Responsibility is differentiated, mutual and complementary, not exclusive, binary and competitive

One point, 10 reiterations, 10 links to longer, more thorough expressions of and arguments for that same one point:

I’m hoping that by repeating that 10 times, at least one of them will sink in for Douglas E. Baker, who seems to think that either the church or the state has a responsibility to care for the indigent and the elderly, and thus arrives at the profoundly confused conclusion that when the state fulfills its legal and moral obligations, the church is somehow prevented (or excused) from meeting the moral obligations it has.

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is what every branch of Christianity has taught for centuries. What I’m trying to say is that responsibility is never exclusive, never binary and never competitive, but rather that it is always differentiated, always mutual and always complementary.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    So I’m confused. Who should care for the poor and elderly, the church or the state?
    Seriously, I only wish saying something ten times worked. It would have made my former job so much easier.

  • Heart

     Both? Or was that a joke ? (I can’t really tell)

    I’d add in other groups as well, other religions and charities.

  • Dan Audy

    Everyone has a moral obligation to care for the poor and elderly.  Fred’s point is that because the government has a responsibility to do so does not in any way prevent or interfere (well it could by eliminating the problem, but that isn’t happening) with Christians taking on their (self imposed) moral responsibility to care for the poor.

  • Anonymous

    But this means we might have to take care of “those people.”  And we can’t have that.

  • Anonymous

    Much as I occasionally grouse in the comments about Fred’s emphasizing the social justice aspects of Christianity at the expense of its supernatural or dogmatic ones, I think that on this occasion, Fred is totally and completely in the right.

    Seriously, I am mightily disturbed at the growth among evangelical protestants of the notion that the welfare state is fundamentally illegitimate.  It’s particularly disturbing in that I’ve noted via the miracle of social networking that a lot of evangelicals I haven’t had contact with since the end of the 90s seem to have all been bitten by the libertarian/Glenn Beck/extreme right bug.  I don’t remember any of these folks as having been particularly politically opinionated one way or the other a decade ago.

    I mean seriously.  What sort of memetic contagion is out there in the evangelical churches these days?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marshall-Pease/1324310862 Marshall Pease

    I used to have on my wall*:

    It’s not a question of sharing blame;
    Everybody gets All of it.

    * the one above my desk, I mean

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    In theory, yes, both the Church and the State should care for the poor, elderly, and disadvantaged.

    In practice, I much prefer the State over the Church, at least in the U.S. because the social safety net is non-partisan, non-denominational, and non-coercive. It doesn’t matter how (or even if) you vote, you still recieve care. It doesn’t matter what church (if any) you attend. It doesn’t matter if you love your country or hate it, you still get support.

    In practice, the Church cares for its congregation, but not so much for outsiders. In practice, what should be unconditional hospitality is instead used as coercive sales, a poverty-level version of a timeshare presentation.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    In theory, yes, both the Church and the State should care for the poor, elderly, and disadvantaged.

    In practice, I much prefer the State over the Church, at least in the U.S. because the social safety net is non-partisan, non-denominational, and non-coercive. It doesn’t matter how (or even if) you vote, you still recieve care. It doesn’t matter what church (if any) you attend. It doesn’t matter if you love your country or hate it, you still get support.

    In practice, the Church cares for its congregation, but not so much for outsiders. In practice, what should be unconditional hospitality is instead used as coercive sales, a poverty-level version of a timeshare presentation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Both? Or was that a joke ? (I can’t really tell)

    It was a joke, which is why I began the next sentence with the word “seriously”. I thought about adding a smiley, but I hate those things.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Both? Or was that a joke ? (I can’t really tell)

    It was a joke, which is why I began the next sentence with the word “seriously”. I thought about adding a smiley, but I hate those things.

  • Lori

    This is true and it’s an argument against having churches be the only providers of charity services, but it’s not an argument against saying that church and state can and should both a role. Even as an atheist I have no problem with churches preaching with their charity. That’s kind of what churches do. I just don’t think that (potentially coercive) church charity should ever be anyone’s only option. 

  • Lori

    This is true and it’s an argument against having churches be the only providers of charity services, but it’s not an argument against saying that church and state can and should both a role. Even as an atheist I have no problem with churches preaching with their charity. That’s kind of what churches do. I just don’t think that (potentially coercive) church charity should ever be anyone’s only option. 

  • Lori

    This is true and it’s an argument against having churches be the only providers of charity services, but it’s not an argument against saying that church and state can and should both a role. Even as an atheist I have no problem with churches preaching with their charity. That’s kind of what churches do. I just don’t think that (potentially coercive) church charity should ever be anyone’s only option. 

