations went down.

        • says

          I am interested in this oft-quoted "conservatives give more" number. Is it true if you take out tithing/general donations to religious institutions that are not otherwise charitable (e.g., paying a minister's salary, not funding a well in sub-Saharan Africa)?

          • says

            I am also curious how ultra-liberal Toronto set a record for United Way donations in 2009 if liberals are so stingy. The studies I've seen on this subject always seem to incorporate rather questionable methodology. One study compared people who go to church every week as compared to people who go to church less; this measures "keener factor", not religious beliefs or conservatism vs liberalism. Another study was based on voluntary survey results (ie- asking people how much they give to charity), which seem less reliable than asking charities how much they actually received.

      • Samford Mom says

        from the NY Times, 12/20/08 : "Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates. Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals. Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so."

        • says

          A study by Google? Since when does Google do academic studies at all?

          How is it that super-liberal Toronto set a United Way record for donations in 2009? Something about these claims reeks of political partisanship. I would be very surprised if there was any significant difference between conservative and liberal giving, unless conservatives count their religious advocacy groups as charities.

      • says

        Michael, I didn't hear from you on the comment thread on which we were exchanging ideas on the causes of The Depression. I made the point that manyof the non-faith-based non-profit–universities and hospitals–were actually started by Christ followers without government subsidy. I'll repost here:

        —being repost—
        Michael, the [Sumner] post isn't primarily about minimum wage, but real wages and industrial production. I didn't attack history books as much as hypothesize that just as there is a military-industrial complex, there might also be an academia-government complex, one which might prefer Keynes to Friedman and Von Mises.

        Certainly, there was great suffering during the Great Depression, and I don't blame FDR anymore than Hoover for it.

        As bad as it was, I am grateful for the many universities, started by imperfect christians in the 17-1800s, and hospitals, started by imperfect christians in the 18-1900s, that led to greater literacy, health outcomes, and trade–all of which reduced poverty, and continue to do so today.

        The universities may now be pluralversities, but they cannot deny their history which includes in the One Word (Uni Verse) which God conceivably spoke. I await the outperformance of the secular and humanist institutions, and am uncertain if I will ever see it.

        It doesn't matter what political or economic theories we tilt towards; love and cooperation and trust are required in any group of people to improve justice and mercy. I don't know much, but my faith in my Creator defines the source of truth, purpose, and rights. Rousseau, Nietzsche, Darwin, Dawkins, FDR–sure they all have insights and revelations–but I don't find the solutions to a broken humanity to them. Let me know what you think I am missing.

        Thanks in advance.
        —end repost—

        It looks like the Church was able to do more with less than the coercive government approach you advocate. Of course, this leads me to question why the Church seems to be more marginalized now than ever. I believe it is because the Church wants government programs too, so we don't have to take responsibility like we used to.

        • says

          And once again, as before, I will point out that in the earlier times you speak of, those universities were only accessible for the wealthy. The modern university, which people of modest means can attend, did not exist until governments and socialists got involved. The church never created any such thing.

        • says

          OK, my first post didn't seem to take, so I'll try again: in the earlier times you mention, only the wealthy could afford to go to university. The universities of the era did little to spread the wealth, either of money or of knowledge.

          The modern university which is accessible to people of relatively modest means is a socialist invention, as is publicly funded education.

        • says

          Gee, I've tried to post replies to this a couple of times, but they're just not going through. Let me try again:

          1) Your "academia-government complex" is just another way of insinuating that there's a vast conspiracy, as an excuse to dismiss the output of the most knowledgeable elements of our society. It's irrational. By the way, Friedman advocated that we stop mandatory licensing for medical doctors, and let "the free market" decide who's qualified to practice medicine. Think about that for a moment.

          2) Modern universities have nothing to do with the old-style elitist universities of the 18th and 19th centuries: a time when only the wealthy could attend, and when the average person was actally illiterate. As for the "outperformance of the secular and humanist institutions", most of their work has occurred after the switch to "pluraluniversities" which you speak of. To pretend that you are "uncertain if I will ever see it" is to misrepresent their status for the better part of the 20th century.

          3) You dismiss secular philosophers as lacking the "solutions to a broken humanity", but the entire concept of human rights comes from secular philosophy, and you subscribe to that without even thinking. This point, like the rest of your post, seems to incorporate a habitual underestimation of the contributions of secularists to history.

          4) If the church "was able to do more with less than the coercive government approach", then why was the standard of living so horrid in the 19th century? Why were the poor treated so badly? You seem to have a rather rose-coloured view of the 18th and 19th centuries when the church was more powerful.

          • says

            The oldest American universities (Ivy League) schools were established as denominational seminaries, not elitist institutions. Princeton was Baptist, Harvard was Congregationalist, and so on.

          • says

            Michael, these are excellent questions, and I don't pretend to have the comprehensive answers to all of them. but do have some relevant thoughts.

            (4) Church history is rife with abuses, and I've experiences a bit first hand. But wherever the church grew and thrived, we see reductions in poverty and increases in individual rights. From the spread of the christian church from Rome to Constantinople to Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Britain, and America, this is generally true. And it does not necessarily matter if one is a theist (like Adam Smith) or a doubter (like David Hume)–the Scottish Enlightenment was born out of calvinist society. Individual rights and scholarship blossomed with the Reformation, offsetting the totalitarian effects of a corrupt monarchy and a corrupt church. None of these developments correlated negatively with rising beliefs in the biblical Jesus. We both agree that the church can be a bad thing as well; but that doesn't mean the Head of the church is bad. And while the church can be bad, the alternative seems to be worse. Atheistic society under Stalin and Mao does not compare favorably.

            (3) I'm surprised that you seem to be unfamiliar or to dismiss out of hand the concept " that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights." If the rights come from the preference of the majority or the whim of an earthly king, well there is a reason why public choice theory seems to prove the doctrine of original sin. The sanctity of life and the heroism defending that sanctity require moral absolutes beyond science. Science alone cannot tell us that Pasteur's experiments were more noble than Mengele's.

            (2) Scholarship and literacy and technological innovation have accelerated to be sure since Nietzsche, but such are still standing on the shoulders of christian theists like Copernicus, Newton, Pascal, Bohr, Galileo, Kepler, Maxwell, Heisenberg, Pauling, Schrodinger, Planck, Fermi, Euler, Gauss, and other Truth seekers who could also put their faith in Christ. We may disagree on who is the wheat and who is the chaff, but the truth is the truth, no matter who discovers it. It may be a cruel irony that secular humanistic pluralism must look down at its foundations and see lovers of God, but there it is. One Word = Uni Verse.

            (1) I did not use the word 'conspiracy' but complex. There are plenty of christians who subscribe to greater government interventions, as evidenced by this blog post and several commentors. I love that Jefferson wrote what he wrote about limited government, and then turned his back on it to consummate the Louisana Purchase. But let's not engage in strawman fallacies. I know you are better than that. Friedman was against government licensing, but I do agree that patients may not know which doctors are better than others. Patients do know if baseball players are good hitters or not based on their statistics, so perhaps if we cared about the performance of doctors as much as we did athletes, we could set up a system to make it easier to achieve Friedman's quest for greater individual empowerment and choice. I don't worship him any more than you or Keynes; I appreciate all three of you in what good ideas you bring to better a broken humanity.

            I appreciate your points. We should test everything, and hold onto what is good. And its a continuous process. I am glad to have met you here. You are a worthy one with which to exchange ideas.

          • says

            Thank you for your gracious words. As for the specific points you raised:

            4) You are of course correct that the Enlightenment came out of a Christian society, but that doesn't change the fact that the Enlightenment movement itself was staunchly opposed to church power. You can attack Mao or Stalin as examples of atheist societies, but that's like saying they were mathematical societies, and then blaming math. They did not kill in the name of atheism; they killed in the name of their rulers' self-interest. That's no different from the behaviour of Christian leaders throughout history (I hope I don't need to pull out the Crusade quotes). The fact remains that the whole concept of freedom of speech came about as a rebellion against the church, not as a result of church policies. There is not one word in the Bible promoting freedom of speech.

            3) Actually, science CAN tell us a lot about nobility. It tells us that we came from small tribal units in Africa. It tells us that tribes which co-operate are more likely to survive than tribes which don't; this is natural selection. This may seem like a small revelation, but think about it: group co-operation is pretty much the basis of all morality. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie; these are all just codifications of group co-operative behaviour. Christianity tries to take credit for moral rules which actually existed thousands of years before Christianity, and which are actually evolutionary strategies.

            2) Those "truth seekers" you mention, who "put their faith in Christ", did not incorporate him into any of their theories in any way. Even a religious scientist knows better than to think that God is actually a scientific explanation for anything. Moreover, this is a red herring. You had originally claimed that things got worse after the church lost its power, but you're trying to take credit for things like the scientific revolution and the enlightenment: both parts of this fall from grace you're complaining about.

            1) You obviously know the subject fairly well, and I would certainly agree that Friedman's ideas could work if humanity was what we would like it to be (of course, we both know that's not the case, and ironically enough, one could say the same thing about Marx's ideas).

            Ultimately, I think we can agree no solution will ever make everyone happy. No solution is perfect. But the modern secular approach, for all its faults, has still produced better results than any theocracy in human history. You seem to focus on origins, ie- the humanists and enlightenment philosophers came from a Christian background. But that belies the fact that they rebelled against that background, and it is their ideas which we treat as virtually self-evident today.

          • says

            Michael: I actually agree with you that theocracy is not a preferred form of government. If you saw my reply to you (on p. 5 of the comments), I referred to the debate on governance found in 1 Samuel 8, where the prophet Samuel's sons were corrupt judges, following in the pattern of his mentor Eli and sons, and prompted the ancient israelites to demand a king, so they could adopt the governance of neighboring countries instead of maintaining Yahweh as King, and Samuel basically warned the people about the higher taxation and coercion they would experience under monarchy. This passage doesn't just damn monarchy; it damns the israelites failed implementation of mosaic theocracy. All forms of government in the Old Testament history of Israel ultimately failed. So we agree that theocracy has been an abject failure.

            I am unsure if we can call any western civilization governance 'theocracy', although as you have seen, I have already conceded a broken and corrupt church throughout history. I believe the church is at its best when it is in a leadership position on civil justice, such as Wilberforce abolishing slavery or leading the aid effort with genocide victims in Africa today, and inefficient when marginalized and following secular leadership (say on women's rights and civil rights in the US over the last century). For every MLK in the church in his generation, there were two or more Jim Crows in the church on the other side of every town.

            While I do believe in moral absolutes, I also believe that humanity will still fall short, and that includes the church, an imperfect work in progress. And I equate individuals falling short with other individuals getting hurt. But I am not interested in making the Perfect, which we can only see dimly, the enemy of the good, which is what motivates our discussion here. How do we create more heaven on earth (than hell)?

            Social safety nets are part of the consideration. I think everyone commenting here probably believes the church could and should do more–the New Testament church had a fairly sophisticated entitlement program for widows, as we find in Acts 6 and 1 Timothy 5. It was sustainable, sort of like the food stamps program in the U.S. (as opposed to our health care and education programs in their current form). As I conceded before, I am a fan of good government, and am grateful for my government, despite its many failures.

            Perhaps taxation is a material opportunity cost preventing the church from aiding the poor more than it does, but I personally am not a buyer. We are richer today than ever. I suspect that the members of the church have voracious consumer appetites, and so we will not invest more in charity.

            It is where government programming becomes an ideology that we get more negative fallout. We know that Keynesian multipliers can be negative (e.g. with Soviet and North Korean marginal tax rates effectively running close to 100%, the productivity of that nation was a tiny fraction of lower taxed economies). Deadweight losses from high taxation and high deficits and debts do reduce wealth and redistribute poverty–even though politicians claim the opposite. I agree with Hayek when he said: The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

            My point is that government, like markets, are not the solution for everything. We need some limitations and some regulations for each so that we can empower individuals to pursue productive work and lifestyle choices. The greatest beauty of the Constitution is the way it limits the power of government.

            When markets break, we should look for something different to make things better. When government breaks–like with the housing finance crisis of failed regulatory authorities, failed agencies like Fannie and Freddie, and failed rating agencies with charters from Congress–we also need to look for something different to make things better. This reform bill ain't it.

            And if the church can get its act together, maybe we can feed more hungry, heal more sick, visit more imprisoned, and build more schools, like we have in our recent past.

            I would challenge your darwinian theory on the origins of morality–that ethics arise from natural and sexual selection with tribal groups. For example, following that logic might justify non-consensual sex, which would seem to eliminate the choice and the rights of those who would be coerced into mating.

            I think rights come from somewhere else. From Someone else. You are correct, I do focus on origins, but only as much as they inform my search for Truth. If rights arise from genetic heritability and mating preferences, then they do not need to be defended.

            As thought provoking as ever Michael. I am glad that you dig deep and look hard. The church would be better off if there were more like you in it.

          • says

            Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I've been very busy. I agree with much of what you have to say; our positions are really not that far apart, upon closer consideration.

            Regarding the evolutionary origin of morality, I don't see how you arrive at rape as an example of group co-operative behaviour. When members of a group use violence (and rape is certainly a form of violence) against one another, that is the exact opposite of group co-operative behaviour. I am being entirely serious when I say that you can derive virtually all of the basic universal moral rules from tribal group co-operation.

            As for the idea that rights need not be defended if they come from evolution rather than God, I have to ask: why not? What difference does it make? If they come from evolution, then it means they come from The Universe, which is just as overwhelmingly large and powerful as God is supposed to be. Does it have to be some kind of magical father figure for you to respect it?

            The Darwinian origin of morality means one important thing: that morality was a social concept before it became an individual one.

          • says

            Busy can be good. No pressure to keep up this conversation here, even though its an incredibly meaningful conversation.

            I didn't say that rape is an example of group co-operative behavior. I am proposing that evolutionary theory is indifferent to rape; natural and sexual selection do not comment on coerced mating. In general, science is unable to address ethics. I'm a fan of science, it is a great lens for us to see truth. But it is not the only lens. Evolutionary theory includes (the tautological) principle of "survival of the fittest". Wouldn't that include economically fittest? Or any other type of dominant gene, social construct, status advantage? And, as logically follows, compassion for the poor would need to arise from non-evolutionary principles. We can debate the ethical implications of giving people glasses and contact lenses, because it is degrading the quality of eyesight in the genetic pool, but I would draw an analog between giving people with poor eyesight a better footing with those who have 20/20 vision and giving those who are economically disadvantaged help.

