The Irrelevance of Jesus to Congressmen and Food Stamps

Food Stamps SNAP
It is astonishing to me that politicians who are eager to identify themselves as Christians so readily declare the irrelevance of Jesus. Not that they claim he is totally irrelevant. They are perfectly willing to acknowledge his importance in the fenced-in territory of private life. But when it comes to public life, the influence of Jesus is simply not welcome. Yes, he can have an unsubstantial ceremonial role. These politicians gladly appeal to his name while on the campaign trail and at public events they might fondly speak of him. But that’s about it.

Food stamps were a topic on Capitol Hill last week. The House Agriculture Committee approved legislation that would reform farm subsidies and trim the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by roughly $2.5 billion a year, leaving an additional nearly two million people without needed help. A former Jesuit priest, now a congressman, pointed to the parables of Jesus and his teaching in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 regarding the importance of caring for the poor.

A congressman who opposes action that would enable more people to have access to food stamps took exception. “I read this chapter of Matthew 25 to speak to me as an individual,” Texan Mike Conaway, a Southern Baptist, said. “I don’t read it to speak to the United States government. And so I would take a little bit of umbrage with you on that. Clearly, you and I are charged that we do those kinds of things but [our government is not] charged with that.”

Related: Does Government Assistance Discourage Private Charity? by Linda Brendle

In fact Jesus never addressed people as “individuals” in contrast to whatever else they might be, perhaps citizens or members of a profession or class or race. Nothing we find in Jesus –or writers of the New Testament- suggests that what Jesus had to say was reserved for some narrow portion of life and without bearing on other significant portions of it. But Rep. Conaway has lots of company in trying to limit the relevance of Jesus. It is crucial for them to do this to free them to throw their support to priorities and values that fly in the face of what Jesus said and did.

While I agree that Jesus didn’t suggest how to run governments, neither did he use the restrictive category that the good Congressman labeled “an individual.” Instead Jesus called people to be disciples. Discipleship is not something we do as “individuals.” It is what we practice with others and for others as we serve God. And discipleship is not something that ceases to apply when we start dealing with the government.

While Jesus didn’t tell governments what to do, he did tell his disciples the sorts of things they should do. And the things he wanted them to do, were to be done everywhere. Certainly a case can be made for the belief that a disciple shouldn’t be involved in the work of government. If one can’t follow Jesus and at the same time do what is necessary to govern then a choice must be made. Obviously, Rep. Conaway doesn’t claim to take that position. Instead he believes that he, a Christian, can be involved in the government but promoting the priorities and practices of Jesus regarding the care of the poor are irrelevant in this area. Apparently, for him Capitol Hill is a discipleship-free zone.

An equally misguided, supposedly Christian companion in Congress, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, stated, “It always looks good when politicians can go say, we brought a bunch of money to this project here or that project there, standing next to this big, giant blown-up check somewhere and saying, ‘look what we did for you.’ That’s all someone else’s money. We should be doing this as individuals, helping the poor.”

Taxes are not simply “someone else’s money.” Rather these are the funds necessary for the operation of a safe and decent country. They are the funds owed by citizens and other residents of a nation to insure crucial services are made available for the common good. And, like it or not, the payment of taxes was supported in scripture (Romans 13:6-7). The concern shown by some politicians about spending “other people’s money” apparently does not extend to paying for weapons systems and wars that many people oppose.

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Also by Craig: The Nationalistic Corruption of Worship in America

I don’t hear LaMalfa and other politicians of his ilk expressing any sense of responsibility about “other people’s money” when it comes to spending massive amounts of it for instruments and endeavors of death. Recently Congress has insisted on continuing the flow of money for tanks that the Pentagon has said it doesn’t even need or want. Yet there was no outcry from those in Congress who now want to withhold adequate funding for food stamps. Useless military expenditures are being supported by Christian politicians while real human needs are being treated as concerns that are not appropriate for the government to address. Nothing resembling discipleship can be seen in this posture.

Hunger and food insecurity are not problems that are going to be resolved by “doing this as individuals” any more than the wars and weapons systems will be paid for by private donations. Disciples whose vision and lives are shaped by Jesus have no basis for giving priority to projects and programs of death over those that improve the quality of life for people in need. There is nothing commendable about Christian politicians whose practice and priorities suggest that Jesus is largely irrelevant.


