Anticipating “An Evangelical Manifesto”

This weekend the Associated Press reported that a group of evangelicals will release a document criticizing an evangelical movement that is too mired in partisan politics.

‘Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word “evangelical” has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.

‘The statement, called “An Evangelical Manifesto,” condemns Christians on the right and left for “using faith” to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.’

I have not yet seen the document because it will not be released until tomorrow. So I won’t be making any final judgments about it until after I have read it for myself. Timothy George (a man I hold in the highest regard) has apparently endorsed the effort. So perhaps “An Evangelical Manifesto” will turn out to be a helpful articulation of evangelical priorities in the public square. But the early reporting raises questions that make me doubtful.

First, why are the most ardent pro-life, pro-family evangelicals not participating in “An Evangelical Manifesto”? James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Charles Colson either were not asked to participate or would not agree to sign-on. Why is this?

Second, why is the “Manifesto” taking issue with “single-issue politics”? All evangelicals will agree that our concern for the culture includes a broad range of issues. My own church not only runs a crisis pregnancy center, but it also runs a shelter for the homeless of our city. We care about life, and we care about poverty. The AP story makes it sound like the “Manifesto” might endorse those kinds of efforts at the local level, but it will frown on political engagement that prioritizes the defense of the unborn at the national level. Might this be another attempt to demote pro-life activism from its privileged place on the list of evangelical priorities?

Like I said, these are just questions I have based on the early reporting. Obviously, I’ll have more to say about the “Manifesto” once it’s released. My questions may turn out to be totally off-base. We’ll know soon enough. Be looking for “An Evangelical Manifesto” on Wednesday.

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UPDATE: Douglas Groothuis suggests that the contents of the manifesto will reflect much of Os Guiness’ new book, The Case for Civility. Os Guiness is among the supporters of the “Manifesto.”

54 Responses to Anticipating “An Evangelical Manifesto”

  1. Brett May 6, 2008 at 1:21 am #

    “First, why are the most ardent pro-life, pro-family evangelicals not participating in “An Evangelical Manifesto”? . . .”

    Because they’re the ones who it’s talking about. Signing on to this would be signing against what some of their ministries are focused towards. I don’t know why this would make you doubtful, because these men and others like them is probably who the article is directed towards and I think it’s great. It’s guys like these that fuse two kingdoms and intermingle faith and politics and it has gone too far for long enough. Finally, others are speaking up about it.

    “Second, why is the “Manifesto” taking issue with “single-issue politics”? . . .”

    Because that is what much of conservative evangelicalism has become…single issue politics (re: abortion and or gay marriage). To object to this just seems to be denial to me. Although all evangelicals may agree that our concern for the culture concerns a broad range of issues, they certainly do not act and practice this way. The only thing many care about is the Republican agenda, and they preach and teach on single issues in politics to persuade others to vote for Republicans.

    Also, your church may run one crisis pregnancy center and one homeless shelter and care about poverty, but how much of that 70 million dollar budget is going towards it? You may be able to point to a very small group at FBC that contributes, but this by no means says that your whole church contributes and cares. This really isn’t much of an argument at all. My church takes coats to the needy in the Appalachian region once a year. I could use that to say that my church cares for the poor. The truth is, my church could care less for the poor. Maybe half of a percent of our budget went towards the poor, and maybe 5-10 people helped, out of 1500.

    Another attempt to demote pro-life activism from its privileged place on the list of evangelical priorities? I don’t know why you can’t see the reason of things like this and always assume that others who don’t think like you are trying to demote pro-life activism from the priority list. I could say a bunch more but I’ve said it too many times elsewhere and obviously many don’t listen because the same things keep being said. If you think you’re doing your good little Christian duty by voting for Republicans and putting your hope in the government to pass laws and anybody who votes otherwise doesn’t consider abortion a main priority, then good for you. I’ll just place my hope and emphases elsewhere.

  2. Darius May 6, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    Denny, you echo my own concerns.

    Brett, you just admitted in the last sentence that you demote life as a priority. Yet you deny doing so above. Do you not see your own moral confusion?

  3. Darius May 6, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    I don’t put too much hope in the Manifesto if Guiness is signing on to it. He’s lost the moral clarity that his mentor Schaeffer had. I went to hear him speak a couple years and was sorely disappointed.

  4. Benjamin A May 6, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Brett,

    I know you are not against Christians voting in elections, so how do you propose that Christ followers divorce their biblically held convictions and on occasion personal convictions, that are rooted in their study of scripture, from the way they choose to vote and on the candidate they choose to vote for? How does one do that? You keep saying Christians who vote Republican are divided between two kingdoms. Why are Democratic voting Christians also not divided between two kingdoms?

    Seeing how you are strongly opposed to the Republican Right (Christians who vote republican and are in favor of pro-life initiatives, etc.), are you also just as strongly opposed to the Liberal Left (Christians who vote democratic and are in favor of continued social reform [disguised socialism])? If not why not?

  5. Paul May 6, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    Ditto what Brett says, and Darius, I don’t think Brett was at all trying to demote pro-life issues at all.

  6. Darius May 6, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    Great question, Benjamin.

  7. Denny Burk May 6, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Benjamin,

    I’m going to check my SPAM folder for your comments. Sometimes they get stuck there for inexplicable reasons.

    Denny

  8. Darius May 6, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    Really, the only place where conservative Christians have failed (and they’ve failed badly, from the looks of it) is in explaining how true Christianity is conservative on almost all issues, not just abortion and marriage. They haven’t failed in applying Biblical principles to politics, but they have struggled mightily in expounding on how Capitalism and free markets and small government align best with Christian ideals. Most people understand why Christians are against abortion. However, they probably don’t know why Christians should be and must be against welfare-state socialism and Robin Hood economics and why those latter forms of government are evil to the core and only lead to the downfall of the nations in which they are implemented. That’s the challenge for the next generation of politically-involved Christians.

  9. Darius May 6, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    I just had a similar “duplicate comment” problem.

  10. Paul May 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    Benjamin,

    I’ll second Darius and also say “good questions“, because there are more than one.

