God or Mammon?

I love the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. Every Friday, she does a “news roundup” with a panel of journalists; the first hour is about the week’s domestic news, and the second hour is about the week’s international news. Always an informative show.

In the domestic hour of her Feb 3rd show, a caller made a comment that really irritated me around the 43:30 mark. He talked about President Obama’s speech at the Prayer Breakfast where Obama said that providing health care for the poor and needy was something that fit within Christian values (“helping the least of these,” etc). The caller said that in conservative Christian realms, Obama’s claims couldn’t be further from the truth. He said, “morality doesn’t come by forcing people either by government force or physical force; it comes by voluntary action.”

That comment floored me. So when it comes to caring for the needy, conservative Christians don’t want to pay extra tax dollars because you can’t “force” people to do the right thing — Jesus wouldn’t approve of that because it’s not true morality. However, when it comes to gay marriage, prayer in school, gambling, or even something like the National Day of Prayer, that’s not “forcing morality”? The hypocrisy is so thick, I can’t believe he was able to make it all the way through his comment.

For a group that seems so concerned with morality, I just don’t understand why they’re aligned with the party of big business and every man for himself. Maybe they’ve never read Matthew 6:24, where Jesus says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [riches].” Makes you wonder which one is their real focus…

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2 thoughts on “God or Mammon?”

  1. Hey Nate! It is Laura here. I do check in on your blog but don’t comment too often. I’m a “conservative evangelical” (whatever that means – haha) and I agree with your general points in this post. I think the “best way” to help the poor can be debated, but the hypocrisy or inconsistency you point out is valid. I guess I am a “conservative evangelical” theologically, but when it comes to social issues, politics and the Christian role in the world (etc) – I am finding myself increasingly at odds with traditional evangelical approaches. Are you familiar with Jim Wallis and his organization Sojourners? Wallis is evangelical, yet with a much more progressive and broad minded approach to social justice. Or are you familiar with the books “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church” by Gregory A. Boyd and “Wayward Christian Soldiers, Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity” by Charles Marsh. I recommend both. Too many evangelicals have forgotten what Christianity is supposed to be about. They are focused on power, control, and “taking America back”. Huh?! That is the antithesis of the faith. On a positive note, I think there is a growing minority of evangelicals who are disgusted with the traditional evangelical approach and would agree with critique such as yours in this post.

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  2. Hi Laura! Great to hear from you again, and I really appreciate your comment.

    In the 2008 election, I was still a devoted Christian, but I found myself feeling much the way you do. In fact, I voted for Obama in that election, and I’ll do so again. But at the time, it seemed clearer and clearer to me that the gospel of Jesus seemed more in line with what the progressives were saying than what the conservatives were saying.

    Let me state that I don’t think all conservative positions are wrong, and I don’t think that all progressive ones are right. I think that both sides have things to offer. But as the Republican party has become more and more extreme, I’ve had trouble understanding the unbending loyalty that many Christians still seem to have toward it. Are they just not paying attention? Are they only getting information from sources that may not be telling the whole truth? I don’t know.

    One of my best friends is very conservative, but it’s because of fiscal issues, not social. I understand that point of view. I think his reasons for tending to support conservative candidates are valid. But for the voters who have social issues as their primary motivator, I don’t really understand their siding with Republicans at this time.

    Anyway, thanks again for the great comment!

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