  • Daughter

    What also blows my mind is that the anti-government safety net folks believe that before the New Deal, the church was fully taking care the needs of the poor even before the Depression, and that the social safety net was an unnecessary intervention pushed by folks on the left solely to move us toward socialism.

    Now the church did some very good things, especially in the 19th century, before the rise of fundamentalism.  Many evangelical Christians at that time were very strong advocates of the social justice that many of their modern descendants decry.   But it often wasn’t enough.

    Some of conservatives’ own books make this point.  I’ll give one example:  Bernard Nathanson’s The Hand of God, a Conservative Books of the Month Club book, which describes his life and how he became a founder of NARAL, but later converted to Catholicism and became a strong anti-abortion advocate.

    Nathanson traces his earlier support of abortion to how his father raised him, and his father’s support of abortion to his own childhood.  Nathanson’s dad was part of a large Jewish family, the father of which died from tuberculosis around the turn of the 20th century.  Despite support from their synagogue, Nathanson’s widowed grandmother couldn’t support her children on her own, and parceled them out to different relatives and factories.  Nathanson’s father was very bitter about the breakup of his family, and after becoming an ob/gyn, became a practitioner of illegal abortions because he was convinced that abortion was the way to prevent women like his mother from having too many babies and therefore from having to break their families apart in a time of crisis. 

    The politics of abortion, of course, is the focus of the book and of the conservative reviewers that praise it.  But I was struck by the fact that they all seem to glide over this:  prior to the New Deal, there was no social safety net and even the support of an insular (Orthodox Jewish) faith community wasn’t enough to help this family.  In fact, that’s how AFDC aka welfare began: as a means to help widowed women with children, many of whom found themselves in similar circumstances as Nathanson’s grandmother.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5V7WB5LWONXO22R6D4CYEZGYFE Alan

    Time to put on the asbestos suit:

    This is why I’m not a Christian. I’m sorry, Fred, but honestly, I consider the type of Christianity you espouse (honest, decent, compassionate) to be a tiny and nearly irrelevant fringe movement of basic human decency within a larger Church that rejects human decency completely. Reading the comments at that link — post after post displaying what I can only describe as visceral hatred of the poor — confirms the hypothesis I formed almost ten years ago and for which I have never seen evidence to refute it: I truly believe that the majority of American Christians actually worship Satan but have deluded themselves into believing that Satan is Christ, that the way Christ wants us to live our lives today is the precise opposite of how he actually said a Christian should act in the Gospels. I think the good and decent Christians (who are the minority) are good and decent despite clinging to an irrational belief system that demands that they be hateful to others. I see nothing positive in Christianity that even remotely makes up for the harm it does and seeks to do in the future.

  • Daughter

    There is the occasional good comment on that thread.  For example, one commenter says this:

    Government social programs actually enable desperate people not to starve. Private charity and religious charity is never enough to accomplish that. It has never been so throughout history, and it isn’t so now.(By the way, this is not to say that government social programs always accomplish whatever they set out to do. It just states the simple fact that the idea of private charity replacing the $75 billion dollars spent on food stamps this year, to say nothing of the tens of billions in unemployment and the hundreds of billions of dollars given out to elderly people, many of whom are no longer in shape to earn money, is *ludicrous*). Every weekly churchgoer in America giving 10% of their earned income every year wouldn’t cover it.There’s no shortage of poverty, immiseration and suffering left in America for the private churches to relieve – right now – this very day – and 10 times more than that outside our borders – right now -  and they’re failing utterly to do so, right now, this very day. Not that they’re trying very hard. Most religious communities I know spend a lot more on their buildings than on charity.

  • Daughter

    OTOH, here’s another:

    But is it truly christian to force people to give to charity who are unwilling?  See in my reading of the bible, Jesus was all about individual choice and sacrifice.  Yes he called us all to help the poor and care for the disadvantaged, but I do not think he advocated forcing others to provide the poor.  He wanted us all to choose to help others, not be forced to do so. 

    I always scratch my head when I read or hear conservative Christians say this.  The Bible commands giving to the poor, often forcefully and with warnings of severe consequences for failing to heed such commands.  The only passage that makes it sound like giving is optional is where a woman is criticized for anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive oil instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor, and Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you and you can help them whenver you want.”  Otherwise, giving to the poor is always described as either a command or as a virtue that we must exhibit in our lives if we claim to love God.

