"The great trouble with religion – any religion – is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason – but one cannot have both." ~ Robert Heinlein
Clintonism Now! Clintonism Tomorrow! Clintonism Forever!
If California's embattled Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, claimed that his Christian faith drove him to call for the largest tax increase in his state's history, don't you think that Rush Limbaugh would indeed have more fun with the subject than a human being should be allowed to have? Moreover, would the head of the Christian Coalition put her stamp of approval on such a measure?
Well, this is just what is happening in Alabama. Republican Governor Bob Riley, an outspoken evangelical Christian, states that his Christian faith has prompted his call for a $1.2 billion dollar tax increase.
Taking a page from Bill Clinton's playbook, he told ABC News, "Alabamians are a faithful people who believe that creating a better world for our children and helping our neighbors are both sacred duties."
When politicians start talking about "our children," be afraid. Be very afraid.
As Governor Riley told the Birmingham News when announcing his tax hike proposal, "Jesus says one of our missions is to take care of the least among us. We've got to take care of the poor."
I get it: We fulfill our Christian obligations through tax hikes. A page from the Clinton playbook.
But being a Republican evidently absolves one of all sin.
As Christian Coalition President Roberta Combs proclaims, the plan is a "bold and courageous initiative" and Alabama voters should "seize this transforming moment."
Spoken like a true liberal.
As always, someone cites the grotesquely misunderstood scripture Matthew 22:21: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." In this case, it is Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
"It's really hard for the Christian to determine what's God's and what's Caesar's," said Cizik.
No it is not, Mr. Cizik.
I am going to be very, very blunt here. Most Christians are more ignorant than dirt about what the Bible teaches about politics and economics. This may not sound very nice, but it felt so good!!!
Christians can tell very easily what is Caesar's and what is God's if they just read the Bible and America's Founding documents.
The Bible speaks to all aspects of life. It does not exclude political and economic issues. The infatuation of so many Christians with the notion of an omniprovident, omnicompetent state has no basis in Scripture. In both the Old and New Testaments, the biggest enemies of God's people were worldly rulers. Indeed, Jesus was crucified by people who had no king but Caesar. (John 19:15)
The Eighth and Tenth Commandments forbid theft and covetousness. These sins are the very basis of the modern welfare state. Bill Gates and Barry Bonds have gobs of money while the wino on the Bowery and the woman who has had ten kids by seven different men have very little money. The welfarists deem this unjust and call upon the state to shake down the former to benefit the latter.
In practice, the government steals from one group to satisfy the covetousness of another group. And don't think for a minute that governments are above God's judgment. Romans 13:1 in the King James Bible says "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." Every soul! This does not exempt government. Psalm 2 is also very clear about the supremacy of God over worldly governments.
Jesus never assigns any duties to secular rulers. In America, our Constitution assigns very few duties to secular government. It is very easy to read our Constitution and discern what is Caesar's and what is God's. Just read Article 1, Section 8. It contains 18 clauses and 431 words. It is very remarkable for what it does not say. Taking care of the poor is not among the defined duties of government either constitutionally or biblically. Many of the Founders were Christians. And those who weren't were a lot more Christian in their politics than most Christians I know.
Compassion, charity, and concern for the downtrodden are all noble Christian virtues. However, Jesus never has a sword upside anyone's jugular when He instructs us to practice these virtues. Indeed, Paul writes in II Corinthians 9:7 that God wants a cheerful giver for His church and His work, not someone who is coerced into giving. The cheerful giver gives voluntarily. The uncheerful giver gives at gunpoint. Not giving means fines, jail or death.
Jesus says "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30) The tax authorities cannot make this claim.
Yes there were groups of believers in the New Testament who formed what we might today describe as communes, put off self-interest and gave to one another without ceasing. (See Acts 2:42-44 and 4:32-34). Shiny, happy Christians holding hands! However, these believers were inspired by the Holy Spirit, not by a progressive income tax.
Be honest. Do you pay your taxes because of totally selfless, altruistic compassion and concern for those less fortunate in society or because Uncle Sam is going to bust a cap upside your head if you don't? This is pure conjecture, but I believe that oppressive taxation and the welfare state have sapped a lot of true compassion out of people. True compassion and love for one's neighbor cannot be forced. If the American people were not being taxed into the pavement to the extent that we are, we would have a lot more money available to give to churches and charities.
But what about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you? Well, I do not like having half my income confiscated before I can so much as buy groceries. Why, then, would I lay such an imposition on someone else?
America's churches in recent decades have done a deplorably poor job of teaching what the Bible says about political and economic issues. We need to render unto God those things that are God's and stop trying to codify them into some sort of feel-good social policy. Most Christians are so busy cheerleading for their political faction of choice to usher in some sort of economic and/or moral utopia that they do not look to the Bible to see that the political promises they believe have no basis in Scripture.
(I believe that it was the Washington Post, which, a few years ago, described evangelical Christians as uneducated and easily led. As much as I hate to say it, the Washington Post was right, albeit for the wrong reasons.)
Governor Riley, Ms. Combs, Mr. Cizik and all other professing Christians who support the proposed Alabama tax increase--or for that matter any tax increase--have far more in common with Bill Clinton than they do with Jesus Christ. If they want to show their true colors, they should take a cue from the late governor of Alabama, George Wallace. They should stand together on the statehouse steps in Montgomery, raise their hands in the air and proclaim for the world to hear: "Clintonism now! Clintonism tomorrow! Clintonism forever!"