Christians and Acceptability Of US Political Liberalism

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by mark1, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    How acceptable is it for an American Episcopalian to be a Democrat and to actively support the policies of the Democrats?

    Where should Christians stand when we discuss Social Security, Medicare, government provided services, government programs for the poor, the elderly and the mentally ill? Where should Christian stand in issues of war and peace? Where should Christians stand on issues of protection of air or water by the government? Where should Christians stand when we discuss banking regulation? Where should Christians stand when we discuss increasing taxes to those who earn $1M a year or more?

    I have watched the political scene since I first debated about politics in 1960 and have read much about 20th politics before that. IMHO, there has been a huge change in Christians since 2000.
     
  2. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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  3. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    I agree 100% with your comments.

     
  4. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Member

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    I hesitate to respond to a thread with political overtones because such discussion frequently takes a bad turn. Yet having an interest in both faith and politics, I resist my better judgment and am unable to stop myself.

    I find nothing whatsoever incompatible about being an American Episcopalian and a Democrat. We Episcopalians are a diverse lot and we always err when thinking that most others are just like us. Some are; some are not. As for me, I consider myself a Christian traditionalist (a word I prefer over "conservative") and a political liberal. I actually think the two go together quite nicely. I fully accept that I likely share the common cup with a "progressive" Christian or a political conservative; that causes me no concern at all.

    As Christians we are told to care for children, orphans, the widowed, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the thirsty. We are told when we do these things for one of the least of these, we do it to the Christ himself.

    We are told that after Pentecost:

    "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods they gave to anyone as he had need..." Acts 2:44 - 45. (Yet angry voices proclaim our current political leader a socialist as if that is somehow evil, ...if in fact the term applies at all?)​

    I find these Christian values very compatible with a party who values support of its own underprivileged citizenry. It troubles me that we presently seem more inclined to apply our resources to waging war, building weapons of mass destruction, and paying foreign aid to other countries while dismissing our own underprivileged as lazy, irresponsible persons who should be drug tested before we help them and should just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps anyway. I think Jesus would weep that we talk of cutting Medicaid, Medicare, & Social Security, that we wage war on other peoples to further our own political agenda, or that tax policy seems to disproportionately benefit our wealthy. So, yes, I tend to agree with the overall direction of one party more than the other. There, I said it.

    Oh, rats. I told you I couldn't stop myself!

    "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things charity"





     
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  5. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    After Pentecost, all indeed shared property - yet it was of their own volition. Acts 2:46 says that they went from "house to house" eating their food in simplicity of heart - hardly possible if no one owned the homes.

    Government assistance given to the poor renders them even more helpless, and it is an unchristian thing to wish for them. The Lord God YHWH and the Lord Jesus tell us repeatedly in both testaments that each man should alms give freely as he can afford. The love involved in giving things freely is negated if the government does it for you. A faceless institution has no compassion; individuals do. :)

    A true Christian culture would need no secular government to give it free health benefits, for its wealthier citizens would automatically give aid to the poor by helping them get medical attention. I think Jesus laughs at the idea that the powers-that-be ought to control compassion and be in command of simple human love.

    Make war when attacked. Do justice to the poor by your own hand. Love your neighbour. Bam! :) No Christian can or should ever be a socialist.

    I've always understood the commandment to feed the poor this way: it isn't a cosmic duty that must be fulfilled at any cost, as if the very filling of the stomach was the goal - it is a duty to help our fellow human beings by personally visiting them in their darkness and bringing light and joy to them. This simply isn't possible via anonymous welfare checks.
     
  6. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Member

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    And, Consular makes my point. We are a big tent church. Under that tent are persons of diverse points of view. Praise God that there is room for all at His table.
     
  7. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    I think you raise and make some very good points. As i've said before, I believe that political liberalism and traditional Christianity are not at odds. Many fine Christian traditionalists post on here that bend towards liberal politically.

