February 16, 2006

Christian Crimson Columnist makes a good point

I loved today's column by Loui Itoh.

It talks about how and why the most listened to, quoted and publicized Christian leaders are spending more time talking about queers, abortions and evolution than on justice issues that (I think) Christians should care about like eliminating poverty and finding compassionate solutions to injustices in education, incarceration, etc.

Here is what I think is the best section:

It is also frustrating—and curious—that conservative Christian organizations are not taking a stance on the budget. Focus on the Family says it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage, and seating judges who will back these positions. I’d like them to point out where in the Bible it says abortion and same-sex marriage are designated as the most important priorities for Christians, when alleviating poverty—mentioned over 3000 times in the New Testament alone—was clearly one of Jesus’ most emphasized teachings.

The American Family Association has an even more amusing excuse—they did not speak out on the budget bill because “the budget bores people.” They instead focused their energies on complaining about businesses that used the words “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” because apparently, quibbling over two words was a more worthwhile cause for Christians than helping “the least of these.”

Even worse are the Christian organizations on the right, such as the Family Research Council, that supported the budget bill. They argue that tax cuts stimulate the economy and help everyone by providing jobs, etc. But a study conducted by United for a Fair Economy reveals that, Bush’s “tax cuts have not produced the jobs promised, [and] the quality of jobs as measured by income, health insurance, and retirement benefits has declined.” Indeed, job creation under President George W. Bush has been the lowest since World War II, while hourly and weekly wages are dropping. Poverty has risen in the last four years, and 9.2 million working families are on the brink of destitution. The failure of Bush’s tax cuts to produce real economic progress and improve conditions for the poor indicates that trickle-down economics are not working. The budget bill, which in many ways represents a continuation of these failed policies, is a step in the wrong direction that will inevitably hurt the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, something that Christians and other people of faith should be concerned about.

Another argument given by Christians in favor of the budget bill is that Christians should help the poor, but they should do it through charitable-giving, not through taxation. However, all the charities in the U.S. simply do not have the resources to feed, clothe, care for, and educate all the poor people in the country. And even if the government eliminated the “burden” of taxation, there is no evidence that people would voluntarily donate enough to adequately aid the poor. Furthermore, the Gospel makes it clear that Christians should go to great lengths to help the poor, doing whatever is necessary. Jesus says, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven.” Jesus does not differentiate between private giving or government support—he just asks us to help the poor, and this budget bill clearly does not.

Economic evidence demonstrates that you can’t help the poor by giving tax cuts which disproportionately help the rich. Common sense says that you can’t help the poor by getting rid of taxes and relying on charitable contributions. Scriptural evidence reveals that Christians should be fighting poverty, not the labeling on holiday stationary. Despite the efforts of hundreds of religious leaders to halt this immoral bill, it passed both Houses of Congress and is about to become law. How can so many people who claim to live by Jesus’ teachings support a bill that cuts funding that is necessary to feed, clothe, and care for so many?

I know lots of other quenchers know way more about the bible than I do. (jsmithua, mirrorballman, icarus - tell me what you think!)

Edit: Also, how do you do cuts on blogger?


Leyan said...

I agree that anti-poverty programs need much, much, much more help than some conservative Christians are interested in giving them. If there's anything to be taken from the Gospel, that's it.

However, I think that the Bible is very clear about the importance of protecting the vulnerable, including unborn children. This post gives a number of Scriptural citations as to the second point: http://afterabortion.blogspot.com/2006/01/sometimes-i-am-challenged-by-pro.html

I concur as to same-sex marriage, however.

syslly: an island off the coast of Italy known for yummy pizza and the Mafia.

tea cozy said...

hey lovers

I have it on good authority that this is precisely the reason why queer stuff is NOT being discussed in the veritas forum this year... becuase it's so much less important than alleviating poverty, loving your neighbor, blah blah blah.

right on harvard christians!


tea cozy

imagineme&you said...

This column renewed my faith in the existence of semi-semisble christians. Until this point, I was actually more willing to put money on any combination of the following being present at Harvard: the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, and/or aliens. Of course, Mansfield may count in any of those columns so I should watch my tongue.