Craig M. Watts is the minister of Royal Palm Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Coral Springs, Florida and Co-Moderator of Disciples Peace Fellowship. He authored the book Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence and the State (Doulos Christou Press: Indianapolis, 2005) and his essays have appeared in many journals such as Cross Currents, Encounter, the Otherside, DisciplesWorld and more. Craig blogs on the Disciples Peace Fellowship’s, “Shalom Vision.”

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  • dave

    Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “send them all home, we don’t have enough bread and fishes”?

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      No. Look at that story again. The APOSTLES said there wasn’t enough. Jesus told them to gather up all they had, then blessed it and broke it. Then the miraculous multiplication took place and “all ate and were satisfied,” to quote the Gospels. I wish I could cite the chapters and verses, but the story shows up in Matthew and Luke.

      • Frank

        Which shows us that its we Christians that must take the responsibility not our secular government.

        • Jennifer A. Nolan

          No, it doesn’t show that. It shows us what JESUS did, and could do. You think you belong to the right religious party, and “tithe” the right amount. But God is no respecter of persons, parties, churches or tax brackets (high or low). The problem of poverty and inequality is not an ideological problem for the church; it’s an urgent practical problem for the poor, to which every citizen with more than enough, including elected officials, should make some practical answer. Somebody’s basic needs cannot be allowed to become your ideological playthings.

          • Frank

            Indeed. The lasts sentence is a big lesson for you.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            The “lasts sentence”?

          • Frank

            A typo. I always wonder about people who, while ignoring the actual comment, point out a typo or mistype. Very telling.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            A “typo” indeed! Pay attention to your grammar; it will win you more respect. Anyway, whatever is wrong with “leftist” belief about answering human need, at least they’re trying to fulfill it instead of ignoring or punishing it.

            I think the problem with this whole argument is that we on the left are trying to answer a QUESTION, whereas you and the other righties are trying to answer a GROUP OF PEOPLE — one to whom you have deep and powerful objections. I think your objections have less to do with the circumstances these people claim to be suffering than with the personality types they tend to be. Many are very dull colorless, uncreative people, with little imagination and not much of anything new or productive to add to the Kingdom, either here or in Heaven. They are empty suits, or at least seem that way. Yours is a gut reaction of fed-up exasperation; it’s not hard to understand. And many involved in charity and social work “ministries” need the poor as much as the poor need them. “They like to be liked and need to be needed,” as as Stanley Hauerwas put it many years ago. Straightening out the mess that is our poverty problem really is a tricky, dangerous bsiness.

            Even so, as a matter of both Bibe-based doctrine and plain social morality

            Even so, as a matter of both Bible-based doctrine and plain social mor

          • Frank

            Well I don’t need or require your respect. So there’s that.

            I don’t disagree with anything you have said. Our government is helping the poor. Very inefficiently. Government spends $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three. If the help worked they would no longer be poor or would be able to support themselves.

            Yes we should use all the tools to help those in need but we have to start using them wisely and the government has failed at this miserably So no the answer is not to waste more money by letting them wastefully spend it.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            “Well I don’t need or require your respect.” Well, no, you don’t. But since you are an American, living in a supposedly democratic society, WE (your fellow citizens) do require a civil tongue and an open-eared, open-minded attitude from the likes of you. And if you want others to listen to what you have to say, don’t you WANT our respect? Come on, take your nose out of the air!!

          • Frank

            I have been civil and open eared and open minded despite being judged by you and your compatriots. Your respect is not important to me though I wish you would listen to the reality I speak of. Not for my sake but for the sake of the needy and the church.

            The government is not the answer. Never has been never will be. We cannot expect the government to handle the mission Jesus gave to the church. We should empower the church more. That’s something worthwhile for you to be working towards.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            You keep harping on government versus church. According to many Americans both in and out of the church, this is a matter of basic human need, crossing denominational and dogmatic lines. All of Christendom put together will not be fit to address the needs of non-Christians if these others feel that they are being pressured to accept our ideology. There are too many Christians who have been stung by rejection by other Christians. Harvesting souls is not what this post is about; gratifying practical needs is. There are too many of your fellow believers, and too many successful businesspeople, who would dearly love to see some of their tax dollars go to helping the needy; Warren Buffett, George Soros, Jim Wallis, and Tony Campolo can explain why better than I can. Stop rebutting me and read them instead.

