Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, President Obama defended his hardest-left positions using Christianity, citing Scripture and personal prayer as the impetus for Dodd-Frank, among other policies.
Say, does that include stomping on religious freedom by mandating that Catholic charities violate the basic tenets of their faith and provide contraceptives?
Injury, meet insult.
The president's words reveal how little he understands of Christianity, beyond how he may best use it to his political advantage. Justifying his healthcare and financial reform laws, he said:
"And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren't discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren't taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to 'love thy neighbor as thyself.'"
"And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense. But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,'" Obama said, noting Jewish and Islamic teachings say much the same thing.
Where to begin?
Politically, this is yet another example of the "theocratic double standard," which Guy has noted here before. Conservatives who apply religious principles to political reasoning do so out of a dastardly desire to turn America into a theocracy, yet liberals who engage in the same spiritual justification are simply illustrating their moral soundness. Recall, for example, Obama's speech on the Key Bridge in DC back in November. He essentially argued that God Himself wanted Obama's jobs bill passed. I counted exactly zero jokes about the "voices in his head," the likes of which were rampant after Michele Bachmann said she felt God had called her to run for the presidency.
But that's hardly the most egregious point of note present here.
President Obama follows a long tradition of using Christ's words to justify a socialist agenda. Yet those politicians who have engaged in such rhetoric blatantly misunderstand the words they're repeating. Take, for instance, Obama's use of the rule, "Love they neighbor as thyself." Christ wasn't speaking to the government. Recall another famous biblical dictate: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Jesus was addressing individuals, not the state.
That distinction lies at the heart of the fallacy Obama has perpetuated. True charity is not a duty of the government; it's a duty of each of us, as individuals. I couldn't say it as well as Brian Farmer does in this essay from The New American:
[Jesus] did not say, “Go and force others to do likewise.” Christian morality requires that charity and altruism be voluntary, not coerced. But in societies where socialism or a welfare state prevails, people are forced to be charitable and altruistic by the state. That is accomplished by the government confiscating money from some and giving it to or spending it on others who are deemed to be in need. Some condone this by arguing that “the people are the government.” If that is so, then it should logically follow that, just as people are not allowed to steal, even in the name of charity and altruism, then neither should the government be allowed to steal in the name of charity and altruism. Christianity is concerned with what is in a person’s heart, and that can be known only when a person is free to choose and is not coerced.
If the president feels it's his spiritual and moral imperative to give freely of his finances to those who are in need, more's the better. He has the right to donate whatever percentage of his income to the outlet he sees as best capable of aiding the poor, even if that's the government. He does not have the right to demand the rest of us do the same, however -- not on spiritual grounds.
If the president truly wants to help those least fortunate, he's better left making the job easier for charities. Sadly, it seems he's less interested in charity than he is in consolidating government power.
Make no mistake, however. Christ never characterized paying taxes as a godly act. President Obama has gravely misread Scripture if he believes otherwise.