    In fact, I believe giving to the poor is probably the most prevalent command in the Bible, outdistancing commandments about lying/honest, murder, and sexual behavior multiple times.  Yet few conservative Christians would says that such commands were a choice.  Let’s try it on and imagine if most conservative Christians would agree:

    But is it truly christian to force people to give to be celibate who are unwilling?  See in my reading of the bible, Jesus was all about individual choice and sacrifice.  Yes he called us all to be moral sexually, but I do not think he advocated forcing others to abstain from sex outside of marriage.  He wanted us all to choose whether we want to abstain from sex or not, not be forced to do so. 

    But is it truly christian to force people to tell the truth who are unwilling?  See in my reading of the bible, Jesus was all about individual choice and sacrifice.  Yes he called us all to be honest, but I do not think he advocated forcing others to tell the truth.  He wanted us all to choose whether we wanted to be lie or tell the truth, not be forced to do so. 

  • Daughter

    OTOH, here’s another:

    But is it truly christian to force people to give to charity who are unwilling?  See in my reading of the bible, Jesus was all about individual choice and sacrifice.  Yes he called us all to help the poor and care for the disadvantaged, but I do not think he advocated forcing others to provide the poor.  He wanted us all to choose to help others, not be forced to do so. 

    I always scratch my head when I read or hear conservative Christians say this.  The Bible commands giving to the poor, often forcefully and with warnings of severe consequences for failing to heed such commands.  The only passage that makes it sound like giving is optional is where a woman is criticized for anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive oil instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor, and Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you and you can help them whenver you want.”  Otherwise, giving to the poor is always described as either a command or as a virtue that we must exhibit in our lives if we claim to love God.

    In fact, I believe giving to the poor is probably the most prevalent command in the Bible, outdistancing commandments about lying/honest, murder, and sexual behavior multiple times.  Yet few conservative Christians would says that such commands were a choice.  Let’s try it on and imagine if most conservative Christians would agree:

    But is it truly christian to force people to give to be celibate who are unwilling?  See in my reading of the bible, Jesus was all about individual choice and sacrifice.  Yes he called us all to be moral sexually, but I do not think he advocated forcing others to abstain from sex outside of marriage.  He wanted us all to choose whether we want to abstain from sex or not, not be forced to do so. 

    But is it truly christian to force people to tell the truth who are unwilling?  See in my reading of the bible, Jesus was all about individual choice and sacrifice.  Yes he called us all to be honest, but I do not think he advocated forcing others to tell the truth.  He wanted us all to choose whether we wanted to be lie or tell the truth, not be forced to do so. 

  • Daughter

    I suppose someone might argue that while there is a government mechanism for collecting taxes that are then distributed to those in need, there is no comparable government mechanism for making us be honest, or for controlling our sexual behavior. 

    (I’d argue that both those points are debatable:  we take oaths and sign documents such as tax forms all the time declaring our honesty, and legislation around gay rights, abortion and birth control often have de facto effects of controlling sexual behavior).

    But my point still stands: conservative Christians would not call lying, or murder, or sex outside of marriage a choice.  Yes, almost any behavior is a choice, in that you decide to do it or not do it, but they would not call it a choice in the sense of, “God wants you to decide whether you want to do this or not.”

  • walden

    what do these folks say about the Jubilee year, etc….? There was a program of total debt forgiveness.  Too bad we (US) couldn’t do at least a write-down for foreclosure victims…but no, that would be evil government regulation.  Unlike biblical regulation.

  • Daughter

    I agree.  I know that Bono has been active in promoting Jubilee programs of debt forgiveness for developing nations.  I have often wondered how much better off the U.S. would be if we had some program for debt forgiveness in place here.  (I know my family would be better off!)

    I even read a few suggestions that instead of TARP going to the banks, it should have been distributed to American households to pay down debt, with the end result being that the banks would get much of that money, but by filtering it first to households that owed, average families and individuals would also get out of debt in the process.  Of course, the logistics of trying to set up such a program would have been crazy. 

  • Daughter

    Oh, and the added benefit of such a program?  American households, now less burdened by debt, would spend more, stimulating the economy.

    Here’s a thought experiment:  how would such a program be set up?  I would imagine it involving a set amount of money going to each household or individual that’s filed a tax return, in a manner similar to the stimulus checks, but instead of being sent a check, the money would be held in escrow.

