Religious Values and Gov’t Programs

I was challenged recently in an online chat to demonstrate how my Christian values can support a political Party (the Republicans) that “wants to cut programs that provide food, shelter, and health care for the poor, children, and the elderly.”  The individual questioning me called the Right “conveniently atheist” when it comes to government programs that provide for these groups.  While no specifics were mentioned regarding targeted programs, his allegation is a mistaken premise that only sees half the picture of what Christians on the political Right — and most other Right leaning voters as well — believe to be a correct use of public money.1  It also denies much history over the past 50+years.

The primary tension centers around compulsory or forced ‘giving’ versus free giving.  Taxes, which are used to support such programs, are compulsory.  Giving through churches, charities and non-profits, to help individuals & families, is voluntary.  The latter is where the Right directs their philanthropy.

My reply centered on ‘less government’ normally being ‘better government’ except for select areas where its involvement benefits all:  military, overseeing road construction, safeguarding a fair economic environment for commerce, ensuring that water supplies are clean, inspecting meat, running the court system and a few other things.2

The godless politically-active citizenry in this nation, as well as the far Left (often the same groups) think that government is the vehicle to change every aspect of society that does not line up with their vision of how things should be.  But the Federal government has already expanded into many areas that it is not equipped to handle or to operate efficiently. Its power is overwhelming and its debt is currently over $20Trillion,3 which is an unfathomable amount.  This is money on the ‘national credit card’ that has to be paid by We, The People even as more money is being spent. Think of your personal credit card. Assume you amassed $100,000 of debt on it.  While you still owe this amount, you need to live today and provide for your family. So your debt continues to grow until something is done that allows your income to exceed your spending.

The Left, along with many compliant GOP politicians, have trained the public to run first to the government for help, no matter the issue.  Since The Great Society was introduced by well-meaning liberals in the 1960’s, the people of the United States have been forced to give over $22Trillion through the Federal gov’t to ease the poverty of their fellow citizens — a noble goal in itself.  While this has elevated “the poor” in this nation to the highest level of any “poor” in the world, it introduced a system of dependency that many of these recipients did not need to be captured by.  And the problem has only become worse as attested by the statistics.4

Another misnomer in the premise espoused by my online friend is that the term “Christian values” means to feed anyone, anytime, no matter the person or circumstances.  This is a modern guilt-laced twisting of the responsibility given to Christian believers.  The Apostle Paul tells us that if a man will not work, he will not eat.5  It’s uncertain if this includes not working because of being “under employed.”  I guess arguments could be made on both sides of this finer point. But the admonition is for individuals to be responsible for themselves and their families as much as possible.

The Biblical charge is to care for those who cannot care for themselves, widows and orphans specifically, though not limited to these only.6 And the churches, charities and faith institutions of the world that stem from Judeo-Christian principles 7 are doing an incredible job at it.8

But the mechanisms of the government, while convenient when infused with an endless supply of The Peoples’ money, are not always efficient. Furthermore, it does little to address the roots of why the help is necessary in the first place.  It often sets up long-term addiction to gov’t for many people who have only a temporary hurdle to overcome.  Cutting back on such programs is not a slight to those truly needing help.  To the contrary, it would allow even more help to be provided for the elderly outside the reaches of charities; for vets wounded from serving their country; for children without adequate food & medical attention; and others; all while alleviating the financial strain of the taxpayers.  And it would (hopefully) cut the ability of people on government assistance to use some of the money they earn to fund their wants9 while replacing these funds from the largess of The People through the compulsory muscle of the government.

Drastic cuts in government money-redistribution would have to be phased in over a generation. But in an age where the U.S. government is over $20T in debt, all portions of the budget must be cut for the Fed to remain solvent.  If not, there will be no money to give anyone once the Golden Goose that is the U.S. economy is dead.  Regardless, charities and institutions of faith will continue giving to the genuinely needy.

jrw

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FOOTNOTES

1. a) I do not pretend to speak for the entire Christian Right, nor all Right leaning voters — I’m simply trying to provide some insight about the Right’s general philosophy for those who might genuinely be wondering the same thing as my questioner.

b) For the record, I see the national Republican Party as the lesser of two political evils. While I do support them generally, I do not do it blindly and I’m willing to speak out against their votes/policies when I disagree.

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2. This speaks primarily to the role of the Federal government, not state or local governments. Personally, I believe our nation was designed for the state and local govt’s to have a greater impact on the daily life of its citizens than that of the Fed.

3. Click here to see a tally of debt by the U.S. Treasury Dept.

4. See
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/10/05/nearly-half-of-households-receive-some-government-benefit
and
http://www.heritage.org/welfare/report/five-myths-about-welfare-and-child-poverty
and
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/21/editorial-the-not-so-great-society
and
http://www.heritage.org/poverty-and-inequality/commentary/assessing-the-great-society

5. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

6. See
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+14%3A31%2CProverbs+19%3A17%2CMatthew+25%3A40%2CMark+9%3A41%2CActs+10%3A4%2CHebrews+6%3A10&version=NIV

7. There are few examples in the history of mankind where mass numbers of people have been helped or aided by others, continually over time, without some religious connection or deference to the God revealed in the Holy Bible.

8. Here are some examples among thousands:
http://www.secondmile.org/what-we-do
and
http://lifehousehouston.org
and
http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/about-feeding-america/our-history
and
https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/international-crisis-response
and
https://catholiccharitiesusa.org/mission
and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Dunant
and
http://www.chick-fil-afoundation.org/about-us
and
http://foundation.winshape.org/about

9. ie: cable TV, smart phones, fancy vehicle upgrades, concert tickets, etc.

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