    I don't have a horse in this race, as i'm neither Republican or Democrat, so perhaps I can offer a brief and unique perspective without turning this into a political war. I believe it to be a bit of a stretch making the claim that only current progressive liberals and democrats care about taking care of the disadvantaged and the weak. Conservatives/Republicans, on paper, favor less government intervention and the support of charity. Democrats/Republicans, on paper, tend to have the same goals, only different views on how to reach these goals. Being forced to pay taxes or else face imprisonment to support an ineffective social program is not what i'd call "charity." To me, charity is freely donating your time and money to do the work yourself. Jesus never said to give the money to Rome and let them feed the poor.

    Personally, especially at the federal level, I cannot discern a difference between Democrats and Republicans or "liberal" vs. "conservative." They both support foreign wars, they both support enlarging the scope of the fed, they both are bought off by the same corporations, they both support increasing the war on drugs and filling our prisons with non-violent "criminals" (Obama bragged about using drugs in his book he wrote, yet he as been responsible for more medical marijuana raids in 2.5 years than all 8 years of Bush! Talk about a hypocrite! Imagine if he would have been caught and sent to prison for his marijuana use while in college. His entire future would have been ruined!), both parties hate civil liberty and support the Patriot Act and the President signed a bill in to law that allows the FED to arrest any American citizen for any reason they deem necessary (Romney supported this bill as well), both candidates/parties want to increase military spending, both have continued the war in Afghanistan, and the list goes on! Of course, both parties will pander to their bases about how big a "threat" the other party is, but in reality they are both the same! Say what you want or what you will about guys like Ron Paul, but at least he is waking people up to this reality! http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Candidate-Comparison-O_J_R1.pdf

    I can't say what Jesus would do or say about our political parties here in the US, but I can almost definitely say that he would not support either one.
     
  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Friend, perhaps it isn't that there's a big tent, but rather that one of us is actually wrong. It could be me, or it could be you. What we should never do is fall into the pavilion mindset. Allowing for a big tent on so many issues invites relativism, pluralism, and in the end absolute morality has to vanish. :(

    I don't think it's tolerable for even one Christian to be a socialist; in fact, I believe that system is evil. So much for the big tent. :p Burn it down and let us build a church over it.

    Aww... I was beginning to like you, Sean! Of course, you realise this means war... :)

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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  10. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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  11. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    Sean dont get upset by the fact that i am only responding to one line in youre post I agree with allot of what you said here but i have a question ..What examples can you give of laws in the united states that place people in prison that refuse to participate in a government welfare scheme ?
     
  12. Andrea

    Andrea Member

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    Depends doesn't it? Of course it can be just as unacceptable to be a Republican depending on what issue the republicans are bringing up at a given point. It's the same with Democrats. Government aid for the elderly, the poor, and disabled mentally or otherwise can be a good thing. I'm disabled. I have had to be on some government programs. I have made it far enough to get rid of some of them, but my goal is to be completely independent. I am working very hard for these goals. However, a lot of people get trapped in government programs. Perhaps we should assign case workers that actually meet with the person and discuss how to reach their goals and get off of these programs. Alot of people just don't know any other way. That is something called being generationally poor.Personally, I prefer peace over war whenever possible. I realize some situations must end in war. Air and water need to be taken care of whether by a government run agency or a private run agency. We cannot survive without breathable air and drinkable water. Banking regulations? There's probably not a Christian vs non-Christian stance here. It's a matter of opinion. I suggest we look at the past and try to see what worked best before if anything. Once again with taxes there's no Christian vs. Non-Christian stance here. Although I think that taxing the poor more than the wealthy wouldn't be right. The thing is these political issues can be solved by more ways than what is being given to us by Republicans and Democrats. Neither solutions are sure things or the only solution, so I suggest what the Christian thing to do is to think through these issues, be well informed, and then vote for the guy who is going to come up close to a logical solution based your findings.
     
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  13. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    Awesome post thank you Andrea
     
  14. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    Hey Andy,

    I was referring to the fact that most of our welfare/social programs are supported by tax dollars. If I refuse to pay my federal income taxes, I will be given the choice of paying them or I will be prosecuted and likely sent to prison.
     
  15. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    oh i see i must have misread youre statement ..
     
  16. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    I appreciate your approach and your understanding that there are many fine Christians in each of the political camps, certaaintly including Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Green (or whatever Nader calls himself this time).