    Step 2: people could log on to a system matched to their SS# and enter their debts and debtors.  Two challenges here (beyond just develping the system in the first place):  1)  how to inform and educate the public about this process and give access to the system to those with barriers of time, disability, lack of computer/internet access, etc.; and 2) how to check the debt information so that someone doesn’t enter false information that hands over government money not to debtors but to their friends.

    Assuming those two barriers can be overcome, then the government would deposit funds in your debt accounts, starting with the largest, until you and/or your household reaches the limit of your “debt stimulus” funds.  Although not all debts would be to banks (some would be to medical providers, or to retailers, for example), a lot of it would, providing a huge infusion of cash to those banks. 

    After your funds have cleared, you’d be sent a statement about which debts have been paid off and which (if any) remain.  If anyone doesn’t participate in this process, after a certain period of time, those funds would return to the government coffers. 

    Would this work?  Thoughts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    Republicans and conservatives would have gone completely insane about open and honest socialism of this nature, and Obama, ever wanting to make a deal with the Baggers, would promptly alter this arrangement so one-tenth of TARP goes to families in need and the other nine-tenths of it goes to banks like it did in real history. For his enormous concession and sacrifice, Republicans would continue to yell non-stop, and forever, about Communism and work absolutely tirelessly for the destruction of him and everything he stands for. Oh, and when that one-tenth proves not enough to rescue American families from debt, the fundamental idea behind the program will be generally seen to be a misguided failure, having the net effect of preventing any further programs with similar goals because ‘we tried your liberal policy already and it FAILED, Commie.” When liberals suggest that this wasn’t the smartest maneuver, giving away so much of the program’s power for absolutely zero votes or any deal with the other side, they will be mercilessly smashed for having the audacity not to look forward one hundred percent of the time and for not being sufficiently Good Troopers about this whole thing.

    I think politics is making me a little cynical.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    Republicans and conservatives would have gone completely insane about open and honest socialism of this nature, and Obama, ever wanting to make a deal with the Baggers, would promptly alter this arrangement so one-tenth of TARP goes to families in need and the other nine-tenths of it goes to banks like it did in real history. For his enormous concession and sacrifice, Republicans would continue to yell non-stop, and forever, about Communism and work absolutely tirelessly for the destruction of him and everything he stands for. Oh, and when that one-tenth proves not enough to rescue American families from debt, the fundamental idea behind the program will be generally seen to be a misguided failure, having the net effect of preventing any further programs with similar goals because ‘we tried your liberal policy already and it FAILED, Commie.” When liberals suggest that this wasn’t the smartest maneuver, giving away so much of the program’s power for absolutely zero votes or any deal with the other side, they will be mercilessly smashed for having the audacity not to look forward one hundred percent of the time and for not being sufficiently Good Troopers about this whole thing.

    I think politics is making me a little cynical.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    I might say, brother, that my irrational belief system demands that I love others, and if the majority of my nominal coreligionists don’t act like that’s the case, I see it as something to be reformed rather than ceded to the dark side.

  • Donalbain

    So I’m confused. Who should care for the poor and elderly, the church or the state?

    Neither! The Holy Free Market (peace be upon it) will provide. If it does not provide, then they are deemed UnWorthy and must suffer the torment!

  • Donalbain

    Everything was great for the poor until the state muscled in. Anyone who has read Dickens knows that!

  • Lori

     I even read a few suggestions that instead of TARP going to the banks, it should have been distributed to American households to pay down debt, with the end result being that the banks wouldget much of that money, but by filtering it first to households that owed, average families and individuals would also get out of debt in the process.  Of course, the logistics of trying to set up such a program would have been crazy.  

    I think it could have been done in a way that was manageable. The money could still have gone directly to the banks, which would have cut down on complexity and costs of distribution. Instead of simply being a gimme for them though it would have been directed toward clearing outstanding consumer debt on their books. Essentially the government would have provided banks with money by helping to pay down consumer debt. 

    The problem wouldn’t have been the logistics, it would have been getting people to agree on whose debts should be paid down and by how much. It seems to me that the obvious places to start would have been the mortgages of people who are upside down on their home loans, student loans and balances on credit cards that have exploitative fees  (coupled with legally restricting banks’ ability to charge such fees). 

    Of course that’s all crazy talk. Why should people in debt be rewarded while people who pay their bills get nothing? Even if it would help the economy and therefore benefit everyone, it’s better to cut off our noses to spite our faces than to give anything to shiftless losers. Better still to give the money to the people who crashed the economy in the first place. They got us into this and they’re the ones who know how to get us out. 