          • says

            I'm curious: you say "in general, science is unable to address ethics" even though I just explained precisely how science addresses ethics, since group co-operative behaviour is an evolutionary strategy for a social pack animal such as humans, and all ethics derives from group co-operative behaviour. The specific examples you give (rape, lack of sympathy for the poor) both go directly against the logic I provided.

            If you object to this explanation, then please explain what's wrong with it, rather than simply repeating your claim that the explanation does not exist. How can it not exist, when I just provided it? Was I unclear in my explanation, or do you reject the logic entirely? If you reject the logic entirely, then please explain what's wrong with it.

          • says

            Science cannot explain math, but presupposes it. So presuppositions in this case would include (but not be limited to) game theory equilibria and maximization of a single objective function. Optimal solutions cannot be found for multiple objectives. Given these realities, the evolutionary theory maximizes mating preferences over co-operative group behavior. Genghis Khan has sired more than 5% of the current world population, if we believe the DNA evidence and science, through coerced mating. Nice guys finish last, when it comes to propagation of their DNA, because they cooperate over coercion. That is the logic of evolutionary theory, taken to its conclusions, and backed by DNA evidence.

          • says

            Wow, there are some serious misconceptions in your post.

            1) Science does not "presuppose" math; science uses math as a tool, the same way it might use a microscope.

            2) Game theory is not a presupposition; it is a testable theory.

            3) Genghis Khan is irrelevant to the evolution of human morality, since he did not exist until the medieval period, long AFTER we evolved to our current state. That is a pure red herring. Do you or do you not recognize the advantage of small tribal group co-operative strategies in the stone age?

            As for "nice guys finishing last", that is your personal perception of reality: one which many angry Christians seem to share. In reality, if you look at societies around the world, nice SOCIETIES finish first. In other words, societies which reduce the gap between rich and poor outperform societies which don't. There's a book called "The Spirit Level" which details this. It is a popular misconception that ruthlessness wins; it may win on an individual level, but not on a social level. The whole point I made earlier, and repeated once already, is that morality is a social concept rather than an individual one. A man living by himself on a deserted island would have no use for morality.

          • says

            By the way, it's interesting that you mention conquerors, because military tactics illustrate the validity of game theory quite nicely. Militaries which have good inter-personal co-operation and co-ordination handily outperform militaries which rely on individual prowess and heroism. Alexander conquered the known world thanks to his Macedonian phalanx, in which every man functioned co-operatively, as part of the whole.

          • says

            Michael: Are you proposing that social cooperation has emerged, via evolution, only since the Reformation and Renaissance? Do you have any evidence, DNA or otherwise, to back that claim? Because I can attribute social cooperation to reformation/renaissance just as unscientifically.

            While we may disagree on the philosophy and logic of science and math, we seem to agree that math is relevant to science. I have provided mathematical references to make my last argument. You are asking to suspend them. Let's say that homo sapien evolution has elapsed for 50,000 years. Why your theory emerging only in the last 2% of the cycle?

            I actually believe that nice guys finish first–Jesus was the nicest guy ever, and He finishes first–but I need to walk away from the evolutionary framework to get there.

            I have as much faith in your 800-year evolution of social cooperation after the medieval age as I do in the biblical creation story taking 6 literal days. It doesn't mean any of these are necessarily right or wrong, just sayin.

            Neither Stalin, Mao, nor Khan worked alone. But they trampled on individual rights to do what they wanted to do. And apparently, the first two, whom I've already brought up in previous comments, seem to refute the social cooperation theory. Yes, they all cooperated with other killers to kill. So much for evolution, after the medieval period.

          • says

            I'm starting to wonder if you're even reading my posts at all. I said "Stone Age", you somehow read that as "since the Renaissance", and then you spent four whole paragraphs making fun of that short timeframe.

            I don't know if there's any point continuing this discussion if you're going to keep horrendously misrepresenting my words like this, and then mocking me with the twisted result. You can't go forward with a discussion if you don't start with honesty.

            As for your last paragraph, you're misrepresenting the argument yet again. For the SECOND time, those people all operated long AFTER we evolved to our current state. They have nothing to do with our primeval development of social ethics.

          • says

            i'm sorry i misread and misunderstood. i thought that since you asserted that khan was medieval, that tribal cooperation had not yet appeared in the evolutionary timeline. now i understand that the tribal cooperation appeared in prehistory, and is now gone? i am still confused, unfortunately. feel free to take your leave at any time, but it seems that people have evolved past social cooperation if i am following your logic.

          • says

            Not at all; people still feel the pull of social co-operation. The problem is that nation-states are much too large for those feelings to work. Your natural instinctive desire for tribal co-operation extends to a circle of maybe 30 or 40 people at most. Beyond that, you're into a man-made realm of cities of millions and nations of tens or hundreds of millions: far too many for your tribal co-operative instincts to work.

            Haven't you ever wondered why it's so much easier to hate a group from afar, than to hate a member of that group when he's standing right in front of you? That's your tribal instinct kicking in: when he's right in front of you, he falls into your little emotional circle. When he's thousands of miles away, he's just a concept.

          • says

            Not really. Even a "small" nation-state of a few million people is far too large for our natural instincts to guide our morality. We need to analyze those instincts intellectually, and then consciously apply them on a larger scale. It won't happen by gut feeling.

          • says

            By the way, you're seriously mistaken about Stalin, Mao, and Genghis Khan (or any other conquerors you can name) refuting social co-operation. In fact, they all exemplify social co-operation. Their military organizations were effective precisely because so many people co-operated within them to make them work.

            The Russian Army withstood the onslaught of the Nazi war machine precisely because Russia's people came together and stood against them.

          • says

            It's as good as the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, and the God who supposedly helped them crush enemies, murder helpless prisoners, and take girls as sex slaves.

            The point here is that morality originally came about as something a society practiced within itself, and not so much with outsiders. Your religion is no exception to that rule, and while the morality of (for example) slaughtering the women and children of Jericho is a difficult subject area for Christians, it all makes perfect sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Morality evolved as an intra-social thing, not an inter-social thing.

            As the world grows more inter-connected, I believe the logical extension of this original evolutionary morality is to extend it to all of humanity. Unfortunately, we are not yet there.

            In any case, you originally claimed that science has absolutely nothing to say about morality. I have shown the opposite: that science actually has quite a lot to say about morality. You can try to argue with me, but you can't change the fact that science clearly DOES have something to say about morality, even if you don't agree with it. At least, I would hope you make a sincere effort to understand it, instead of making excuses to dismiss or misrepresent it.

          • says

            I can't really defend the nation of Israel–or any other government, as student of public choice theory–but I will say that some of their practices were more ethical than those of their pagan neighbors. It sometimes is a choice of bad over worse, that seems to be yet another proof of the doctrine of original sin.

            I asserted earlier my belief in moral absolutes. What does science say about this? Well, the data I think is inconclusive, but I know popular scientific conjecture and hypotheses (fancy science words for 'faith') such as your theories say that it is part of the evolutionary process.

            Well if that is the case, then whatever we evolve to is what we evolve to. So rape is ok, murder is ok, eating your parents is ok if that is what the tribe as evolved to. Or does science speak differently to you?

            I'm presupposing that this is not the conclusion to where you want me to arrive.

          • says

            No, what I keep trying to explain is that science tells us WHAT MORALITY IS FOR. Morality is for the BENEFIT OF THE GROUP. That is the crystal-clear message of science, and that's all it's saying, and you keep trying to twist it into something else.

            Once you accept that morality is for the benefit of the group, you realize that it's a collective thing, and then you realize that as we have increased the size of our tribes throughout history, we should extend the size of our "group" as well, so that morality eventually extends to all of humanity.

            This is a simple conclusion: that morality exists for the benefit of human groups. Your belief is that morality exists in order to please a deity, which quite frankly makes no sense at all, because it doesn't answer the question of why something is moral. Why does God think that certain things are immoral or moral?

            Let me turn your aggressive style back on yourself and ask the question: if God says that rape is OK, murder is OK, eating your parents is OK, then is that OK? Or does religion speak differently to you?

          • says

            So if the group needs more workers, gatherers, hunters, warriors, and one of the genders does not prefer mating, then for the good of the group, the other gender can coerce them in this framework, correct?

          • says

            God seemed to think so in the Old Testament.

            Frankly, it seems like there's no point continuing. I keep trying to explain, and you keep repeating your assumptions about what you think it really means. You act like you're asking questions, but you are really just persisting in trying to promote your preferred conclusion.

            Once more (and this seriously feels like I'm throwing pearls before swine at this point), it's moral from the perspective of the small group. However, from a larger perspective, it's not moral. It's all about how large you define your group to be. HUMAN morality, which encompasses all of humanity, must necessarily be based on group co-operative behaviour for the entire human race.

          • says

            If I define the size of my group, is it the evolutionary process that dictates my definition, or other processes?

            Mosaic Law does not condone coerced mating. I don't think there is anything in the Old Testament that says its a good thing.

            The most darwinian thing in the OT that comes to mind is: be fruitful and multiply.

          • says

            You define the size of the group for any given moral statement. When we define morality at a national scale, we are talking about the entire nation, not just 30 people you know. When we discuss morality at the UN, we are talking about global morality. The size of the group in any moral discussion is chosen by the scope of that moral discussion. There is no "correct" size.

            You are looking for hard-and-fast rules, set in stone. Such rules are comforting, but ultimately destructive because there is no such certainty, so they always hide some kind of leap of faith in there somewhere.

            As for the OT, if you can find no examples of genocide, murder, and rape in there, then you're not looking hard enough. But here's a sample: Numbers 31:14-18

          • says

            This is not the only example. Off the top of my head, I remember that God commanded Saul to exterminate women and children and animals (the Amalekites)?

            I'm not going to try to pretend I understand why God gave this command, or how it reflects His love for all humanity. I will say that a lot of American, British and Canadian christians killed a lot (and were killed by) a lot of German Lutherans in the early 1940s. And, although seemingly unnecessary and quite messy, it seems justifiable on many levels, too.

            But what does science have to say on these things? I would posit to you that science cannot say anything, just like I asserted before that science cannot say anything about math. On the other hand, math and ethics can say lots of things about science.

          • says

            The point of bringing up OT atrocities was just to point out that Biblical morality is no more immune to your criticisms than naturally evolved social morality is.

            As for what science has to say about such things, it seems that you're looking for value judgements, which science does not provide. It only explains how it happened: how we came up with this thing called "morality". It explains why you feel revulsion at the idea of punching a baby in the face. It is up to us to decide how to move forward from there. The Bible does not really give us any better answers on that score than science does.

          • says

            I guess our differences have been largely semantic on this front. What I have termed 'ethics' you term 'values'. I think they are similar and same in many ways.

          • says

            I am not looking for hard-and-fast rules. I do not believe they exist, because I believe that we have constrained views of the truth. Studying Copernicus, Gailleo, Newton, Einstein, and Schrodinger, all of whom are great scientists, and all of whom refuted major theories of the preceding scientist. I am not looking for hard and fast rules in this life.

            Just how to figure out how to bring heaven on earth. Science can help, but its not the be all.

          • says

            Yes, but science does have one key advantage: it is subject to revision. You seem to be treating this as a weakness, but it's actually a huge strength because it allows continuous improvement and adaptation to changing conditions. The LACK of revision is actually my biggest beef with the Abrahamic religions.

          • JDSD says

            Actually, there, Michael, I think you may be mistaken. Even the Bible itself charts revisions of the human concept of who God is and what God wants, and what a relationship with that God should look like. There's revision going on all the time as our own perceptions change.Unfortunately not everyone seems to realise that. Some seem to think that the way they perceive God is the only way, or at least the only right way, without realising all the revisions that have occurred to get them there.

          • says

            Jesus Himself claimed to "fulfill the law", which is actually something that a Hegelian might work over. What was the law (thesis), what was unfulfilled (antithesis), and how was Jesus the fulfillment (synthesis)?

            And then, how do individuals who follow Jesus process that, as individuals and as "tribal groups" (i.e. churches)?

          • says

            Jesus says that we should love another person like we love ourselves, and we should love ourselves because our Creator love us. Jesus also says that we should help the poor, feeding the hungry, giving drinkable water to the thirsty, visiting the imprisoned, carrying an enemy's ruck not one mile as required by law but two, giving something to everyone who asks of us. He says that the nation of Israel proved that laws do not evolve society into what it could be–that grace is required.

            I agree, so we need to figure out where the source of grace is, and tap it, and then we can reduce social ills.

            Jesus also says that we will also have the poor, so while I do sponsor 4 kids in Rwanda so they can get healthcare, food, and an education, it doesn't mean we will eliminate the issue. If you remember, I basically accused the church of engaging in consumerism, which I attribute to the same politics of envy that many of my fellow citizens indulge in.

            My God said in His Word that murder is wrong, rape is wrong, and cannibalism is wrong. Phew!

          • says

            What is this post supposed to prove, exactly? You act like you want to know more about what science says on the subject, but you ignore, misrepresent, dismiss, and attack everything I say, then finish with a flourish by declaring how superior your own beliefs are.

            Congratulations; you're acting like EXACTLY the negative stereotype that people have of Christians.

          • says

            I meant to say:
            I don't believe that the theories we cling to for the moment DEFINE US, …

            still in the office, and i've got a few interrupt-driven tasks.

          • says

            I suppose you didn't notice that he didn't actually prove that to be true anywhere. He merely stated it as if he had already done so, and then psychoanalyzed a guy who was denying it.

            There was a sharp boom just before the 1937 mini-depression; does he feel that the Fed is somehow responsible for the ensuing (and pretty much inevitable) correction? The boom-bust cycle has only characterized economics for hundreds of years after all.

            Why is it that conservatives are so clever at finding ways to blame the government when the economy is bad, while insisting with equal vigour that the government cannot possibly be responsible when the economy is good?

          • says

            There was monetary expansion before the '37 contraction.

            And I'm not sure you can box me into a simple religious conservative, although I do exhibit attributes of both.

            I am as interested in beating swords into plowshares, any leftist elitist atheist. I feed my kids organic foods. I was educated in the only Ivy League school started by atheists, and I live in Manhattan!

            One thing a lot of social conservatives have issues with me is my libertarian sensibility. For example, although I am pro-life morally, I am pro-choice politically. Giving the government the power to take choice away from my opponents also means the government can take my choices from me. Unlike the tactics or umbrella of the Moral Majority, I think that government should be more silent on the abortion–neither subsidizing nor taxing it–and allowing small groups (tribes or states) decide this things.

            Perhaps we are both federalists then, and would prefer small federal influence, and greater local community and neighbor influences?

            btw, Scott Sumner is not a conservative either. I've only cherry picked some of his comments on the Great Depression, because you brought FDR up.

