Warning: The following blog post contains adult references to religion and politics. Parental guidance is suggested.
I’m not what I would call a religious man, even though I graduated from a Nazarene college and have read the Bible cover to cover three times. In my belief system, God is whatever God is, whether I believe in God or don’t. In fact, God is whatever God is whether there are churches or not. I’m fine with people believing in God as real or as a metaphor or as a fantasy. What I don’t believe in is the churches. I don’t believe in the practice of religion, the devotion to dogma or the RPG mentality of “my church is better than your church or religion.”
I don’t believe God cares if you choose sides or carry beads or wear a tunic or quote verses.
But I do believe that the people who created and those who edited the American political system over the years had a belief that, whether or not they attended this church or that one, they were doing what they thought was God’s work by creating social programs to help people in need. This is probably true in many other countries, too.
I say this because I hear from a lot of religious people who sound like they want to make public-sector compassion illegal. They sound like they want to make poor people suffer if those people can’t pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. I can understand wanting to encourage people to be independent. I agree with that sentiment. But that’s more Ben Franklin (God helps them that help themselves) than Jesus of Nazareth (What you do for the least of these, you do for me), as I read it.
Movies about people overcoming amazing odds are very popular in this country, especially if they include explosions, car chases, bullets and bare breasts. But movies about someone giving up all they own and following a life of compassion and self-sacrifice are not very popular. Most of the central figures in popular religions encouraged the latter, not the former.
While it is probably true that many people take advantage of social welfare programs (that’s our money, right?), and learn to rely on those programs instead of trying to become independent, I think the fact that we have a public will to help people in need shows we are made of something good. Whether we support compassion and charity because we think it’s a religious obligation, a moral imperative, or we do it because one day it might be our butt freezing in the cold, it baffles me that many religious people are against it.