    1) How do Christians “divorce” themselves from their morals to vote for a democrat (or Green Party or Socialist Party candidate…let’s cover the liberal bases here)?

    Well, my answer there is that there is no divorce, unless I missed the verse about Christ declaring useless earmarks to be Godly, or the verse about how making the rich richer is in line with the Mosaic law AND the new covenent.

    “How can Paul say that?” You ask. Well, based on a number of things…

    a) I would reckon that very few people are pro-abortion. Pro-choice? Definitely. But pro-abortion? No way. We ALL want to see abortions go the way of the steam powered car. That said, how to make them go away is where we differ. Republicans want to make a law and walk away, pat themselves on the back and go about their business. Liberals, on the other hand, would rather see less unwanted pregnancies in the first place, so the key becomes figuring out ways to keep women from getting pregnant until they want to be pregnant. Let’s face it, both scenarios, independant of each other, are pipe dreams.

    b) gay marriage is a federal concern? Anyone dumb enough to buy into that deserves the government they get.

    c) What the Bible DOES mention time in and time out is that our concern needs to be for the poor and the downtrodden among us. That is one thing that the liberals do try to address, and certainly on a far bigger level than the republicans ever will.

    2) Voting Republican = serving two masters. Why isn’t that the case for Democrats?

    GREAT question. And I can’t say that I disagree, entirely. However, I CAN say that the republican party is schizophrenic. On one side, you’ve got the money. The upper middle class and rich folks who don’t want the government to get their cash, darn it! On the other side, you’ve got a sizeable minority in the party who are evangelicals. While that evangelical minority might be greedy, they’ve got a whole separate list of things that you want to see happen.

    So, in order to hold this shaky coalition together, things have to be sold in peculiar ways:

    a) things like the Iraq War suddenly become Christian initiatives.

    b) When a Republican votes against the Bush tax cuts, he’s not voting against the tax cuts because they’re irresponsible, he’s voting against them because he hates the American Family. (the only time I’ll ever defend John McCain, and more proof that James Dobson is absolutely loony.)

    At the very least, the heads of the RNC are serving two masters, and it’s trickling down.

    At least on the Democratic side, most everyone is center-left to left on the spectrum, so there’s at least some consensus as to a shared vision. And that said vision includes attempts to help the poor, save the environment that God gave us and ensure that we can end the scary statistic that 60% of all bankruptcies happen because people can’t afford healthcare.

    3) I am not opposed to the Christian Right. If the Christian Right made all Biblical concepts a priority, I’d be all about the Christian right. But instead, they put two EXTREMELY divisive issues up top, forget about the other issues, and get the ignorant out to the polls out of fear, not out of compassion or the issues.

    3a) Why would I be against the Christian Left? They’ve got it correct. I might hope for SOME action on abortion, but as I said upthread, there are a myriad of concerns that need to be addressed if we’re to be a truly responsible society when it comes to wiping out abortions.

  11. Paul May 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    hey, me too!

  12. Paul May 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    Translation of post #8: I am greedy as the day is long, and will do whatever it takes, even slandering The Bible, in order to ensure that my tax rate stays as low as possible.

    Seriously, though, Darius, what you’re saying only works if everyone is the nicest person on the planet. Yes, if everyone was a Christian and donated to soup kitchens and clothing centers, that’d be great. If everyone pitched in to a health bank for the poor and elderly, that too would be fantastic. But is that going to happen? No. And the second that it doesn’t, SOMEONE needs to step in to ensure that somehow, some way, the poor have an advocate somwhere. Let’s face it, James Dobson and Tony Perkins aren’t advocates for the poor. They’re way too busy riding their two trick pony.

    But who cares about feeding the poor when you’ve got stuff you gotta go buy at the Wal-Mart, right?

  13. Benjamin A May 6, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Paul,

    Your statement, “And the second that it doesn’t, SOMEONE needs to step in to ensure that somehow, some way, the poor have an advocate somewhere.”

    Do you believe this is what the gospel requires from Christians? That fulfilling the great commission requires feeding all the poor of the world?

    Or are you suggesting that Christians put their hope in the government to solve the problem of poverty? How’s that not exactly what Brett claims to be a divided interest? His two kingdom paradigm that Christians should avoid. A misplaced/misguided hope.

    Post 4 is directed at Brett. But seeing how you agreed with Brett’s post (#5) I would be curious in your answer as well.

  14. Darius May 6, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    Paul, I would recommend you read a lot more about why socialism causes great harm to society. Perhaps some Theodore Dalrymple or Thomas Sowell would be a good start (the former talks about the cultural implications, the latter about the economic problems of socialism). Socialism and welfare in this country has wrought an underclass that believes it is entitled to live comfortably with little or no work or responsibility. This ALWAYS is the case where government gets involved in “fighting poverty.” Private organizations are more efficient than government EVERY time. And look at countries where socialistic welfare runs rampant… government-funded welfare contributions are inversely proportional to private charitable. In other words, the less socialistic the government, the more charitable the people. Europeans are some of the least charitable people (and Americans the most) precisely because of socialism. Yet cities like London and Amsterdam are still extremely squalid (and getting worse). So before you get on your high horse, perhaps you should read more about the facts and evils of socialism. It doesn’t work, it never has. It’s been an amazing failure everywhere. What is even more amazing is that people like yourself still promote it as some economic panacea.

  15. Darius May 6, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    Exactly, Benjamin. What is truly ironic here is that Paul puts much more faith in government than you or I do. I say government should stay out of things, whereas Paul thinks government is the way to save people.

    Furthermore, Paul, could you please let me know where in the Bible it says that it is okay to steal from the rich (read: taxation) and give to the poor? You see, in my Bible, God promotes VOLUNTARY giving instead of forced charity, and a change of heart before a change of action. What you are suggesting is that a change of heart is not necessary, just skip to compulsory taxation. The position you are espousing is utterly unbiblical and unfounded in anything resembling a morally correct belief.

  16. Darius May 6, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it’s the best this fallen world has ever come up with (by a mile).