            We want the same things–more justice, more individual empowerment, less poverty, less violence. It is good to talk about how we can achieve our common goals. You probably put more faith in experts than I do, and I probably put more faith in one Expert than you.

          • says

            Too bad that Expert of yours never speaks to us directly, except through the mouths of followers who merely CLAIM to speak on his behalf.

            Come to think of it, he did the same thing in the Bible. He never spoke to the Jews; he always communicated through messengers, like Moses, who always conveniently had to be alone when they spoke to him. Hmmm …

          • says

            The historical Jesus DID speak to people directly, just like FDR in his fireside chats. Oh wait, that was via radio, could have been some voiceover guy …

            All of Jesus' original followers were Jews. And He spoke with His parents, who were Jewish. He had some criticism for the Jews who were religious leaders. He did tell His followers not to cast pearls before swine, or give what is holy to dogs. Ironically, the avowed atheist Penn Gillette takes issue with this teaching–Penn says that any person who really believes that Jesus is the Son of God should be actively proselytizing.

            If it is true that faith is required to see God, then the scientific method will never reveal Him to us. I agree with you wholeheartedly there, and I 'love' science, having earned an engineering degree, and being the child of two chemistry PhDs. I'm not sure, if I had to choose between this blog and xkcd.com, which one it would be!

            Michael, I can tell that you and I, while looking through things with different lenses, both hope for better days and test everything, holding onto whatever good we can find. It's worth doing.

    • says

      Everyone seems to forget that donating money to charities, including the church, lowers taxable income… at least in the USA. If you give more of your money away voluntarily, you will pax less taxes. Seems like an incentive.

  16. cxlink says

    I think the biggest thing for me as a progressive is I HATE VOTING!!! I know that either a democrat or a republican will win (most likely a republican here in GA) and I hate that there is no one on the ballot who represents my views. They tend to be one extreme or the other.

    • Jubilee says

      I'm often terribly dismayed at the choices we have re: whom to vote for… often neither one has very good positions in things that the Word of God makes very clear… but I believe we ALL have a responsibility to VOTE! It's a huge moral cop-out to avoid voting because you don't like the choices! There always seems to be the lesser of two evils. The best advice I ever heard was this: When the choice is between two people who both have one or more positions that are bad/clearly go against God's Word, then figure out who seems to be worst: which one the devil would most like to have in office, and then vote for his/her opponent!

  17. lvj says

    All too often we Christians get caught up in political ideology. God's word – the Bible – transcends concepts like liberal and conservative and should inform our thinking and actions.

  18. says

    All you need in order to be a liberal Christian is to have a problem with the Republican version of Matthew 25:

    "For I was hungry and you reduced my food rations to lower your taxes, I was thirsty and you told me I need to understand "the consequences of failure", I was a stranger and you deported me, I needed clothes and you told me to get a job, I was sick and you fought those who would heal me with your taxes, I was in prison and you tried to make sure I could never leave." Republican Bible, Matthew 25:35-36.

    • says

      Forgive me for some parody, but since this was painted with such a broad stroke, turnabout is fair play :)

      All you need in order to be a conservative Christian is to have a problem with the Democrat version of Matthew 25:

      "For I was hungry and you lobbied for someone else to feed me, I was thirsty and you refused to give me water from a plastic bottle, I was a stranger and you patronized me, I needed clothes and you judged me for going to Wal-Mart, I was sick and you worked it out so someone who wasn't you could pay for me, I was in prison and you used me as a poster child for your cause. Democrat Bible, Matthew 25:35-36.

      Of course, all of my Obama voting friends sound nothing like this. Then again, my McCain voting friends sound nothing like the other cliche. Stereotyping doesn't really help anyone.

      If Jesus was telling the story of the Good Samaritan today, he'd probably tell liberals that the guy who picked up the robbed man was a Tea Partier with anti-Obama stickers on his car, and then tell the conservatives that he was a gay man on the way to his wedding.

      • says

        Yeah, that's pretty much what I expect from conservatives: a repetition of the lie that liberals don't pay taxes themselves. We pay taxes too, so it's not "someone else" who's paying for the programs we support. Take that away, and your rebuttal is pretty much wiped out.

        • Otter says

          "Yeah, that's pretty much what I expect from conservatives: a repetition of the lie that liberals don't pay taxes themselves."

          As opposed to ad hominem attacks on character based on generalized politcal views? Think about it.

          • says

            I never suggested liberals don't pay taxes, I suggested that shuffling off responsibility to someone else for a poor man in your presence (and boasting about the dime on a dollar you paid out of pocket) isn't compassion. Expecting someone with a lot more money to carry the weight so you don't have to really isn't compassion.

      • says

        By the way, if you're denying that conservatives do in fact wish to reduce services to the poor in order to reduce their taxes, then please explain why they have spent the last 30 years doing precisely that.

      • says

        "If Jesus was telling the story of the Good Samaritan today, he'd probably tell liberals that the guy who picked up the robbed man was a Tea Partier with anti-Obama stickers on his car, and then tell the conservatives that he was a gay man on the way to his wedding."

        That's brilliant.

    • says

      There is a VERY big difference between GOVERNMENT programs and big taxes and TRUE CHARITY which is freely given.

      I am a HUGE supporter of charities – especially since I have had the benefit of being blessed by a food bank or two growing up. I volunteer and donate as much as I am able BECAUSE of the fact that I don't think such social programs should be mis-managed by government bureaucracy AND also come out of tax money.

      (For the record, I'm not a Republican . . . but I do think we, as Christians, ask our government to do a lot of things for us that we, as the Church have FAILED to do . . . if we were truly feeding the poor, being fathers to the fatherless and defending the widows then the government wouldn't feel the need to step in and do it for us . . . and WASTE our money doing it because they are so inept at charitable work – ahem, social programs)

  19. Bob says

    Who was this article written by? It says Jon but it reads like it is written from the perspective of Jon's friend? confused

  20. says

    OK, so I am a registered Democrat, and have a Christian friend who is also. We have mutual friends…so I guess we better keep quiet about that, or we may lose a whole bunch of friends to the quota of 1 liberal friend.

    Great post!!

  21. says

    I'm going to act like an evangelical and shout Amen Amen AMEN! for the extended pro-life Democrat section. Great post. (Don't get the Ira Glass Eucharist bit though.)

  22. Jeff says

    Who is Donald Miller? What is an Ira Glass? What's a 'Latte'? Am I supposed to know these things? Or, are they Liberal inside jokes?

    • says

      That's because libertarians live in a fantasy world, where the "free market" can automatically take care of everything and no government regulation or programs are ever necessary. This is a complete falsehood and a massive misrepresentation of the theories of Adam Smith, the father of capitalism.

      • says

        The "free market" is precisely and nothing other than the sum of all voluntary human cooperation. Productivity and morality are both possible only in such a paradigm. The fantasy world is the one imagined by the state-worshipers who believe that people can be made prosperous by the taking of wealth, and that people can be made moral, through violence.

        • says

          So it's a "fantasy" that wealth can be created in a well-regulated economy rather than an unregulated free market?

          It's odd how all of the world's most prosperous nations employ such a system, then :)

          • says

            It's a fantasy that violence can better regulate an economy than voluntary mutual accountability.

            And no, it's not odd. Parasites don't last long on starving hosts. They feed longest and deepest on those hosts which have the most to give. Likewise states do not tend to grow large in scope and power in nations with poor economies; and they also tend to collapse when they end up weakening the economies they feed upon, just as other parasites die when their host becomes too ill to support the parasitic relationship.

          • says

            Your colourful use of metaphors is entertaining but it masks the fact that the world's most prosperous nations use the system you reject as unworkable, while the world's most destitute nations use the system you propose as superior.

  23. John says

    Really, really wish you had left politics alone Jon. Satire about healthcare, environmentalism, etc leaves those who see the issue through a Biblical worldview and disagree with the views of the guest poster in a predicament of deciding whether to post a "serious" comment and disagree – or secretly write off the blog as one I shouldn't be reading and supporting.

    Just my thoughts…

    • cshell says

      Do you not see everything else he posts about through a "biblical worldview" …or just political posts? Everyone else is stating their opinion, state yours.

      I just don't get it most of the time….

    • says

      Yeah, but politics is where the rubber meets the road, isn't it? It shows what you REALLY believe, because it involves the taxes you pay. Anyone can spout platitudes without actually meaning to pay any of their own money for them.

    • Matt T. says

      So the guest poster doesn't see it through a Biblical worldview? Really? Because she disagrees with you on politics?

      • Cat says

        I can definitely see how it could be interpreted that way, but to be fair, it could also be taken differently. "Those with a Biblical worldview" might actually be a larger group which includes both people who agree AND people who disagree with the guest's opinions; after all, the OP said "those who see the issue through a Biblical worldview and disagree," not "those who see the issue through a Biblical worldview and THEREFORE disagree."

  24. says

    don't forget alcohol! Proggers will sip their over-hopped craft brew at a church bbq, just DYING for someone to make a comment so they can cite "Christ's first miracle was water into wine, at a weeklong party!" And if that doesn't work, they can always cite St. (C.S.) Lewis in all his pubbing and piping holiness. (oh, and "they"="I").

  25. says

    From my twitter posts…
    Religion and Politics is problematic for the church when it's role is to preach the "Kingdom of God".
    Politics…wow what a mine field the church gets stuck in!
    From the pulpit and power people in the church there needs to be more wisdom about how they present the message of Jesus and focus on "the kingdom of God" and not personal opinions about political matters…in my humble opinion. :)

  26. says

    The spirit of Christ and the political spirit can have no fellowship with each other. Christians should seek non-political solutions to supposed political problems. We, the Church, should be the instrument that forms society – not the violent, parasitic false god that is the state.

    • says

      While your language is a little harsh (esp. for a website of this nature), the basic idea you espouse is one that both in the liberal and conservative camps can get behind… I think that's a big misnomer about "social justice" Christians, btw… that they all want big government. The difference between an Anabaptist and a libertarian fundamentalist isn't so much philosophical, as it is what exactly they choose to protest (war, or abortion, e.g.)

      (Well, there are pretty significant differences, I guess. But unity's gotta start somewhere. )

      • says

        Yeh, and I'm not here to convert people to libertarianism. I do care very deeply, however, about convincing the church to stop embracing secular political power. There are other ways to think in an apolitical manner without being a libertarian economics/philosophy nerd like me.

        • Jon says

          Now that would be a sight to see!!! I don't think the church will start living up to it's potential to be a world-changer until they do exactly this – "stop embracing secular political power". Do what you know is right and let the government sort out the rest.

          If you don't want your tax dollars to go to abortion then take a real stand and stop paying taxes. Same with any other issue.

      • says

        Non-political solutions only work when they are permitted to exist. But a state will suffer no competition.

        For Christians to attempt to employ those solutions we create, we will have to disobey, or at least circumvent, the state.

        • says

          Now you just sound like one of those angry Tea Partiers. You're really taking the rhetoric up to another level here.

          The fact is that the state has no problem with competition from private charity, and your assertion that it taxes people so heavily that they cannot possibly give to charity is simply false. In the last 2 years alone, the number of millionaires in the US has gone up by a shocking 16%. Where is the huge outpouring of money to charity that should be occurring?

          • says

            "the state has no problem with competition from private charity"

            Of course the state suppresses competition with private charity. If I refuse to pay them because I would rather donate to my church's food bank and invalid support program (or rather, if they catch me, because I do that in fact), they will put me in jail. Competition means people get to choose which organization they support. It does not mean they are forced to support one regardless of whether they choose to support another; that is the opposite of competition.

            "In the last 2 years alone, the number of millionaires in the US has gone up by a shocking 16%. Where is the huge outpouring of money to charity that should be occurring? "

            Charitable donations have increased in the past 10 years (I don't know about the last 2). But in those cases where millionaires don't act charitably, most likely said millionaires believe that the money taken from them by the state in the name of charity covers their responsibility to give. And frankly, I would agree with them, if government welfare was worth a damn. But the fact that the welfare state does a much better job of keeping middle-class bureaucrats in high-paying jobs than it does of feeding needy people, means that we still have a responsibility to the poor.

            Also, most new millionaires rode a wave of inflation to the top of the pay scale. Now that inflationary malinvestment is being cleared, people are finding out that they were not nearly as wealthy as they thought they were.

          • says

            Ahhh, so th number of millionaires increases by 16% during a recession, and you don't see profit-taking; you see people fleeing the evil of the state. The rich nearly triple their share of the nation's wealth over the last 30 years and you don't see greed; you see people fleeing the evil of the state. No greed here, it's all principled people making a stand, right?

            Is there anything you would NOT be able to interpret as people fleeing the evil of the state?

  27. says

    Ok I'm gonna try to offer my input without stirring anything up (which ends up never happening when politics are brought into the conversation).

    My first thought is, it scares me when Christians begin speaking in terms of "my money" and "what I've earned" because one thing the Old and New Testament is very clear on is that we have no claim to the money and possessions we have in this world. We only have what God has graciously given us, and we should steward that to bring God glory. Even beginning to have the mindset that the money is yours begins a slippery slope towards assuming that you deserve to do or not do as you wish. Mother Theresa said "This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.". Jesus gave his life for us to show us what love is. I personally tend to see a connection there.
    Acts (Chapters 2, 4:32-37, 5) all demonstrate how much it is desired of us to not believe that "our" possessions are earned by and belong to us. And Jesus clearly describes how he wants us to serve him in this world in Matthew 25. His desire is for us to care for those who are oppressed and need, in our country and abroad. In my experience, those who speak of the government having no right to take their money to use for "the welfare state" don't in turn use their money to bless others as Jesus asked us to. They just use the Bible as a cop-out to keep "their" money. For themselves.

    Secondly, I think it is true that if you examine the global political climate, America does have a fairly confusing and abnormal view of what is "liberal" and what is "conservative". In a global sense. desiring governmental social services is not "liberal" or "left" at all. It is a center or center-right phenomena.

    I just really don't understand the fixation in opposing a societal means to provide for the needy on a mass scale.

    • says

      I heart your comment. :)
      Thank you SO MUCH for saying what I've tried to say for years. I'm totally stealing your reasoning next time I speak to a more conservative friend who is griping about money, healthcare, etc…which in my estimation should be in about 3.8 minutes.

    • Jeff says

      Once God gives it to me, it's MY money. And I get to distribute it where I want. I don't really want it to go to the Kenyan govt to promote abortion, or to the starving artist that crafted the madonna out of poop, or for free tobacco for the poor. You can give the money God gave to you to support the poor UAW workers and executives, but you can't have mine. I hve better plans for it.