    I do have very different conclusions than yours, and a very different analysis. I certainly agree that both major parties, in each federal election cycle, are right or wrong on particular issues. I would note that there is a limited amount that national political elected officials can do with regard to some issues. I would also note that there are some issues where they can do a great deal, positively or negatively. For example, only nationally elected officials could have give us the 2 Iraqi wars and the Afghan War.

    REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS
    These political parties are quite different in their approach and voting record. At least that has been the case since 1932. Of course, from the perspective of someone who wants almost no role for government, the difference matters little (as the Greens and Libertarians tell us). With Gingritch in House and Clinton in the presidency, we had a surplus, jobs and higher taxes (about the same as the current Democrats want to return to for the wealthy among us).

    The majority of Republicans have voted for almost every major piece of social legislation in the last 100 years. There have been admirable exceptions, but in general Republicans want a greatly reduced role for government at both federal and local levels. They believe that lower taxes help business and that helping business will trickle down to the middle class. The lower middle and lower classes are not even in the rear view mirror. THUS, as for many US Christians, the model is get the government our of our lives and everything will be better. The poor and the lower middles classes can simply rely on charity and the wait for jobs to trickle down. Let's just forget all the programs for those who cannot afford medical care, such as dialysis patients. Let's just forget the space program and all that came from it.

    Democrats believe that our government was indeed instituted to promote the general welfare. Democrats bicker about which government should be emphasized (federal, state or local), but the basic proposition is the same. The poor and weak among us are a corporate responsibility as well as an individual one. Protection of the rights of the weak is a government responsibility. And, yes, protection of the consumer and the environment are government responsibilities.

    IMHO, the parties are quite different. And, I do NOT believe in voting for 3rd parties. In the end, these votes will simply have the effect of electing those of the major parties, Clinton in 1992 and Bush in 2000. As with denominations, the two parties are big tents and there is much diversity in each. However, that does NOT make them the same. As with Christianity, there are indeed basic US governmental principles, given to us by the early fathers, changed over the years, which principles are misquoted and misused for modern political purposes.

    For me, it is NOT a matter of holding my nose and choosing the least of evils in each elections, considering which party will do the least harm. Choosing and supporting a political party is choosing among 2 very different approaches to the meaning of government. Democrats and Republicans stand for very different outcomes and result in very different outcomes. BTW, the easiest way to see this is to review poll data regarding which groups support which parties and why. It is instructive to review old polls. For me, the conclusion is clear.

     
  17. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    I agree that bot Republican and Democrats are right on some issues and wrong on others. IMHO, Tony Campolo has does done a fine Christian analysis on various positions. BTW, Campolo is a theological conservative and political liberal.

    I agree that we should see what works and what does not. IHMO, a thorough analysis of the years 1993-2000 and 2001-2008 should be instructive.

    Government approaches to helping the poor, the weak, the disadvantaged, those with disabilities, those discriminated against, the environment and the consumer may indeed leave much to be desired. To consider a country without these programs is quite simply a nightmare, perhaps an Ayn Rand nightmare. And just BTW, this issue is primarily an American one. In no other devloped country is the government expected to do less for the weakest among. It was instructive to see the NHS being celebrated in the Olympic opening ceremony. And, no, I would not trade my medical care for British medical care. Of course, without Medicare and Obamacare, Medicaid and the various federal programs regarding specific afflictions, the British approach might appeal to the vast majority of Americans. I would note that as of 2008, only one of the developed countries in the entire world did not try to guarantee access to medical care universally, the US.

     
  18. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    As a classical liberal (read libertarian) I would have to strongly disagree with your conclusions. Check out my link above and tell the difference between Obama and Romney. If you are really feeling brave, read The Revolution by Dr. Ron Paul or Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz. Also, yes, look at the voting record on major legislation and your will notice that both parties vote very similar and then charge up their bases at election time over small and trivial issues. Major corporations buy both Repubs an Dems on the Federal level. Both parties support war, we currently have troops in some 160 countries! Obama ran on a campaign that he was vastly different than George W. Bush, yet he has continued and expanded many of the same failed policies and restrictions on civil liberty that Bush started in the first place. The Tea Party Republican candidates ran on a platform of less government and decreased spending, yet they spent more in the House of Reps than the Dems they replaced. Repubs and Dems can talk like their different, but actions speak much louder than words. Just look at the campaign ads on TV in which both party's candidates accuse each other of being corrupt, being in the pocket of large corporations, and being Washington insiders. Both candidates are usually right about each other, it's incredible that the American people are not catching onto this game.