  17. Paul May 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    Darius,

    1) you have no business talking about morals. In one of these other posts, you essentially said that racism was fine as long as it’s not mandated by the state. That alone makes it impossible to take you seriously when it comes to a discussion about ethics or morals. So get down off your high horse, sir.

    2) Darius, this is a secular country with secular laws leading a largely secular populace. If you want a theocratic country, move to Ireland or Saudi Arabia.

    All of this is to say that Compulsory giving vs. Forced giving isn’t really an issue here. The fact that we have poverty where a nation as rich as ours ought not to have poverty is an issue. The fact that 40+ million people are uninsured in America is an issue.

    So, how do you fix that Darius? If taxation isn’t the answer, then how do you fix the problem? And no, “the world needs ditch diggers, too” is not the correct answer.

    And taxation is NOT stealing. You want this war in Iraq that Bush wants to fund with non-existent money. How is it going to get paid for? If our generation isn’t going to get taxed for it, be rest assured that our children’s generation will.

    But of course, the republican mindset of “I vote with my wallet” will win out, our kids be damned.

    (cue Darius linking to some right wing whack-job website claiming that paying back debt is a liberal myth…)

  18. Brett May 6, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    “Brett, you just admitted in the last sentence that you demote life as a priority. Yet you deny doing so above. Do you not see your own moral confusion?”

    And you just admitted that you’re impossible to talk to, are closed-minded, and uneducated. Seriously bro, that was a ridiculous comment and I consider it insulting. Just because I don’t have the same political convictions as you by no means indicated that I demote life as a priority. This is why I can’t stand dialog with many on the right.

    Benjamin A,

    Thanks for the questions and I appreciate your tone and candor. The main point I’m trying to make is that there is not a “Christian” party (re: Republican), and though we may have political convictions and vote (which I am not against), we should not call those convictions and candidates “The Christian votes.” Also, though we may participate in the political process, our hope should not lie there. We are the church, the kingdom of God, and to see to destroy and annihilate these issues we must take them into our own hands instead of voting for candidates who we believe will change laws. The “Christian” thing to do is not to vote for a Republican, the “Christian” thing to do is to pay for a young woman to go full-term with her baby and adopt it when she has given birth. The “Christian” thing to do is to love the young women contemplating abortions and sacrifice for them and teach them from God’s word so that by any means possible they may not get an abortion. Sadly, we’re far too complacent and think we’re doing our “Christian” duty by just voting for Republicans. That’s fine if you do that, and I have no problem for it, but just don’t label it “Christian” and tell somebody who doesn’t vote for Republicans that they don’t value human life and don’t vote “Christianly”.

    That’s the thing here. I have no problem with Christians voting for Republicans. I do have problems with Christians looking down on people who do otherwise and saying they don’t value marriage or human life. Politics is not theology, and we can be brothers in Christ and be at opposite ends of the spectrum politically. You understand my point?

    I’m not saying that Christians who vote for Republicans are divided between 2 kingdoms (though many are, and so are many Christian democrats). It’s when we teach and preach this way in the church and some of our ministries (re: Dobson et al.) and basically imply that Christians have to vote for Republicans when we fuse 2 kingdoms. It’s when we slander candidates of one party calling them “unbiblical” and praise those of another. It’s when we call kingdom of the world practices expressions of “Christian love” (re: just war). So I’m not communicating that being pro or anti either party is fusing 2 kingdoms. It’s where our hope lies, what contexts we communicate these things in, and the rhetoric we use behind our comments that becomes grounds for fusing 2 kingdoms.

    I’m am not opposed to Republicans or Democrats. I am opposed to Christians thinking either party is the way to go and hope of the world. I am opposed to Christians bringing their political convictions in Christian contexts. I am opposed to Christians endorsing candidates of either party on Christian blogs and slandering others.

    Hope that helps

  19. Darius May 6, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Your facts are extremely bogus, but then again, I’m not surprised. You have been indoctrinated in the wonders of socialism, and seem to have never pulled your head from the sand to see the light of day.

    Now, to dismantle your comment…

    Exactly where did I say that racism was fine? I think what you’re referring to is my suggestion that government should not involve itself in racism, but rather should be completely color-blind. You on the other hand think government should favor certain minorities by way of affirmative action, etc. Such a position is the truly racist one as it implies that those minorities can’t make it on their own.

    Theocracy? Not sure why you bring up that lame red herring.

    Regarding poverty… I guess you don’t know that historically and globally-speaking, almost no one in this country is economically impoverished. However, we do have a lot of culturally-impoverished people in this country. We have supposedly “poor” people who have flat screen TVs, a cell phone per family member, etc. They are culturally poor, but not economically poor. They can afford the frivolous, but should be given welfare for the necessities of life??? Get a job. And if you have trouble getting a job, there are plenty of PRIVATE charities that are willing to give a hand up, but not a hand out. (This would be an ideal place for you to read some Theodore Dalrymple, as he discusses at length the cultural effects of socialism in Britian, but I am not convinced you want your eyes opened).

    Regarding your “40 million uninsured” number… don’t repeat a number you don’t have any clue about what it represents. For a better understanding of that number, read this: http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/health-million-uninsured-1850186-insurance-people . Suffice it to say that the Census bureau itself admits that 25% of those are NOT Americans but foreign nationals. Another 25% actually do have health care coverage via Medicare. Of the remaining 25 million or so that actually don’t have health care, 18 million of them are between the ages of 18-34. It doesn’t take too much thinking to figure out that that age group is generally quite healthy and are most likely to be in between jobs (and thus health coverage). Furthermore, of those 40+ million “uninsured” folks, 17 million of them come from homes that make more than $50,000 a year. I’ll let you digest those numbers.

    You ask how we are to fix the problem. First of all, I have to ask, based on the above information, what problem???

    Don’t change topics and switch to Iraq. Let’s stay focused, please. But since you brought it up… money spent in the defense of this country helps all Americans indiscriminately. Money spent propping up the lazy and degenerate helps no one, not even the lazy and degenerate. Unequal taxation or taxation that takes money from the rich and distributes it to the poor IS stealing.

