Christianity and Charity

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Many people attack the "Christian right" because they don't support using the government to help people in poverty. They say Christ told us to help the poor, so therefore Christians should support federal welfare and the taxes to support it.

As one liberal critic noted, "There is nothing in the Bible that supports tax cuts for the wealthy along with social service cuts for the poor. That's an inversion of all those scriptural statements on poverty..."

Apart from the sheer hypocrisy many such critics exemplify -- these are normally the same people who decry attempts to legislate religious beliefs -- it displays a fundamental misunderstanding of Christ's words, Republicanism, or both.

It is true that Christ called people to help the poor. What is not true is that he implied in any way that this should be done through the government. Indeed, if anything, it is the opposite, as the early churches were the instruments of charity. There are many reasons for this, but one that I'll make note of is the idea that charity is most effective -- on both the spiritual and material levels -- when it is performed more directly.

As to Republicanism, we must first identify the belief that the power to perform charity and welfare are, by the Constitution, reserved to the states, and not to the federal government. This was clearly the belief of the people who wrote, signed, and originally interpreted and defended the Constitution.

Simply put, many of us on the right are not against government welfare entirely, but a. against it being done on the federal level, b. in favor of all charity being done as locally as possible. We are much more open to charity in the state governments than the federal, but prefer it be done privately, directly, locally.

So when you see all this hand-wringing nonsense from the left, saying that the election of Bush represents a "a disparagement of the significance of the social fabric," ignore it, as they clearly don't understand the real point.

However, if you know a Christian who does not perform charity (this would most likely be yourself, since most charity is not performed in public), feel free to chastise him for not living up to the deal.

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