  • Anonymous

    While I don’t actually disagree with anything you said … just wanted to clarify that the basic TARP bargain was in place before Obama took office. Not sure how much he could have altered it after it was passed and signed by Bush. And it was considerably less insane than the original 3-pager that Paulson brought before Congress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    When in doubt, add a smiley… it’s like a handshake, it never hurts… ;)

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    That’s not an argument against the church not caring for the poor, elderly and handicapped.  That’s an argument against the church doing it wrong.  And I agree. Honestly, we as the church can and should do a lot better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    Like a lot. Double plus Like.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    When in doubt, add a smiley… it’s like a handshake, it never hurts… ;)

    Unless you have arthritis.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    In practice, the Church cares for its congregation, but not so much for outsiders. In practice, what should be unconditional hospitality is instead used as coercive sales, a poverty-level version of a timeshare presentation.

    I make this point every time this comes up, but–some, not all church charity is like that.

    That said, I believe concern for the poor and otherwise marginalised is an essential role of government for the reasons you stated and more; and that it is an essential role of Christians individually and in whatever collective they find themelves; and, for that matter, that it’s an essential role for *human beings*.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    In practice, the Church cares for its congregation, but not so much for outsiders. In practice, what should be unconditional hospitality is instead used as coercive sales, a poverty-level version of a timeshare presentation.

    I make this point every time this comes up, but–some, not all church charity is like that.

    That said, I believe concern for the poor and otherwise marginalised is an essential role of government for the reasons you stated and more; and that it is an essential role of Christians individually and in whatever collective they find themelves; and, for that matter, that it’s an essential role for *human beings*.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I really don’t like how you jump between (one branch of the political activist) American Christianity and “Christianity” the world religion, as if they’re one and the same.

  • Anonymous

    @LoriAnnK:disqus 

    The problem wouldn’t have been the logistics, it would have been getting people to agree on whose debts should be paid down and by how much. It seems to me that the obvious places to start would have been the mortgages of people who are upside down on their home loans, student loans and balances on credit cards that have exploitative fees  (coupled with legally restricting banks’ ability to charge such fees).

    I’ve actually seen a credible way of doing much that, without much of an actual subsidy.  It would effectively write down underwater mortgages — down to the actual property value — and reduce payments, but then it would give the lender an “appreciation right,” which is a claim to future home price appreciation.  Sort of a debt/equity swap like GM did, but with houses.

    To quote John Hussman:

    Aside from that, the most useful feature of government in resolving the foreclosure crisis is not its ability to squander taxpayer money, but its ability to provide coordinated action. I still believe that the best approach to foreclosure abatement would be for the Treasury to set up a special “conduit” fund to administer “property appreciation rights” or what I’ve called PARs.

    Suppose a $300,000 mortgage is in foreclosure (or the homeowner and lender can agree to the following arrangement outside of foreclosure court). A reasonable mortgage restructuring might be to cut the principal of the mortgage to $200,000, and to create a $100,000 PAR. The homeowner would agree to pay off the PAR to the Treasury (and administered through the IRS) out of future price appreciation on the existing home or subsequent property. The homeowner would be excluded from taking on any home equity loans or executing any “cash out” refinancings until the PAR was satisfied. The maximum PAR obligation accepted by the Treasury would be based on the value of the home and the income of the homeowner.

    The lender would receive not a direct claim on that homeowner, but a participation in the Treasury’s “PAR fund” which would pay out proportionately out of all PAR proceeds received by the Treasury (technically, new shares in the PAR fund would be assigned based on a ratio reflecting the extent to which existing shareholders have already been paid off, so earlier shareholders don’t receive more than they have coming to them).

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I even read a few suggestions that instead of TARP going to the banks, it should have been distributed to American households to pay down debt, with the end result being that the banks would get much of that money, but by filtering it first to households that owed, average families and individuals would also get out of debt in the process.  Of course, the logistics of trying to set up such a program would have been crazy.

    That’s kinda what we did in Australia. The majority of taxpayers, pensioners, and parents were given up to $900 in a lump sum (some got multiple, if they were a tax-paying parent of several kids, frex). Wasn’t the world’s most efficient way of getting money to the very best place, but by giving cash to households it propped up the retail sector when consumer confidence was very low, and consequently lots of retail workers stayed in work. By and large it worked as it was supposed to, but the instant we dodged the recession bullet the opposition started in on the calamity of the debt OH NOES! (I won’t tell you the volume o the debt because the idea of being concerned about it when you know what’s going on in the rest of the world will make you choke).