    What is funny (and honestly, very sad) is that you actually believe that your pro-socialism worldview is compassionate to the underclass.

  20. Darius May 6, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    “The Christian thing to do…”

    Brett, now you’re just quoting Greg Boyd. And like him, you are setting up a false dichotomy. It’s not either/or, it can be (and should be) both. Support crisis pregnancy centers AND vote pro-life. Why is this so hard to understand? You’re fighting a straw man, and it’s getting tiresome. I agree that Christians shouldn’t put their hope in politics, but that’s not what is at stake here. Christians like Dobson aren’t saying that politics will save your soul. But they are saying that live out the political aspect of your life with fruit that is consistent with the Bible. Voting for a pro-abortion candidate is NOT consistent with Biblical principles, no matter how much makeup you put on the pig.

  21. Darius May 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    Hmm, I had a comment get snagged by the spam filter again, I think.

  22. Brett May 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm #

    Darius,

    All you do is fight straw men. Do you even know what a straw man is? I’m really getting sick of that term b/c I think it’s just thrown around as a means to make somebody look wrong and like they don’t know what they’re talking about. So the irony is, you continuing to call people’s comments straw-men is a straw man within itself! Try engaging next time instead of throwing around that stupid word that you probably don’t even know what it means. And I’m not quoting Greg Boyd and have no idea what you’re talking about. It CAN be both/and, but it doesn’t HAVE to be. Trust me, I’ve been in a context for years with right-wing conservative Evangelicals. None of them supported crisis pregnancy centers, none of them volunteered their times, none of them adopted; but they sure voted pro-life and told others to do the same. Though there may be some who do both/and, it is not consistent on your side and you cannot attribute the actions of a select few to the whole group.

    Voting for an anti-environment, pro-war, pro-wealthy, and pro-greed candidate is NOT CONSISTENT WITH BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES…no matter how much makeup you put on the cow patty. Oh, is that a straw-man? Well, so is your last comment so be consistent with your accusations Darius. Just which kingdom are you for Darius?

  23. Mark Gibson May 6, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    1) The American people are the most giving people in the world. Examples:
    Katrina – $4.25 billion
    Tsunami- $163 million in the first week (couldn’t find overall totals)
    9/11 – $2.9 billion
    Illegals – $350 billion taxpayer dollars in 2007

    2) Healthcare is not a right established in the Constitution. The 40 million number is not even an accurate representation of how many truly can’t afford insurance. A lot of them just choose not to buy it.

    Also, do all Americans have the right to cell phones, dvd players, i-pods, overly expensive sneakers…should I keep going? If health insurance was really a priority, then they would purchase it over these other things.

    3) There will always be poverty. All government systems have failed in fixing poverty(see CCCP,France, etc). Wal-Mart fights it pretty well. They offer low prices to millions of Americans. If you put down people that shop there, then you are an elitist snob.

    4) If Bush wants to fight a war in Iraq, then I am fine with paying for it. Afterall his job is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of his ability. Also, I’m currently paying for other generations retirement because of FDR.

    5) Taxation is stealing when it is the redistribution of wealth. Lazy and jealous people have figured out that they can vote for free benefits.

    6) What’s wrong with being a ditch digger as long as they are working?

  24. Darius May 6, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    Amen Mark.

  25. Darius May 6, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    Methinks we have a bunch of “elitist snobs” pretending to be compassionate.

  26. Mark Gibson May 6, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    I guess I’m a little slow at responding. My #23 was written when #15 was the last one.

  27. Paul May 6, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    “Methinks we have a bunch of “elitist snobs” pretending to be compassionate.”

    And methinks we have a bunch of heartless greedy bums pretending to be Christian in order to further the Republican agenda.

    You don’t know me, you’ve made no attempt to get to know me, you have no business telling me what I am.

    As for Wal-Mart, I don’t (and won’t) shop there. I understand why people do, and I don’t fault them for it. It is still a detestable place, and I shop at mom and pop stores whenever and wherever possible.

  28. Brett May 6, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    And methinks we have peeps who confuse Christianity with Republican political beliefs. Ah the tragedy!

  29. Paul May 6, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    As for some of Darius’ and Mark’s other proofs that Republicans are plainly evil (this is not true of all CONSERVATIVES, however, it is true of most REPUBLICANS), let’s look at some other ones…

    First: your blathering about how I think government is the answer, blah, blah, blah…

    Explain your want to elect idiots that would pass an amendment to outlaw gay marriage. Explain your (probable) eagerness to keep the ATF and the DEA fully funded when the very laws that they operate under are one of the biggest economic drains on the annual U.S. budget. Explain your droning on and on about how righteous we are for being in Iraq. You’re all for big government too. You’d just rather kill brown people than save ours.

    Second: Your incoherent rambling about affirmative action. To think that 100 years of stupid Jim Crow laws and thousands of years of discriminatory thinking can be reversed in 40 years is idiotic, asinine and proof of mental retardation. Sometimes an extra hand up goes a long way in reversing trends that likely wouldn’t be reversed otherwise.

    Third: your quoting of right wing fringe dopes to prove a point about health insurance. Denny does the same thing. Want to prove your point? Do so with some blowhard on the right with no counterpoint offered from the other side.

    And insofar as the junk about the 18-34 age group: I had no health insurance until I was 26. At 24, I had accrued $80K in medical debt. Thanks for your caring. Insofar as medicare goes, give your blathering a break until you talk to the people in the Indiana medicare office about the sub-standard care that my grandfather is receiving because he couldn’t afford medicare supplement insurance.

    In other words, from your little tower, you should get to keep all of your money, you shouldn’t have to pay for anything, and to hell with those that get trampled under the capitalist’s foot, right?

