Evangelicals, Elections, and Blindness to Sin


Casting a voteMy church keeps a watchful eye on the political scene. Maybe yours does too. If your church considers itself Evangelical, then there’s a good chance it believes the Republicans to be the party of righteousness.

It’s a culture wars thing mostly. Abortion and same-sex marriage stick in Evangelicals’ craws more than anything else. And since the GOP is generally against those two hot button issues, a lot of churches rush to the brink of illegality, dancing at the edge of the “you cannot endorse candidates” precipice in order to fawn over GOP candidates who promise to stem the tide of unrighteousness in America.

Enough of that and you start to believe that only Democrats sin. Ha, ha, right?

I gave up on the Republican Party years ago. I stopped believing the hype. The fact is that Republicans held majority power several times since Roe v. Wade and yet did nothing to overturn abortion.

But beyond that, the reason the political rhetoric I hear from Evangelicals doesn’t move me anymore is our selectivity on sin.

Bible verses fly when abortion and same-sex marriage come up in Evangelical discussions, but you almost never hear any verses bandied about in support of the poor, the alien, the widow, and the environment. Yet the Bible has much more to say collectively about sins related to those issues than it does abortion or same-sex marriage.

Now I don’t want anyone to think I’m soft on abortion or same-sex marriage. I believe strongly that advocates of abortion and same-sex marriage are under a powerful spiritual delusion. (That’s all I need to say. You’ve read my posts on these topics before.)

While many Evangelicals may nod their heads in assent, few will think beyond those two powderkeg issues.

But what of the politician who supports the big company lobbying to invoke eminent domain against a neighborhood filled mostly with the elderly? Doesn’t God hate the powerful ursurping the property of the weak? Doesn’t He detest those who break the backs of the poor? Do I need to quote a couple hundred verses on those issues?

Why is it that when I read about eminent domain, a GOP politician is usually involved? How is it that Republicans fight tooth and nail against living wage legislation for the poor? God’s first command in the Garden is for Man to steward the earth, yet how is it that Republicans seem so eager to despoil that earth instead? Why is it that when the little guy is fighting for his life against some monolithic oppressor with a warchest filled with millions of dollars, the GOP is often on the side of the oppressor?

The list of practices and beliefs that God hates is long. Sooner or later, our political candidates will run afoul of that list. Some much more than others.

Which is why advocating certain political parties will only lead Christians into a deep abyss. What we should be advocating when we talk of the greatness of America is a commitment to avoiding EVERYTHING on that list of what God hates, not just those select sins that plague the “other” party.

Sadly, once we start looking at reality that way, many candidates fail—even the ones Evangelicals endorse.

While I understand that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, I simply cannot cast my vote for candidates who ally themselves with unjust or wicked causes. I’m sticking with God’s list of dont’s and not Evangelicalism’s “hammer some sins and ignore others” list.

Beyond that, even if a candidate holds to certain beliefs that resonate with a righteous position, what if that candidate is simply a terrible politician? In the case of employment, it doesn’t matter what a résumé may say, if a candidate for the job ends up proving unable to do the job well, is continued employment deserved? Beliefs don’t always translate into competence. Should we Evangelicals elect candidates who say all the right things but who ultimately can’t do their job well?

If all this means that I reject all the candidates in a race, then I will. If it means I vote for a third-party candidate, I will—even if Evangelicalism’s “anointed” candidate will lose because I did not hold my nose and cast my vote his or her way. I’m not going to be forced to endorse someone who hates abortion but who also hates the poor.

Frankly, I think we should throw all the bums out. Clean house. Both parties are filled with compromisers and gladhanders. And I’m just not going to compromise my vote anymore. I guess you could say I’m asking, How would Jesus vote?

84 thoughts on “Evangelicals, Elections, and Blindness to Sin

  1. Government should not be used to take what belongs to the poor and give it to the rich (i.e., eminent domain, such as Kelo v. New London). Neither should government be used to take what the rich has and give it to the poor (i.e., “living wage” legislation).

    • @Mr. Poet,

      Do you believe that a progressive tax system where the rich pay a higher rate on income exceeding a certain amount is stealing? I’ve heard this many, many times and am always puzzled as to how people come to that conclusion.


      • Some argue all taxes amount to stealing. I do not go that far. We will have earthly government until Jesus returns. Our progressive tax system is shot through with shelters and exemptions and deductions. Do the very wealthy pay the top marginal rate on everything you and I would consider income? No. For the easiest example, consider capital gains tax, which right now is taxed at a lower rate than regular income. Now I would consider a capital gain to be income. But it is not. Just as a hike in FICA taxes would not be, technically, a hike in federal income tax.

        I oppose progressive taxation because what I would like to replace it with, a flat tax with no exemptions, etc., IS a progressive tax. The more you earn, the more you pay. A national sales tax would lead to a black market, especially at the double-digit rates “Fair Tax” people advocate. A VAT tax makes the taxation of products too easy to hide from the public.

        Even if you like a progressive tax system, we should have a “flat” progressive tax. That is, when you reach a certain income, you pay more. Get rid of shelters and the rest, and lower the rates. Even that would be better than the jungle of IRS regulations we currently have!

    • Poet,

      The GOP kept the minimum wage the same for decades. That’s just wrong.

