The Theology of Social Security

Roosevelt privately admitted that many business leaders who opposed his proposals were right with their economic theory, but he boldly stated that "those taxes were never a problem of economics. They were politics all the way through."

Sen. Bennett Clark, a Missouri Democrat, offered an amendment that would allow businesses to opt out of the government plan if their own plans offered more generous benefits. The Clark Amendment passed by a 51-35 vote in a Democrat controlled senate, but FDR threatened to veto the entire bill unless the amendment was removed. It was, and Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on Aug. 14, 1935.

Throughout the process, appeals were made to American businesses and workers by church leaders to love their neighbors as themselves and to work to bring about an end to the social injustice of not caring for the aged and infirm.

What is disturbing when reviewing the history of this time is how many Christian ministers defended the actions of government as fulfilling Holy Scripture's mandates to care for the poor, provide for parents in their old age and give to those who ask of you.

With this shift of thinking, the state began to function in roles once reserved for the church—to the detriment of any who would question the legitimacy of the legislation on theological grounds. The same reception awaits those in the modern day who seek to resist any "progressive" social policy in any way for fear that they will be branded as uncaring or un-Christian in their ideas.

Has government power expanded to such a degree that the church now has no voice at all in the public square? Perhaps, but the modern era of public policy reveals just how much the government has gained and how much the church has lost.

7/19/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Evangelical
  • Crisis and Kairos
  • Social Security
  • Christianity
  • Evangelicalism
  • Douglas Baker
    About Kevin Juhasz
    Kevin Juhasz is a content manager with a Colorado-based marketing company and the owner of The Write Content, which provides writing and editing services. He has more than 25 years of writing and editing experience with websites, newspapers, magazines, trade publications and more. Kevin has covered news, sports, entertainment, technology and a wide variety of other subjects.
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