    And, let’s throw this in there too…

    Sure, in the middle of nowhere, where you obviously live, $50K is a lot of money. In NYC, LA, SF, Boston, DC or Chicago, it’s barely enough to survive, and unless you’ve got a great job that comes with benefits, it’s not enough to pay for rent, groceries, a car note AND health insurance. Heck, $50K/year isn’t even enough to qualify for a condo in a safe neighborhood in Chicago. But people can suddenly buy health insurance. Only if you’re heartless enough to think it’s cool to not help your fellow man.

    Fourth: thinking that somehow, if someone doesn’t vote the way that you vote, that they’re not living out Biblical principles. Please. There are many Biblical principles, and you are picking and choosing no matter which party you vote for. It all comes down to personal preference. To say that the people that want to combat poverty are less Godly than the people who want to ban stuff is ridiculous.

    Sincerely, Darius and Mark, I have rarely seen two people are so fixated on capitalism that they lose sight of compassion.

    (cue Darius and Mark racing to tell me about how capitalism is SOOOO humane while quickly forgetting the scandals that happen when capitalism is left unchecked)

  30. Nick May 6, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    You guys are ridiculous. This is the biggest group of unloving people I’ve ever seen. If this attitude is what is produced by “Christianity”, I’m out!

  31. Bryan L May 6, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    Nick, isn’t it kind of the same thing though to call people ridiculous and the most unloving people you’ve ever seen (and I guess that means hateful)? Sounds kind of judgmental to me.

    Plus if this is what you base your whole view of Christianity on, a blog thread about politics (where surprise Christians disagree passionately on) with Christians who you don’t even know, then it doesn’t seem like you needed a whole lot to make your mind up about Christianity.

    Please don’t try to put a guilt trip on people who are being real and honest about who they are and what they believe (I’m glad some people are passionate about some things). Did you want them to act all nice like Care Bears or something? Do you always act like that?

    Just saying.

    Bryan

  32. Darius May 6, 2008 at 7:47 pm #

    “Sincerely, Darius and Mark, I have rarely seen two people are so fixated on capitalism that they lose sight of compassion.”

    Sincerely, Paul, I’ve never seen a guy so fixated on emotional responses to everything that he loses sight of rational thought. Your whole comment was one big emotional plea. Is that win arguments where you live? Rather than refute anything we had to say, you came back with your experience. So in other words, your experience trumps rational thought and real evidence.

  33. Darius May 6, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    Ok, Paul, here goes. I will try to further explain how the facts are not on your side as far as compassion is concerned. I’m going to assume that you do truly care about being compassionate, but have just misplaced your compassion due to lack of information.

    Welfare states do not serve the common good. They ENCOURAGE the impoverished to stay that way, to remain in the underclass for generations. A Capitalistic state has an underclass that is always in flux; the impoverished today are tomorrow’s middle class. They don’t stay poor for long, and the data and studies bear this out. The only reason this isn’t even more the case in this country is due to the socialistic programs that are undermining our capitalism. To promote socialism is to condemn the poor to poverty for much longer than if one promoted capitalism and free markets. Government intervention, handouts, and regulation puts up barriers to intra-class movement, whereas small government and free markets allow today’s poor immigrants to be tomorrow’s reasonably well-to-do small business owners.

  34. Darius May 6, 2008 at 8:02 pm #

    What actually scares me the most is not that you believe socialism is the answer. It’s that you feel that there are no rational AND “compassionate” reasons for capitalism. This tells me that you are poorly informed on the reasoning and history behind both movements. I honestly think you could benefit greatly from reading some of the great minds of our time, especially Thomas Sowell, who is THE greatest economist today.

  35. JNG May 6, 2008 at 9:14 pm #

    Just wanted to say that Darius and Mark are right on.

    Darius you said,

    “What is funny (and honestly, very sad) is that you actually believe that your pro-socialism worldview is compassionate to the underclass.”

    There is just so much truth in that statement. It seems Paul and the other liberals on this site do truly feel they are being compassionate and that is an admirable quality. We should all strive to be compassionate and help our fellow man. The problem lies in the fact that their socialist viewpoint is completely counter-productive to the compassion they espouse.

    Paul do you really think conservative/republicans just want to kill brown people? Come on, that is ludicrous.

    Affirmative action is racism. It takes away merit and promotes based on ethnicity. That is racism.

    If someone can afford to live on their salary in a particular city then they should move. It is simple really. Go somewhere where you can afford to provide for yourself and your family given your particular skill set.

    Whose fault is it that you didn’t have healthcare at age 24? Mine? Should I pay for your healthcare? How about now? Would you like for me to pay for your healthcare? How about your friends? That is essentially what you are saying. You didn’t have healthcare so someone else should pay for it for you.

  36. Paul May 6, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

    Darius,

    My experiences aren’t REAL evidence?

    Oh wait, that’s because my experiences don’t jibe with some moonbat who worships Michele Malkin instead of God.

  37. Jeff Lash May 6, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    I would agree with Brett that it seems like the same arguments are rehashed over and over. I think that applies to all sides. I think we can certainly all agree that politics are difficult and require a certain level of thoughtfulness (though it may be rarely employed by left or right). I think we also understand, as Christians, that politics do not save in the eternal meaning of the word. People looking to build up America as the next Christendom have misplaced their hope. However, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be involved in the process. Have people gone overboard in claiming that people who vote for a particular party or candidate are not Christians? Yes. We know them. We have sat in the pews with them. We may have even sat under their leadership. Does the pendulum swing both ways? Indeed. It seems that moderation might be an appropriate term as it relates to voting and politics. Then again, who determines what is a moderate position?

    We say that the Bible and our faith should inform our decisions on all levels. The issues in politics and who we vote for would fall into that realm. I wonder what it would look like if we were to build an ideal candidate who took positions on every issue that were consistent with biblical standards and commitments. We can’t even go there because I believe we would have disagreement on how Christian faith plays out on these issues. That’s because the issues are sometimes very difficult.