    Third party candidates are marginalized by the national media and the Dems and Repubs have made it near impossible for a third party candidate to have a fair shot. The power brokers (Repubs and Dems) have too much money at stake to allow anything but the same old politics as usual. Guys that are a threat to money and power are quickly marginalized and blacked out by the media (see Ron Paul and Gary Johnson).

    Further, how do we know that the poor and weak would be worse off under a libertarian style government? America in the late 1700s and early to mid 1800s did quite well under a classically liberal government! What we have now is called "crony capitalism" in which the Federal government constantly meddles in the affairs in the economy and they bail out and offer favors to major corporations. The results of "crony capitalism" is a weak middle class and disadvantaged poor. Under a truly free market system, with NO income tax, citizens would have a lot more money to invest in charities that are actually effective! Imagine a place where local communities come together and pool resources to help each other out and help out the poor and disadvantaged. Local communities can solve problems much more effectively than ineffective federal bureaucracy. A forced tax to support ineffective programs is not charity in my eyes. Voluntarily giving money and volunteering is true charity in my eyes.

    Government was not instituted to promote the general welfare, please read the writings of the founding fathers, the Federalist Papers, and a vast majority of the political theorists of the era. Government was instituted in this country to SAFEGUARD our CIVIL LIBERTIES, not institute a welfare/general welfare state, the Democrats believe in a general welfare state, but they are wrong.

    I keep hearing about how we must be like Europe and no European country does things this way or Europe has this program or that program. Hello, we fought a revolution to not be like Europe! America started off as a unique experiment in civil liberty and has been corrupted over the years by wealthy power brokers who want nothing but more power and more money. Also, how is Europe doing these days? Right.....not so good...I think Europe is terrible government model to follow. What is Europe's solution? Throwing more money, government, and regulations at their problems! When will they learn that the social welfare state have failed? The early US government was very libertarian looking and America continually increased in wealth and personal income that quickly surpassed Europe. Forget Europe, let's get back to basics and back to our roots and what really worked.

    I don't agree with everything that a thinker, like Ayn Rand, has to say as she was a virulent atheist, but she makes some very strong and interesting points in regards to statism. Government hasn't solved any of the problems you think are necessary to be meddling in and their programs are very ineffective, why not look to alternate solutions? Ayn Rand is just one example of classical liberalism, follow the following link to see more early classical liberals in America and abroad, I think you might be surprised! http://www.libertarianism.org/people

    Mark1, we have many of the same goals, just vastly different opinions on how to reach them!! :)
     
  19. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    We must agree to disagree.

    I don't need to read the political tracts. I have argued with libertarians for 50 years; for 25 years in NH where they are many libertarians.

     
  20. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    You indicate that "Government was not instituted to promote the general welfare". I understand that you believe that this is not what the writers of the Federalist Papers had in mind. The words are from the Preamble to the US Constitution which IMHO defines the purposes of government. Of course, the Constitution can change through amendments, and through pursuant legislation not overturned by the Supreme Court (of course these changes are pursuant to the Constitution). I see no reason to look further than the Constitution, its Preamble, the Bill of Rights, and the interpretations of the Constitution by the US Supreme Court.

    I am thankful for a political process which prevents the institution of a government that Ayn Rand would approve of. The bottom line is that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, public roads, banking regulations, clean water and air, aid to the sick and disabled, protection of women and minorities are all here to stay. Federal, state and local taxation are also here to stay. IMHO, Republicans and Democrats will be forced to work together to continue to give us the best country on the planet. Ron Paul and his political allies can choose to participate or choose not to.

    I apologize for two posts. I had problems editing.






     

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