      • Cat says

        I very much disagree with your wording and your tone, but I think there is a good point here that some people might miss because of such a disagreement. What if we were to rephrase this a bit, and address it as a matter of stewardship instead of ownership? For example:

        When God gives it to me, He has chosen ME to be steward over that money. And He has entrusted it to me where it will be distributed it….etc.

        Jeff, would you agree with a statement phrased that way, or do you feel that it is more correct to say that it is specifically your money, as you phrased it?

        • Jeff says

          Alot of this discussion is Bible Gamesmanship. People have their viewpoint, then go to the Bible to find something to use to religiously intimidate another who disagrees. It's a favorite pastime of the Religious back to the Pharasees. Take all that away, and it's just an argument as to whether the Govt has a claim on one's income to give it out for better or worse.

  28. says

    Ugh. I hate politics. With a heated passion. Mostly because in my experience, it's the one place people of all beliefs are very close-minded on.

    That being said, way to go Rachel, for writing a nice satire piece about politics. Some may have said it couldn't be done in the right spirit, but I think you found a great balance. :)

  29. jbenezra says

    I personally can't stand the Republicans or Democrats. However, I cannot comprehend how any Christian can vote for a candidate or send donations to a party that is openly anti-life (pro-choice is the more used term). You can't hide behind it only being "one issue". I don't care how many times you tell yourself or others that you are "pro-life" and just disagree one this one small issue. Millions of babies have been murdered from abortion and the Bible speaks rather strongly about opposing murder, in fact it speaks clearly about caring for the oppressed and it is hard to be much more oppressed than the thousands of unborn babies that are murdered each day.

    Please, everyone remember, the government is never the answer, Jesus is the answer. The church was instructed to be caring for the poor, not the government. The fact that the church is failing in this role is no reason to give up and capitulate. We need to get back on track helping others. Paying taxes to the government to "help" the poor does not in any way fulfill Matthew 25.

    I try so hard to avoid posting on the internet, but this got to me obviously. :)

    Enjoy your latte.

    Jon, I love the site.

    • RobM says

      Even if abortion is your only issue, it's still not that hard actually. Repubs may talk "pro life" or "anti abortion", but they don't do anything to reduce the number of abortions (distribute condoms, sex ed), and don't pass any laws that will stand up in court to limit abortions. They just grandstand. Decade after decade of grandstanding. At least most dems will work to reduce the number of abortions.

      • says

        You are assuming I'm a Republican for some reason or am in favor of what Republicans are doing against abortion…which is nothing.

        All I'm saying is that the Democratic party, and Barack Obama specifically, are very pro-abortion, as someone who lives in Illinois I can tell you that he was in favor of some incredibly pro-abortion laws, and I can't see how a Christian in good conscience can vote for someone who is in favor of murdering babies.

        This is not a contrast and compare, not a "lesser of two evils" type thing. We either support baby killers or don't and I guarantee you that Jesus would never vote for for a politician, Dem or Rep, who was not 100% against abortion. And since we are to be like Jesus it makes the choice very simple for me.

        • says

          I *cannot believe* you would say "I guarantee you that Jesus would never" do *anything* that He Himself never explicitly guaranteed He wouldn't do.

          You appear to have an incredibly simplistic and narrow-minded view of the abortion issue. Being pro-choice or liberal DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN being pro-abortion. I think abortion is wrong, and heartbreaking, and should never happen. However, I do not support a legal ban of abortion, and rarely will I support a political candidate who would support such a ban–because I know that that will do *practically nothing* to stop abortion from happening. The Church is responsible for bringing glory to God and advancing His Kingdom. But government has the still-very-important job of dealing with the realities of the kingdom of this world, and as a Christian I try to support political policies that will have the most just, compassionate result overall within those realities.

          People have been practicing abortion for a very, very long time. Under a legal prohibition, the wealthy and privileged will continue to abort pregnancies, but at exorbitant cost, generally with less-than-ideal conditions and always at risk of manipulation by practitioners. The poor, marginalized and oppressed don't have wads of cash to give to black-market doctors, so they will have friends perform the procedure, they will try to induce miscarriage through physical and/or chemical trauma, they will turn over any funds they do have to snake-oil salesmen. If these methods fail, which they do, vulnerable and desperate women will not usually say "oh, well, I guess I'll just have to give birth and raise it and love it as best I can." Vulnerable and desperate women will more likely kill or abandon the baby when it is born.

          So I'd rather support a candidate who does not want those things to happen to women, who wants women to be able to obtain safe abortions that will not permanently ruin their personal lives, their finances, their fertility, their health. These same candidates also support the things that can *actually* help reduce abortion, such as:

          For starters, making birth control a lot more accessible. Also very important, comprehensive sex education to teach young people to make safe, healthy and responsible choices about their sex lives, *especially birth control* but also with a focus on not engaging in sexual activity they're not ready for, not having sex when they're impaired, not abusing sex or people to make them happy. More generally, creating a culture in which giving birth is less likely to completely ruin a woman's life. This means largely making the cost of healthcare and childcare and education less ruinous in terms of time *and* money. Also, it's important to give women access to the resources to leave dangerous domestic situations–safe spaces, better access to welfare for those who need it, decent jobs so they can support themselves independently.

          Finally, in the broadest sense, our country needs a worldview shift. I want to support candidates who move towards a complete prohibition of thinking of the bodies of women, and other marginalized and oppressed persons, as communal property. When everyone in our society *really* believes women are inherently valuable, worthy of respect, responsible for their own bodies and truly capable of making their own choices, women will have the strength to make better decisions about sex, pregnancy and childrearing overall. Men will cease to use sex, pregnancy and childrearing to exert power over women–a decreased incidence of rape means a decreased incidence of abortion.

          (tbc)

          • says

            All of these things are intrinsically valuable; all of these things are steps toward a society that really, truly values each individual life and *behaves that way*. All of them together are *much* better ways to reduce the number of abortions that happen in this country. I don't see Republicans making meaningful progress toward any of these projects.

            I don't think the Church should support abortion. I don't think the Church or any one church should align with a political party. The Church should be spreading the Gospel and guiding Christians toward more Biblical, Godly lives. The Church should be supporting and lifting up its members so that they can make God-honoring choices. Of *course* the Church should be working harder than any individual or government to care for the hurt and sick and poor and lonely and lost, not just in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense.

            Government does not exist to make people follow God. Government cannot save people's souls or cause them to repent or show them the life-changing love, grace and truth of Jesus. Only the Church can do that. But while the Church seeks to completely transform human beings and free them from human nature, government exists to help human beings continue to function because not everybody's being transformed yet. Good governments allow the best of human nature to reign, and curb the worst of human nature, thereby protecting individuals from oppression and giving everyone a chance to live happy and healthy lives.

            Your beliefs about abortion are different, sure, and you and all my Christian friends who vote conservative have every right to pursue your beliefs by supporting the candidates with whom you agree. Political freedom is a great thing. But you're being hurtful and unfair and arrogant when you guarantee how Jesus would vote. Right now, though the Democrats have a mess of issues as well, I vote Democrat because that's what fits the way I think and the way my faith in Jesus inspires me. Jesus didn't live His human historical life in America in the 21st century. Maybe Jesus wouldn't vote at all; that's something I've followed at certain times in my life. But St. Augustine said "God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand you have failed." We don't get to put words in God's mouth.

          • says

            "We don't get to put words in God's mouth."

            The Bible does though and it is pretty clear on murder.

            Answer me this: should we legalize murder because people are doing it anyway and the rich can get better lawyers to get away from serving time in jail? (O.J. Simpson)

            Abortion is killing an innocent baby. Abortion is murder. The Bible states that murder is a sin. It completely boggles my mind that a professing Christian can state that abortion shouldn't be illegal. The only way you can say that and stay consistent is either to repeal all murder and rape laws and state that it isn't the governments place to save souls.

            Who speaks for the baby? Who speaks for the victim in a crime? God has given the government power to punish evil, such as murder, rape, theft, etc. Therefore, God declares that murder is wrong, God declares that the government is to punish murderers.

            Your only reasonable argument is that the baby isn't a person, but that argument fails too when you read the Bible. David talks about God knowing him before he was even formed. The baby has a soul. The baby is a precious child that Jesus died for to save from sin. Jesus said to let the little children come to Him and not to hinder them. If He places that much value on them, it seems clear to me that we should to.

            You call me simplistic when all I do is quote what the Bible says. If you do not care what the Bible says about murder then so be it, our discussion is over, however, if you do choose to care about how Jesus says we are to live our lives then maybe we should follow what He says.

            This isn't a conservative vs. liberal issue, Reps care about stopping abortion as much as Dems do, I don't care about either flawed, mostly worthless political party. This issue is about what the Bible says about this issue and it is very clear.

            I'll let you have the last word since I doubt I will convince anyone of anything in a forum post.

          • says

            Okay, so some really dense things to unravel here. I'm trying to be straightforward and level-headed, but I think it's really unfair to say that the only reasonable argument is that the baby isn't a person. I think you mean that the only argument you've ever heard or thought of as a reasonable response to your questions is that the baby isn't a person. That doesn't mean that I don't have arguments that are perfectly reasonable and valid to me and a lot of other people. It's just that my arguments come from an essentially different approach to the legal system.

            I believe that abortion should remain legal because I believe that fundamentally, laws should exist in order to protect people and their rights, *not to stop people from acting immorally*. This is a crucial difference. I want laws to maximize the safety and freedom of citizens, giving them as equal an opportunity as humanly possible to pursue health and happiness.

            Thus, I want murder to be illegal and abortion to be legal. This is because the reasons for terminating a pregnancy are a whole lot different from the reasons for murder, *and that results in very different outcomes when each act is legalized*. A woman or girl terminates a pregnancy because she is not ready–financially, physically, emotionally, psychologically, what have you–to give birth to and raise a child. She terminates a pregnancy because she sees it as the only option she has that will not ruin her life.

            A person kills another person out of anger or hatred or greed. Murder is for the most part committed as a crime of passion, or for material gain. A person kills because the victim has angered the killer, or because the victim owes the killer something, or because the victim is trying to blackmail the killer, or because the killer hates everyone of the victim's race and is taking it out on one particular victim, etc. Manslaughter is a crime of negligence.

            (tbc)

          • says

            I support the fact that murder and manslaughter are punishable crimes because I believe the fear of legal punishment is one of the most successful and effective incentives against killing someone. For example, I support laws against drunk driving not because driving while impaired is inherently immoral but because it is a particularly deadly form of negligence, but one that most people would risk because they don't truly register the consequences for themselves or for others, unless society threatens an immediate, personal punishment for that negligence itself and an even higher punishment for injuries and deaths that result from it. I support the government's punishment of murder because for many sane people, the threat of massive fines and large amounts of jail time is enough to stop them from acting on really intense anger or hatred that would otherwise temporarily override their morality or their fear of personal social repercussions in the future.

            However, the fears that a pregnant woman faces when she chooses an abortion are very, very real and very, very powerful. Women who are in a desperate situation–which always feels desperate to them: whether it looks like it to an outsider or not, a woman who's afraid having a baby will ruin her career can psychologically feel like that's just as desperate as a woman who's afraid her partner will kill her if he finds out she's pregnant–are not likely to consider legal punishment sufficient to dissuade them from terminating the pregnancy. Abortion is much, much easier to conceal from authorities than murder. It's not that difficult to run a black-market practice and hide it from the government–used to be done all the time. It's even easier to look up the procedure on the Internet and have a friend perform it with whatever tools are on hand. Women in a desperate and vulnerable position are going to take the option that gives them a *chance* of having the life they want–if the options are "have the baby which will ruin my life" and "have an abortion which will only ruin my life if someone finds out about it and presses charges", a woman is probably going to choose the latter.

            I'm convinced that murder rates are lower because murder is illegal. I'm really not convinced that abortion rates would be meaningfully lower at all if abortion were illegal. I don't think I ever *will* be convinced that making abortion illegal will do *anything* noticeable to solve the serious problems that our society has with how we treat women, children and all marginalized persons, how we deal with the myriad socioeconomic dangers that make abortion seem like the only option for vulnerable desperate women. It would not be helpful or practical at all.

            I adamantly *do* care what the Bible says. I care what the Bible says about murder, and that's why I'm never going to kill anyone, with the help of the Holy Spirit to transform my heart away from anger and hatred. Personally, I think the personhood of a fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus is a murkier issue than you have stated you think. I wouldn't have an abortion myself, because I want to err on the side of life and God, and I know that a) the supreme blessings of being saved by the grace of God and walking with Him and relying on His strength, and b) the great blessings of my worldly privileges of race, class and family situation, would make it not prohibitively difficult in any way for me to have a child.

            But I don't want the laws of my country to follow the spiritual and moral laws of the Bible or any other religious text. I want the laws of my country to make my country safe and free for everyone so that they can pursue happy, healthy lives. Laws against murder help achieve that goal. Laws against abortion don't.

          • Samford Mom says

            "More generally, creating a culture in which giving birth is less likely to completely ruin a woman's life"

            Wow. Just Wow.

            This is so anti-woman. Women are not victims.

          • says

            No, it's not anti-woman. I apologize if it came off that way, although I'd hoped the paragraph where I emphasized that one of the major problems is how anti-woman our culture is would have shown you that that's not what I meant.

            I didn't state or imply that having a child always and completely ruins a woman's life. What I said was that our culture makes it so that being unexpectedly impregnated and carrying and birthing the baby *can sometimes* ruin a woman's life, and is, to some degree, likely to ruin a woman's life. In some cases, it only *seems* that it will ruin a woman's life, but it means nothing for a woman to have alternatives if the world she lives in, and the people who impact her ability to carry and raise a child, make her incapable of seeing or taking advantage of those alternatives.

            If you don't think that many women live in circumstances where having a child is going to cause them major problems–financially, relationally, career-wise, physically, emotionally, psychologically–I think you're probably not looking closely enough at the world around you. For many women, bearing and raising a child is not something they want to do or even something they're capable of doing well. One of the major reasons for this is that our culture makes it so expensive–in terms of money, time, energy and sacrifices made to so many other important parts of life like friendships, marriages and career–to have kids that women *panic* when faced with the prospect of an unexpected child.

            I am, and I hope you are, in a position that would make it not all that ruinous to have and raise a child. If, God forbid, I were raped and impregnated on my way home from the convenience store tonight, it would be traumatic and there'd be some terrible consequences for my well-being. But I have the personal, social, psychological, spiritual and economic resources to deal with that situation, heal and resume my life. It would look pretty different, but I could still be healthy and happy. That is a massive blessing and privilege to have.