          • Frank

            This is a Christian blog so we talk about Christian things.

            I have read them I agree with them about the need but more government spending is not the answer.

            One thing I don’t understand about these successful people who say they would happily pay more taxes. Why don’t they? No one is stopping them and the government will happily accept the extra money. What they really want is the government to also spend more of other peoples money.

          • Val

            “What they really want is the government to also spend more of other peoples money.”

            From the article:

            “Taxes are not simply “someone else’s money.” Rather these are the funds necessary for the operation of a safe and decent country. They are the funds owed by citizens and other residents of a nation to insure crucial services are made available for the common good. And, like it or not, the payment of taxes was supported in scripture (Romans 13:6-7). The concern shown by some politicians about spending “other people’s money” apparently does not extend to paying for weapons systems and wars that many people oppose.”

          • Val

            “You keep harping on government versus church”

            Frank is a parrot. He says one thing, and repeats it obsessively throughout the thread. He may change a word or two, or a phrase, but it’s basically the same thing over and over and over again

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Thanks so much for that pointer, Val! Unfortunately, as some 25 years of dreary experience with Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and so on show, these parrots are getting their ramblings heard, read, and treated as gospel by millions of voters all across the country. This is why I go to all this bother. A sytematic counterargument will at least let some listeners know that there are more than one side to the story.

          • Val

            Thank you for all of your hard work. Your dedication to Christ-like teaching makes me admire you, and the rest of the people that contribute here. One of these days I’m going to get a hold of Dr. Campolo and hopefully get to go meet him. It would be so awesome just to sit down and talk with him over coffee or something. My first encounter with him was seeing him in a documentary called “Lord. Save US From Your Followers.” My best friend had the same experience and I watched it with her shortly after she led me to be saved. I grew up in church, but I never had a true authentic relationship with him until about five months ago.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Thank you for your note of support, Val! Best of luck and Godspeed.

          • Val

            You’re welcome. God Bless you as well. <3

          • Digger

            What are “Bibe-based doctrine” and “resourses”?
            Pay attention to your spelling; it will win you more respect.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Sorry about those, Digger. You’re right! Those were just plain sloppy on my part. Of course, I meant “Bible-based doctrine” and “resources.” The propensity for letting our keyboards run into overdrive while our brains go on furlough plagues both left and right — as do hypocrisy, hysteria, and holier-than-thou pride. So I’m sorry I let those silly errors slip through my guard. Mea culpa.

            But apart from those grammatical crimes, I stand by my comment — not to mention the red-letter Biblical sayings on which I based it.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            I just fixed those aforementioned errors — so if anyone looks at my redacted comment and thinks Digger was dreaming, no, he wasn’t. My goof-ups were real.

          • Digger

            Obviously you must realize that I was merely busting your–whatever it is that gets busted on women–for committing the same crime that you accused another of committing, and in the very same post! (Also, you grammar-copped me in a different story. So, from one grammar cop to another, I had to pull you over.) I was just having fun.

  • Dave Harrold

    I would guess Congressman Conoway is very representative of his constituents. I find this “theology” very common in the evangelical church. The anti government sentiment is so strong. Just one of the problems with this thinking is that is just a bunch of baloney. The church is not stepping up to an adequate degree to take care of the poor, as a body or as individuals. That is why there is such a need.

    In addition, the same people who espouse this view are the first ones to get offended if they view the government trying to take God out of the public square. Well, it seems to me you can’t have it both ways. If we are a Christian nation maybe we should take the teachings of Jesus seriously.

    • Frank

      The church does need to step up more, the government needs to step away more.

      • Eric

        Fantasy-land comment from Frank. Those who claim the needy shouldn’t be helped through means of the government but only through private efforts have no idea about the huge size of the need and the pathetically small amount of contributions that come from those who can most afford to give. Do you know that of the 50 largest individual gifts to public charities in 2012 NOT ONE went to went to a social-service organization or to a charity that primarily serves the poor and the needy? The great majority of them went to elite colleges and museums. So when people say the government should NOT be involved in helping the poor, the message is “let the suffering ones suffer even more.” The deluded notion behind this is that it will motivate them more. Like being without legs motives people to run a marathon. “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49).

