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I get a lot of comments on this website and my companion Facebook site, many of which I don’t respond to. Some are unreasonable and/or hateful and, thus, don’t require a response; and some I simply can’t get to, though I wish I could. I enjoy thoughtful and gracious dialogue on the critical issues facing Americans today. Every so often, though, a comment comes through that needs a response, because it gets at the heart of an issue or question that is essential to the Christian faith and how it relates to our civic duty in America, and I want to do my part in bringing a biblical understanding to the topic.
I got one of those questions recently on my Facebook account. It included this photo:
Accompanied by this caption: “So please enlighten us.”
I’m not sure I enlightened the commenter, but I did my best to offer a few quick thoughts on how Christians should approach charity. This is a critical topic – so critical that I wrote about it extensively in my book, Saving America: A Christian Perspective of the Tea Party Movement. I, of course, encourage you to get a copy to read the full discussion, but short of that, copied below is my quick response to the commenter. (He and I did end up going back and forth a little after my initial response, but it extends beyond the main points I wanted to make about Christian charity, so I’m not including it in this post.)
Well, I’m actually not a Republican, but I do support cuts to federal programs that are presented as charitable for many reasons. Here are just a few.
1) There’s nothing biblical about taking God’s critical commandment of providing for the needy that He gives to His followers and outsourcing it to a corrupt third party (i.e., the Federal Government). That’s why I – and conservative Christians in general – give a lot of time and money to serving those in need, rather than expecting a cold and inefficient government to do it on our behalf. The needy deserve better.
2) Whether you or I like it or not, federal spending MUST be cut dramatically or America’s economy will ultimately collapse, possibly soon. That will devastate the needy – and everyone else – far more than any spending cuts ever would. Even if we don’t hit full collapse, excessive government spending (and taxes) stifles economic growth, which always disproportionately harms the poor. The Federal Reserve is printing money to partially pay for all our reckless spending, which is causing massive inflation – and may ultimately lead to hyperinflation – in the price of necessities like gasoline and food. This cripples the needy who are already struggling just to provide for themselves and their families.
3) If we’re going to have government offer some sort of safety net for those who truly need it, it should done at the state and local levels where the government is closer to the people they serve and better understands how to meet their needs. If we instead continue to allow distant bureaucrats in the federal government have that responsibility, people will never get the help they need; the poor stay poor, while government officials continue to enrich and empower themselves. There’s a reason poverty was declining in America until the War on Poverty/Great Society began in 1965. Since then, we have only exponentially increased federal spending on “helping” the needy, yet poverty is currently at record levels. And in the process the federal government has grown far more powerful over you and me, inserting itself into nearly every aspect of our lives, making it harder for us to help the needy on our own.
The best thing government can do to help the needy is get out of the way. Slash regulations on businesses, lower taxes on businesses and individuals, simplify the tax code, stop spending almost twice as much as it collects in taxes, stop borrowing from and enslaving us to nations like China (who have little regard for human rights), stop flooding our economy with new money, and start encouraging entrepreneurship and true charity. Then we can watch an economic explosion happen in America, creating millions of jobs for those who need them most, increasing wages for everyone, giving them more money to personally help those who still need it.
Update: Paul wrote in and pointed out that I incorrectly referred to the New Deal as starting in 1965. I actually meant the War on Poverty/Great Society (I’ve corrected it above). Sorry for the mistake — because all destructive progressive redistribution schemes are interchangeable in my mind, I accidentally referred to the wrong one. Thanks, Paul, for the good catch.