    So, ultimately, how do we make a decision? I think giving equality to all issues is a bit misleading. Yes, there is more than one issue to be discussed. But we all make decisions based on what issues we find most important. Since there is never a perfect candidate, we will both agree and disagree with each candidate. So we decide which issues seem to carry more weight as it relates to its implications and vote for the candidate that best aligns in those areas. The reason I think abortion is a fundamental issue is because it involved the direct murder of an innocent life (yes…this requires a certain stance on when life begins). Can poverty lead to death? Certainly. Does it necessarily? No. Should it be a concern of ours? Yes.

    Man…talk about rambling. All this to say, I think healthy discussion and even loving debate on the issues can help us get a more informed view of things. We need to be even-handed. Do I have this all figured out? Definitely not. But I certainly enjoy the discussion and hopefully it will challenge me to think even more thoughtfully on the subject.

  38. JNG May 7, 2008 at 8:53 am #

    Denny did I get spam held or deleted?

  39. Darius May 7, 2008 at 9:00 am #

    Hmm, at least one of my comments seem to have been caught as spam.

    Jeff, I agree completely, with one caveat. I don’t think that moderation for moderation’s sake is the best goal (not that you’re necessarily suggesting that). That’s why I’m not a big fan of McCain. He values being a moderate over being right on issues. We should be radical where the Bible calls us to be radical and moderate where the Bible calls us to be moderate. Thus, a Christian can come down on either side of the gay marriage issue (though not on the morality of homosexuality itself). However, they cannot come down on the pro-abortion side. A Christian who does so shows an amazing lack of moral clarity. They can still be a Christian, but it is rare when moral confusion isn’t combined with theological confusion. I do find it interesting that the Christian Left on this thread believe that it is the Right that is so divisive, yet they make statements like these “some moonbat who worships Michele Malkin instead of God.”

    Paul, you apparently don’t realize this, but you’re putting your experiences on a pedestal above everyone else’s. Who cares if millions of people (rich and poor) have benefited from capitalism, it is your experiences that reign supreme. Honestly, that is elitist and selfish. In your defense, you elevate your experiences not out of willful selfishness, but out of an apparently-unbeknownst-to-you narcissism.

    Oh, I just saw your comment #10 for the first time, thanks to the dumb spam filter. I may address it, even though it’s a bit late.

  40. Mark Gibson May 7, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    Paul,

    1) If you don’t think government is the answer, then why do you want the government to takeover healthcare?

    1a)That away to stay on topic followed by an unfounded accusation of racism. Oops, I forgot that my being a conservative Republican automatically makes me racist.

    2)Darius is right about affirmative action. Considering yourself half-black when you are white would also be considered mental retardation.

    3) Why don’t you offer your own counterpoint?

    3a) What happened to cause you to accrue $80k in medical debt? Were your health problems my fault? Am I responsible for your health?

    3b)My grandfather had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for my grandmother’s and his healthcare over the past five years (he died two months ago). He was a responsible adult that saved his money over his lifetime for that very reason. I am sorry to hear about your grandfather’s condition, but other Americans are not responsible for his healthcare.

    3c) I do pay for stuff. You are the one that doesn’t want to pay for his own healthcare. Who in America can say that they have been trampled under the “capitalist’s foot” when our poorest have a higher standard of living than 95% of the rest of the world?

    4) They aren’t required to live in those cities.

    5)”thinking that somehow, if someone doesn’t vote the way that you vote, that they’re not living out Biblical principles. Please. There are many Biblical principles, and you are picking and choosing no matter which party you vote for. It all comes down to personal preference. To say that the people that want to combat poverty are less Godly than the people who want to ban stuff is ridiculous.”

    Now, you are just making stuff up.

    Sincerely, Paul, I’m not sure I have ever debated with someone that is so bitter. Everything bad in your life is someone else’s fault. Become a man and learn to take care of yourself. It is sad that a 25 year old has to tell that to someone in his thirties.

    (cue Paul racing to tell me about evil Republicans(again), racist conservatives, uncompassionate conservatives, Bush Lied People Died, and Haliburton)

  41. Mark Gibson May 7, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    I forgot about this:

    Paul stated, “As for Wal-Mart, I don’t (and won’t) shop there. I understand why people do, and I don’t fault them for it. It is still a detestable place, and I shop at mom and pop stores whenever and wherever possible.”

    Why is it detestable? Is this just another example of throwing comments out there and hoping that no one calls you on it?

    Maybe you could have used the savings that Wal-Mart offers to pay down your medical debt.

  42. Darius May 7, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Hmm, I don’t think I could have said it better, Mark. Very nicely done.

    I would piggy back on the Wal-Mart comment. Why is it detestable? Do they not offer jobs to those same poor for whom you, supposedly, care so dearly? Do they not employ people in China who would otherwise be without a job? You are amazingly naive about the workings of capitalism.

  43. JNG May 7, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    Paul I have a question. You said you did not have health insurance at 24. Whose fault is that. Is that my fault? Should I pay for your health insurance? Should I pay for it now? That is essentially what you are saying. I should step up to the plate and pay for your insurance. Because I can afford health insurance and pay for my own and have money left over I should have to give that money to you(when you were 24) and pay for your insurance.

  44. Darius May 7, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    Paul, I think what we’re saying is that if you have needs and come to a Christian with humility, they should help you if at all possible. But when you bitterly and pridefully force them to pay for your needs via government taxation as if you deserve it, that is failing both your and his faith. You are forcing others to provide for you (de facto theft) and he is forced to provide for you, thus removing the opportunity to do so willingly and with a right heart.

  45. Benjamin A May 7, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Paul,
    I appreciate your candor and openness to dialogue. I have some observations regarding your reply.
    First, I too don’t see any verses related to earmarks. I also see both parties using earmarks to either kill a bill or make constituencies happy. Unfortunately for all its just part of the political gamesmanship that is part of our form of government. However, it’s not a republican issue alone. Dem’s do this as well.
    However, I do see verses that are explicit about not taking human life; about marriage being between a man and a woman. So your pro-abortion/pro-choice dichotomy is in my opinion a cop-out. For someone to say they are pro-choice is granting the right of one human to take the life of another human without any temporal consequences. I am very pro-choice in almost every aspect of my thinking. We are free creatures making free choices about almost everything in life. But scripture has put some limitations on that freedom as creatures made in the image of God; and taking the life of other humans is one such limitation.