      Let’s be honest here. That was done so companies could maintain a higher gross margin and turn in better numbers to shareholders, most of whom are wealthy. If that’s not exploiting the working poor, I don’t know what is.

        • Your talking “day” versus “years”. The owner of the vineyard, regardless of the specific day, was still expected to pay a livable wage. Greed is what you’d prefer rule the day and it’s not something I”ll buy…

          • The owner of the vineyard pointed out to the grumblers that they had agreed to their wage. I may not be getting paid much where I work, but I agreed to work there for that wage.

            • Poet,

              I’m not sure I would base an economy for a nation of 300+ million people off this parable. I think it may have some other point to make. 😉

              Let me also say that we don’t know that the vineyard owner in this case was offering the lowest pay possible. He may have been offering a generous amount (and if we draw comparisons with God as the vineyard owner, He most definitely does). If someone offers to pay me $240 for a day’s work, that’s a whole lot different than offering $64. None of the grumblers in the parable were grumbling because the pay was too low, which is the case for those who can’t get anything but a minimum wage job that buys far less than it did 40 years ago. Let’s face it: A lot of companies are making a mint for their management at the expense of the employees. Again, no one in the parable is citing that as the reason for being disgruntled.

              • I wouldn’t base an economy on the moving target of “a living wage.” Because that’s what it is: a moving target. If you impose a living wage, the number of workers hired will go down. What would be next? imposing a quota of how many workers a company “should” employ?

              • Poet,

                But it’s not a moving target and shouldn’t be. Why can’t businesses pay their employees enough to sustain a level real world wage? They did it in 1968, right? How is it impossible now? If the minimum wage in 1968 bought $20,000 worth of adjusted salary, why can’t the minimum wage today be brought in line with then? That seems like a valid question to ask. None of the other variables about people in general have changed so as to not warrant that adjustment. We’re talking the same general kind of workers. So what’s the problem?

              • Allan

                Whether you think so or not, Mr. Edelen, there is a lot of economic theory that has been shown to be correct behind not raising the minimum wage. It has been shown over and over to cause higher unemployment in the lower wage classes – specfiically in poorer, black communities.

                You could use a healthy dose of Thomas Sowell every now and then to understand the “tough love” behind conservative fiscal policies.

                If you want to do your Christian duty, I suggest YOU and your church take care of that instead of asking a lot of inefficient bureaucrats to do it for you by taking other peoples’ money away from them. I know that I, personally, could do a great deal more for the poor if my tax burden was lighter…and I could do it literally 10x more efficiently than any government system.

              • Allan,

                The studies I have read definitely agree with you—but only because the corrections were left to lapse for so long. Because the wage was not regularly adjusted, it created the issues you cite. To suddenly jump, which would be required now, WOULD create problems. In contrast, other studies show that if the min. wage was adjusted yearly, the dire outcomes you cite would not have occurred.

                And which party actively opposed those yearly corrections?

              • Allan

                We could go back and forth citing studies for and against MW – the point I am making is that there is a “non-evil” reason people oppose it.(regardless of the accuracy of studies). I think you’re assuming that since someone disagrees with you that that belief is evil (when you assert that Republicans have ungodly motives for opposing the MW and similar “oppressive” policies).

      • Dan,

        As a small business owner I have issues with minimum wage, to an extent. I understand the proponents of raising it, as that makes sense on one level. Taking it too far, however, has a drastic effect on small business. When the recent minimum wage increase went into effect we had to raise wages on several high school students. No big deal. Had they raised it more, it would’ve affected us much more, and made it difficult to survive, or even MORE difficult to survive than it already is.

        Just thought I’d offer a different perspective.


    • Allan

      It’s interesting that in the Kelo vs. New London, political conservatives criticized the ruling (that the city was justified) and progressive groups applaudeded it. I would be interested to see the cases where Republicans or conservatives were supporting the use of Eminent Domain as stated in the article.

      • Allan,

        Eminent domain cases in my own area have largely been decried by “liberals” and supported by GOP politicians, especially in those cases when it is not so much for the public good as it is for a private developer’s. No Republican who values the Constitution should ever back such moves.

        • I never would back eminent domain to seize private property to give to another developer. I do not know if it has happened in my locality. The worst case in recent memory that came close happened when the next county outbid a megachurch for a defunct mall property because the county apparently did not want a church to revitalize the area. Read: Even though this church had a proven track record of revitalizing the blighted area where its flagship campus is, the county bought the mall out from under them apparently because they did not want a church turning a significant amount of the mall area into a tax exempt property.

        • Actually, we have had a recent eminent domain situation that was bad. My county seized property for a school and a road: clearly the intent of eminent domain. Citizens were angered because they thought the county had paid too much for the school property (and it did seem like they overvalued the payment price for the land), but then the county bought the land for the road at the bottoming out of the real estate bust. So those landowners were shafted.

  2. Swithun Dobson

    The main issue is that most Christians do not have a fully worked through political philosophy. This leads to selective emphasis on certain issues such as same-sex marriage. Apart from the Reconstructionists there are few such schools. As an aside the reconstructionists actually have a lot of decent ideas but the problem is they apply them beyond the church and her property.

  3. Hi Dan, I’m in a similar place politically. I believe there are a growing number of newer church leaders who also feel the church needs to regain its position as salt and light to society. Have you read Greg Boyd’s book “The Myth of a Christian Nation”? I think he sees the situation pretty clearly.

