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Family Research Council Attacks Progressive Christians

Family Research Council Attacks Progressive Christians

Progressive religious leaders have been increasingly outspoken about their opposition to a budget deal that would hurt people who rely on social service programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  Some were even arrested in the Capitol Rotunda yesterday.  But now the religious right is fighting back, claiming that for Christians, charity is not the government’s responsibility.

The Family Research Council (an organization which has been labeled a hate group) launched ads in Kentucky and Ohio to compete the Circle of Protection, a Christian coalition.  The Circle of Protection has been running radio spots on Christian and country stations in Kentucky, Ohio and Nevada, reminding listeners that their politicians are neglecting their fundamental obligation to the poor.  The FRC, predictably, has another spin:

“Jesus didn’t instruct the government of his day to take the rich young ruler’s property and redistribute it to the poor. He asked the ruler to sell his possessions and help the poor. Charity is an individual choice, not a government mandate.”

As Tim King points out on the “God’s Politics” blog, this could be tough for John Boehner, a Catholic, to handle.  After all, as King writes, “Catholic social teaching instructs that the government does have a direct responsibility to the poor and that private charity is only one of the ways that Christians express concern for ‘the least of these.’”  Catholic leaders have already rebuked Boehner for supporting “disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.”  How can Boehner respond without compromising his religious values?  And does he care?

There’s also the possibility, though, that this stand-off between the FRC and the Circle of Protection will make no difference whatsoever.  The Circle of Protection’s “Statement of Purpose” has an impressive list of signers from across Christian denominations, but are they more than symbolic figures?   In a piece for Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner suggests that “while a minister being led away in handcuffs might make for good press, it’s a completely ineffectual as a political strategy.”  In other words, however inspirational it may be for progressive Christians to speak out during the debt debate, their admonitions are likely falling on deaf ears.

The only thing to do right now seems to be to wait and see.

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91 comments

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7:26PM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

Exactly what you expect them to do!

9:00PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Of course they do, Jesus and his disciples lived a highly communal life and their beliefs and practices would today be called 'Communist' by the extreme right.

Boehner has some Catholic issues but that's not the base that votes for him.

12:47PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

seems to have forgotten "Give unto Cesar what is Cesar's", taxes on the jews under Roman rule were extremely high in Christ's time, but then isn't it just one more example of a Preacher using the words to the Gospel to back their own desires. I wonder what the congregation pays this Preacher, since Christ also said to his disciples "take thee not of gift or money, as I have not taken from you"

4:21AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

The paradox in this story is that the Tea Party insists that THEIR religion become social LAW.The abortion and birth control as well as woman's rights issues come directly from Fundamental Christianity.However caring for the elderly,poor and disabled and insuring safe food and air don't seem to be included in their book.Apparently in their translation it says to give the money to the rich bacause THEY know what to do with it!

6:53PM PDT on Aug 2, 2011

I don't understand this notion that Christians are supposed to transcend their humanity with all its imperfection, tendency toward disagreement, and personal agendas. We call this sin, as much as atheists and agnostics cringe at such a notion. But contrary to the comment of a previous individual, most of us believe in the inerrency of the Bible, that it is God-breathed and that it is our mistakes that cause misinterpretation, not mistakes in the book itself. It is unfair to inflict my faith on anyone, but I am willing to share it. Having experienced a long crisis of faith and period of questioning, I know that religions rarely unfold completely self-evident for the believer. Do I believe in absolutes? Yes. However, I believe in respecting the rights of others too. I cannot force anyone to believe with me. Goodness knows, I have firsthand experience trying to force belief in myself. The best demonstration of Christianity is to be Christ-like. The government can't do that for us too.

12:39PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

What do the religious Far Right Loonies have to say about such communistic behavior of the early Christians as is depicted in the book of Acts?

Acts 4: 32-35 "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his own possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had [...] there were no needy persons among them [...] the money [...] was distributed to anyone as he had need."

10:27AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

This conflict between so-called Christians is pathetic in so many ways. If Christians can't even get along with other Christians, how in hell will they ever get along with other religions? It boggles the mind. Religion must be designated to the dust bin if we humans are ever to be truly civilized. When we realize there is no fairy tale land after death perhaps we could do things for the proper reason - because it's the right thing to do. There will always be good & bad people regardless.
"The rich should sell his possessions to help the poor" - Yeah, like that's gonna' ever happen. These wealthy bureaucratic government hypocrites want to cut social problems & not increase taxes on the wealthy to pay their fair share & do so under the guise of Christianity? They obviously have no shame & are deluded to think they are Christian? Somehow I think they just say they are because it's obligatory in the US. Meanwhile their backroom deals enrich them even more & to hell with Joe Citizen. Christian my ass! If these people truly believed in "the eye of the needle" they would be shaking in their boots!

8:37AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

religion is for people that are afraid of hell.
those that have experienced hell are rarely religious, but usually spiritual.

8:27AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

If you believe, pray. If you don'r believe, better hope something changes.

8:24AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

Tom Y: If you truly believe what you posted, you are one ignorant person. You are ignorant of chritianity AND you are ignorant of our government.

But I absolutely celebrate that you are stupid enough to use your "government-mandated" freespeech rights to display your ignorance for all of us to learn from.

And so bring it on. Yes, please....more baseless accolades for the Family Research Council and Tony Perkins, and more demonization of the Southern Poverty Law Center.....yes, let's see just how malignant and far-flung your rightwing delusion is.

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