        • Frank

          That’s a conviction of the church not an advocacy for more government intervention. The government is the least efficient at helping people. Throwing more money at the problem only makes it worse.

          As far as where charity money goes….

          2011 Contributions By Type of Recipient Organization

          Religion $95.88 billion

          Education $38.87 billion

          Gifts to Foundations* $25.83 billion

          Human Services $35.39 billion

          Public-Society Benefit $21.37 billion

          Health $24.75 billion

          International Affairs $22.68 billion

          Arts, Culture & Humanities $13.12 billion

          Environment & Animals $7.81 billion

          Foundation Grants to Individuals $3.75 billion Unallocated $8.97 billion

          In almost all of these the poor are served.

          Sorry the government is not the answer. That’s fantasy-land.

          • Eric

            Sodom was not an individual believer but a corporate political entity, a city. It was not a purely individualistic condemnation issued by Ezekiel. He condemned a people who functioned together as a social body and as a social body failed to take care of the poor. What percent of the funding to care for the poor and needy comes from private individuals and charitable organizations? According to research done by the Christian organization Bread for the World 4%! My small church operates a food bank that provides groceries for dozens of families each week. But can we and other churches do over 20 times more so the government won’t have to do it ? NO WAY! So when I hear ignorant people say the government needs to get out of the way, what it comes down to is that they want 96% of the already inadequate help received by the needy to get cut off. I call that evil. Churches are NOT the answer to this problem. They are stop-gap help and shouldn’t be expected to be more than that even if we agree they can do more than they are currently doing.

          • Frank

            The church is a “corporate” entity and where the responsibility lies. Every church, in every neighborhood, caring for those in need. That’s the answer. That’s a testament to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, that’s a testament to the Gospel, that is what we as Christians are called to do. The government will never give glory to Christ. The government will never be about the Gospel. Therefore while the government serves limited purposes for its citizens, it can never fulfill the mission of Jesus. I trust my church but I do not trust my government.

          • Eric

            Frank, you are simply dishonest about the extent of the need and the capability of the church. It can do more. It cannot do nearly enough. You either care about the poor and needy or you care about making excuses to evade discipleship in every aspect of life, including your citizenship.

          • Frank

            Those that push for our secular government to do the work of Christ is on a fools errand.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            There are a lot of Christians in “our secular government”: witness those Presidential Prayer Breakfasts and our heavily-evangelized Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Christians went out of their way to create this situation; they can make a similar effort to help the poor — through this same government.

          • Frank

            Our government is made up of people from all walks of life, all different kinds of faith. Our secular government can never accomplish the work of Christ.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Nonsense. Your god is too small; read the book by J.B. Phillips, of the same title. Your attitude — and your need to have the last word — are signs of what he called “God-in-a-box” and “the decline of Christianity into churchiness.” The Rev. Robert L. Short called it “Churchianity.”

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Nonsense. Why should the Lord work only through the church? Your god is too small; read the book by J.B. Phillips by the same title. Your attitude — not to mention your need to have the last word — is a sign of what he calls “the decline of Christianity into churchiness.”

          • Frank

            247 million Christians in the US.

            Median wage~$27,000

            If every Christian minimally tithed the church would have $666,900,000,000 annually to further the gospel including caring for the poor and needy. Add 494 million hands and feet….

            yes the church is more than capable.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            That median wage of $27,000 looks pretty small to me, Frank — and is that before or after taxes and other deductions? Tithing out of that would impose another burden on limited-income workers; it’s time for those workers to stop chewing on their fingernails and hit up those big corporate tax-dodgers!!

          • Frank

            Tithing is never a burden. It’s always a blessing. What small faith you must have to see it so.

            The church has enough potential to solve this problem. The government not so much.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            I like everything you’ve said so far, Eric, but our government will be of little use to “the poor” and other limited-income Americans unless we ourselves step up and defend our own interests, instead of crying, complaining, working at pointless “jobs,” and gawking at the Kardashians.
            I don’t mean we should donate any more money — many of us don’t have any to donate, so there! But wouldn’t it be nice if more of us admitted that we need help, and got together to provide each other with at least a little of that help? Not to mention organizing, educating, and agitating and, at least for some of us, quitting the rat race and our time-consuming “jobs” to work for a just economy, one way or another. I myself would like to begin working for one of those B-corporations some time before next May Day.