    • La Shawn,

      What the Church abandons, the government is forced to pick up. We helped create the mess concerning the poor, then we blame the government for stepping in. Where I come from, they call that hypocrisy.

      But it simply isn’t a problem with the poor. The GOP sticks to the middle class all the time anymore. Their allegiances lie with the rich and not with the (increasingly) poor middle class.

      And it’s about other justice issues too. I’ve seen eminent domain run roughshod over elderly people who fought to retain their homes while big companies who wanted to build a shopping mall (in the public interest?) mercilessly stone them to a pulp in the courts, with Republicans holding sway like St. Paul at the stoning of Stephen.

      Wickedness, all of it. I didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left me and everything good that it stood for. The Democrats promote one kind of evil while the GOP promotes another. Both parties need to be tossed out on their rears.

      • Allan

        I think you assume two things that are/were not necessarily the case: a.) that poverty can be eliminated and b.) that the problem was as bad as it was made out to be before the government began it’s war on it. The war on poverty is a total failure because governments are terrible at getting anything done and, if they do, it’s done horribly inefficiently.

    • La Shawn,

      One more thing: There really are two Americas. The divergence of the rich from everyone else grows more disparate each year. All the economic figures prove this to be true. In fact, no one’s arguing the case anymore, as it’s the accepted rule. Sadly, the GOP fosters programs that make that happen. This is no longer simply a case of good luck for one group and bad for the other, but it’s active warfare. And it’s all too easy to see where the GOP allegiance lies.

      • Allan

        This is still another opinion about the means used to reach a shared end. Like I said before, you and I can cite studies back and forth appealing to authority but we both want the same end. The difference is that you attribute support of Republican policies to malice whereas I give you and most everyone else the benefit of the doubt. And, yes, I do feel that the latter is a more Christian behavior.

        • Allan,

          There’s malice on both sides. Like I said, the smoke-filled room stuff would curl your hair. What’s sad is that we send starry-eyed waifs into politics and they come out these hardbitten guys who might sell their own mother for the right deal. I wish it wasn’t like that, but the truly good guys just don’t tend to last in DC. I know every guy I thought was solid is gone. And they left because it all did something bad to them.

  4. henry

    Dan, your observation are on point. The evangelical church has been punk’d by the Republican party for years, probably starting with the Christian Coalition voter recommendation sheets handed out in churches.

    They overplayed their hand back in 2005 in the Terry Schiavo “Palm Sunday Compromise” bill that the Republican Senate and House passed and transferred jurisdiction of the Schiavo case to the federal courts. President Bush flew in from vacation in Texas and signed the bill into law. This took two days! There was no fear of Supreme Court intervention, as the 5 – 4 Republican majority had their backs.

    If the Republicans really wanted to abolish abortion and gay marriage and other assorted societal issues, it would have only taken — two days. Why didn’t churches recognize this when it was happening?

  5. Just Joan

    Dan, I am a small business owner and by no means rich. We are barely getting by and almost lost the business last year. We employ over 50 inner-city folks who are glad to have a job in these times.

    Your hatred for the Republican party comes through loud and clear in your comments. But, as a business owner trying to provide manufacturing jobs, the Democratic policies of the last few years are just about putting us out of business. Raising the minimum wage puts us out of contention for work done just as easily overseas. Unknown future expenses thanks to National Health Care, Cap and Trade, and Card Check are causing businesses and banks to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and chokes innovation and growth. The only way out of this recession is to restore confidence in our nation’s ability to govern, and for the government to keep their noses out of our lives and businesses.

    Your thinking that ALL businesses are big businesses trying to screw over the little guy is incredibly flawed and small-minded. Most Americans work for small businesses, and most of us small business owners don’t want the government to do anything except to stop regulating and taxing us out of existence.

    • Joan,

      I think you forget that I am a small business owner too. I know what the challenges are. And neither party is my friend in that regard. We agree, though, that both parties should keep their noses out of some small business dealings and start spending their time looking at the big boys. (My post doesn’t say much about small business, only big, so I’m not sure what you don’t like about my post except for the mention of the living wage. Between 1968 and 2004, the real buying power of the minimum wage plummeted from $20,000 a year to $12,000. Given that reality, wouldn’t you expect your reps to work to keep that buying power stabilized? This isn’t about massive jumps up, only keeping pace with what we already had. How can that possibly trouble business owners? The real problem is what large business did to unlevel the playing field for everyone by rushing into global markets that have orders-of-magnitude-lower costs of living for employees. Fact is, the handwriting was always on that wall unless the US took a hit and those other nations prospered more. We’re seeing that now. And no, it doesn’t feel good.)

      I don’t hate the Republican Party. I think they have forgotten what they are about and have turned solely to self-preservation and money-grabbing. Both parties are only interested in money now, and the Republicans, who were always labeled as the “big money” party, have only gotten worse in that regard—though the Dems are gaining on them quickly.

      Nothing happens in a vacuum in politics. As someone whose spouse was involved in political endeavors, I can say that most people don’t understand what happens behind closed doors. The Bible says that what happens in secret will eventually be trumpeted from the rooftops. If that were to happen today with our favorite politicians and their parties, we’d all be surprised.

