Are government handouts what Christ meant by helping the least of our brethren? Is the emotionless, faceless government bureaucrat sitting in an office reviewing a form and applying a legislated set of impersonal, pre-determined standards to a person’s situation really what God thinks is charity or compassion? Is this what passes for “loving one another” these days? It may, but I doubt it.
This begs the question, why would we want a Christian trait/action to be carried out by a secular government? The secular progressives (think socialists, communists and atheists) all scream about the “separation of church and state” which is not in the constitution. If separation is their goal, why do they promote the government getting into the charity business? I think its time for the government to get out of the charity business and leave charitable work to those who really want to do it and those who can do it best and most compassionately.
Charity is defined as “generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. Almsgiving is defined as “making voluntary contributions to aid the poor”. How can a person support government run welfare, especially as a Christian, when there is nothing generous or voluntary about a system of government that forces taxpayers to give money to causes that they may not wish to support? The simple answer is they can’t.
For decades now, bureaucrats have taken over the duty, indeed the mandate of Christian people to provide aid and assistance to the least of those among us. Why have they done it? There are several reasons. First, it creates another class of victims for the bureaucrats to increase their perceived worth and power. Second, it removes the average taxpayer from the physical and emotional pain and effort sometimes required in personally being involved with people less fortunate and from a different socio-economic background. Third, it provides another large voting block to keep them in office.
Private charity has always been an outstanding characteristic of the American spirit and philosophy. The American people are among the most generous in the world when it comes to financially and physically aiding people in trouble. Whether from natural disaster or man-made destruction, Americans are among the first to pitch in and help. However, due to the recent history of government intervention in what has become the “charity industry”, Americans rarely participate in helping people who are having problems on a day to day basis due to job loss, drug use, mental disorders or other ongoing problems.
In thinking about what charity really is, it appears that some parts of society (mostly the secular progressives) have a disconnect between what God considers charity and what man has chosen to call charity. I think God’s idea of charity is making a personal sacrifice or commitment of time, money and/or talent to interact with and help those less fortunate or who have temporarily fallen on bad times due to economic conditions or natural disaster. I also think He expects both givers and recipients to gain insight, compassion, knowledge and satisfaction from the experience.
Those receiving the charity should be accept it hesitantly and gratefully. They should realize that they are not owed anything, especially in a secular society or culture. When charity is given, it should be given willingly and freely. If it is forced or coerced, it is not charity, but a form of tax or income re-distribution. That by any other name is socialism or Marxism.
The idea that as members of a secular society, we are forced to provide funds for people who meet certain monetary or other social criteria is not only unjust, I believe it is unconstitutional.
Robert J. Medinger, Sr.