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Does the Christian Care About the Poor or Not?

A novel about Christian apologetics and atheist counter-apologetics

The New Testament is brimming with demands that the Christian care for the poor and needy.  Think of the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31–46), the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37), or the story of Jesus and the rich young man (Luke 18:18–30).

How some politicians and religious leaders can juggle the hypocrisy is beyond me.  I’ll grant that the Bible can be picked apart and made to say just about anything, but isn’t charity a prime demand?

[Jesus said:] Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. (Mark 10:21)

[John the Baptist said:] Anyone who has two coats should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same. (Luke 3:11)

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17–18)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Rick Townsend

    Christians do care about the poor. There are any number of indications of this, from orphanages to hospitals to relief missions and third world feeding programs to the difference between who gives more. Where is that Lord Darwin Atheists’ Memorial Hospital or the Dawkins orphanage? Can’t find it in my Google search.

    Here is one of my favorites: http://www.kenyakidscan.org. How about you endorse this one and make it a key outreach function of your blog? They teach computer literacy to starving kids in Kenya. (They also feed tens of thousands of kids every school day, encouraging education and keeping kids in school.) Check it out. It is worthy of your efforts and your time, and your money. And surprisingly, it is not sponsored by an atheist, and even more surprisingly, the Gates Foundation and Microsoft declined to provide ANY support, even though CNN made its founder, Steve Peifer, a CNN Hero the first year the awards were given.

    Let’s agree that such efforts are worthy, bury the hatchet on this one, and endorse a project that is really doing some good and is worth more than all the words shared on this blog. Save some kids today. We personally support it and I’m willing to answer anyone’s email questions at HS.Subscribed@GMail.com.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Christians do care about the poor.

      Millions do, and that’s terrific. It’s the ones in the public spotlight that concern me–the politicians and ministers.

      Where is that Lord Darwin Atheists’ Memorial Hospital or the Dawkins orphanage? Can’t find it in my Google search.

      Easy mistake to make–probably just a typo. Try “CARE” or “Oxfam” or “Doctors Without Borders.” And of course secular government projects come to mind–the Marshall Plan would be a biggie.

      How about you endorse this one and make it a key outreach function of your blog?

      I’m allergic to ministries. This might also be the reasoning behind the Gates Foundation declining support. Though this group doubtless does good work (feeding people makes more sense than computer literacy, but that’s just me), there are so many groups that don’t have a religious agenda that I’ll focus on them.

      But let me applaud your interest in international issues. Last time I checked, out of the $300 billion that Americans donate per year (I’m impressed with Americans’ generosity), less than 2% went to international causes.

      • Rick Townsend

        And your point is… ?? Atheists do a better job of trying to be benevolent than Christians? No one claims to be perfect in following the teachings of Jesus, but Christians as a whole are a whole lot better at charity than atheists. That is the comparison to make, right?

        And you can’t use government aid as a discriminator, because Christians as well as atheists contribute to this sort of forced charity. So you have to stick to individual support, not government coercion, as a measurement of any differences you want to try to establish. Did you look at that standard, or is this just an intellectual exercise?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Christians as a whole are a whole lot better at charity than atheists. That is the comparison to make, right?

          How did this suddenly become the subject of the post?

          And you can’t use government aid as a discriminator, because Christians as well as atheists contribute to this sort of forced charity.

          “Forced charity”? Yeah, that’s what I think of the Marshall Plan that helped Europe heal after WW2. Or PEPFAR, Pres. Bush’s program against AIDS. Wikipedia says, “PEPFAR has been called the largest health initiative ever initiated by one country to address a disease.” You lament this “forced charity”? Initiatives like this make me proud to be an American.

          We both seem to have charitable instincts. I’m delighted to see that channeled through the government. When those tax ‘n spend liberals want society to help people, that’s their way of being charitable.

          So you have to stick to individual support, not government coercion, as a measurement of any differences you want to try to establish.

          An interesting idea. I wonder how much individual support atheists would want to make through the government (but are prevented from doing so).

          And BTW, Christians’ donations to church that go to run the church itself don’t count in my mind. The pass-through to charitable organizations are what interest me for this discussion.

  • Rick Townsend

    Reference, “How did this suddenly become the subject of the post?”

    I am having to infer. You didn’t make a point. So I asked you what your point is. If it isn’t something having to do with Christian charity efforts, then perhaps you can enlighten me. I am simply too stupid to figure it out. You usually use your “clear thinking about Christianity” blog to attack Christians on whatever. So I thought perhaps you were doing so again and am responding asking AGAIN what your point is about Jesus’ teachings on charity. Go for it. Tell us.

    Reference “forced charity,” my point was that it can’t be chosen, and if you were making a point about Christians versus some other group regarding charity, as was my initial question, I was responding to that. I don’t mind government doing good. I just don’t want government doing giving on my behalf. Government sponsored relief work is horribly inefficient compared with private 501(c)(3) organizations, though you can clearly find egregious excesses in some of them. Organizations we support are vetted and don’t have these issues.

    But again, tell us your point about the verses listed.

    How are atheists prevented by government from making contributions? I am too stupid to understand that one too.

    Reference, “The pass-through to charitable organizations are what interest me for this discussion.” We can limit discussions to non-church, but we’d have to consider operational costs of running your favorite atheists benevolence association, too. Only the pass through that goes directly to the need at hand.

    So what was your point?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      You didn’t make a point.

      Read Colbert’s comment. That’s the point.

      Reference “forced charity,” my point was that it can’t be chosen

      … except for the fact that we elect the representatives who would make the decisions. We don’t have a democracy but a representative democracy. Sometimes all of us can do more than each of us. Government has its flaws, but it’s a way to get society focused on the world’s big needs.

      I don’t mind government doing good. I just don’t want government doing giving on my behalf.

      Doing good? Doing giving? There’s a difference here that I’m missing.

      What’s the aversion to all of us (through the government) deciding on big projects that need doing? The transcontinental railroads, the interstate highway network, Apollo, PEPFAR?

      We can all work together … except for charity–is that it?

      Government sponsored relief work is horribly inefficient compared with private 501(c)(3) organizations

      If you don’t like the government doing the work itself, you’re OK with the government giving money to those organizations that have proved themselves in the field?

      But again, tell us your point about the verses listed.

      Luckily, you’re the only one who seems to have trouble understanding the point of my posts. Maybe you’re just reading too much into it? I can’t explain the post any better than the post itself.

      How are atheists prevented by government from making contributions? I am too stupid to understand that one too.

      Ditto.

      We can limit discussions to non-church, but we’d have to consider operational costs of running your favorite atheists benevolence association, too. Only the pass through that goes directly to the need at hand.

      Yes, that is a fair comparison. As I’m sure you’re aware, a good 501(c)3 has less than 10% of its income going to overhead, fundraising, administration, and so on. The remaining 90% goes to the field.

      What fraction of churches’ income goes to the food banks and other good works? Less than 90%, I’m guessing.

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