That Jesus commanded His disciples—of which I am one—to love “the poor” is beyond dispute. Equally beyond dispute, however, is that, regardless of what growing legions of left-leaning clerics would have us believe, Jesus never—never ever—addressed the issue of “inequality.”
The head of my church and the most visible religious leader on the world stage today, Pope Francis, is as guilty a culprit as is anyone on this score. The Pope made headlines on more than a few occasions since his tenure began when His Holiness condemned “inequality” generally, and the traditional American economic system in particular, with a bluntness that would have made Barack Hussein Obama blush.
Ours is “an economy of exclusion and inequality,” Pope Francis insisted. Our system of “inequality” both results from and encourages “laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.” Thus, “masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”
Worse, the Pope informs us, our “capitalist” system with its “inequality” violates the divine injunction against “killing,” for “such an economy kills” (emphasis added).
Pope Francis may be the most well known Christian leader to conflate Jesus’ teachings on the proper treatment of the poor with the issue of income and wealth “inequalities.” But he speaks for countless lesser known representatives of Christianity.
Take Norma Cook Everist, a professor of church and ministry. In an article that she penned for The Lutheran, Everist insists that things haven’t changed a lick since Martin Luther said that “the poor” are routinely “defrauded” by “the rich.”
“Inequality,” Everist remarks, divides the world into “makers” and “takers” while fostering the godless fiction that some people, and even “some children,” are “worth more” than others, and that some, “the poor,” are of “‘of no worth’[.]”
The project of reducing the Gospel to an activist’s manual on addressing “inequality” is fraught with difficulties.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.