  • Anonymous

    Wait what

    I could have sworn that the Bible commands Christians to provide for the needs of the poor/elderly/otherwise misfortunate, not the government. I for one do NOT wish to place my charity in the hands of such a corrupt and unaccountable entity.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I could have sworn that the Bible commands Christians to provide for the needs of the poor/elderly/otherwise misfortunate, not the government. I for one do NOT wish to place my charity in the hands of such a corrupt and unaccountable entity.

    The bible commands it of christians, the constitution commands it of the government (That pesky bit about “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”) .  Render unto caeser and all.

    And “corrupt and unaccountable”? So… the US government which is bound by laws for which there are well-defined legal repurcussions for violation, and where at scheduled intervals we are guaranteed a chance to remove from power anyone who has displeased us is “corrupt and unaccountable”, while a loose collection of self-appointed and largely unaccountable zealots who can’t even manage a consistent interpretation of their holy text isn’t?

    That’s not right. That’s not even wrong.

  • Rikalous

    I make this point every time this comes up, but–some, not all church charity is like that.

    I’ve got anecdata backing that up: There’s a church garden I volunteer at that produces food for the needy, either directly or by dropping it off at a nearby shelter. Either way, no religious test necessary.

  • Rikalous

    Wait what

    I could have sworn that the Bible commands Christians
    to provide for the needs of the poor/elderly/otherwise misfortunate, not
    the government. I for one do NOT wish to place my charity in the hands
    of such a corrupt and unaccountable entity.

    Now, I’m no Bible scholar, but I’ve never heard of a verse that forbids the government from helping people. Care to cite it?

    Incidentally, responsibility is differentiated, mutual and complementary;
    responsibility is not exclusive, binary and competitive.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Hey Mono, I thought we’d lost you for a bit there.

    Two things:

    1. If you read the bible, especially the prophets, you’ll see that caring for the needs of the poor and otherwise marginalised is, first and foremost, the responsibility of the king. When there was no king it was the responsibility of the leaders of the society at the time. The leaders of our society at this time are our governments.

    2. This isn’t about charity. Concern for the poor and marginalised comes from a spirit of justice, not charity. Charity is what you do, over and above what is required of you, because you’re a decent, loving person. Justice is a basic requirement, not an optional extrá. To fail to act justly is a sin.

  • Anonymous

    I could have sworn that the Bible commands Christians to provide for the
    needs of the poor/elderly/otherwise misfortunate, not the government.

    There is no shortage of commands in the Torah to take care of the poor, elderly, and otherwise unfortunate. The Torah, to Jews before Christianity and (as I understand it) through today, is the law.

  • Anonymous

    I could have sworn that the Bible commands Christians to provide for the
    needs of the poor/elderly/otherwise misfortunate, not the government.

    There is no shortage of commands in the Torah to take care of the poor, elderly, and otherwise unfortunate. The Torah, to Jews before Christianity and (as I understand it) through today, is the law.

  • Anonymous

    I could have sworn that the Bible commands Christians to provide for the
    needs of the poor/elderly/otherwise misfortunate, not the government.

    There is no shortage of commands in the Torah to take care of the poor, elderly, and otherwise unfortunate. The Torah, to Jews before Christianity and (as I understand it) through today, is the law.

  • Anonymous

    Well monobraincell glad that your stupidity did not abandon you

  • Donalbain

    I am serious, how is this even a debate? We KNOW what life was like for the poor before the state stepped in with a welfare system. this is not some sort of secret arcane knowledge. It is in books and everything. Life was brutal and short. People dying of starvation was not unheard of in most towns.  People dying of starvation is not a good thing. Really, it is not. It is a pretty rum deal all around.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I am serious, how is this even a debate? We KNOW what life was like for the poor before the state stepped in with a welfare system. this is not some sort of secret arcane knowledge. It is in books and everything. Life was brutal and short. People dying of starvation was not unheard of in most towns.  People dying of starvation is not a good thing. Really, it is not. It is a pretty rum deal all around.

    Ah, but it’s *also* recorded how life was for the *rich*.  And who wants to be poor? When we go back to feudal disparity of wealth, we’re gonna be the *rich* ones. Life was SO MUCH better for them. 

    At least, compared to the bottomless shithole it was to be poor.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5V7WB5LWONXO22R6D4CYEZGYFE Alan

    That is a commendable attitude, I suppose. But I would think that attempting to reform an institution in which the majority of your coreligionists disagree with you on a question as basic as whether or not to love others is akin to handing every passenger on the Titanic a bucket and asking them to start bailing. In the end, the boat is still going to sink.


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