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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Dogmatism of Caring for the Poor

Much criticism of the Right, particularly of conservative Christians, is directed at the conflation of God's will and politics. Many on the Left are very disturbed by language such as the "Christian Coalition" (am I not a Christian if I don't believe what you guys believe) or the videocast protest of the "Filibuster against people of faith" (so if I support the filibuster, then I am opposed to people of faith?). A lot of the criticism revolves around many people's question of "who are you to decide what is right or wrong?". Many on the Right interpret some of these critiques as proof that the Left is in thrall to moral relativism. A closer look reveals that this is not correct.

Since last fall's election, many on the Left have tried to make inroads with "values voters". People such as Jim Wallis have pointed to the issue of poverty, and rightly so, as a moral issue that Christians should be addressing. However, Jim Wallis and others are doing the same thing that those they criticize do. Jim and other progressive Christians are claiming that the best way to care for the poor is through government intervention. I don't intend this to start a debate on how we should care for the poor. My point is to show that those on the Left are doing the very thing with poverty that they criticize the Right for on other issues.

It all comes down to a difference between goals and methods. Unfortunately I believe we have lost sight of this distinction. People all across the political spectrum now criticize their opponents for lacking the "right" goals, when the real issue is the methodology. This used to be a "no duh" idea, but we seem to have lost sight of this in our current political environment.

I don't know any conservative Christians who don't think that poverty is a huge moral issue. Yet Jim Wallis would have you believe that government intervention is the best moral way to address poverty. In this way, how is Wallis any different from Jerry Falwell?

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