            Many women don't have it. Many women don't have the access to healthcare, education, social support and therapy. Some women live in a different world from me–they *are* victims. They are victims of an oppressive culture, of abusive or unsympathetic partners, of unfair and irrational expectations about their personal lives and careers. Denying that women can be victims is not pro-woman. Creating a society where both women and men are free to choose whether or not they want to have children, where women have the resources to deal with an unexpected pregnancy safely, happily and healthily, where men never rape women or force them to carry and raise children in order to exert power over them–that's pro-woman, pro-child, pro-person. That's what I want.

          • Jessica says

            skreps, I really appreciate how articulately and coherently you explained your position. I don't know that I've ever read or heard it more clearly put before. I happen to agree with you, but I'd like to think that even if I didn't, I would respect your logic and the strength of your convictions.

          • says

            I respectfully disagree, Samford Mom. You're right, women aren't victims, but neither is it an anti-woman sentiment. Our society likes to judge mothers so much for what we feel they aren't doing correctly and should be doing better. We tend to throw a whole load of judgment at single moms while giving single dads pats on the back. We do things like cutting daycare programs for the children of high-school-aged moms because we "don't want to encourage teen pregnancy," ignoring that these programs are often the only way the women are going to get enough of an education to support themselves and their kids. We do things like slashing the subsidized daycare programs which largely replaced welfare in the '90s, which were supposed to allow moms on welfare to go out and get jobs to support themselves and their kids. We do things like giving dirty looks to pregnant girls when we think they're unmarried. We do things like pay women less than men for the same jobs and the same experience because the assumption is that men support families and women don't, thereby making it harder for a woman to support her children. We do things like support corporations with poor family leave policies, that discourage their male *and* female employees from spending time with their families– for a single parent, this lack of flexibility can mean losing their job. We do things like vote for judges who are lax about enforcing child support laws.

            We do so many things that create a culture in which it seems like a good alternative for a pregnant woman, without a lot of resources and without the support of family, to abort her child, instead of dealing with all the stigma, judgment, and setbacks that we– including Christians– hand over to moms, especially single ones.

    • says

      Additionally, if we say we are pro-life, that means we are pro-any human life. The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed would be considered human life. As would anyone on death row. Single-issue voting (single issue anything) is a dangerous thing. You cannot claim to be standing up for life in one instance unless your heart also breaks for any other killing of something made in the image in likeness of God. And "foreigners" most definitely fall into this category.

      You are 100% correct in saying that the Bible (meaning the God and Savior of the world) is against murder. But there is more than one way for a government to sanction the ending of human life. You

      • says

        Read Joshua. God commanded Israel to kill several nations in Canaan. In the books of the Law there are many places that talk about putting to death rapists and murderers.

        Also, I'm very against the Iraq war as it was not justified.

        I'm not a single issue voter, however, as you can see from my above comment, I strive to be like Jesus and Jesus would never vote for anyone who wasn't 100% against the murder of babies. Seems simple to me.

          • Izzy says

            Now, notice how that was just as much my opinion as your comment was. These declaritive statements of things we simply don't know won't get us anywhere.

          • Jessica says

            Oh Skitch, that made me laugh out loud! Excellent retort. (Meaning no disrespect to jbenezra or the topic at hand.) Ahh, still laughing.

          • Jessica says

            I didn't think it was mean. Pointed (and a valid point!) and funny, yes. Mean, no.

        • says

          Seems simple to me that Jesus probably wouldn't vote in general. Didn't seem to be his thing.

          And I'm aware of the Lord's command to kill. But one important thing is it was His command for a specific time and circumstance. My understanding of Scripture is that murder has only ever been justifiable if it came as a result of a direct, audible command from the Lord.

          Your comment about not being a single issue voter than stating you would never vote for someone based on a single issue seems a bit counterintuitive.

          If this sounded a bit more mean-spirited than I intended, I apologize. Disagreement does not separate our fraternity as children of God through Jesus Christ.
          I just tend to want people to think broadly and in depth about what they really do believe. Must be my darn liberal arts education! ;)

          • says

            I don't take your posts as mean spirited at all. I still disagree with you though. :)

            I think there is a difference between being a single issue voter and having several issues that you refuse to bend on. I don't vote for anyone just because they promise to ban abortion if they have other stances I disagree with them on, however, I don't vote for people who are pro-abortion because I feel that putting people in power who would continue this practice is not very helpful in our goal of getting this practice stopped.

            Jesus and the Bible have much to say on politics, it all comes down to your worldview. Do you believe that the Bible speaks to all areas of life or do you believe that it doesn't? If you believe that it does then anything we do must be viewed through the prism of what Jesus would want us to do in this situation.

            Politics and voting is part of life, and Jesus is to be Lord of our lives, so we don't get to put Him aside when we vote.

            I'm not a narrow-minded individual at all, as I go through life and get to know the Bible better it becomes more and more clear to me that there is a right and wrong answer on every topic and the Bible speaks to every situation in our lives.

            I try to avoid internet debates, even when they are well mannered, so I'll let you have the last word. Been nice chatting with you :)

          • says

            I can agree with all you said there!

            It's tough, because half of the time I just want to forget about politics, since it really doesn't matter, and being a poli-sci minor, I've really seen how worthless it really is. But the other half of me realizes how the political arena can be the forum where society can be changed for the better (see: the modern civil rights movement).

            I think the first thought is likely the correct one. Maybe in the end, the truth is we should seek first his kingdom, and see what the offshoot of that is. Because seeking the character and love of God through the entirety of His scripture seems the one way we can't go wrong.

            Thanks for engaging in civil discourse! It's been nice. Maybe we can also agree that if we truly love as Jesus did, this other stuff really won't matter?

          • says

            "Maybe we can also agree that if we truly love as Jesus did, this other stuff really won't matter?"

            We can totally agree on that :)

        • Alexis says

          Things were different in the Old Testament. It's no longer "an eye for an eye," now it's "bless those who curse you." Jesus could've killed some of the sinners that He knew wouldn't repent but He didn't. How can Christians be ok with anyone on death row being killed? We don't know that they won't repent. And we're denying them the opportunity.

          It's great to stick up for unborn children. But I think we should also stick up for other people groups who don't have as much of a voice as you and I do.

    • Rach says

      One thing I have a problem with the pro-lifers is the assumption that being pro-choice means that they are in favor of murdering babies. No sane person is in favor of murdering babies. There are a lot of reasons for women choose to have abortions and not all of them are because of the baby was unwanted. There are plenty of testimonies on the internet of women who had no choice but to terminate their pregnancy because of medical reasons. I can't write the specifics here but if you feel passionate about this issue I would suggest you read about their experiences. Advances in medicine have complicated pregnancy a lot since Jesus walked the earth. Just saying "Jesus opposes murder. Pro-choice advocates are baby murderers." seems to be too simplistic an approach to a very complex issue.
      I hope I never will be in a position where I would even have to consider having an abortion. But I know if happened to be in such a situation I want my decision to be only between me, my doctor, and God. No Government involved.

      • Carrie says

        My husband told me that replying to your comment is pointless, which is most likely true as I don't expect to change your mind.

        You say that women sometimes have "no choice but to terminate their pregnancy". Women always have a choice.

        When my father was born in 1936, something didn't go quite right, and my grandmother was told that she could not have more children. In early 1940, she found herself pregnant again. The doctor, without blinking an eye, told her that she needed to "terminate" the pregnancy as soon as possible. If she didn't, she and her baby would most certainly die. She and my grandfather, a lay minister, said that if God saw it fit to take her and her baby Home, so be it. God is in control.

        On September 25, 1940, my grandmother delivered a baby boy. She and my Uncle Wayne were healthy. My grandmother even had another son after my Uncle Wayne.

        But God did take my Uncle Wayne Home at a young age. He died on May 29, 1961 after falling asleep while driving. I wasn't born until 1979, so I never met my Uncle Wayne. But I know that he was thankful not to have been "terminated".

        In response to their son's death, my grandparents donated fifty acres of land to their church for the WLD (Wayne Leonard Davis) Ranch (or Christian "camp") to be built. (http://www.wldranch.com/) The WLD Ranch has grown greatly throughout the years, and while it will always first and foremost be a Christian camp, it also serves as a facility for football camps, Girl Scouts programs, and etcetera, with hopes that the young people will come back for a Christian camping experience. I couldn't begin to guess how many people have been saved because of the WLD Ranch, but I do know that if my grandmother, now in her mid-90s, had thrown up her hands and said, "Well, I have no choice," the WLD Ranch would not be here today.

        And what if my grandmother and Uncle Wayne had died because she didn't "terminate" her pregnancy? Doesn't it say in Ecclesiastes 7 that "the day of death [is] better than the day of birth" and that "it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting"?

        And let us not forget that God is omnipotent, having the power to do what a doctor says can't be done.

        And now bash everything that I've had to say to pieces.

        • Jessica says

          That's a beautiful story, Carrie, and it's great when things work out that way. I'm not actually here to argue with you but to point out that your last statement, "And now bash everything that I've had to say to pieces" is not only ungracious but unfair. You replied to someone who very reasonably stated the problem she has with the "abortion equals murdering babies" line that so many pro-lifers take. Why would you assume that she would "bash" anything you have to say? Come now, and let's give each other the benefit of the doubt. Nobody here wants more abortions to happen, just like nobody wants increased poverty. If we can stop being so defensive and really understand what the other is trying to say, this dialogue can be really fruitful.

          I'm so glad that your grandmother and Wayne both lived through what could have been a devastating loss. I think it's also good that she was given the choice whether to take that risk or not, though I cannot imagine having to make that decision myself.

  30. says

    Ahhhh, breath of fresh air. Thank you for this! Living in the South means I'm told more often than not that I certainly can't be a Christian and liberal…er, progressive ;-) From the comments above, seems like there's a few people here who subscribe to that notion–although I'm so encouraged to see so many *good* discussions and replies from both sides. I'm thankful that my God is bigger than politics!

  31. Susan says

    R E S P E C T. Is it me or can most of the skirmishes and kerfluffles amongst the Body of Christ be avoided by simply using good manners? Honestly, people! I am a former wild child/lefty who is now as conservative as they come. Well, as conservative as a post abortive (x3), recovering alcoholic with a gay friends can be. And that's pretty darn conservative. For the most part, my friends & family (including my rabid Christian 'Obama Mama') exist in a happy tub of love by respecting one another & agreeing to disagree. Moreover, trusting in the Living God who is mighty to save….us from ourselves and our opinions. God is certainly able to change hearts and minds and that is HIS job.We need to love, agree to disagree, and rediscover the handshake. And the side hug. The side hug makes everything better.

  32. Scrambler says

    Self-identified "progressive" believers love validation of non-believers. They love to talk about how many people have been "hurt" by the church, and they love to complain about how short the church is on love. They love to ignore what the Church does (and has done for thousands of years) well. They love their superiority complex. They love themselves. They love a god made in their image. They love being with other self-identified "progressive" believers. They love crowding their non-work hours with coffee shop meetings, emergent conferences, and wine bar discussion groups to talk about the poor and justice. They love to believe they have considered all things. They love technology, and progress, and believe it will save us all.

    • Matt T. says

      I should explain to you as someone who has gradually become more and more progressive how it actually happened.
      It happened because I examined certain issues, and things I once believed ceased to make sense to me. It was that simple. There was no burning desire to think I was better than everyone else or to treat them like they were stupid.
      "They love to talk about how many people have been hurt by the church…"
      People have been hurt by the church. Even my own church. We're not perfect. People have also been helped by the church, but is that reason enough for me to ignore the hurts?
      "They love their superiority complex."
      If I have any arrogance in me–and frankly, on some issues, I believe I do–I have no love for it. I want rid of it. I pray daily to be rid of it. But that complex never came about as a result of any progressive leanings–it's always been a personal issue.
      "They love themselves."
      Sometimes too much, yes. But this is a human flaw, not a progressive one. There is nothing wrong with loving yourself, by the way–"Love your neighbor as you love yourself." Loving yourself doesn't mean ignoring your flaws and failing to correct them, but we are not called to self-loathing either. And of course, we should not love ourselves more than others.
      "They love a god made in their image."
      If anything, the more progressive I've become, the more I've come to realize how unlike me my God is, and how far I have to go to follow his example.
      "They love being with other self-identified progressive believers."
      People with things in common like being together. There's nothing wrong with it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be with other people, though, and I spend most of my time with people with no progressive leanings whatsoever. Probably because where I live, I have no choice… ;) But I don't mind their opinions, not at all. It's disagreement, and I can accept that. All I ask is that you understand where I'm coming from and don't judge me without considering what I have to say.
      "They love crowding their non-work hours with coffee shop meetings…to talk about the poor and justice."
      Well, I don't do this. Though I do enjoy a good political discussion. But then again, I'm not that progressive. Just tending that way more and more.
      "They love to believe they have considered al things."
      Again, the farther and farther I get into this, the more I realize that there are many angles to consider. It's why I'm so decidedly undecided on politics at this very moment.
      "They love technology, and progress, and believe it will save us all."
      I won't deny, I do like technology. But I'm more likely to believe it will destroy us all. But perhaps that's just because I watch too many movies. ;)

    • ETS says

      "Self-identified "progressive" believers love validation of non-believers. They love to talk about how many people have been "hurt" by the church, and they love to complain about how short the church is on love."

      OUCH! You are stepping on my toes!!!

  33. says

    Add registered dem to the list.

    And yeah … not certain Starbucks is swinging with the fair trade scene. Now, Peet's … they're fair trade and mostly organic.

  34. Susan says

    One of my favorite quotes from Anne Lamott: "You can tell you've made God in your image when He hates all the same people you do." Lots of love from the far right, xoxo Susan

  35. ergeebee says

    5. To Write Love On Her Arms (why is this the non-profit of choice for Christolibs?)
    6. Barack Obama ("not that I agree with everything he does, but…")
    7. Calling out seriously dedicated conservative Christians as a bigger threat to humanity than Al-Qaeda
    8. Blowing the money God provided for them on "green" products that are really only clever marketing ploys put out by soulless mercenaries
    9. Self-deception
    10. Getting really defensive after reading 5-9

    • Izzy says

      I don't think it's fair to call someone defensive after saying they like "self-deception." Your comment saddens me… :[

      • ergeebee says

        ?

        The entire comment was satirical. 95% of the content on this blog is satire. Some of it even sinks to the level I did in point #9. I'll admit that it was pretty low, but come on! Everyone on here has no problem lightening up about religion. It's time we do the same with politics.

    • says

      Number 6 is so incredibly spot-on. People always say that part about "not that I agree with everything he does, but…" Personally, I don't think Obama is really all that different than George Bush. Also, I think To Write Love On Her Arms is the non-profit of choice for Christolibs because of all the musical acts associated with TWLOHA. While I believe the organization is great, they have done a really great job making it seem hip.