          • Eric

            In case you didn’t notice, Sodom was not a church.but a corporate political entity, a city with a government. That was what Ezekiel said was condemned for not helping to poor.

          • Frank

            The church is a “corporate entity” and the only solution to bring about the Kingdom of God.

          • 1981cj7

            Well said.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Looks really good — but who are your sources? And anyway, “religion” usually means church-building maintenance and repairs, not basement shelters or soup kitchens; “education” may mean those aforementioned elite colleges; “health” donations are usually allocated to much-trumpeted research, not needy patients’ bills. And how much of the money collected by foundations is going to any recognizable “social welfare need”?
            In summary to what extent are “the poor…served,” and in what ways?
            You can argue with “the poor” any way to Tuesday and escape the Lord’s wrath — so long as your position is sincere and carefully thought out. But as long as all you’re trying to do is hang on to your investment profits and tax loopholes, not to mention the money earned for you by “unskilled laborers,” you are skating on thin ice, ice at least as thin as that of our ding-a-ling, low-budget non-voters.

          • Frank

            I agree. I am not standing up for corporate greed I am simply saying the government is not the answer and responding to Eric fallacious assertion that the church is not powerful enough to solve the problem. It is. We have the money and the resources as long as every Christian gives generously of their time, their money and their abilities.

            The church is the only organization that can provide true charity. It’s time the entire Church stepped up.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            “True charity.” What’s that?

          • Frank

            True charity results in restoration. True mercy results in restoration. True justice results in restoration.

          • Ben

            So Frank wants Christians to quit encouraging the world to do any good unless the people first come to Christ. What ever good that is done is not “true.” But apparently he is fine with the world in the form of the government wasting tremendous resources on weapons systems so the US can more effectively kill and maim. Sick priorities in the name of Jesus.

          • Frank

            No not first but that is the goal of every act of mercy and charity for a Christian.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            What is “restoration”?

            Once, in the late 1920′s, a young man of 29, who had labored hard on Deep Southern railroads since he was 13, was forced out of his last job and left with no pension, no assistance, and no means of support, because he was desperately ill with tuberculosis. He picked up an old guitar, began to sing, and was in short order brought to fame and fortune by exploding numbers of enthusiastic admirers. Economically speaking, his story has a happy ending, but one old film clip, available on YouTube, depicts this railroader, Jimmie Rodgers, singing “Waiting for a Train,” about his days of penniless wandering. He depicts trying to sneak onto a boxcar, only to get tossed out by the brakeman an end up “sleepin’ in the rain.” That, with a feverish bacterial wasting disease.

            What would be “restoration” for Jimmie during that awful time of his?

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            What is “restoration”?

            Back in the day, in the late 1920′s, a young man of 29, who had been laboring hard on Deep Southern railroads since he was 13, was forced out of his last job and left with no pension, no assistance, no means of support whatsoever, because he was desperately ill with tuberculosis. He picked up his old guitar, began to sing, and was brought to fame and fortune by exploding numbers of enthusiastic listeners. Economically speaking, his story has a happy ending, though, needless to say, he still only got to be 35.

            But an old film clip, available on YouTube, shows this railroader, Jimmie Rodgers, singing a song of his, “Waitin’ for a Train,” wherein he tells of trying to sneak into a boxcar during his penniless days — only to be shoved back out into the cold by the brakeman, and have to spend all night “sleepin’ in the rain.” This with a feverish bacterial wasting disease.

            What would be “restoration” for Jimmie Rodgers during this bad time of his?

        • Jennifer A. Nolan

          Ouch, Eric. I like the rest of your comment, but I wish you’d left out that ad-hominem “fantasy comment from Frank” bit!

  • otrotierra

    How sad that U.S. evangelicals with the loudest voices seem to know the least about what Jesus actually said and did in history. Who will tell them about Jesus, and will they listen? Time will tell.

  • Jerry

    The church was always encouraged to help the poor. When we turned it over to the government, we blew it.

    • Frank

      Exactly. We abdicated responsibility to an over-bloated, wasteful and secular body to do the work of Christ. Its even more foolish to keep looking to the government to solve this problem. so foolish.