    Also, to say Republicans are only interested in passing law to end abortion and not in preventing unwanted pregnancies isn’t really accurate. You must know that is way over generalized. I will agree that many liberals are interested in finding ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies, however, those ways have not worked either (free condemn campaigns; sex education in the class room; straight talk about STD’s/Aids; etc.). None of that has worked because people like having sex. Taking time to put a condemn on in the moment isn’t convenient. Telling people over and over to put one on isn’t working. And I will admit, telling them to simply wait until marriage isn’t working and hasn’t worked either. But as long as pro-choice is in the book as law, and it’s legal to end the life of another human without any temporal consequences (guilt/emotional duress not withstanding); putting on the condemn just doesn’t make sense and hasn’t worked. Can’t we at least be honest there and agree? After all, sex without a condemn is much more enjoyable. (Keeping it real here.) However, and this is my opinion, if there were some real temporal consequences to the taking of human life in the womb, while it wouldn’t stop the practice all together, it alone may curb some of the killing. And I say curb because I’m a realist. Laws do not make for a civil society. We have laws against taking life and every day humans are killing each other. Obviously our greatest need is salvation from our sin. That’s where the Church needs to get back to the basics of great commission ministry. However, the Church is simply made up of individuals who also are politically engaged (some to greater/lesser degrees), and who vote for those who will make the law of the land/or enforce the current laws of the land. Certainly their Biblically informed world view will inform them on how to vote and or be politically active.
    Without hashing out all the statistics on the cultural moral demise following the early 70’s political decisions (Roe; God out of public arena; etc.), American culture has had a significant turn for the worse morally/ethically/ and spiritually. When abortion was against the law there were fewer abortions, though it was still practiced; and now that pro-choice is the law of the land there are more abortions. Proof’s in the pudding grandma’ would say. So while a law isn’t the solution, it’s there as a way to deter immoral behavior and actions. Words and rhetoric alone will not win the day in curbing evil.

    On health care, do you really believe our next President (Dem. Or Rep.) will make one bit of difference? Bill and Hillary had 8 years to ‘fix’ the health care system, as promised. No change. Even in some of the most lucrative years, the Clinton’s couldn’t ‘fix’ health care. Then came George W. Bush, 8 more years to ‘fix’ the health care system, as promised. No change. Totaling 16 years of promised change in the health care system. No change. This is not a democratic/republican issue alone. We need to stop blaming each other for these problems. I personally don’t believe any president will be able to bring down or ‘fix’ the ‘system’ that is currently called Health Care. And I personally don’t have any solutions on how to fix it myself. Nor do I feel an obligation to do so. My employer does not provide group health insurance and I and my family would be one of those without Health Insurance. However, I am part of a group called Christian Care Medi-Share. It’s a large group of Christians who help pay each other’s medical bills. One of my kids had their tonsils out, totaling approx. $10,000.00, and all I paid was my share portion of $250.00. The rest was shared by other caring Christians (the church). I share this to simply show that there are some people out there (Christians) trying to find alternative ways to provide help in time of need without being a part of the ‘government system’. That being said, I do send in a share amount for other’s needs monthly, approx. $500 mthly. I’m choosing this option over others for a number of reasons, one is the simple fact that it’s the body of Christ caring for one another’s needs.

  46. John May 7, 2008 at 11:48 am #

    Denny – I think it would do your readers benifit to share Guiness’ purpose with your readership. One of the main arguments behind the manifesto is that the methodology of those who call themselves evangelicals is resulting in a loss of the public square as a medium for sharing the gospel. Although after sifting through the above comments, that might not be such a bad thing.

  47. Benjamin A May 7, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    Darius & Mark,

    Just an observation. The tone of your ‘arguments’ in my opinion are not going to create an environment of honest dialogue. Paul’s tone toward you is also in my opinion accomplishing the same effect. So you keep slapping each other in the face. Who wins? You are making good points; no need for the slaps. My opinion.

  48. Darius May 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    You’re right, Benjamin. Though it is hard to be charitable to someone who slanders us repeatedly as fake Christians who are stupid and greedy and evil.

  49. Paul May 7, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    To Darius, Mark and JNG…

    1) did I ever say that anyone else needs to take care of ME? No. I dealt with my debt. That said, how many other people are able to do that? Not as many as your high and mighty selves might want to believe. As a matter of fact over half of all bankruptcies every year are caused by huge medical debts. When hospitals have to write off that lost income, they have to raise the prices on medical care, and they have to take away resources from research or hiring top notch staff. Which only makes things spiral further out of control. How much more should this continue because you’re greedy?

    2) Because you’re so busy worshipping your wallets instead of your God, you’ve forgotten a very major economic point: not only do we have to deal with a large number of uninsured Americans, but these major corporations have to do something that few other industrialized nations have to do: pay for their employees’ health insurance. It goes a long way towards explaining why a $20K American car (the Dodge Caliber) is such a piece of garbage that my brother the Dodge mechanic threatened to beat me down if I bought one (oops, sorry for the personal experience aside). At the same time, a $20K Japanese car (the Toyota Corolla) is considered to be one of the best values to have ever been on the road. Less money spent providing benefits to employees means more money spent on R&D. Which means a better product. Add TVs, stereos, appliances, watches, computers and assorted gadgets to that list, and about the only thing left that’s made in America without Japanese threat are Native American art pieces sold at second rate flea markets. If health care costs are one of the reasons for our floundering economy (and I’ve heard that reason given by more than one business owner), then that needs to be examined, and quickly.

    3) re: Wal-Mart…Mark, the nicest study that I found that wasn’t funded by Wal-Mart noted that for every 100 jobs provided by Wal-Mart, 70 jobs are lost in a community. For some reason, I couldn’t find the study that I used in a term paper that showed that even casinos have better county wide net job growth numbers than Wal-Marts, and casinos are known for sucking business out of communities. Yeah, Wal-Mart’s great, Mark!

