Responding to the wingnuttery
Pam told me to promote this from the comments on her post below on Rev. TinkyWinky’s “Vote Christian” campaign. So I have. –“R”R
I was surfing over at Pam’s when I came upon this wingnuttery from Rev. Jerry “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this [9/11] happen.'” Falwell:
“As national chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, I am committed to lending my influence to help turn out at least 40 million ‘faith and values’ voters in 2008 to assure that Sen. Hillary Clinton, or someone of her ultra-liberal* ilk, will never be president of this nation,” Falwell wrote in a recent mass fund-raising letter.
The letter comes with a car window sticker declaring “I Vote Christian.”
Falwell wrote that his goal “is to utilize the momentum of the sweeping conservative mandate of the November 2, 2004, elections to maintain a faith and values ‘revolution’ of voters who will continue to go to the polls to ‘vote Christian’ and call America back to God.” He added, “Everyone now knows that the stage is set for the church of Jesus Christ to turn this nation back to the faith of our fathers and the Judeo-Christian ethic.”
Ah, that sweeping conservative mandate of 2004. Lemme see here… 122,293,332 votes counted, 62,040,610 cast for Pretzel W. Chimp, divide by the total, that gives a 50.731% share of the vote. Wow! A less-than three-quarters of one-percent mandate!
Let’s give Bush some credit. +0.731% is an infinitely greater mandate than the -2.133% mandate he had in 2000.
Within the comments someone wondered:
I’ll take up his offer and vote Christian in ’08 any day – but it’d have to be for real Christian values like helping the poor, ensuring that children have health coverage, working for peace instead of war, saving the environment, and promoting tolerence.
Oops, I guess that means I’ll be voting Democrat (or Green). Do I still get a sticker??
In response, a person called michael (Hebrew for: cannot use SHIFT key) wrote:
last time i checked republicans were not advocating laws to deny you the right to help the poor or provide children with healthcare.values ( christian or otherwise) do not have to mean forcing people to join your charity of choice.i would prefer that i keep as much of my tax dollars so that i can give to the charities i deam worthy. when i give money i make sure a large part of my dollar is going to those i want to help .i feel the gvt is far less capable of getting value for that dollar.that doesnt make me a cheap skate or a skin flint. i trust that you will back up those words with dollars.or do you mean you want other people to give the money?
Michael: Here’s something I’ve never understood about the Repug/Libertarian mantra of “let me keep my own money” and “let people decide how they want their tax money spent”. When does this begin to apply to defense spending, aid to foreign dictatorships, and funding of things like the School of the Americas?
“It’s my money! It’s my money!” they always cry. No. It is OUR money. Money is accepted for goods and services only because we as a society assign value to these numbered papers. In order for the money to have value, the society must exist, and to exist the society must fund its own protection, sustenance, and development.
We decided long ago that most public good could only come about by pooling our resources — most projects were too big to be handled by individual charity. We also came up with a mostly-fair representative mechanism — the House — to appropriate and spend OUR money to take care of us.
The amazing thing to me is if you boil down taxation and public services to smaller figures, the repug/libertarian point of view is obviously morally reprehensible. Imagine you are one of ten people who crash lands on a desert island. The only food you have is what you have on you. Six people have a candy bar each, two have a sack lunch, and two were lucky enough to have a carry-on full of exotic foods they picked up on vacation.
In order to survive, the ten castaways would naturally pool all their food together and set up a rationing system to fairly distribute the food to all. The repug and the libertarian would be the two guys with the carry-ons, complaining that the food was theirs and they would give some to the others if they felt like it. (Worse yet, one of them would argue for a “flat tax” where each castaway would only contribute 10% of their food to the shared rations.)
Or suppose one of the candy-bar people trips and breaks an ankle. Everyone else would naturally band together to help carry the wounded castaway to safety, build a splint, and bind his wound. They’d make sure someone was with the injured mate for protection.
But the repug or libertarian would argue that the candy-bar person broke his ankle because of his own carelessness. Personal responsibility, they’d cry. He should have packed a splint along with that candy bar. Maybe if he’ll give up the candy bar and promise to provide a year’s worth of butler service for the repug or libertarian, they’ll help him out somehow.
Taxes are just all us 280,000,000 castaways contributing a fair share to see that we are all cared for and protected. We can argue about the relative fairness or the measured effectiveness of the taxation. We can (and should) debate the waste and fraud within any government system. But we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because you might not like the color of the tub or the type of soap we’re using.
The idea that if people had more of their own money they’d support all these social services through private charity is a pipe dream. At 10 people, you can’t be a selfish jerk because there’s no “us” and “them”, there’s just “us”. You can’t choose to keep all that food in your carry-on to yourself just because you don’t like the candy-bar crowd, else the candy-bar crowd might gang up on you and take your food by force.
But at 280,000,000, it is really easy to hide one’s miserly ways in the anonymity of the large crowd. Rich folks with extra money to spend don’t give even more to the soup kitchen; they orchestrate hostile takeovers and buy new yachts.
Furthermore, taxation provides a mechanism to provide support to less popular causes that would wither in the “give to my favorite charity” world you espouse. Sure, breast cancer research or AIDS research or other popular causes might maintain their current funding levels, but what about research into Short Chain Acyl CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (SCAD) or Gorlin Chaudhry Moss Syndrome? Orphanages and women’s shelters might do okay, but what of drug rehab centers and sexual offender halfway houses?
If we ar
e supposed to “vote Christian”, then perhaps some Scripture is in order. Let’s start with Luke 20:25 (“And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”), followed by Matthew 19:24 (“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”), with Matthew 7:12 (“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”)
For fun, we’ll dip into the Old Testament, too, like Exodus 23:11 (“But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.”), Deuteronomy 24:14 (“Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.”), Psalms 82:3-4 (“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”), and so many, many more.
If we are to be a “Christian” nation, does that mean to you that only the individuals within the nation should act as Christians if they so choose, or should the nation as an entity behave in a Christian manner? Because what I’ve seen from this Christian president and Christian nation sure doesn’t look very Christ-like to me.
Jesus was a liberal socialist who was crucified for helping the sick and poor, fraternizing with the lepers and whores, and sabotaging the laissez-faire capitalism of the moneychangers. That’s my opinion as A Positive Christian Atheist, and I’m sticking to it. I’ve got no problem with God & Jesus; it’s their fan club that is too batty for my tastes.
* Would that be the ultra-liberal acts of supporting the Iraq War, not voting against the bankruptcy bill, or strong stances against illegal immigration?