      • Jennifer A. Nolan

        Secular bodies, with non-Christian belief systems, are not the real problem. Atheists can be just as kind and generous as any believer. The problem is with a government that doesn’t answer to its citizens, or to the people it hurts and exploits abroad. Through this government of ours, we Americans (especially we whites) have grabbed most of this continent from its rightful, First Nation owners, imported tens of millions of African slaves and enforced their servitude, bombed and butchered peasants and other harmless civilians, and crushed democratic movements and governments on every other continent except Australia. The root cause of this isn’t the existence of poor people; it’s that Americans of limited income don’t get up the brains or the guts to hold their overlords’ feet to the fire. In this way, the “Christians” in this crowd are disobeying their Messiah.

        • Frank

          And you want to trust our government with more responsibilities? Now that’s foolish.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            We voters can throw those bums out.

          • Frank

            Yup! We can. We get exactly the government we want.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            That means we Americans are all fools. Be careful what you say.

          • Frank

            I don’t disagree that at least half of the population are foolish.

          • Val

            47%?

      • Val

        Are you really saying that taking care of the poor and needy is a Christians Only thing? Because I know some atheists that are more charitable and loving than a lot of Christians I know.

  • Star

    The government is not the church, why do we expect it to behave as
    though it is? I often remind people that Christian is not a political
    party.

    • Eric

      No, the government isn’t church. It doesn’t need to scatter the name “God” flag pledges or school prayers and “God bless America” at the conclusion of political speeches. But the government needs to be decent. It needs to be better than it is. It doesn’t have to be church to reduce poverty and other such important matters as other developed nations have managed to do. Only the government has the resources to deal with issues of such magnitude.

  • 1981cj7

    If the church were doing it, the government wouldn’t have to, but the church isn’t. We should do all the good we can in all the ways we can which certainly includes government.

    • Franl

      The church is just not well enough. Imagine if every Christian gave generously and regularly to the church so it could do more. The answer most certainly is not let the government inefficiently spend more money

    • Eric

      They church can do more but they problem is far too big for the church to handle. the government has blown it in a way not seen in other developed countries. Shame on the USA and the Christians who foster the misguided vision that has allowed this to happen by advocating reducing government help.

  • 1981cj7

    :If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we heve to pretend that JESUS WAS JUST AS SELFISH as we are, or we’vegot 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.” Stephen Colbert

    • Frank

      Colbert is funny but I wouldn’t get my theology from him.

      The church is the answer not the government.

      • Eric

        Show me one country where the church has been the answer in this area. None exist. your statement is not reality based. But I can name dozens of developed nations whose government does a better job than the US in taking care of the most vulnerable in their land. Christians need to encourage the government to do the right thing and then add help.

        • Frank

          The last place we should look is to the government. Its more than feeding mouths it feeding souls with the love of Jesus. The bread and water where once taken there will never be hunger or thirst again. All acts of mercy have the goal of restoration with God through Christ. That’s something the government can never do, only the church can.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Will you take a share in this responsibility too, Frank?

          • Frank

            I already am.

      • 1981cj7

        Admit that you just don’t want to do it.

  • 1981cj7

    I see two types of comments/people on this subject: 1. Greedy, selfish people who worship money and have all kinds of excuses to try to convince themselves that they are not in love with their dollar. and 2. In the words of the author, “Hunger and food insecurity are not problems that are going to be resolved by “doing this as individuals” any more than the wars and weapons systems will be paid for by private donations. Disciples whose vision and lives are shaped by Jesus have no basis for giving priority to projects and programs of death over those that improve the quality of life for people in need. There is nothing commendable about Christian politicians whose practice and priorities suggest that Jesus is largely irrelevant.”

  • 22044

    Disappointing that RLC allowed Craig M. Watts’ piece advocating for bigger, centralized government dressed up with a thin veneer of bad religiosity to be added to its digital space.
    I guess there is a benefit from it – we see what leftists are really thinking, and how far they are from what Jesus is doing to advance His kingdom.

    • 22044

      If anyone would call himself/herself a follower of Christ, he/she must be involved with the church in evangelizing & making disciples, not crying fouls when not liking some of the dialogue & views expressed by representatives of Congress.
      For each dollar of federal aid that would be cut, that means 99 cents or more gets cut from the bureaucratic agencies involved in distributing the aid, with 1 cent or less of aid actually getting cut.
      You’re welcome.