    (by the way, if you’re going to refute this statement, make sure it isn’t with one of the nine studies that Wal-Mart itself paid for, please…)

    3a) while we’re on the Wal-Mart kick, let’s spend a moment mentioning the adverse effect Wal-Mart has had on American culture in their brick and mortar stores. Find me the classical or jazz sections in a Wal-Mart music section. Next, find me a copy of anything by any major American author of note in their book section. Finally, find me a copy of A Street Car Named Desire in their DVD section. What’s that? Can’t do it? That’s what I thought. Now, turn around and look at the statistics for how many independent book stores or music and movie stores that have shut down when Wal-Mart comes to town. Don’t tell me that they’re not detestable. They’re directly contributing to the dumbing down of American society. But at least the green beans are cheaper.

    4) re: affirmative action. Darius is not right, you all are simply selfish.

    5) Mark’s assumption that people don’t have to live in large metropolitan areas: really Mark? About the only inexpensive market I could live in and possibly make a run at making a living would be Austin. The shunning of the arts by the majority of the idiots that live in this country means that Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco and possibly Austin are the only places I could live without being on the dole. And it’s not only artists. It’s just that that’s my personal point of reference. Oops, I mentioned personal experience again. Sorry.

    Finally, regarding Mark’s comment about my bitterness and me expecting others to pick up my slack: do not confuse the fact that I realize that there are people that need a hand that aren’t getting it with my personal experience. I bust my tail, and I expect nothing from anyone (outside of possibly buying my CD, now available at Amazon…). However, I do realize that we are not islands, and that we need to look out for one another. And if that means a higher tax rate for me, I’m willing to give up a little bit more of my income to ensure that people eat, have shelter and can achieve something with their lives. I’m willing to deal with applying to three schools instead of one if it means that someone who might not otherwise get a shot at a college degree and a better life can get one. I am not a liberal so that I can steal from you, as you all have so boldly and ignorantly claimed. I am a liberal because the status quo is not working, and there is no reason to think that we can’t be like Sweden and have a 100% literacy rate and an abortion rate that is a fraction of what America’s is. There is no reason to think that we can’t be like Germany and have a health care system that doesn’t make anyone rich, but ensures that everyone is far better off. There is no reason to think that we can’t be like France, Spain or Denmark and have a deep appreciation for the culture around us. If that somehow makes me a bad person, then I will proclaim my badness from the rooftops.

  50. Paul May 7, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    well, my last comment (which was the size of a russian novel) has gone off into the hinterlands of Denny Burkdom.

    re: Darius in #45: dude, you started this a LONG time ago. If you want to come out and say that liberal thought is evil, then I will remind you that unchecked capitalism is just as evil. If you want to say that affirmative action is evil, I will remind you that refusing to atone for 400 years of mistreatment is also evil.

    You want to get nasty about liberals, I can get just as nasty about conservatives. In other words, if you don’t want to be slandered as a fake and greedy Christian, then don’t slander me as a thief.

    fair? I thought so.

  51. JNG May 7, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Affirmative action is racism. Racism is evil. Affirmative action takes away promotion based on merit and replaces it with promotion based on race. Isn’t that the definition of racism?

  52. Paul May 7, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    JNG,

    how else to combat the fact that when affirmative action and tax breaks for quotas are taken off the table that minorities are less likely to be hired, even when they have the same qualifications as their white counterparts?

    You can’t just let people flounder. Especially when it was America that dragged those people’s ancestors here in the first place.

    As is the case with so many conservative positions, they only work under utopian circumstances. There must be provisions in place that account for the depraivity of man.

  53. JNG May 7, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    We aren’t going to agree on this Paul and I have researched it extensively. I had the pleasure of writing a 12 page paper on the subject for a very liberal professor in one of my Political Science classes in college. That was many moons ago. I knew I had better support my position against it or I was going to get hammered.

    The fact is affirmative action while for a short period of time was a step in the right direction has become a scape goat for underachieving minorities and hinderance to business owners. It like many programs has outlived its usefullness and is no longer a positive but a negative. It has opened up small business(the major employer in our nation) and corporations alike to lawsuits and forced them to hire less qualified people in place of deserving candidates. That is not the spirit of the law, but in fact what has taken place over the course of time. It is another example of a government program/law that while good on the surface has been abused to the point of actually hurting people.

    Why should a more deserving candidate with more experience, better resume and more qualifications be passed by because of the color of their skin. That is racism any way you slice it.

    Our nation made a huge mistake in allowing slavery, and a bigger mistake in taking as long as it did to create equal oppurtunity for all minorities. However, atoning for those mistakes should not mean punishing me as a small business owner and telling me who I must hire because of affirmative action.

    These type laws only propogate a sense of entitlement within the minority communities. They actually hinder the progress of achievment based accomplishment. No one can convince me that oppurtunity is not there in this country for anyone who wants to achieve it. There are oppurtunities at every corner. I fully realize that many in different circumstances face deeper challenges in attaining those accomplishments, but in my mind it is more of a cultural and family issue.

    Another reason for marriage being between a man and a woman and each taking their responsibilities seriously to raise prodcutive members of society, but that is whole other can of worms.

  54. Mark Gibson May 7, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    Benjamin,

    You’re probably right, but I didn’t attack him personally. I don’t take it as personal attack when another person tells me to grow up. However, it becomes personal when someone who doesn’t know me calls me evil, racist, uncompassionate, stupid, and mentally retarded. It’s another example of Paul not being able to have a civil conversation. Everything was fine until he decided to slander Darius in #17.

    Paul #46,

    In the past 100 years, when has capitalism gone unchecked? The United States isn’t even in the top 10 freest markets in the world anymore. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006109

    Darius didn’t call you a thief. He is describing Robin Hood economics. People that want to keep more of their own money is not greed. Enron is an example of greed.

    Paul #48,

    I’m not responsible for the sins of people from 400 years ago.

    Conservatives have never claimed that capitalism will accomplish utopia. However, communism and socialism promises utopia. I have yet to see where either has accomplished anything good.

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