      I’ve seen good candidates torn to pieces and thrown to the dogs so that lessers can take their place. Again, this happens in the smoke-filled rooms outside the control of the electorate. And none of it has the aroma of Christ.

      We’ve got to get the charlatans out of Washington and find ourselves better people to lead us. Republican or Democrat, what we’re being offered is just not good enough.

      If you don’t like what the Democrats are doing in Washington, why simply default to the GOP? Why not vote for the libertarian or Constitution Party candidate or someone like that?

      I guess I’m at a loss to understand how people are increasingly fed up with government yet we send the same interchangeable Dems or Republicans to office year after year.

      Hasn’t it been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results?

  6. Connie Reagan

    I agree with Just Joan. And frankly, let me also mention that God did not ask the government to take care of the poor. He asked US CHRISTIANS to do so.

    I confess that if a candidate is soft on abortion I will not vote for him, and if he is a confirmed prolifer he is more likely to get my vote-because in this political climate it gives me a bit more insight into where his heart is.

    • Connie,

      I have to disagree with your assertion that government has no place in caring for the poor. Throughout the Old Testament, God condemns leaders and societies for systematic oppression against the disadvantaged. It is not just an issue of personal responsibility.

      Isaiah 10:1-2
      1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
      to those who issue oppressive decrees,
      2 to deprive the poor of their rights
      and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
      making widows their prey
      and robbing the fatherless.

      Or, read Ezekiel 22:23-31. It speaks to systematic oppression and judgment on society, not just individuals.

      • Tyson,

        I read Ezekiel 22:23-31 yesterday! It was what inspired this post:

        And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
        —Ezekiel 22:23-31

        • Ezekiel 22 is a powerful word! Thanks for sharing what God spoke to you through those verses.

          In a home group five years ago, we did book studies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel and it transformed my views on contemporary American society. This is the post that I wrote in 2005: http://butnotlost.blogspot.com/2005/06/what-shapes-my-politics.html

          Interestingly, one of the things that really struck me at that time turned out to be amazingly prescient, if I may say so. I wrote: “On the domestic side, is capitalism the end goal, or a means to an end? If it is the latter, then why do we allow business interests to blind us to extravagent consumer debt, which affects families at the micro-level and national security at the macro-level?”

        • Having not studied this passage closely, brief perusal would seem to indicate to me that the issue was more with the dealings of God’s people who were supposed to represent Him, and yet profaned His name by their dealings with the disadvantaged, etc. I see a big difference between this and our own government. My own opinion, and it is just that, my own, is that government is what government is, and I don’t expect the government of any nation to uphold the values that the Spirit of God instills in me. If I did, I would rather tend towards a socialist state, and we see where that concept has led. Certainly I don’t think our government should be, or should be letting others, oppress the poor actively. I do not necessarily subscribe to the idea that scriptural precedent points to a governmental responsibility to care for the poor. Again, this is the domain of the church, and we have abdicated that response, largely in favor of building huge buildings, or so it would seem to me!


        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          At last! Someone who reads Ezekiel other than the Nuclear War Chapter!

          (Guy also had the dirtiest mouth of all the OT prophets, which for some reason didn’t make it through the translation.)

      • Allan

        See there you are using “systematic oppression” when the context doesn’t call for it. There is no systematic oppression in saying “it’s the responsibility of individuals and churches (and then only when individuals don’t have the means) to care for the needy.”

      • Allan

        Can you not see where a Christian views the verse the following way:

        Isaiah 10:1-2
        1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
        Like laws forcing businesses and universities to discriminate based on color/gender and laws which force businesses to sell products at unfairly low prices.

        to those who issue oppressive decrees,
        like the laws which literally take the money of the Godly and unGodly by threat of force to be used in any number of ways determined “right” by unbelieving, corrupt politicians.

        2 to deprive the poor of their rights
        Do they have a “right” to other people’s money and time by threat of force? Where is the “poor” line that gets drawn by some bureaucrat?

        and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
        Justice and the right to handouts are completely different.

        making widows their prey
        I don’t see this happening on either side, honestly.

        and robbing the fatherless.
        or this.

        I think maybe you see oppression where it doesn’t necessarily exist. I think we often confuse oppression with simple neglect. IMO, none of that verse says the Government should be actively doing what we and the church have been commanded to do…rather, it seems to make a case that the Government should do FEWER oppressive things.

    • Connie,

      We Christians, in large part, stopped caring for the poor. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about the Industrial Revolution, Postmillennialism, and Darwinism, you know why that is.

      Whenever we Christians drop the ball on those things God asks of us, the government has to step in to correct the lack.

      • Swithun Dobson

        Well the British experience is quite the opposite. The government did more, the church did less. Before the introduction of National Insurance in the early 20th century there were many societies caring for the poor so much so that they needed coordinating since some people were getting hand outs from one and waiting for another to pop round the corner. This is well documented in James Bartholomew’s The Welfare State We’re In

        Regarding the minimum wage does not work. All it does is raise the level of productivity required to be employed thus reducing the level of employment level from what it otherwise would be.