    • Anna says

      Two things:
      a) Please be respectful. There is a profound difference between satire and an attack. As someone who enjoys satire but is frequently attacked by religious conservatives, it isn't difficult to see the difference. I have the utmost respect for you and your right to your opinion. Please do the same for everyone else.

      b) TWLOHA: It has been my experience that this has been accepted and promoted by Christian conservatives as well as liberals. I live in an extremely conservative community, but TWLOHA receives huge amounts of support (probably due to the music associated with it). The liberals I know (including myself) support TWLOHA, but tend to lend more support to programs intent on feeding the poor and so on.

    • Nathan says

      Conservatives like to shoot hard, low blows and say, 'just kidding' and actually BELIEVE that they are kidding. Now THAT is self-deception.

  36. Hey Hey Hey says

    Love this post. Political discourse in this country has become ridiculously divisive. I can't stomach listening to anyone who uses their platform to espouse hatred, fear and race-baiting. (I'm talking to you, Rush, Glen and Bill.) So I don't. I'm pro-life, pro-healthcare reform and not fond of the death penalty. But because my state has a closed primary system I had to register republican to vote for a particular candidate. I get mail and robocalls from wacky far right tea partiers that I'd never vote for in a million years.

  37. says

    At this point, reading a lot of these comments, I feel I must point out that a lot of what you guys are describing as traits of Christianity are actually traits of AMERICAN Christianity. In other countries, Christians are free to be much more liberal.

    The connection between Christianity and right-wing politics is sort of an American thing. Here in Canada, most of the Christians totally support the use of our taxes to pay for other peoples' health care. We consider it the compassionate thing to do.

  38. says

    Question for the right-wing Christians: even if you do sincerely believe that it's better to pay for universal health care with private charity rather than taxpayer money (leaving aside the fact that you had 50 years to demonstrate this in action and failed), why would you get so ANGRY about your taxes being used for this purpose?

    This is what I don't get about conservatives: the ANGER over the use of your taxes to help others. I don't see right-wing Christians getting so angry about the use of their taxes for the military, nor do I see them getting so upset about the well-known phenomenon of inefficiency and waste in military procurement programs. Why are you so upset about it? Even if it's not your preferred method, it's still helping people. That's a good thing, right? Please, someone explain the anger.

    • JFK says

      I'll try to explain…and you have a point about "American Christianity." Our frustration is that America broke up with England becuase we wanted choice, particularly the freedom to choose those who govern us. It's about choice. We still choose our government (sort of), but whenever the government decides it's going to take a choice out of my hands and decide for me, I get ruffled.

    • ergeebee says

      I think a lot of it is because conservative Christians in America are also committed to a strict, word-for-word interpretation of America's Constitution (won't get into all the reasons why here and how that connects to their faith). The Constitution gives all types of rights to US citizens, but not things like health care. In fact, Americans have always been a nation that considers self-reliance a virtue (again, won't go into all the reasons why).

      The first generations of Americans–the ones who were the Judeo-Christian base for America's founding–were very much against the type of oppressive taxation that these types of programs put on the general public. They viewed them as an overreach of government and as stealing from citizens who gained their wealth through honest and hard work.

      I know this is all too concise, but the best I can crank out in a couple of minutes.

      • says

        The 9th amendment comes into play here. I would also say that the Judeo-Christian basis for the nation is false – if anything, it relies heavily on Roman government structure. Decidedly un-Christian, that.

    • Joshua Wulf says

      The reason we failed for 50 years is because of the increased tax burden for other social programs that keeps us from having the money to donate to charity. If we must have high taxes, no one would argue that it should be used to help people instead of going towards unnecessary wars. The term conservative has as much to do with fiscal conservatism as moral. Unfortunately, neither the republican or democratic administrations have been conservative. We should have low taxes and and low government spending.

      The above is a political preference that I don't get angry about. I will oppose with a little more passion the idea that "God commands us to love, have mercy and compassion, forgive, take care of the widows and the homeless… and if you oppose the government operating inefficient programs that address those needs you are disobedient to God." Really? When God teaches those principles, it was to individuals and churches. Taking care of the widows is a role of the deacon. Never is it a government run program that God commanded. God says there is only one way to heaven. Does that mean we should support a government run church? No.

      • says

        Do you know anything about other countries? You seem to be making these arguments in a vacuum, as it is impossible to make such things work even though other countries have done so.

        In Canada, we have higher taxes than you, and yet we somehow manage to have a lower infant mortality, less crime, longer lifespans, more universal health coverage, and less extreme poverty in our low-income areas. How is this possible?

        Shouldn't you look at other countries before declaring things to be impossible?

          • says

            I guess I wasn't specific enough. Canada has higher taxes than the US, and Toronto has one of the highest tax rates in the country, yet we shattered a record for United Way donations last year. You're saying that when tax rates are high, people can't give to charity, but I don't buy it. Middle-class houses have gotten MUCH bigger in the last 30 years; the idea that high taxes keep you from giving money presumes that you're primarily driven by subsistence needs, and not by material wants.

          • Joshua Wulf says

            I'm not saying we can't give any money to charity. I'm saying we can't give as much. Point well taken though. Regardless of how much we are taxed, we do still have more than we need and we could still give more. I personally have come to this realization lately. I just like to be able to choose where I direct my funds and to be able to give it to those organizations that I know will use it wisely. If they stop using it wisely, I can always redirect it. With government that's not the case. They may or may not be using it more efficiently now (as you state in another comment), but there is no competition and nothing stopping them from being wasteful. Our healthcare system is broken. I just think they're breaking it more. Thanks for all of your comments. Your arguments are based on logic and not with too much emotion and I can appreciate that even if we disagree.

    • Dubya P says

      Here are a few reasons I get frustrated:

      1) Tax money being used to support abortions – Planned Parenthood and still unknown answers on healthacre bill
      2) Government programs that promote views and ideals that are in stark contrast to my beliefs
      3) Massive government waste – pick a department, any…
      4) Generational living on government assistance, some folks which have better "stuff" that I can afford
      5) Little choice how that money gets used
      6) Corruption in government – anytime money is collected on this scale, greed kicks in
      7) Using tax money as a bargaining chip – pork barrel spending, "favors" for politicians districts, etc…

      None of these items are found solely under Democrat or Republican control, but are facts of life when dealing with something this big…

      Honestly – does that help?

      • says

        1) Yes, I see how abortion can be a big deal for some people.
        2) Which "views and ideals" do you refer to in particular?
        3) Re: Waste – do you have real numbers for this? How do you know that government is necessarily more wasteful than private industry? Look at really large corporations for comparison, since small businesses are more efficient only because of scale-related issues.
        4) Re: Generational welfare and prosperous welfare. Where are these prosperous welfare recipients you refer to? How do you know they are real, as opposed to a conservative mythology? The only prosperous welfare recipients I ever heard of were actually drug dealers, and you can't blame that on the welfare system.
        5) Re: Little choice in how that money gets used. Isn't that what voting is for? There is massive debate over all kinds of questions of where money gets used.
        6) Re: Corruption. Any national-scale organization would be big enough to have the same problem. A private charity would too.
        7) Re: Pork-barrel spending. That's an unfortunate side-effect of the way your "founding fathers" set up your government. All of the "checks and balances" designed to slow down government only created a situation where you have to appease countless special interest groups in order to pass anything.

        Thanks for your frank and honest explanation, though.

        • Dubya P says

          2) Forcing sex education and birth control down my kids throats at very young ages (my opinion is that is my responsibility to teach my children about the birds and the bees), Planned Parenthood, gay and lesbian movements, majority of ACLU…
          3) My main concern with government waste is there is no way the government can do things more efficiently than a smaller group – just too many layers. Also, waste comes from employees who are horribly inefficient (DMV, state workers, etc…) and folks who are protected and can't be fired (teachers – first hand from my wife)
          4) How is it over 50% of the kids at my school had free or reduced lunch, but seemed to buy cokes, extra milks, and candy bars every day. Also – have you ever driven through a housing project or Habitat neighborhood and noticed the cars, satellite dishes, cell phones, etc…
          5) The social outcry for removing the programs that I don't support would be too overwhelming and would take too much political capital to overturn – will never happen…
          6) Agree – but at least I would have the ability to vet an organization or remove my monies from that organization if it was found to be corrupt – with our current system, there is no chance to do that…
          7) But with less money flowing into and out of the government, there would be less chance to have the spending, corruption, waste, etc…

          Thanks for your thoughts as well…

          • says

            I'm enjoying our little conversation!

            2) I don't see how it's "forcing anything down my kids' throats" just to teach them about these things. It's not as if they're forcing them to actually do it. Are you saying that KNOWLEDGE is a form of oppression?
            3) That seems to be a theoretical claim, ie- you are explaining why you believe government SHOULD be far more inefficient. That's not the same thing as evidence that it is actually the case. Keep in mind that private corporations have "profit", and profit is a form of waste from the consumer's point of view (it means he's paying more than he has to), so if you're going to compare governments to corporations, you need to treat profit as if it were waste.
            4) How do you know that all these kids are on welfare? Similarly, how do you know all the houses with the cars and satellite dishes are occupied by welfare recipients? Here in Canada, most of the welfare people live in apartments, and don't even have houses at all. I've been through plenty of welfare neighbourhoods and I've never seen any signs of excess prosperity. Mind you, you can get a satellite dish for $25/mo, which is less than I spend on coffee alone.
            5) If the "social outcry" would prevent these programs from being removed, then that would suggest that society democratically supports them.
            6) That's a fair point. I would argue, however, that at such a large scale, you can't really have a lot of competitors anyway, so where else would you put your money if you want it to go to national-scale aid? It seems to me that private charity naturally devolved to small regional charity in the absence of government basis, and small regional charity leads to charities that have more money where it is less needed, ie- in affluent neighbourhoods. The poorest neighbourhoods would also have the least charity.
            7) Sure, but there would also be less chance to do any of the positive things. Can you agree that these social programs do accomplish a lot of good, despite your concerns?

          • ergeebee says

            Wow. I laughed when I read the original post, but the comments were full of serous thoughts and debate. Now that I'm reading the replies to the comments I'm laughing again.

          • Dubya P says

            2) When information is doled out prior to folks being mature enough to understand it, it has no benefit and may actually do more harm than good. Knowledge and information are two different things as well…
            3) You are trying to compare something good – profit – against something bad – waste. The goal of private industry is to find ways to provide a service or good in less time or effort than the previous attempt. If you accomplish this, then profit is made. It also is a reward for the risk involved. There is no to little motivation for government to be "profitable" or less wasteful. I'm not saying they intentionally do things so as to cause waste, but what incentive resides there for them?
            4) Welfare is just one form of government assistance. Government sponsored housing developments, like apartments and Habitat neighborhoods, have residences with new cars, leases, expensive monthly cell phone bills, etc… I think it is more a matter of the dependence our government has created whereas again, those on assistance have very little motivation to get off assistance…
            5) While I agree, the vocal minority would win over the silent majority – case in point Prop 8 in Cali. If benefits were already allowed, it would never come up for a vote to remove them even though voters denied benefits
            6) That's also a fair point and there is some good from the overall programs (red cross). Maybe its my utopian view, but I tend to believe communities and/or states could take care of themselves if push comes to shove. The affluent may have to leave their comfy suburb and head into the city to help out…
            7) As I mentioned, there are some social programs that do help those in need and the problem is that those who have abused the system give a bad name to the system in general.

            Still though, in my limited government mindset, I wonder what role the government plays in social matters. Where does is the line drawn between personal responsibility and government responsibility. I also agree we, as people and a church, haven't done enough to prevent the need for government intrusion…

            I've got to head out, but I'll check back in a bit to see if we want to keep it going. It is nice to discuss these things as most of us, regardless of which side we're on, seem to stay in a bubble surrounded with like-minded folks…

          • says

            Hello again; I was out for a bit myself.

            2) What is the harm from kids learning about sex ed? My kids learned about sex ed early, and they have not been harmed. In fact, I think it's best to teach them about it before puberty, because they don't have the necessary urges and so they react in a very matter-of-fact way. To them, it's just sterile biology. A teenager, on the other hand, is so full of hormones that he can't discuss the subject without getting uncomfortable.

            3) Actually, profit and waste are exactly identical from the point of view of the consumer. Both result in him paying too much for too little. This may feel wrong, but stop for a moment and really think about it.

            4) Well if we're talking about government assistance of ANY kind, that extends to everyone. Middle-class Americans get plenty of government assistance; the entire mortgage interest tax deduction is a giant middle-class tax giveaway. Even major corporations get plenty of government assistance. I think we should just stick to discussing welfare; assistance for people who are actually WORKING for a living is a different matter.

            5) If the "silent majority" really feels that strongly about something, they would get rid of it. If you have some better system than democracy for determining what people think, I'd like to hear about it.

            6) In a perfect world, I would happily agree with you. However, this is not a perfect world. We are dealing with imperfect solutions to real problems in our very imperfect world, and the private charity option just doesn't work. We've tried it. Where were the private charities who sprung up and helped lower the inner-city infant mortality rate until it matched that of affluent neighbourhoods? It didn't happen; not even close. Not even during the height of the economic booms of the 1990s and 2000s.

            7) Here we agree completely. I agree that some people abuse the system, and I'm no happier about it than you are. I think our approach to the problem is different, however. Consider this: there is no such thing as a perfect solution. I think we can agree on that as well. So the question becomes: which way are we going to err? Are we going to err on the side of some undeserving people taking advantage, or are we going to err on the side of some deserving people going without? It's got to be one or the other: it will never be perfect.

            As I said, it's an imperfect world, and all we can offer are imperfect solutions.

          • Dubya P says

            Hello again as well…

            2) There are talks in the States of Sex Ed being taught in classes as young as kindergarten. My oldest child is about to enter kindergarten this fall and there is no way she is ready for any of this, nor do I want her to be. It seems we try to force kids to grow up to soon – just let them be kids… Also – is it really the governments job to force feed Sex Ed anyway? I don't know, I just remember how useless my Sex Ed classes were…

            3) Dude – there is no way to compare company profit to government waste, on 99% of the market. Sure you could focus on industries like oil or energy where competition doesn't exist and prices are artificially raised, but for the vast majority of the market, if you don't make profit, you don't stay in business. If you feel like you aren't getting your money's worth from a particular company or product, then buy a different one. Why should businesses or business owners be penalized for making profit?

