On Facebook I posted an amusing little picture:
A friend of mine responded by saying:
“I think churches are more effective at tending to the needs of people than our bloated gov[ernmen]t is”
”It’s the churches’s job” is one of the favorite Christian responses to the idea of social helps, and it’s honestly a very weak answer. The churches of the world are woeful at meeting the needs of the poor for many reasons.
1 – Churches have no means of economic balancing. Churches in very poor communities and cities often have severely limited resources, whereas churches in wealthy communities have great resource, but are often far removed from the greatest area of need. There is simply no means for comprehensive, equal access to aid for all of the nation’s poor. Not even close.
2 – There is no equal standard for determining need and measurement of benefit. It’s all relatively arbitrary and often reflects the personal standards of the people and church involved rather than any sort of external benchmark.
3 – Churches tie aid to their religion. Whether it is subtle or overt, the purpose of aid is not to fulfill a need, but to propagate the religion. The execution of such is very uneven, and the fact is that people who are in need should not have to compromise their own religion or a desire for none in order to receive aid. Not only that, it creates a situation of ins and outs – if you’re in the particular religion, or have an affinity for it, you get aid, but if you’re out, and you don’t want to relate to people of a particular religion, you then don’t have access to aid.
4 – Furthermore, if the churches were really better at it, there would be no issue of need for the government to get involved in it in the first place. Clearly the level of need far exceeds the church’s ability and/or willingness to address the need on a comprehensive societal level.
While we all criticize the government for moving slowly and being inefficient, the one thing the government is good at is making necessary aid available to all in need, regardless of creed, regardless of the good or bad fortune of geography, regardless of whether you’ve been in need before, or whatever other differentiators churches have no ability to to get around.
The truth is, if Christians wanted the government of the United States to reflect Christian values as a “Christian Nation” then the laws, regulations, and priorities supported by Christians involved in politics would reflect the comprehensive Christian ideals. If the government should be involved in determining who marries who (as opposed to leaving it to the churches and vice versa) then it should be involved in the other ideals as well, including caring for the poor, elderly, widowed and other needy in our country. The Christian Right’s priorities are completely out of whack, and the candidates they support are so far removed from the ideals of Jesus that it’s laughable.