        If you want to raise wages at the bottom you should be calling the wholesale abolition of regulations and laws which protect big business from competition on new entrants. Further your attack should be focused on the money and banking system which is government backed cartel which allow the almost infinite creation of money for the benefit of the state and bankers whilst everyone else picks up the bill in higher prices. http://mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/RAE4_1_3.pdf

        • Swithun,

          If the minimum wage in 1968 made $20,000 worth of adjusted income, but the wage makes less than $12,000 in adjusted real wages in 2004, then something has been lost. We keep forgetting this, yet it has to be accounted for in this argument. Most people arguing against raising the minimum shy away from that confrontation because adjusted wages don’t fit their arguments. It’s the classic memory loss: We forgot what it was once like, so our assertions for the present lack factual grounding.

          We can argue minimum wage all we want here, but the fact remains that all political parties suffer under their own sets of sins of omission and commission. That Evangelicals selectively turn a blind eye to the sins of one party over another is the problem. We simply cannot do that.

          Evangelicals are starting to realize that the GOP hasn’t really come through for them. In fact, I would contend that most Evangelicals who vote for Republicans are doing it less because of what the GOP stands for and more because they oppose the Democratic platform. That’s no way to run a country. Christians have to know what they are for and concern themselves less with what they are against. Whatever is pure, noble and righteous, right?

          • Swithun Dobson

            If the minimum wage has reduced in real value then those on it are poorer (assuming the adjustments, baskets of goods etc have been done correctly) than they used to be. It does not follow from this that raising it will raise the relative level of income for the poor. Your efforts would be much better targeted at those areas I mentioned above.

            Now I live in the UK, however if I was American I wouldn’t vote GOP or Democrat. They benefit too much from the system to significantly change it; the only man who possibly would, would be Ron Paul but the Republicans would never allow him to be their candidate- he’d step on way to many toes.

            I’d probably vote for a third party to attempt to influence the powers that be that way. The only way to produce radical change is via secession.

          • Dan: “…We keep forgetting this, yet it has to be accounted for in this argument.

            What’s changed? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the increasing globalization. Workers in America now have to compete with everybody in China, Mexico, and every other dirt-poor low wage country in the world. If the minimum wage is no longer adequate (as compared with 1962), and if wages have generally been stagnant for decades now, I think this is one of the primary reasons, not to mention that most of the manufacturing jobs have been exported. (I walk into Walmart or Kohls and am amazed at what a manufacturing powerhouse China has become.)

            In other words, we are in a race to the bottom. And if you try suggesting doing something about it (e.g. imposing tariffs) and you’ll be hooted off the stage.

  7. If you want something different, then begin talking to people you know locally. Find trustworthy Christians from districts across one locality to run for local office, who will vote as a majority if and when they are voted into office. Then ask this bloc to work Kingdom purposes. I personally, for example, would like the waste cut out of public schools and the savings paid to teachers as higher wages. And I hate public schools. I would like lower property taxes, lower taxes of all kinds, less red tape on the licensing of small businesses (or any businesses), no more abuse of eminent domain, no sweetheart deals for big business (which would mean, Dan, no free streets and sewers and whatever for, say, Wal-Mart, even though I would not oppose them building one in my area completely on their own dime).

  8. If you want to do something small to save American jobs, tell the Girl Scouts (USA) that you no longer will buy their cookies if they outsource their uniform manufacturing to China or any other country.

  9. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:14-17 KJV).

    Does the interpretation of this passage mean providing adequate food and clothing to the poor brother or sister? Or does it mean providing a job, regardless of skills, aptitude, disability, willingness to work, etc., with enough pay so that the poor brother or sister may provide adequate food and clothing for him- or herself?

  10. I recently read what Thomas Aquinus wrote about just laws and proportionate social responsibility. It touches on themes we are discussing here, especially whether a progressive tax is moral. Is it the responsibility of the rich to bear a greater proportion of the tax burden? Yes, it seems, as long as the burden is “equally proportionate,” that is, applied consistently.

    Answering the question of whether human laws are binding on conscience, Aquinas writes:

    “I answer that, Laws framed by man are either just or unjust. If they be just, they have the power of binding in conscience, from the eternal law whence they are derived, according to Prov. 8:15: “By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things.” Now laws are said to be just, both from the end, when, to wit, they are ordained to the common good—and from their author, that is to say, when the law that is made does not exceed the power of the lawgiver—and from their form, when, to wit, burdens are laid on the subjects, according to an equality of proportion and with a view to the common good. For, since one man is a part of the community, each man in all that he is and has, belongs to the community; just as a part, in all that it is, belongs to the whole; wherefore nature inflicts a loss on the part, in order to save the whole: so that on this account, such laws as these, which impose proportionate burdens, are just and binding in conscience, and are legal laws.
    On the other hand laws may be unjust in two ways: first, by being contrary to human good, through being opposed to the things mentioned above—either in respect of the end, as when an authority imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory—or in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes beyond the power committed to him—or in respect of the form, as when burdens are imposed unequally on the community, although with a view to the common good. The like are acts of violence rather than laws; because, as Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5), “a law that is not just, seems to be no law at all.” Wherefore such laws do not bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or disturbance, for which cause a man should even yield his right, according toMatt. 5:40, 41: “If a man . . . take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him; and whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two.”

  11. I pay 7.65% of my income to support the elderly, matched by my employer. So I already have a 15.3% flat tax on my head. I also pay sales taxes and, since corporate taxes come only from consumers, corporate taxes, too. These taxes go to public schools, Medicaid, TANF, food stamps, and a host of other things. So…why exactly should I give to charity? The government already takes so much of my money for that reason! Now, if you’d like to test the theory that charity will replace the above as long as the taxes backing our current welfare state are eliminated, I would love to test that theory if you’d join me in the voting booth. 🙂

  12. After the Stupid Evil Party messes up, we punish them by voting in the Evil Stupid Party.

    Then after the Evil Stupid Party messes up, we punish them by voting back in the Stupid Evil Party.

