If there is a single defining feature of those on the political Left, it is their unswerving conviction that the best and most dependable antidote to any social ill is a healthy dose of government intervention. “Big Brother is watching you” doesn’t ring as an ominous threat in their ears; it’s the warm assurance of ultimate security and protection.
This inevitably puts them at odds with the biblical conviction, cherished by Christians, that individuals – not governments – are primarily responsible for themselves and each other. Individually and as churches, Christians are commissioned to minister in Christ’s name to the impoverished and imprisoned, widowed and orphaned, hungry and distressed (Matthew 25).
The conflict has been minimalized, throughout most of America’s history, by a) the generally energetic response of organized religion to these needs and challenges, and b) the government’s tendency to be preoccupied with issues on the grander geopolitical scale: winning wars, building the economy, settling frontiers, enforcing treaties, laying down highways, etc. But over the last half-century that preoccupation has largely shifted, and government – particularly the federal government – has grown enamored of its own self-image as a vast, restless, and ever-growing combination of Florence Nightingale and Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
Although, in theory, charitable service is an enterprise both noble and demanding enough to welcome anyone willing to take a hand – from either the public or private sector – evidence suggests that, in America today, our government looks on churches and other non-profit organizations not as a dependable front line in the war on poverty, racism, and social injustice, but as a competitor to be treated with all the fairness and respect the New Orleans Saints afford their opponents on the gridiron.
The forced disbanding of Catholic adoption centers … the legal assault on the Boy Scouts … the persecution of military chaplains … the concentrated opposition to private school vouchers … all give evidence of a federal government bent on eliminating anyone who might offer solace, mercy, or practical assistance comparable to what the state itself would provide for those in need.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
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