What the Obama Revolution Means for Religion in America
While many social conservatives have focused attention on Obama’s liberal social commitments, few have considered what effects an expanded welfare state will have on religious belief—or how these religious effects will in turn impact civic virtue, personal responsibility, altruism, or solidarity. If the European experience with the welfare state and religion is any indication, the Obama revolution could well lead the United States down the secular path already trod by Europe.
By W. Bradford Wilcox
My comment: At first glance, Wilcox here seems to be worried that if government takes care of all social needs, then people won’t need or care about religion. That doesn’t seem like a very inspiring view of religious faith. I’m not sure that’s anywhere close to the best reason to oppose encroaching socialism. Of course, Christianity should never live like carrion off of the failed carcass of capitalism. I doubt that many people who come to the church mainly for their emotional and material needs become open to their deeper spiritual needs (though many churches do find ways to move them from Point A to Point B), and we ought to be open to any good thing that lifts people from poverty, even socialism.
But I think Wilcox’s deeper fear is not what socialism does to the churches, but what it does to society, as the above quote demonstrates. Socialism dissolves the bonds of community and trust that keep a society healthy as people rely on government to do everything for them. It is an embarrassment that many liberal voters and politicians give relatively little to charity, but it is not surprising. Helping the poor is seen as “the government’s job.” As a consequence we can become less caring and connected, impoverishing our own souls while removing the local hands-on kinds of help that assist the poor best (replaced by uncaring government bureaucracies).
And if we become passive recipients of government benevolence rather than active workers in the welfare of ourselves and others, how can that be a good thing?