            4) Fine, we can stick with welfare, but you still haven't answered my question about the fact that there is no incentive for folks to get off welfare, especially when they can have everything they want without having to work. Also, 47% of Americans have no Federal Income Tax liability and 1 out of every 2 dollars spent by the government is for social welfare. That means the other 50% is spent on military, education, fire & police, libraries, etc… We're spending 50% of our money on items the Federal government was never intended to get involved with in the first place…

            5) Is it really democracy at all when people aren't willing to bring things to vote? Do we truly live in a democracy when laws can be established by judges and not by the people. I understand this isn't the true question at hand, but honestly I don't know what can be done. One suggestion I do have is term limits for all elected officials and this comes from a state where we elected Strom Thurmond well past a useful age or state of mind…

            6) I agree that we haven't done enough and I don't know how to fix it. I do wonder sometimes if things would be different if there wasn't a government security blanket. Would we take better care of the poor and oppressed if they truly had no other place to go? I wonder if our government has brought about a feeling of apathy for both who receive assistance and those who could potentially give it…

            7) I agree as well at this time there is not a better plan in place and until we have one, we can't just eliminate these programs. We do need to find a way to punish those who abuse it – make it illegal or jeopardize their future chance of receiving benefits.

            Again I think my main question is where do we draw the line between government responsibility and personal responsibility. A good question would be if we were starting a new country today, from scratch, how would we address the needs of the people? I'm guessing it would be pretty different than the current setup…

          • says

            2) That sounds like one of those E-mail chain letter rumours. There's no way they're doing explicit sex ed in kindergarten.

            3) I don't think you seriously considered my point. Profit and waste are EXACTLY the same thing from the perspective of the consumer: they represent the gap between what he pays and what he gets in return. Your answer does not refute this at all.

            4) Regarding incentive to get off welfare, that's actually due to the fact that we've spent the last 30 years gutting a lot of the worker protection rules. As a result, low-income people are in a terrible spot; they have no benefits, the company can treat them like crap, and the government won't help them. We've allowed companies to tell us how to write our labour laws for too long.

            5) No, the legal system is not democratic; that's true. But that's also by design; the legal system is a counterbalance against mob rule. Democracy is good for finding out what people think, but unfettered democracy is a bad idea.

            6) If we took away the government security blanket, I am quite confident that private charity would NOT step up to fill the gap. Over the last 30 years, we took away PARTS of that security blanket, and all we saw was a sharp increase in the gap between rich and poor.

            7) Yes, I agree it would be nice to do a better job of finding and stopping crooks. Paradoxically, this is one of those areas where you need to spend money to make money. They need to hire more people to hunt down fraud.

            Your last question is intriguing, but ultimately, the real problem is that it's not possible to find a perfect balance. It will always be changing, always be shifting as social and economic conditions change.

          • pbj says

            Not an email/Christian rumor

            many family and friends who are educators and the direction is heading there in two ways

            1) accepting (and awareness of) all sexual choices (not even just talking basic Gay and Lesbian but mulitple partners, open relationships, etc.) and practices

            2) defining and explaining practices

            this isn't just knowing what your body is type stuff that used to be taught and it's being taught along with the attitude that you're wrong for thinking differently or questioning it and that you should experiment because you don't really know what you are or are into unless you've tried it, when you're "mature" enough of course (you know, that deep maturity of a 6th-12th grade kid)

            didn't get that from an email, I've seen some of the curriculum that's proposed and being pushed

        • Bridge says

          3) are you serious? I'm not being flippant, but read a newspaper, or website most any day of the week and we learn of yet another waste by politicians. Bell county being a perfect example. Perhaps this isn't an exact line to healthcare or socialwelfare, but where do you think the money comes from. Another example that springs readily to mind is the lottery that was supposed to help fund schools. Sure, they put all that money into schools, then took it all out the other side. It's all loop holes and double speak and pork barrel. Nobody EVER does just what they say and mean, there is always a catch. If the government had to be run the way I expect a charity like World Vision or something like that to be run, it would be different. THEN I wouldn't have a problem with it — and when you listen, you'll hear that what a lot of us are saying is, I don't want to pay for lazyness, I want to pay for need.

          • says

            Of course there is waste by politicians. There is also massive profit-taking by corporations, and from the perspective of the consumer, profit and waste result in EXACTLY the same thing: paying too much for too little.

            Tell me, if a company pays $1 billion in bonuses to its executives, where do you think that money comes from? It comes from widening the gap between what the consumer pays and what the consumer gets.

            By the way, check the New England Journal of Medicine. Canada's government-run health care system has ONE THIRD the per-capita administrative overhead costs of the US corporate insurance health care system. It is "common knowledge" that governments are always more wasteful than corporations, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

        • Bridge says

          4) OMG. I personally know at least 2 families that practice this. Not friendly with them mind, you but know them. I think I understand you better Michael. Do you perhaps think people are basically good?

          • says

            I don't think people are either good or evil. I actually think terms like "good", "evil", and "sinful" are severe oversimplifications of human behaviour.

            How much money do welfare recipients get per month in your country? I would like to know how they're living such luxurious lifestyles. It still seems like a mythology to me.

    • Matt T. says

      The anger has always bothered me as well. Half the time, my debates with other Christians are more about the emotional reaction than the actual politics.

    • deerpark buck says

      I don't see the problem here, You carry the child to term, and then it dies of malnutrition, or lack of medical care, this is as a general rule what conservative christians seem to favor.

  39. says

    liberal christians hiding = dumb
    conservative christians making it necessary to hide = dumb
    not being able to have an open discourse without salvation being called into question = dumb

    care less. love more. talk less. discuss more. we do our faith a disservice when we can't have a conversation without becoming hostile.

    and for the record, i'm a conservative. i wrote a third of the republican platform for the county i use to live in. so there.

  40. says

    Oh … thank you! As a crisis pregnancy center volunteer who chooses not to vote entirely based on a candidate's "life" position, I find myself constantly at odds with those who believe that if "you get that one wrong, you can't possibly get anything else right." The supposition that all believers, sincere and devout, will reach identical conclusions on ANY social or political issue is absurd. Nonetheless, we left-leaning-Bible-believing-left-out-feeling Jesus followers will continue to give our time to the widows and orphans, our resources to the poor and oppressed, and our energy to being obedient … is there really any more any of us can or should be doing?

  41. says

    The abortion debate has been a real windfall for the Republican party, hasn't it? They can shove anything down your throats and you'll happily accept it as long as they claim to be "pro-life". And of course, anyone who knows anything about the abortion debate knows they'll never actually do anything about it. They controlled Congress from 1994 to 2006, and EVERY branch of government from 2000 to 2006, and they didn't lift a finger. No, the issue works far better if they DON'T change anything, so they can continue using it to stoke anger and dangle the ever-present but never-fulfilled promise of revoking Roe vs Wade in front of you, like the proverbial carrot on a stick in front of a donkey. Go, donkey!

    • ergeebee says

      I hate to promote a debate here on SCL (which is usually nothing but fun), but this is simply not true. The partial birth abortion ban was put into effect under the Republicans along with limits on federal funding for stem cell research.

      • says

        The partial-birth abortion ban means nothing. Partial-birth abortions are extremely rare, and when they're done, they're usually done for medical reasons. Do you really think that a woman who has an abortion "for convenience" would decide to wait until the 8th month before doing it? Why would she wait through 8 months of morning sickness, weight gain, mood swings, etc if she's having the abortion "for convenience"? Trust me, they have NO intention of ever overturning Roe vs Wade.

    • Jessica says

      Wow. I never thought of it like that. Nice insight. On the other side, I think it's a shame that the Democratic party makes little room for anti-abortion liberals.

    • Dubya P says

      Two reasons I voted for John McCain – Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – two justices who support abortion rights. Their decisions will far outlive anything decided by any current politician…

    • JFK says

      Is it strange that, as a conservative, I am pro-choice? My wife will not have an abortion, except to preserve her life. That is a personal conviction, and I will gladly share it with anyone who asks. But being pro-life means forcing that conviction on my neighbor, clearly not a loving thing to do. In my opinion, being pro-life is simply a legalist attitude turned into political agenda. Nobody should force their convictions (Biblical though they may be) on others.

      • says

        I believe that there are times that our convictions should be placed on others. When we make it illegal to kill someone, we are forcing our convictions on others. I believe that the murder of a baby is not something that is a "choice." A mother is not allowed to kill a new-born infant, so why should she be allowed to have it killed a few months earlier?

        • JFK says

          Because until it can survive on its own, a fetus is (in fictional character Dr. House's words) a parasite, taking from the woman and her body. I cannot tell a woman what she should do with her body [unless it's my wife, and therefore my body too :) ]. Once that baby is able to live on its own, however, it is no longer a "parasite" and therefore murdering that baby is no longer an issue relating to her body. Our body is not our own, it belongs to God who gifted it to us. But another woman's body does not belong to me, and I have no jurisdiction over it. God does, and he'll judge her according to his own will.

          I'm speaking here only of optional abortions, not ones where the mother's life is at stake. My dad had to decide between birthing a baby very prematurely or watching his wife die. He chose to save his wife, and I still survived by the grace of God :D

          • Erin M says

            thin line there though… what about premies.. or even full term babies that need life support.. even if it's only temporary (or esp if it's only temporary).. it's still not legal to just kill them

          • pbj says

            I've held a 19 week old (from conception not birth) premie in my hands after it lived for a few hours and then died

            you'd never call that a fetus or parasite (granted it's a quote form house, awesome character who happens to be heartless and quite often wrong unless it's in the last 5 minutes of the show and dealing with the particular patient not general or absolute truth) if you've had the experience..it's just a baby

        • says

          The "abortion is murder" statement is not as cut-and-dried as you make it appear to be. "I think therefore I am" is the basis for declaring a person legally dead when his brain stops working. Why should it not work at the other end of life? Why should a person be considered legally alive until his brain STARTS working?

          • Erin M says

            exactly — i read this after i commented above on the same thing.. but yeah.. it's totally not clear when you look at it like that

    • Natalie says

      Spot on. Thank you.

      As a fresh-faced college grad, I took a job with a Christian "non-partisan" grassroots activist think-tank of sorts. I knew they were pro-life, and, since I knew nothing else of politics except that "abortion is bad," I ran with the rhetoric of the supposed "biblical" view of ALL political issues– until I started realizing that the ideas being supported and proliferated often had much less to do with the Bible than they had to do with a political party– obviously the Republican party. Over 3 years, I had enough interaction with politicians, candidates, and the Republican party organization to be convinced that lots of good people are being fleeced because they agree passionately with one issue.

      The Republican party KNOWS that they can't buy the kind of enthusiasm and emotion that the abortion debate inspires. It makes me nauseated to think of all of the time and energy I've seen exerted by some of the most kind-hearted, genuine folks, working to promote a political party who I am convinced is using them purely for financial and political gain, while stringing them along with scraps (ie, partial-birth abortion ban) to keep them on the hook, without actually intending to enact the change in law these people desire.

      Ugh, I hate it.

    • says

      Some of us choose it for its leftward slant specifically–not because we only want to listen to things we agree with, but a) because much other media is so conservative that we need a break sometimes, and b) because they tend to cover a lot of material that isn't so completely exclusively US-centric, and c) actually in terms of the global political climate NPR is usually a wee bit right of center.

    • says

      Leftward relative to what? If Obama ran for office in Canada, he would run as a member of the Conservative Party. Americans are bad for assuming that their own political spectrum (which is skewed right compared to the world at large) is the only political spectrum.

  42. Rob says

    #5 Believing that the separation of church and state flows both ways

    I've had a fair few conservative friends tell me that "the wall" between church and state exists only to protect the church from the state. I certainly support the notion that the government has no business telling people what to believe or how to worship. The point of contention comes when I assert that the wall also exists to protect the state from the church. Cue a righteous explosion of historically dubious talk about the founding fathers and their supposed intent to create a Christian nation. Cue an equally self-righteous response about the dangers of theocracy and that Sinclair Lewis quote about when fascism comes to America it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross. That passes for dialogue today.

    • says

      The worst thing about Americans is the way every political debate eventually ends up with people arguing about the intentions of your oh-so-precious "Founding Fathers". I'm so sick of hearing about your hallowed "Founding Fathers". Americans are used to treating them like saints, but I don't see why. They were slave-owning racists; precisely what makes them beacons of morality for a modern world?

      There's a good reason to separate church and state which has nothing to do with "founding fathers". It's the fact that the state is coercive by nature. The state does not ASK you to do things; it FORCES you to do things. We should all recognize that religion does not have a good record with the use of force, and when you put religion into the state, then you put the use of force into the religion.

      • Rob says

        I agree that the founding fathers shouldn't be regarded as a bunch of latter-day Biblical figures. They did have some very good political thoughts on the freedom of man and the ideal form of government (although as you pointed out, it was also hypocritical in light of slavery). But the thing that annoys me the most is when people claim that the founding fathers were a bunch of devout Christians who wanted to found a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson was so heretical that he made his own Bible with all references to Jesus performing miracles or being the son of God removed. Thomas Paine (now is the winter of our discontent) was an outright Atheist. Benjamin Franklin openly identified as Deist for much of his life. The real legacy of the founding fathers was that they formed a nation based on religious plurality and tolerance, not the conservative Protestant nation that many religious conservatives believe in.

        • Anna says

          That is excellent and I completely agree. I'm confused about your use of "now is the winter of our discontent." That's from Shakespeare's Richard III… I haven't studied Thomas Paine or his works for quite some time, so would you mind explaining the connection before my brain explodes out of confusion?

          • Rob says

            Glad to help! Paine took the opening lines from Richard III and paraphrased them in The Crisis to address the situation of the colonies during Valley Forge. So "now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer…" changed to "these are the times that try men's souls, the summer soldier…"

            Truth be told, I forgot that he paraphrased and I just threw the line in. I throw myself on the mercy of English Lit students everywhere!

          • Anna says

            Haha, thanks so much! I feel rather ignorant for failing to see that. Especially since I'm not actually an English Lit student… I'm more into international relations, which actually exacerbates my ignorance I'm afraid :/

  43. says

    Just a suggestion – keep not posting on politics. This tends to make people (myself included) somewhat angry. Granted, it's a pretty good satire piece – making fun of herself more than arguing the points – but even I have a hard time not getting ugly in the comments. It raises passions in an ugly way – and unlike "Harry Potter vs Gandalf", this stuff actually matters.

    • says

      If this stuff actually matters, then doesn't that make it MORE important to discuss, not less? It's so easy to talk about being "loving" when no one's asking you to pay taxes for it.

      • John says

        Michael, he/she is trying to say that this is a Christian satire site – not a political discussion site.

