In a previous column, I mentioned that the Leftmedia has often played up the “Religious Right’s” influence on the Republican party, but largely ignored the greater influence that the Secular Left has had on the Democrats.
But after the 2004 drubbing, the Dem operatives had to find a way to appear to be friendly to the God they don’t really believe in. In this, they were greatly helped by the Churchian Left, and enabled by the likes of Rick Warren. (I used this term advisedly: many in the Religious Left are theologically liberal, but this doesn’t mean that all real Christians are conservative or that all conservatives are Christians, or even that Jesus would necessarily endorse the Republican Party or even everything that passes for conservative politics.)
And it must be admitted that they were hugely successful: my contacts at theologically conservative Christian universities inform me that a majority of their classmates voted for Obama, and even many of their lecturers leaned that way. Another poll showed that as many as 30% of evangelicals under 30 voted for Obama, despite his abortion extremism, support for infanticide and homosexual behaviour, and socialism—see his famous “Spread the wealth around”:
So it is worthwhile to counter the commonest arguments for leftist policies that seem to have swayed many, and show that they are far from supported by Scripture.
Leading lights among the Churchian Left, such as Tony Campolo, have ridiculed the traditional Christian emphasis on issues like the sanctity of innocent human life from conception or marriage of one man and one woman. They have argued the number of mentions of these issues is quite low, but “that there are more than 2,000 verses of Scripture that call us to express love and justice for those who are poor and oppressed”.
Yet given the Christian understanding, how many times does God have to say something for it to be right? And another fatal logical gap in Campolo’s “reasoning” is that none of these passages support rapacious taxes, authorize the civil government to redistribute wealth, or bloated welfare bureaucracies. Au contraire, as shown in previous columns, leftist policies hurt the poor and foster envy, while leftists fail to be generous with their own money (as opposed to other people’s money). And Prof. Arthur Brooks documented in his book Who Really Cares? The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism that religious conservatives are the ones obeying those passages about love and justice for the poor—they are far more generous than liberals in giving their own money, their own time, and even their blood.
If the Churchian Left were right, then the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33–35) should read:
“When he saw him, he had compassion for the poor victims of society who robbed him; they clearly need help. He then demanded that the government raise taxes so the public health system could bind up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he commandeered another traveller’s donkey, set him on it, and told the owner to bring him to an inn and take care of him. And the next day the Samaritan gave some government health reimbursement forms to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, the government will repay you as long as you complete the forms accurately.’” (Liberalism 10:33–35)
Communism in Acts?
Another argument for socialism comes from early passages from the Book of Acts, which describes how the Church in Jerusalem shared all their possessions to help the needy among them. But this is totally different from leftist socialism.
- First, the giving was voluntary as Peter told Ananias (5:4)—it was Ananias’ property before it was sold, and so was the money from the sale. The problem was that Ananias and Sapphira lied about what they did.
- Second, the money was not given to the government but to the Apostles (4:35, 5:2), because it was only within the Church, not the community.
- Third: Acts describes what the Church did; it didn’t command this.
But one thing it did have in common with leftist socialism is that it was a disaster. An old Soviet joke goes:
Q: What happens when Socialism is brought to the Sahara?
A: For the first five years, nothing. Then there is a shortage of sand.
Similarly, the Jerusalem Church became so impoverished Paul later asked the Roman Christians to donate to them (Romans 15:26). Similarly, the first Pilgrim Fathers tried a similar system, and were almost wiped out by starvation. We would never have been able to celebrate Thanksgiving if Governor John Bradford had not abolished this socialism and instituted private property ownership. Economic historian Burt Folsom explains:
If socialism can’t work in a close-knit Super-Christian community, it probably can’t work anywhere. But the larger point is that our early Americans tried socialism; it didn’t work and they made a quick adjustment to free markets. That did work and the private property order became part of American history.
And how much worse would it have been if a bloated bureaucracy had skimmed off 75% of the proceeds—like our modern welfare system does?
Pacifism and war
Many in the Left argue that Christianity supports pacifism and unilateral disarmament. But Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “blessed are the pacifists”—leftists presuppose that they are the same. Yet history shows the opposite: it was the strong pacifist movements in England and France in the 1930s that so morally weakened their countries that Hitler was emboldened to start the most destructive war in history. And Hitler was an inch from winning this war, which cost 60 million lives and about a trillion 1944 US dollars worldwide.
Yet Jesus also hinted at what would discourage war in Luke 14:31–32:
Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
During the Winston Churchill advocated building up Britain’s armed forces, because he knew this truth: that force deters. But these were his “wilderness years” precisely because of the disastrous pacifist mentality that was blind to the danger and monstrous evils of Hitler—and this includes the Churchian Left of the day (see The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler’s Gathering Storm by Joseph Loconte).
However, fortunately for the free world, President Reagan (born 100 years ago this month) knew that America could outpace the Soviet Union because of the superior capitalist economy. But at the time, the Left denounced him as a warmonger, and claimed that “The Soviet Union is here to stay.” Yet only three years after Reagan left office, his prediction was fulfilled, that “the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history“, and that it was “another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose — last pages even now are being written.”