Jesus Didn’t Shrug Pt. II

A few days ago, I wrote a post titled Jesus Didn’t Shrug, in which I said the actions and beliefs of conservative Christians had more in common with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged than the Bible.  It was a very popular post, generating the most traffic this site has seen in quite a while.  I got several rave reviews, which was nice, but there was a negative one that bothered me.  It came from a respected colleague and friend and he was offended by what I said (you can read his response here).  I want to do two things here: first and foremost, I want to apologize.  I saw a disconnect in some of my brothers and sisters way of thinking and I wanted to point that out.  Unfortunately, I offended some people and for that I am most heartily sorry.  Second, my friend raised a few points that I wanted to address.  I will endeavor to do so in the most humble manner possible. 

I’ll give the points and address them as I go:

  1. The United States WAS founded on Christian principles.  Actually, we can both be right on this one.  Here are my thoughts on the subject: There is no mention of God, Creator or pretty much any other religious language in the U. S. Constitution.  In fact, the authors of that document went to great pains to keep religion out of the government of this nation.  Then, there’s the treaty of Tripoli, which specifically states “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”{{1}}.  Now, the United States was founded on Enlightenment principles, some of which were Christian.  But, the majority of the Founding Fathers were either deists or some persuasion other than Christian.  At least, not as we know Christianity today.  And yes, I know that’s very gray.  That’s why this is such a never-ending argument.
  2. That I’m a flaming liberal who no idea what the Tea Party is all about.  I may be a liberal, but I’m not a very good one.  Here are a few examples: I still believe in the 2nd Amendment; outside of social programs, I’m in favor of limiting government power (I find the Patriot Act is disgusting) and, while I believe in climate change, I don’t believe it’s all our fault.  Saying that I don’t understand the “true motives of the Tea Party” is off the mark.  Not so long ago, I’d have been loyal member of that group.  I understand perfectly what drives the Tea Party.  For the people like my friend, operating at the grass-roots level, it’s weariness.  They’re tired of being ignored by their elected representatives.  They’re tired of carrying the weight of our broken system on their backs.  They’re tired of watching their paychecks stay the same, or get smaller, while their expenses go up.  There’s also some fear involved, too.  They’re afraid the country they live in might not be the greatest anymore.  They’re afraid that their children will be the first generation of Americans to not do better than their parents.  They’re afraid we’re not as secure as we used to be.  I know these things because I feel them too.  I just choose a different way to deal with them.
  3. That those we help should be deserving of that help.  My friend views the poor as parasites whose dearest dream is to suckle at the government teat all their days and I once felt the same.  We came to that view because we’re both firefighters and, on a daily basis, we see humanity at its worst.  Violence, drug addiction, abuse and all too many poor people that are parasites whose dearest dream is to suckle at the government teat all their days.  He’s absolutely right, they don’t deserve our help.  But, because God extended his grace to us when we didn’t deserve it, I believe that we, as Christians, are honor bound to do the same to everyone we come in contact with.
  4. That being a liberal means you give up your individual will.  The idea that  liberal equals mindless drone is code meaning liberals are closet communists.  I disagree; I believe that we live in community, that what we do affects others and that we, in fact, are our brother’s keeper.
  5. That I “twisted” scripture and used it to judge others.  I did not twist the scripture in the original post, I merely quoted it.  That said, I had no intention of judging anyone and if I did, or even gave the appearance of judging, I apologize once again.
  6. That the truth of a statement is contingent on who says it, not it’s content. This point came up in relation to the Stephen Colbert quote I used to close the original article.  More than once, I’ve posted something from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, only to have it dismissed by my conservative friends because it came from comedians, entertainers or something of that nature.  My belief is truth is truth no matter who says it.
  7. That I’m saying you can’t be conservative and Christian.  Quite the contrary.  I know many politically conservative people who are steadfast, fervent believers.  What I am saying is that, in my opinion, many of the beliefs my conservative brothers and sisters hold don’t mesh with the words of Christ, who told us to love God and love our neighbor.  For me, denying anyone, no matter how you feel about them, the most basic needs of survival (shelter, sustenance, medical care) isn’t loving them.  Jesus never said “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

 [[1]]http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/treaty_tripoli.html[[1]]