“Jesus would back my tax-the-rich policy.”
What a cynical way to characterize President Obama’s address at the recent National Prayer Breakfast. Yet CNN Money – and a bunch of other media outlets – described the speech precisely this way, after the annual event last week.
Christian faith, the President noted, compels him "to give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy."
Perhaps most interesting about the President’s speech is what people are NOT saying in its aftermath. For example, President Obama’s admission that his understanding of the Bible is his basis for his economic policies has not drawn any public concerns about the so-called “separation of church and state” (Barry W. Lynn – where are you?).
Likewise, there seems to be no apprehension about President Obama’s remarks from the ranks of religious leaders. Here was the 44th President of the United States claiming to have the support of Jesus of Nazareth on his proposed changes to the I.R.S. tax code, and the only raised eyebrows have come not from a Pastor, Priest or Rabbi, but from a lone U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
So in the absence of meaningful dialog on the matter, how about if we consider this question: was President Obama right? Is it true that Jesus Christ, were he physically among us today, would stand with President Obama and support the elevation of effective tax rates on high-earning Americans?
The subject at hand is deeper than what a single editorial piece can address. But let’s understand that viewing economics through religious lenses is not new, nor is it something that begins and ends with Barack Obama.
For centuries, philosophers, economists, and theologians have reflected on the intersection of morality and economics. Many theological works, including many of the teachings of Jesus Himself, take-on economic concerns and can serve to inform our view today of the world’s various economic systems.
It is also true that the world of the New Testament (the world as it was when Jesus walked the earth) and today’s globalized society are dramatically different. In the world of the Bible, for example, most people made their living exclusively from the land—in agriculture, or in some sort of a modest trade (we know that Jesus himself worked as a carpenter, and His disciples’ worked in the fishing business).
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.