Trust in God, not wealth

Published 10:12pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Two religion professors appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor” last week calling U.S. House Speaker John Boehner immoral for pushing federal budget cuts. They shared Boehner’s denominational background and insisted their faith teaches “redistributive justice.” So, they argued, any cuts in welfare, Medicare or pre-natal care is immoral and the government has an obligation to tax high-incomes even more to pay for programs for the poor.

The flaw in this argument is three-fold.

One, the top 2 percent of our nation’s wealthiest already pays 46 percent of the income taxes. Asking them to pay more hardly seems fair. After all, they’re the ones in our capitalist society who invest wealth and create jobs. They’re the “golden goose,” as it were, who already provide so much benefit.

Humorist P.J. O’Rourke had a novel solution when he suggested in his 1998 book that we eat the rich! Since the evil rich are such a source of derision, we could eat them and be done with them.

I think a better way to raise revenue is to tax the poor. According to a CNN study in 2009, 46 percent of Americans pay no federal tax. What a source of potential income! If everyone paid some federal tax, then everyone might take personal interest in how the government spends our money.

Another flaw is that with an indebtedness of $14 trillion, it’s hard to imagine our government getting its financial house in order if it had more income. Financial columnist Dave Ramsay pointed out that our government now spends 175 percent of its income.

It’s like a man who told me years ago that his debt problem was solved because his credit card company agreed to raise his credit limit! Government seems to gobble up whatever money is thrown its way, and more.

The third flaw in the theological argument is applying the teachings of one denomination to government policy. Some who cry the loudest about “separation of church and state” seem not to mind using their “church” club to beat the government in fiscal matters.

The apostle Paul didn’t counsel “eating the rich” in the New Testament. He taught that food and clothing should make us content, that we leave the world just as we came in–with nothing in hand–and that some, in their quest for riches, fall into a pit of destruction (1 Timothy 6: 7-9).

True enough.

But he also told his young protégé to exhort rich believers to trust in God, not money, and to use their money for good (vs. 17-18). No condemnation, but simple encouragement to do good with what we have, as must we all.

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