TIME author Erika Christakis asked readers Tuesday whether Paul Ryan’s budget is “un-Christian,” and whether Christians really should be voting for the Romney-Ryan ticket.
What does she mean? Christakis began (all subsequent emphasis added):
Americans often tell pollsters they yearn for a return to the Christian principles on which the U.S. was founded. If so, they should take a closer look at the Mitt Romney–Paul Ryan ticket. Jesus’ teachings regarding wealth are nowhere to be found in Ryan’s budget proposal.
As near as we can tell, Jesus would advocate a tax rate somewhere between 50% (in the vein of “If you have two coats, give one to the man who has none”) and 100% (if you want to get into heaven, be poor). Mostly, he suggested giving all your money up for the benefit of others. And Jesus made no distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor; his love and generosity applied to all.
The author conveniently forgets to mention that Jesus did not advocate giving all your earnings to the government in the hope a percentage of it would benefit the poor — he advocated helping the poor directly.
Newsbusters’ Ken Shepherd also notes that Jesus applauded the tax collector Zacchaeus when he pledged to give back the money he had fraudulently taken from taxpayers. Jesus did not, at this point, teach how tax rates should be 100%, nor did he tell Zacchaeus that should really give all his money the less fortunate, rather than back to the people who earned it.
But Christakis continues:
Theologically informed individuals are beginning to weigh in on the ethics of Ryan’s budget plan. Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social-justice lobby, has called Ryan’s budget proposal “unpatriotic” and “immoral.” As she notes, Ryan’s budget “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality … and the common good.” In a recent address at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Campbell observed that it’s the government’s responsibility to control society’s excesses. “In our culture of individualism,” she said, Catholic social teachings can “counter that individualism with a keen knowledge of solidarity.”
Maybe we’re crazy, but doesn’t government controlling the “excesses” of society sounds a little bit more like totalitarianism than Christianity? The religion certainly advocates responsibility and moderation, but through personal responsibility rather than by force through government.
The TIME author and Harvard College administrator concluded:
We’ve heard a lot of Bible-based discussion in this election season, but if we are going to evaluate social policy using so-called Christian principles, why stop at abortion and insurance coverage for birth control? … It’s one thing to lower taxes for rich people, but these plans actually hurt the poor. That’s not noblesse oblige; it’s cruelty.
One Newsbusters commenter wrote that the left seemingly has the same attitude towards the Bible as towards the Constitution: they are its staunchest advocates when it suits their political ends, otherwise they seem to ignore it.
What do you think?
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