Now that the health care “reform” monstrosity has been enacted into law, Democrats are falling all over themselves to admit that it really at bottom is all about the redistribution of wealth. Sen. Max Baucus says it is designed to correct the “maldistribution” of wealth. Socialist Christian Jim Wallis freely admits that health care is about redistribution, and then bizarrely claims that this is “the heart of the gospel.”
Now there is no question that the Judeo-Christian tradition strenuously advocates the redistribution of wealth – as long as that redistribution is voluntary. You can hardly read a page in the gospels or in the epistles that does not encourage or model generosity toward the poor.
However, you will look in vain in the pages of New Testament for a single command to government to look after the poor. Expecting the government to do what God has entrusted to us is the ultimate copout.
The early historian said of the first century church that “there was not a needy person among them,” not because Roman confiscated wealth from some to give to others, but because “as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need (Acts 4:34-35).”
Not only does the the Judeo-Christian tradition celebrate voluntary generosity, it categorically condemns the involuntary redistribution of wealth. The voluntary redistribution of wealth is charity. The involuntary redistribution of wealth is theft.
As Frederic Bastiat pointed out more than 150 years ago, when government forcibly extracts resources from some citizens to stick those resources in the pockets of other citizens, it’s a form of theft. Just because government does it doesn’t make it right. The involuntary transfer of wealth, whether done by a mugger at the point of a gun or by government under the color of law, is theft.
It is a violation of the 8th commandment, “You shall not steal.” When government does it, it’s nothing more than legalized plunder.
The difference between a statist worldview and a Judeo-Christian worldview can be boiled down to this: liberals believe that generosity is giving away other people’s money, while conservatives believe generosity is giving away your own money.
Recent tax returns illustrate this point vividly. Before Barack Obama became president, his annual tax returns revealed that he gave less than one percent of his income to charity. Since he became president, he’s raised his percentage to roughly the national average, likely for PR purposes, which means even then he is no more generous than the average conservative he demonizes as greedy and lacking in compassion.
And Joe Biden, according to his most recent return, gave 1.44 percent of his income to charity, well below the national average, which is somewhere between three and six percent. This means that the vice-president is stingier than the average American, and certainly stingier than most of the conservatives who make up the Tea Party movement.
The entire statist movement is predicated, then, on a violation of one of the longest standing moral principles in existence, the Bible’s prohibition against stealing.
And if that were not enough, it’s also predicated on a blatant violation of the 10th commandment, the one that prohibits the coveting of a neighbor’s possessions. God could hardly be any clearer: “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s.”
What else is the involuntary transfer of wealth but an envious, class-driven resentment directed against those who are financially successful, accompanied by a lustful greed to take their money and transfer it to others?
American society faces a choice. Jim Wallis wants us to build social policy on violations of both the eighth and 10th commandments. Conservatives want us to build social policy on Jesus’ words to love our neighbors as ourselves. I’m with Jesus on this one.
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, Bryan Fischer, is Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association, and is the host of the daily ‘Focal Point’ radio talk program on AFR Talk, a division of the American Family Association. ‘Focal Point’ airs live from 1-3 pm Central Time, and is also simulcast on the AFA Channel, which can be seen on the Sky Angel network.