      • Eric

        This is ideological hogwash with no basis for the claim in empirical reality! In some areas the government gets work done cheaper and more effectively than the private sector. Our friend 22044 is just beating the worn out right-wing drum. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz lists numerous examples where the government has done far better. Surely it doesn’t always do better for cheaper. But the same old lie from the right is that government is always wasteful and ineffective. Withholding government aid for the poor has nothing to do with advancing the kingdom of Christ.

        • Frank

          Putting faith in secular government has nothing to do with advancing the Kingdom of Christ.

        • 22044

          Sorry Eric,
          I’m right & Frank is too. Read Hayek or Sowell sometime.

          With the amount of taxes collected by Washington each year, the poor should have been helped multiple times over.
          There is an additional problem with that point of view, the reduction of helping the poor to monetary means, one of the unfortunate fruits of the failed philosophy of materialism.

          • Frank

            Its all so disingenuous. On one hand they think that the Christian morality surrounding sex and marriage has no place in the government and then on the other hand they want the government to be fully involved in the morality of mercy.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Mercy, for some, is a matter of life or death, well- or ill-being. Sexual matters, licit or illicit, go on in private, usually with no harm to those involved, never mind the neighbors. We can call ourselves a “Christian nation” if we want, but we still have to live peacefully with millions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and growing numbers of disillusioned ex-Christians. Humanitarians are not worried as much about kinky sex as about hunger and high heating prices.

          • Frank

            Sinful behavior hurts the person, hurts those around them, hurts society and hurts the Kingdom of God.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Lousy argument. What counts as “sin” depends on what and how much real damage is being done. Only God can tell; this is why Jesus said “Judge not.”

          • Frank

            All sin is damaging. If we believe the NT sexual sins are even more damaging than others.

          • 22044

            Plenty of hypocrisy to notice, for sure.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            You may be right or wrong, but Jesus also called for humility. Read this comment of yours again.

          • 22044

            I could have phrased that better – I could have said “I stand by my comment” – to communicate better that it’s not about me but about the points I made.

            So here you go – I stand by my comment.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            There is a point here — one that we should all think about: the reduction of matters of human welfare to dollars and cents. Some poor parents should think deeply about what gave them the “right” to raise children on shoestring budgets. Not everyone in this world is on a mission from God. But there would be a lot less of this push-me-pull-you over money for the needy if we taxpayers weren’t so willing to give away so much of the nation’s wealth to defense contractors and corporate tax-dodgers. You should go after the “poor” for that obscene irresponsibility, not just for being short of means. Don’t deny this last point of MINE: you DO have a problem with people of of short means!

          • Eric

            The very economic dynamics at work in the world right now show the emptiness of Hayek, Sowell and others of their circle. Ideology without evidence in the actual world. “With the amount of taxes collected by Washington each year, the poor should have been helped multiple times over,” you say. I agree. But an over-bloated military eats far too much of it. Northern European nations where the safety net is much larger and the people are much happier, according to studies, much less of their budgets go to the military. Yes, taxes are higher but inequality is far less and social problems are not close to how bad it is in the US. Far right economic views have contributed to the destruction of a decent society in America.

          • 22044

            I find it hard to take your statement seriously, when the ideas of Hayek, Sowell, & Austrian economics are generally not tried by nations these days, with the exceptions of Chile, Poland, and maybe Estonia. Maybe there are others, but I can’t think of those at the moment.
            And the Christian witness is not about trying to create happy societies, when God wants to renew hearts and minds and build a new Kingdom, one that’s for a new world and not the present one.

      • Jennifer A. Nolan

        “You’re welcome” for what?

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      RLC deeply believe in more help for the needy, including government help, based on their reading of Christ’s words (the “red letters”) in the Gospels. So “leftist” calls for more assistance are quite welcome here. You can beg to differ if you have any truly better ideas, but don’t ask your fellow citizens and taxpayers to settle for chump change and Third World living standards.

