October 6, 2011

Conservative Christian bullshit about poverty

Sorry. But I have to call it like it is. I have had two or three conservative Christians trot this argument out as if it is a game changer. The argument goes as follows: "Jesus wasn't concerned with changing the world as much as he was changing the hearts and minds of the people. Feeding the poor is not a bad thing, but if that is all you do, then it is, because those people can only change if they develop a relationship with Christ. Ergo, anti-poverty efforts are just missing the point."

Of course, the big problem here is that there is no inherent reason that people on welfare or food stamps, or being fed by hand--cannot also be ministered to by people trying to change their soul. Those who say that social justice is missing the point by focusing on the material world--in the same damn breath, voice opposition to their own material wealth being used to feed the poor.

Which is it?

If the relationship with Jesus is the be all, and end all, then what the fuck do you care about your taxes? Seriously? Your money is not yours, as you preach, and since the relationship is all you value, then what do you care if your tax dollars are given to poor black women who have children on purpose? Because by your own argument, you will be trying to change their spiritual world, and you don't really care about their physical world.

Unless you do. Unless you actually care very much about your material wealth. And unless you actually want those poor people to be uncomfortable as much as possible.

I am guessing that when you say that God will "provide" for you, you don't really mean that. You mean that maybe he will, but in the meantime, you are going to hold on to your pennies unless you deem the person in need to be suitably uncomfortable and worthy. And while you think the poor may be too obsessed with their lack of material wealth, your own material wealth is incredibly important to you.



Monk-in-Training said...

Unfortunately it seems that they overlook much of the Scripture and instead channel Ayn Rand when they think of the poor. The Brother of the Lord, James had this to say:

James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?

6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?

As well as insisting we be active in our Faith:

James 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

And thinking of the rich, James also said:

James 5:1 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure a for the last days.

4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

Bob said...

"...because those people can only change if they develop a relationship with Christ. Ergo, anti-poverty efforts are just missing the point."


Ergo - them brown Muslims can starve.

Streak said...

Monk, I always appreciate your posts because you actually open up so much of the Bible that I never either read or ran into. "And yet do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?" Right.

Bob, there is just so much wrong with this approach. First, as Monk notes, it is more Rand than Christianity. Second, it assumes that those poor people are not in relationship with God. And I am sure there is more than my allergic head can see this morning.

And the fundamental issue, that you noted, is that for many of these AmericChristians, I think they sadly want poor people to suffer.

Smitty said...

That quote that is being attributed to Stephen Colbert really says it all:

"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."

steves said...

Smitty, I think that many people are just good at picking the beliefs they want to follow and ignoring the ones that don't suit them.

Smitty said...

Ya, steve, I agree, and I believe that's the gist of Colbert's quote.