Today Sojourners (which has finally admitted it is part of the Religious Left) and other evangelical groups are wrapping up a big meeting during which they have strategized about “ending poverty.” This is a lofty, noble goal, one we would all like to see. Of course, like all Religious Left groups, the solution will probably come down to the moral imperative of spending more government money-that is, money taken from taxpayers and given to non-taxpayers.
I don’t expect the theme of personal responsibility will get a lot of prominence in the closing press release. That’s all right; political power exercised in the service of ending poverty (especially given the friendly response the newly emboldened Religious Left anticipates receiving from the Obama administration) is a virtue, or at least the cost of doing God’s business, right? Of course, when members of the far more numerous Religious Right attempted to exercise political power in defense of the unborn, that was wrong. Right?
Interestingly (to me, at least), many of these Obama supporters (who for years proclaimed they were neither Republicans nor Democrats but said they were only following the red letters of Jesus) who say that we can end poverty are the same ones counseling us that we can only reduce abortion. Poverty is such a moral evil that we must eradicate it, no matter the cost. Abortion, however, is bad, but not so bad that it must be ended. We can live with “abortion reduction” (even if some of the unborn will not).
Despite the fact that Jesus said (in red letters, no less) that the poor we will have with us always, they think we can go him one better and eradicate it through more deficit spending. Meanwhile, Jesus also told his followers to suffer the little children to come unto him (also in red letters).
Perhaps the Religious Left would have more credibility if its members, who sniff that they are “consistently prolife,” would take unborn human life as seriously as they do born human life.
Correction: In my grumpiness this morning I assumed that the Sojourners meeting on poverty would give short-shrift to issues of personal responsibility. But in the preconference write-up we get the following:
Personal and Community Responsibility
Marriage and Family. There must be commitments to education and action on reducing teen pregnancy, strengthening marriage and family formation, in-home parenting coaching and support, encouraging responsible fatherhood, preventing domestic violence, and preventing the abuse and neglect of children.
Asset Creation. The wealth gap is even greater than the income gap, especially among minority families. Families should be assisted in asset and wealth creation that provides security and freedom.
Job Training. In an increasingly complex marketplace, the will to work must be accompanied by desirable skills. Needed training includes basic education and spiritual formation about a work ethic along with the specific knowledge and skills needed to compete for employment.
Government and Religious Partnership. Government and religious partnerships should be entered into with a respect for the law, and safeguards to prevent use of direct government funding for spiritual activities should be in place. Efforts of religious groups can be strengthened if given greater resources and respect, but faith-based service providers should not be expected to replace the role of government in addressing social needs.
Neighborhoods. There should be more support for community-based policing, after-school programs, and Community Development Block Grant funding.
Racial Justice. We need a more honest discussion about policies that foster or ignore racial inequality. We need reconciliation with one another and greater respect for basic human rights.
While I might quibble with some of the details, I stand corrected. Sojourners says it is focusing on both the public and private spheres. Good for them.