    We’ve repeated this process ad infinitum but nothing has ever really changed. That’s because the Stupid Evil Party and the Evil Stupid Party are merely flip sides of the same Ruling Class playing games with each other (See Codevilla).

  13. I, too, used to hope that just voting out all the bounders would improve things. The “system” would still be in place – from the rules of procedure in Congress down to the covenants in local neighborhoods. And the system is in place to give more power, influence and authority to those who already have (and crave and worship) power, influence and authority. The system is independent of any political ideology. Those who somehow enter the system with genuine publice servitude in their hearts are eventually seduced and consumed by it in order to achieve (ostensibly) the political goals they originally sought to achieve. Most forget those goals when they achieve what the system has been set up to offer.

    I don’t believe it was necessarily that way when the Constitution was written by patriots who cared less about power and even their own lives than the welfare of their countrymen. Those were people of Christian or at least Deist belief, character, and civility.

    But the system has devolved with society, self-perpetuating from one generation to the next.

    It is no longer a matter of “We the people” or “perfect union” or “endowed by their Creator.”

    It is a matter of acquire, spend, disfranchise, control, smear, slander, lie, cover up, destroy and conquer.

  14. I think the problems in our government are not political problems. They are not problems belonging to the left or the right, to republican or democrat. They are problems of the church, of failure to raise and train real Christians.

    I stumbled over the following a while ago, at which point I stopped complaining about politicians: [emphasis added]

    “If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God.
    (1 Samuel 12:14)

  15. Allan

    This article seems to be written on the premise that what the media tells us about Republicans is true. I wholeheartedly agree that there is lots and lots of sin in both parties but it is absurd to insist that Republicans or, especially conservatives, don’t have the better well-being of the poor and downtrodden in mind in their policies.

    Example: You can’t make an assumption that because Conservatives reject the notion of minimum wage that they don’t care about the poor. It’s precisely because they care about giving the poor a chance that they don’t support the minimum wage. The MW disincentivizes employers to hire someone at (for instance) $8/hr to do $4/hr work. Two people could be hired at $4/hr rather than one or none at $8/hr. The principle behind the matter is that individual people (employers) can make more efficient decisions than can government panels which are crawling with corruption and inefficiency. Legislating charity won’t ever work because, in the end, it’s going to come down to what people and businesses can afford…and if he’s forced to pay out what he has in charity, he’ll eventually hire fewer people and/or go out of business.

    If you’re interested in the other issues, just ask and I’ll gladly tell you why the default Republican position isn’t necessarily evil.

    It’s the same for the environment, ILLEGAL immigration, and widows. Conservatives generally agree that it is the responsibility of individuals and churches (or communities) to handle that work and that when the Federal Government tries to take over that role by seizing peoples’ money, all incentive and much of the personalization is taken away causing people to care and do less (“If the gov’t is going to take my money from me and take care of them, why should I do it”).

    Again, I know there are sinners galore in offices high and low and in all parties and I know the Republicans have lost their way (we’re all sinners) but I firmly believe that, philosophically, a conservative viewpoint, which Republicans are supposed to be tapping into, is more Godly (not Godly…more Godly) than the current progressive philosophy.

    • Allan,

      The Republican Party is conservative in name only. It bears little resemblance to the genuinely conservative ideals of leaders like Russell Kirk, Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and even Wendell Berry.

      The Constitution Party increasingly shows the GOP for what it is. While the CP isn’t perfect, it’s far more conservative and true to what this country is about than the GOP is.

  16. suzanne

    I admit to not understanding the conservative Christian’s absolute love of the free market and yet hating Darwinism. Aren’t the two kind of the same thing? Let those that can rise to the top and survive and those that can’t or won’t, well, stinks to be them. I used to be a card carrying conservative GOPer, but the insistance that God only loves the right has changed my mind. When environmental issues arise, the right claims their right to drive a big car and build a shopping mall. Most of my very right leaning friends blame the recession almost solely on people buying houses that they couldn’t afford, not on any of the shenanigans behind the scenes by mortgage brokers, etc. Pay a CEO in the millions and I’m told that this is earned and something necessary to get the best of the talent pool. Pay the CEO of a school district a good wage to draw the brightest and best and it’s considered highway robbery and immoral. I’ve have talked to too many right leaning people in the past few years who complain about the government spending to much and being too involved in our lives as they willingly and happily take the medicaid/medicare/government-funded scholarship money. Change begins in the heart, not in what some smooth tongued politician says.

    • Allan

      They’re not the same thing because politically conservative Christians separate such matters from their God-given duties to help the poor. We believe that a free market allows us to make and keep the money that we use to help the poor and/or employ people. I believe it is entirely possible to act in a Christian manner under any form of government but that free market capitalism is simply universally fairer allowing everyone to reach his/her potential and serve God the way he/she chooses. The government, by nature, is always inefficient and corrupt.

