Tuesday, February 09, 2016

LTE: Finds mixture of politics and religion a bit confusing

Letter: Finds mixture of politics and religion a bit confusing
Erich Hoffmann, Asheville Citizen-Times, February 8, 2016

People in my office confuse me when it comes to religion and politics. I find many conservatives in this area talk about America as a “Christian nation,” but oppose most social programs and tax increases, because “why should we help people that are too lazy to work?” You can’t claim to be a devout Christian and demonize the needy at the same time. There is no passage in the Bible that says “help the poor, the meek, the needy, but only if they’ve completed the necessary paperwork...”


"conservatives talk about America as a 'Christian nation' but oppose most social programs and tax increases"

The writer attempts to confuse the reader by conflating individual religious action and coercive government action. Once this false premise is introduced, he can complain about the straw man he has created, where the writer mischaracterizes an argument in order to refute it.

The writer says, "You can’t claim to be a devout Christian and demonize the needy at the same time." This, of course, is the deliberate logical fallacy of No True Scotsman. It involves setting up a false standard that can be called into question.

It is true that some principled Christians may oppose government actions such as certain social programs and tax increases. Opposing those government actions in no way contradicts the impulse or the religious teaching to care for or help the poor.

In Christian teachings, helping the poor is considered an individual charitable action born of compassion, sometimes done in cooperation with others who share the urge to compassionate works. But this action is performed voluntarily as an act of will, not through the use of force. The opposition to government action usually stems from a moral objection of the use of force to achieve a goal, even a worthy one.

There can be no such thing as forced charity or compelled compassion. The very introduction of force in human relationships precludes an act of charity. If force is used to extract wealth from one person in order to give it to another to who it does not belong, it is properly considered thefta violation of the rights of the individual to dispose of his property according to the dictates of his heart. The notion that opposition to coercive redistribution is un-Christian becomes absurd when viewed in this light.

Therefore, the claim that Christian opposition to social programs and tax increases is necessarily a "demonization of the needy" or infidelity to faith is false.