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NewsReal Sunday: The Taxpayer is Not Here to Die For Your Sins

Posted on August 16 2009 12:30 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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As I pointed out in my last post, the Left has many arrows in its quiver as it pursues its minority objective of imposing socialized medicine on an unwilling majority. One that many have employed is the “Christian Nation” argument. It goes like this: we should have single-payer health care because that’s what Jesus would do. Apparently because Christ healed the sick and the blind he would support socialized medicine.

My NewsReal colleague John Perazzo had a great post on Friday about leftist Ed Schultz using this line of argument and then being confronted by a minister who disagreed with him. He rightfully referred to it as “the year’s greatest television moment.” Here’s the video of Schultz’s rant and the subsequent discussion:

I’ve had this argument before, specifically with my dear friend Pat, who, with my encouraging, has begun commenting on NewsReal under his alias “Clergyman P-Ray.” And to my conservative friends who provide such thoughtful comments: do be nice to Pat if only as a favor to me. His heart is very much in the right place even if his mind is not… yet. The other day I lent him my copy of David Horowitz’s Uncivil Wars with hopes that he might better understand the American Idea. So think of Pat in the context of last week’s NewsReal Sunday post.

Anyway, in one of our online back-and-forths Pat objected to my relating atheist Marxism to his Christian progressivism:

David, you know I respect you, but your equating Marxists with progressives is absurd because if you follow Christ’s teachings, you’d know that advocating for economic justice is a Christian value. Christ said the meek shall inherit the earth & in Mark 10:17-29, in a parable called the Rich Young Man, it’s stated: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Jesus also went into the temples & overturned the money-changers’ tables.

Nearly all the religions of the world make an effort to emphasize empathy & compassion & strive to promote basic integrity & fairness in commerce ventures. So this bologna about letting the capitalists and rich people run everything in a cutthroat manner & not having checks & balances for working people or regulating anything is just that: propoganda.


I responded to the Clergyman’s sermon:

1. I’m not a hardcore capitalist as you know, so why do you bring this up?

Note: By this I mean I’m not a laissez faire, free market zealot. I can accept and defend the need for some moderate government regulations in the market. I’m not a free-market utopian who religiously believes that a perfect world can be achieved if the market has absolute freedom.

2. Everyone does have an opportunity to reach for the American Dream. But most are not capable of achieving it.

3. There are many progressives that blend Marxism and Christianity because they see the common teachings. Remember that both Marxism and Christianity come from the same source: Judaism. Both incorporated the doctrine of “tikkun olam” — to heal the world. See Horowitz’s essay “The Religious Roots of Radicalism” in The Politics of Bad Faith. Black Liberation Theology is an example of the integration of Marxism and Christianity. Cornel West is an example of another thinker that easily integrates the two into a Leftist vision.


4. I support the project to change and improve the world. I just reject the methodology of changing the government to do it. Read Rushkoff’s Life Inc. for an anti-corporate vision to change the world that I support.

5. Christ called for individuals to act to change the world in their own lives — not for government to force people to do the right thing. Christ never advocated for the kinds of things that you support. He wasn’t political, he was spiritual. Invoking him as a political talking point in this fashion is no different than the Religious Right doing so to try and justify their political ideas.

The Federal Government is not here to save souls. It’s not here to “do God’s work.” And you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus encouraged his followers to seize political power so they might perfect the world.

can of worms

This principle cuts both ways. (And I suppose this can of worms needs to be opened.) Just as I’ll challenge Pat’s progressive-Christian contention that it’s the government’s God-given job to provide health insurance for everyone, I’ll also stand in stark disagreement with many Christian-conservatives’ insistence that it’s the government’s job to promote Christian sexual morality and the religiously-fueled, abortion-criminalization crusade.

Being a political conservative doesn’t mean one rejects the noble quest of tikkun olam. We still want to see a better world, we just acknowledge that government is not the tool with which to implement it. If progressive Christians think Jesus wants more people to have medical insurance, then I share their dream for a healthier world. Just don’t hijack the federal government to force people into your dream. If conservative Christians want there to be fewer abortions, then I share their dream for a world where every child is wanted. Just don’t hijack the federal government to force people into your dream.

There are far better tools, and more truly Christian tools, to utilize in pursuit of these dreams than the force of the federal government. Jesus realized that clearly in his day. Let’s hope that those who invoke him 2000 years later will remember that today.

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