      • Suzanne

        Governments are always inefficient and corrupt? I beg to differ on that. Humankind is corrupt–even free market capitalists. Bernie Madoff wasn’t corrupt? The county councilman from my church that was just elected will be surprised to know he’s corrupt, too. I worked in a business for part of last year, and I’ve never encountered such incompetence and mismanagement and I’m sure a few other things — ever. The free market may allow people to make and keep money, and it allows them to do good with it. Many, many of them don’t. Without government, where would our services be? Why should I pay for schools? My kids are grown. Why should I pay for more cops? I don’t break the law. The free market is good…to a point. But in the past few years, I’ve watched American Christians put God on the back burner in order to worship Capitalism, (which, in my mind, is still economic Darwinism).

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Sure your name isn’t “John Galt”?

            We had a LOT of John Galt Celebrity Impersonators quoting Ayn Rand chapter-and-verse after the 2008 elections. Chapter-and-Verse as in how Atlas Shrugged prophesied the bank bailout on Chapter X, Page Y. One guy even tried to lead all LiveJournal in the Oath of Galt’s Gulch. I kept asking all my correspondents “Did I go crazy, or did everybody else?”

        • Allan

          It’s very interesting to me that when I state that governments are corrupt, you respond as though I’ve said people are not corrupt. Please talk to your councilman friend in a year and get back to me on that whole “government isn’t corrupt and inefficient” theory.

          I work for the Federal Government and I can safely say that, at the very best, they are horribly inefficient unproductive, usually counterproductive.

          The free market allows for the poorly-run business for which you worked to die and the employees to be absorbed by business which serve the needs of its customers.

          I know it’s tempting to think that we Americans worship Capitalism but, on the contrary, we are becoming more and more reliant upon our Government to provide all the services to which we think we’re entitled simply because we exist. I don’t see the worship of Capitalism…materialism, yes, but not Capitalism.

          Gov’t bailing out business is the precise opposite of Capitalism, 47% of our population not paying taxes isn’t Capitalism, and forcing the top 50% to shoulder 97% of the tax burden is not Capitalism…it’s unfair. When this country runs out of employers and money you’ll see what I’m talking about.

          • Suzanne

            I don’t see where government is any more inefficient or corrupt than businesses. Some do a good job, some don’t. The business I worked for that was a mess has been there for many years, and if it gets to the point of failing, I doubt the CEO, etc. will care. They make plenty of money, are nearing retirement, and frankly, from what I could tell, really don’t care what happens to the place. They don’t have to. The workers stay because it’s a small town and employment choices are few, as most of the other businesses have closed up, so there isn’t anyplace to “soak up” the excess workers. People can’t move away because they can’t sell their homes.
            I do find it humorous that you say you work for the federal government. If it’s so awful, and they are so “inefficient and corrupt”, I suggest you leave. I was frustrated working in an ineffecient and crazy business place, so I left. Find another job in the private sector which you so dearly love.

            • Allan

              I don’t believe believe we have the “right” to do whatever work we want from any place we want. One is always free to move to a place with more opportunity.

              I work in defense which I believe to be one of the few constitutionally appointed roles for the Federal .gov. Yes it’s inefficient, fraudulent, wasteful, and abusive but it will always be that way. I’m arguing that, because of that inefficiency, we don’t need them handling matters which are not covered in the Constitution.

              The last word is yours.

              • Suzanne

                Sorry, I can’t put much faith in your view when you work for that which you say is immoral and corrupt. I’ve heard it so many times from so many people. “I don’t want the government in my life, I want lower taxes but heck yes, I’ll take the Medicaid/Medicare/Goverment funded Scholarship/government grant to build my building/government paycheck to feed my family” and on and on. The government keeps funding this stuff because the market sustains it. The free market, in a sense, at work!

  17. As for the “rich getting richer,” I read this article the other day about Social Security W-2 errors, which made it look like the top earners had quintupled their earnings. Once corrected, it showed that their incomes had dropped 7.7%. However, dig deeper, and you’ll find what I found: From 2008 to 2009, the ranks of the top income earners, those who earn $50 million or more in W-2 reported income, dropped 45%. Total income reported in that bracket dropped almost 50%. I eyeballed some of the much lower brackets, and although I saw drops, I did not see any drops as precipitous as the highest bracket. Obviously, the very rich often have streams of income that would not be reported on a W-2, such as capital gains, but it was an eye-opener nevertheless!

  18. I find it very sad that this post, presumably among Christians, has degenerated into typical political animosity. Is Christ pleased? I think not.

    Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; (Romans 12:10)

    • Allan

      I agree.

      I think assuming that people are sinning when they oppose a minimum wage, oppose unnecessary environmental behavior controls, and opposing illegal immigration is divisive. Why can’t we simply assume a brother or sister has Godly intentions in mind when opposing more government control of our personal affairs?

  19. Dave S

    I read this post and these comments and found them rather depressing. The author and many of the comments seem to come from a point of view that the Republicans were somehow violating Biblical tenets not because the were looking to achieve a different objective, but because they advocated different means.

    This is most clear in the minimum wage discussion, where both sides want to better the life of the underprivileged. The Republicans here have tried to argue that a higher minimum wage lowers employment and works against the betterment of the underclass. They believe that employing more people at a lower wage is better than employing fewer people at a higher wage. Yet, the other group here seems to be unable to accept that the Republicans make this argument in good faith. Instead, they question their motives. Is that the way Christians should treat others, or how we should treat each other?