        And to answer your loving tax comment, it is the role of the CHURCH to take care of the poor, widows, unemployed, those with major medical costs, etc. Not the role of the government. Yes this role has been almost completely abandoned by the church and the government has replaced the void. However, that still doesn't provide a justification for government to continue doing an extremely poor job when as Christians, Christ calls us to this role.

        Jon, we ask you to seriously reconsider posting on politics in the future – that is unless the goal is to change the entire scope and mood of this site.

        • Jessica says

          The Church does not and should not have a monopoly on compassion, social justice, or any number of good things. It should probably be the best example of these things, but it isn't always. I am getting so tired of reading comments that suggest the Church is the only establishment with any right or obligation to take care of people. But that's my problem; I'm not trying to take it out on you. Just let me once again (wearily) say that secular society gets to/has to care about these things too.

          Also, I too appreciate the chance to converse respectfully with people whose viewpoints differ dramatically from my own. As someone else observed (may have been Michael), maybe no one changes their mind, but at least we can understand each other better. While it is sad and frustrating to read some of the more hostile volleys, it has been extremely rewarding to read those that have been respectful and honest.

          Oh, and I thought the original post was funny and very much enjoyed. Politics, like it or not, is very much a part of American Christian culture(s).

    • Brynalyn says

      You didn't just say that our fantasy choices don't actually matter, did you? :)
      I agree though. Politics talk is so heated and unfun, and kind of comical… I like to call it "LOLitics."

    • ETS says

      Discussing politics is not the 'sin.' How you respond to it is. Perhaps you need to deal with your heart instead of 'not wanting to go there,' because these conversations aren't – and shouldn't – going away.

  44. says

    Just this week I was stuck in a "discusstion group" in which I was told.. "We're all Republicans here… "

    Really…. we are? We are all Republicans? Because not only am I a registered independent I can count the number of times I have voted for a Republican on one hand. Yes… I've done it, but only when I was sure it was the lesser of two evils.

    (And for the record that doesn't mean I alway vote for the Democrate. I live in a red state so I usually vote for the thrid party canidiate with the knowlegde that my vote doesn't count anyway.)

  45. Alison says

    Bravo Rachel for this post! It's a real breath of fresh air for those of us closet 'progressives' who are trying to find their way. I grew up in the church and as I've become an adult I've been discouraged to see it paired with radical right politics. I finally left a church after the '08 presidential election because it was really distrurbing to see the evangelical Christians in my life be so nasty about the outcome. Thanks Jon for sharing your faith the way you do. I bought your book a few weeks ago and have laughed my way through it with similar experiences.

  46. says

    Democrat, liberal, pro-choice, non-evangelical Christian here. So I don't totally fit the pigeonhole, unfortunately. This blog is still a little bit of seeing "how the other half lives" for me, hence the fascination.

  47. Scrambler says

    Mr. Wong – The Republican party is a decrepit pile of poo. Fertile for ideas, but generally stinky and attracting Democrat flies that feed off its offensiveness.

    But you protest too much.

    The 'Pubs for decades have put Federal and Supreme Court justices on the bench who will ultimately work to put Roe V Wade back to the states where it belongs. They consistently denied federal funding for abortions and Planned Parenthood clinics in schools. They consistently funneled federal and state money to abstinence programs. They supported abstinence programs overseas, and have always done what they can to thwart globalizing corporate-fascists in the UN an BigPharma trying to sell spread the gospel of Moloch in the rest of the world.

    Whether you agree with these programs or not, and whether you believe pro-lifer are misguided in their tactics, this is what they have asked of Republicans, and this is what that party has delivered….

    …long with war, national insolvency and corruption.

    • says

      What does abstinence have to do with abortion? That seems like a complete red-herring to me.

      As for overturning Roe v Wade, I have seen no movement whatsoever on that front. A lot of rhetoric, but no movement. I actually speak as a pro-abortionist (I assume this means you will write off anything I say as evil, and have no interest in my reasoning), but I can see how the Republican party has brilliantly used the abortion debate as a way to keep its base under control. They nip at the edges of the abortion debate; just enough to pacify their base, but they have no intention of actually outlawing it. If they did, then they would lose their biggest selling point.

  48. says

    I'm just curious; If all the Conservative folks got all their tax money back from the government, would you spend it all on charity?

    This 'Progressive Traditionalist Quaker' works for our local food bank, which receives Federal Funds and has the majority of its pantries at churches. It seems that in all the rhetoric about where/how 'our' money is spend, we've forgotten that those working with you tax dollars are PEOPLE, not just some nameless, faceless bureaucracy. We are people who care, just as you do. People who volunteer their time & effort. People who represent many facets of Faith and those who represent none at all. We all mean well and try to do the best we can, fallen humanity notwithstanding.

    'We the People' is a Government by, of and FOR the People. We are not the enemy, we are here to work Together with communities of Faith to help heal those in need.

  49. stacyfromlouisville says

    Dang Rachel! Rock and roll. I've not seen this much action over a guest post ever. Woah.

  50. says

    I was once a not so secret Christian liberal. I became an uncomfortable Christian Conservative after the whole partial birth abortion controversy, mainly because I don't understand how anyone can not know that stabbing a baby in the brain with scissors is wrong. I became completely disillusioned with the democrats, and will only vote for a democrat if they come out as pro life. There aren't many of those. I miss them….

    • says

      Would you support a partial-birth abortion if it was necessary to save the life of the mother?

      I ask because if you think about it, PBAs are very late-term abortions and there's no reason why a woman would voluntarily CHOOSE to wait that long for an abortion if she's just having it for "convenience".

      • Helen says

        Can you give me an example of when it would be appropriate to deliver half of the baby to term, then kill him or her and yank him or her out to save the mom? Why wouldn't she be able to finish delivery without dying? What condition would require her to push out the baby's head so he or she could be stabbed?
        btw, I am going to work now, so I'm not ignoring your reply. It will be a while before I get home and have access to my computer.

        • says

          The skull is the most difficult part to deliver. If you collapse it, then the fetus is much easier to deliver. I know that sounds horrible, and I'm not saying that I like the procedure. I just think we should be clear on what we're talking about. You make it seem as if it's just being done for the sake of cruelty.

          Once more, however: why do you think that a woman who has an abortion "for convenience" would voluntarily choose to wait through eight months of pregnancy side-effects before doing it?

          • stacyfromlouisville says

            Michael, I think I can shed light on your last question. I was on staff a a Crisis Pregnancy Center and had a good amount of contact with pregnant women who were in deep denial about their pregnancy. Many were young and the father of the baby was long gone. Many did whatever possible to hide it – gain weight, wear large clothing, etc. I say this with love, many of these women are not thinking rationally. They can be very impulsive, if from denail alone. When a woman in this condition goes into labor her world comes crashing down. Suddenly she is alone and terrified. These women are the ones most vulnerable to succombing to partial birth abortion, even if the baby is completely healthy. I hope this answers your question.

          • says

            Yes, it does help. Thank you. However, to me it only means that we should have much better sex education and better access to family planning, not less. I believe that late-term abortions are a tragedy, but I don't believe the solution to that tragedy is to demonize the women who find themselves asking for them. None of them planned to be in that situation.

          • stacyfromlouisville says

            I don't think anyone here is demonizing women who might make that choice for PBA. Rather, we are demonizing the practice itself as inhumane. If a child were fully out of the birth canal and 3 seconds later a doctor crushed its skull and suctioned its brain society would want the doctor's medical liscense removed and call for a trial.

          • stacyfromlouisville says

            Michael, please know, not ALL people are doing this. Do I believe abortion is wrong? Absolutely. Would I council a woman not to abort? Definiately. But if she chose to abort I would be there for her when the fallout comes. Michael, I have worked with so many women in a professional capicity who have had an abortion. THEY will often say, "I murdered my baby". No one wins in this area. No one.

          • says

            “An abortion in which the person performing the abortion, deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus. (18 U.S. Code 1531)

            The skull, which is the most difficult part to deliver, as you say, is ALREADY delivered before the skull is collapsed. Again, I ask you, what condition requires the most difficult part of the child to be birthed and the scissors inserted into the skull and brains sucked out. The hard part has already been done. Tell me the condition that requires this.

          • says

            The "condition" would apparently be a woman who was kept from having an earliier-term abortion by various socio-economic conditions, including the aggressive actions of anti-abortion activists who tried to keep her from getting one earlier, and the "abstinence-only" sex education people who tried to make it difficult for her to understand what was happening earlier.

          • stacyfromlouisville says

            Michael, with all due respect, I think this is a huge conclusion you are jumping to.

          • says

            Is it? You yourself said earlier that a lot of these women got late-term abortions because it was very difficult to get one earlier or they didn't even realize they were pregnant. It doesn't seem like a huge stretch to attribute this to anti-abortion efforts and "abstinence-only" sex education.

      • says

        So you think the mother's life is more important than the baby's life? I've known of 2 different women who were told to have abortions b/c having their baby would kill them. In both cases, the mother & the baby are fine. Obviously, those could be isolated incidences. I just find it interesting that when people bring up this argument about saving the mother's life, it always comes across like the mother's life is obviously the one to save.

    • says

      What about instances where there are severe birth defects, like anencephaly? The pregnancy doesn't threaten the mother's life, but the fetus will not survive. She should be forced to carry a dying baby for months on end? Is that compassion or love?

  51. says

    What I read in many of these comments is a misunderstanding that somehow Christian Republicans are NOT in favor of things like assisting the poor, feeding the hungry, aiding third world countries, and protecting human rights in general.

    I am a Christian first and then a conservative and Republican…somewhere else down the line. I believe in the Gospel and the Bible meaning the societal issues important to liberals are also important to me. However, I would choose to legislate from the power of the states not the federal government. I also believe these common goals can be accomplished but through fiscal responsibility and commonsense versus mass spending and making decisions because they "feel good" or look good on paper.

  52. Ben Johnson says

    I personally enjoy the bewilderment on people's faces when they find out I'm pretty liberal. I once had a person ask me what went wrong with my upbringing when I told him I agreed more with the Democratic party.

  53. says

    Serious question here for the pro-lifers: if you were pregnant and found out that the fetus was severely malformed and would be a severely retarded cripple requiring 24/7 care for its entire life, would you consider aborting it?

    Please, please, before answering, try to give it serious thought and imagine yourself in that situation. Don't just rattle off a quick knee-jerk answer.

    • Jenny says

      My family has walked this path. Because we believe every human being is an image bearer of God and that He is the One who ordains our days, it was not ours to decide whether or not to end this child's life. May God be glorified.

    • crunchychristian says

      As an active member of an online community of mom's and mom's to be, I have seen this situation before. I can say with my whole heart that I would seek the wisdom of God in this situation, but my first inclination is to trust God to give and take life…even that of my unborn child. I have read about women making both choices, and I can honestly say I do not judge or condemn the one who chose to end her child's pain and suffering before he entered the world. It's a very sad, tough situation to be in, and I do not wish it upon anyone.
      I will also say I work with a girl who falls into the category of "severely crippled requiring 24/7 care", and she is about to graduate from a prestigious university, so although she has more obstacles to overcome than you or I will ever face, her life is by no means a waste or useless.
      I hope that helps you.

    • says

      my son was suppose to be born with little to no brain function and testing was pushed through so i didn't miss the abortion deadline.

      he's 10 and just finished mixing a new song on garage band. that after just getting home from camp where he won an encouragement award and rode his bike on a half pipe for the first time.

    • ryan says

      I cant understand how conservatives who generally believe in small government, personal responsibility, and the right of the individual could be opposed to Roe v Wade. It actually takes govt out of your personal choices, and let individuals and doctors decide. If you are christian, you will most likely oppose abortion in your personal life anyway, but why would you want gov't imposing christianity though legislation? That as both an American and a Christian scares the you know what out of me. Being a christian and being a legislator are fine. Imposing christianity thourgh legislation is not. Feel free to burn me at the stake now….

      • Jubilee says

        Ummm, not stake-burning here, but do you have a problem with the government imposing "Thou shalt not murder" on the nation through legislation? What about "Thou shalt not steal"? That's not Christianity, that's basic/moral/ethical/ civilizaation 101. (BTW, the commandments were not "Christian", they were Jewish first…) The liberals just found out a way (through multiplied lies during Roe v Wade testimony, I might add; check out Dr. Bernard Nathanson's confession of how he & others lied about statistics and other things during their pro-abortion testimony) of convincing some very unjust Supreme Court "Justices" that to kill a child before it's born is somehow not murder. And there are enough liars in the extremely lucrative baby-butchering trade (aka abortion providers) who convince scared, troubled girls and women that "it's not a baby, it's just a blob of flesh". And if you're a Christian, you probably know who Jesus identified as "The Father of Lies"…

        • ryan says

          I dont have a problem with the others specifically because while they are biblical commandments and as Christians we should adhere to them, all societies are principally set up on a majority of these commandments(kill, steal,lie,etc.) We as Christians sometimes act like we set up all societies. In the declaration of independence, govt is instituted to secure inalienable rights, (and yes, tax citizens with proper representaiton, and maintain armies, provide for the common defense) not determine when life begins. We (liberal Christians) are talking about the difference between governance and religion, and religion does not make for good governance, execpt in private lives, among people of like faith. There is a reason Jesus was the messiah and not ceasar. And If you know of any doctors who blantantly scare troubled girls into abortion, they should lose their liscense and be held accountable. I personally know many doctors, and have found them all to take their profession much more seriously than what you just described. They don't make 350000 a year doing abortions for welfare recipeints, drug addicts and scared teenagers.

        • says

          The problem is that it's only a religious belief that it's necesarily "murder". Scientifically, a day-old fetus obviously doesn't even have a brain, so why should we consider it a person? Sure, it's alive, but so is an unfertilized egg.

          • says

            I mentioned it earlier. Higher brain function. That's how I define a person.

            PS. That's not how I define "human". A bit of skin I scrape off my arm is "human".

          • says

            Does that discount severely mentally handicapped people, then, because they don't have "higher" brain function? What does that entail? I honestly want to know your stance on how high-functioning a human must be. What about persistent vegetative states?

          • says

            A mentally handicapped person still has the ability to communicate more complex ideas than an animal we would consider very smart, like a dog. He has higher brain functions. Someone who is now in a PVS, on the other hand, does not.

            But this demand for precise lines in the sand is somewhat beside the point: do you agree with the general principle that person-hood is connected to brain function?

      • pastorintrng says

        No burning ryan, you are totally right! I think that there are many christians who want thier christian beliefs to be forced upon people in dogmatic way. The reason we are able to call ourselves christians sans fear is because our government is founded on principal that requires the government can not force a religion on us. If they burn you, they burn me too

      • Bridge says

        because we want the child who lives within the womb to have the same right to live. we believe it is a life, that's why.