I’ve been “hammered” recently by Religious Conservative Facebook friends on several of my Facebook posts, as well as my blog, when writing on issues that lean toward, what I would consider, social justice topics.
These posts over the last six months range from being critical of Governor Scott Walker’s handling of the Wisconsin unions, marriage equality, to the mere suggestion that we raise taxes on the wealthy to balance the budget (along with deep cuts in spending). My opinions on these topics have been met with polite, for the most part, derision.
Seems nowadays sharing a John Stewart or Stephen Colbert video clip is an open invitation for rebuttal. Something about those guys really gets under the skin of conservatives.
Maybe it’s just me, but when one of these people share a choice piece of scripture, or a wonderfully edited video from Papa Bear O’Reilly, or Glenn Beck – I don’t see it as an opportunity to jump on their posts and press the BS button. Maybe that’s just me trying to be polite. And it’s not that I don’t mind debate and differing opinions – but there is a point of cutoff, and here’s what I mean by that:
In my experience, there is no such thing as an open mind of a ultra-religious conservative.* Issues are either black or they are white – and if a gray does exist, it resides along a very narrow spectrum that hasn’t been the subject of a Fox News report or Rush Limbaugh radio show [my attempt at derision]. I think it’s an important distinction.
* This is by no means a broad brush attempt to paint all religious peoples as heartless conservatives.
Take my wife for example – she is a dyed-in-the-wool blue democrat – without apology. As liberal as she is, on issues such as cutting federal funding for National Public Radio in the face of a $1.7 trillion budget deficit – she says cut away. She recognizes that there are many good and worthy government spending programs that need careful scrutiny and dramatic cuts in order to balance the budget.
On the other side are our conservative friends. Can they possibly look at the budget situation and make a similar concession – for example that our budget crisis is such that raising taxes on the wealthy by a mere 3% might be an appropriate short term measure to resolve our financial problems? Obviously, if you’ve paid attention to the news, the answer is no way in hell.
Here’s the thing that I have a hard time resolving in my mind. These religious conservatives are not bad people – and I am not using mean labels that some have used in their descriptions of liberals to describe their behavior. They claim to be, and I believe them, devout Christians, guided by their love for Jesus. They would love to see this nation “return” to its’ Christian roots with all the trappings, but they seem to have no problem with the incredible wealth disparity and upward wealth redistribution that has taken place over the last decade or two. Furthermore, they seem to have a callous heart toward the millions of Americans that have “slipped,” or more aptly dove, into poverty during this same time period.
BusinessInsider.com just put out 15 shocking facts about poverty in America – here are a few items worth noting:
- 45 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009.
- One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.
- Household participation in the food stamp program has increased 20.28% since last year.
- As of June, the number of Americans on food stamps had set a new all-time record for 19 consecutive months.
The rich are enjoying the best tax rates since World War II. Conservatives love to cry wealth redistribution as a reasonable defense against taxing the rich and even in the face of growing poverty and exploding deficits still call for additional tax cuts to “spur the economy.” Now I know, every conservative friend I have will simply say “well – it’s Mother Jones – a liberal rag if there ever was one, so you can’t trust it.” But at some point you can’t help but call a fact a fact. [and these figures aren’t made up by Mother Jones, they come from the Tax Foundation and the Congressional Budget Office]
Stephen Colbert used these figures as the basis of a Word skit on his show:
So here’s my question to my religious conservative friends: How do you square the knot in your ideological outlook between Christian charity and compassion for your fellow human beings (or at least countrymen and women) and your desire to fuel the income gap in America? I don’t recall Jesus teaching that Rome should cut the capital gains taxes on the wealthy so that the poor will do better. I’m not trying to be confrontational, or even disrespectful when I say I find the disconnect at worst delusional, and at best hypocritical. It would seem that Jesus saying “blessed are the poor” is maybe the driving force – by making more poor people, we are in effect “saving” more people for heaven?
If you were atheist titans of Wall Street and had this worldview I could understand it 100%. But you hold to a Christian standard that is supposedly, and maybe I’ve been away for to long and the bible has changed a bit, to love and care for your fellow man (and woman), but your actions, and words don’t seem to square with that philosophy. So What Exactly Would Jesus Do about all this?