    As to the “Republicans were in charge but did nothing about Roe v Wade” comment, Dan, surely you understand that Congress and the President have no power to overturn a ruling by the Supreme Court. You give no credit to the Republicans for outlawing partial birth abortion, over the opposition of the Democrats? You give no credit for stopping the practice of allowing children born alive during an abortion to die on a cold table in the abortion clinic, a move that this President voted against when he was in the Illinois legislature? I think you are too willing to join the “pox on both their houses” camp and are not looking at the facts when it comes to abortion. I believe that this is an important issue to you so I respectfully suggest that you reconsider your view on this one.

  20. alan

    Interesting how may replies this topic has versus other ones. Feelings run extremely deeply on these issues. I’m politically independent – not above the fray – but certainly wanting to be outside of it.

    Personal economic wellbeing is an extremely complex issue, and people on both sides of the debate (personal responsibility versus government assistance) can trot out tons of “studies” that purport to support whichever view they favor.

    My amateur economic understanding says that adopting a so-called “living wage” triggers a spiral of costs and inflation that will soon eat up any gains for the recipients. However, I support a living wage if enacting such triggers the simultaneous cessation of government benefit programs for the working poor (earned income tax credit, food stamps, etc.) I think we all know that would never happen.

    As an aside – there is a “reason beneath the reasons” that there will never be genuine tax reform and simplification in the US. That’s the army of people -CPA’s, lawyers, and government employed tax bureaucrats – who benefit from the needless complexity of the current system. They have a vested interest in opposing reform.

    • Alan, et al.,

      The issue of a living wage is quite simple:
      1. In the U.S., the government did manage to maintain (and even increase) the buying power of the minimum wage up until about 1968. No one, Dem or GOP, opposed the idea. No one screamed that it would kill our country to maintain the buying power of that wage.
      2. The GOP, however, reversed course under Nixon and Ford and started arguing against adjusting the minimum wage to keep pace its 1968 buying power.
      3. This created a spiral downward for those earning minimum wage.
      4. Businesses built their futures not on the 1968 buying power of that wage but on an ever-diminishing return for those earning the wage, even as the company’s profits increased. The GOP promised as much to those companies.
      5. The result was a nearly permanent decrease in the buying power of the wage that will be difficult, if not impossible, to counteract, seeing as we built decades of corporate infrastructure off the assumption that the minimum wage would nice be continuously adjusted, even if it failed to keep up with 1968 buying power. Corporate profits rose, and minimum wage earners saw what little they earned earn even less as time went on.

      I’m sorry, but that’s a methodical punishment overseen by a collusion of business owners and the politicians they manipulated (and who did well for being in the back pocket of business).

      One can argue indefinitely from the basis of a nonexistent timeline in a world that never was, where the minimum wage was adjusted to keep pace with inflation and so on, but we can never know, as that world never came about. We don’t know what might have happened if the GOP hadn’t taken the course it did. Many people are trying to argue that case, though, when they insist that such a world would be impossible to sustain, that failing to raise the wage was the only possible course that would have prevented American business from collapsing. We can speculate till we die what the infrastructure might have looked like had the GOP done the right thing and argued for a continuous adjustment of the wage.

      All I know is the world where the GOP stuck a wrench in that works, a world where our business infrastructure developed to take advantage of cheaper and cheaper labor relative to profits. And from my perspective, that’s a pretty harsh world for a lot of people who got ground up the gears of party/political machinations. (And don’t even get me started as to why the GOP didn’t do anything about the millions of people who were aborted and therefore never made it into the workforce.)

      • alan

        Dan, please don’t interpret my comment as support for the GOP. As I stated, I’m all for paying a “living wage” as long as those who receive such a wage are required to actually “live” on it without additional government assistance. I truly wish that such public policies would be enacted – the sooner the better for everyone involved. soon. BTW, I’m also opposed to government subsidies granted to the corporate world – including the recent bailouts of mismanaged auto manufacturers and financial service organizations.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy

    God’s first command in the Garden is for Man to steward the earth, yet how is it that Republicans seem so eager to despoil that earth instead?

    That’s easy.

    Christ Is Coming Soon (TM) and It’s All Gonna Burn (TM) anyway.

  22. Jesus said to the rich young ruler: Sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

    Capitalism says: Invest all that you have, employ the poor, and you shall have treasure on earth: and come, follow the market.

    Socialism says: Invest all that you have, pay higher and higher taxes, which may be distributed to the poor, and you shall be allowed to have some treasure on earth: and come, lobby the government.

    Communism says: The government shall take all that you have, distribute to you what it thinks you need (because you shall be poor, even as the working class is poor), and you shall no treasure on earth; yea, even none in heaven, for there is no heaven: and come, fight for the revolution and the motherland!

  23. I suppose the bottom line is this. Dig up your latest Social Security letter, if you keep it. (You should.) Take a look at the line item which states what you would receive in disability benefits if you were to become disabled right now. Now ask yourself if your church, or any church in your community, or any church in this nation, would pay you that benefit in cash out of their coffers. And sometimes it isn’t a matter of mental math meets practical theology. Some people do become too disabled to work, but their disability benefits are denied once, twice, three times before they are approved. Some go bankrupt, lose their homes, and end up in the street because they run out of money waiting for the SSA to approve them.

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