      • 2204

        I haven’t ask my fellow citizens to do any of those things.
        A dollar sent to pay taxes is a dollar that can’t be used to help people, through direct gifts to them or charities that help the needy, or growing/starting a business that might help people work for a wage and start building some prosperity.
        I have a hard time taking leftists seriously, when so few of them walk the walk. Many of them are blind to their own stinginess when consider their own resources to manage.
        I also refer back to my point about materialism and how I hope RLC & other movements don’t fall for that empty worldview.

        • Jennifer A. Nolan

          There’s a point here, too: Americans would rather suffer than fight back. This is the usual response to rip-offs by health insurers: the Shrug of Resignation. Do people who behave this way dare to imagine this entitles them to a doctor’s time and energy? Those in need, and those who say they speak out for them, are only half-committed to their cause; they don’t take it seriously enough. No wonder they don’t have your respect. Is that a man or woman in that bedraggled, usually OVERWEIGHT body, or a mouse? Take off that “Kick me” sign, people!

  • Ben

    There is so much nonsense in the posts that object to Watts’ article. How can any Christian seriously believe that it is more important to restrict how the poor are helped than it is to actually help them. They don’t get that from Jesus. The church can’t do it all and even if it could, it isn’t. It does not honor God to restrict help to what the church can do and allow the poor to suffer based on a misguided political and/or religious ideology. To claim that helping the poor is desired by God only if the church does it is like saying God only wants forgiveness to be done by Christians because otherwise Christ doesn’t get glorified by it or that we should support only Christian hospitals because Christians have been called to care for the sick. Total foolishness!

    • Frank

      Since 1964 15 trillion dollars have been spent by the US government in the name of helping the poor. Government spends $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three. No one is restricting anything. The government is not the answer unless we want to waste more money and continue to not solve the problem. Something different is required and the church is the solution. Instead of wasting time trying to get our secular government to waste more money and not solve anything we should be working in, for and with the church to solve the problem. Oh wait some Christians are actually against the institution of the church and instead worship the institution of the secular government. Now that’s the definition of foolishness.

      • Ben

        You are just making up numbers. Show your sources. The fact is that poverty in America dropped dramatically as a result of the War on Poverty. What happened was that conservatives began undercutting programs that were working. It is goofy to claim government can’t reduce poverty and care for the poor. It has been done. What hasn’t been done is taking care of the problem by private means. Yes, we as Christians and churches need to help directly because some things can’t be done by the governemnt. There will always be people falling through the cracks. But what the government does is crucial. Only those with blinders on can claim government can dramatically improve the plight of the poor. The US is doing the worst job in the developed world because too many people buy the lie told buy people like Frank.The rest of the developed world is proof that the government can significantly help. Name on nation where the problem is being taken care of as you claim it should be. There are no real world outcomes that give your position credibility.

    • 22044

      Ben,
      You haven’t responded to anything we’ve said, but to your own convenient strawman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.olson.522 Daniel Olson

    All this chatter seems so useless. Of course we can all find fault with our government and its epic lack of financial responsibility. But Its clear to me that they are only a reflection of the populace. Maybe the solution isnt making more money or paying less taxes, but spending more TIME to be involved in someones life. Jesus spent 3 solid years making disciples. Should we expect to be so spiritually prolific spending but a few hours a week? We could be farming, trading, manufacturing, and teaching those in need to provide for themselves 2THS 3:10 and having something to share with others (EPH 4:28)

    I believe that food stamps could be safely cut by 25%. Before you label me greedy… read on.

    I’m on Food stamps *right now*, (unemployed since the end of FEB) and I know that while it readily fills my stomach, it makes me LESS productive or ambitious. And seriously, the $200 I get a month is almost TWICE what I need if i am frugal and smart with my purchases. Food isnt cheap in Florida, yet I can buy more expensive food now than when I was working. I dont know how much families get, but I suspect that if they shop wisely they would have more than enough. I *personally* hear plenty of people complain because the government doesn’t give them everything they think they deserve. I’m outwardly grateful for what I get from the government, but I suspect in the long run it’s not really HELPING me. Perhaps better would be arranging to have meals with some of my church family, offering to cook and do other chores, being with them and edifying each other, provoking one another to good works.

    This being able to go buy anything I want to eat, without working for it, is not good for me spiritually.

    • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.olson.522 Daniel Olson

      Correction: it doesn’t MAKE me less productive or ambitious, but it certainly ENABLES me to do so.

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