“Anti-Poor!” – More Demagoguery from the Evangelical Left


In a recent post at the Washington Post, Rev. Richard Cizik joins a growing chorus of progressive evangelicals in accusing conservative Christians of showing little concern for the poor.

This week at AEI’s Values and Capitalism, I offer my critique, noting that Cizik relies on the same demagogic straw-man argument that progressive evangelicals utilize time and time again: that conservative Christians oppose progressive policies not because we find them ineffective or counterproductive, but because we hate the poor and love corporations.

First, I try to examine the false assumptions underlying Cizik’s approach to socio-economic engagement:

What Cizik so clearly misses is that a proper view of collective responsibility cannot exist without a proper view of individual responsibility. It’s not about “embracing” one and “rejecting” the other, as most conservatives well understand. It’s about starting in the right place and achieving collective virtue authentically rather than forcibly.

If you doubt the need for such an integrated approach, look no further than the “Occupy” movement, in which masses of unproductive, self-absorbed blame-shifters assume radical, collective-centric poses so narrow that the “community” has become nothing more than a means for avoiding individual duties and fulfilling a lust for material security. Without a grasp of where responsibility begins, “promoting the common good” quickly diminishes into a short-sighted pig-out at the communal feeding trough.

Next, I move on to Cizik’s claims that conservative Christians are apathetic toward the poor (and the Bible?), as well as calculating political power-grabbers:

It’s not that we think supply side economics create strong economies and benefit everyone across the economic spectrum (including, ahem, the poor). It’s not that we think free exchange and accurate prices create opportunities for real, sustainable growth and economy recovery. It’s not that we think the modern public education system hurts the poor and minimum wage laws lead to poverty traps. It’s not that we think most progressive social programs lead to dehumanization, dependency and economic slavery.

No. It’s because we have a fetish for fat cats and we’re brainwashed by clever marketing. Obviously.

If Cizik is truly interested in a constructive conversation, he should recognize that it gets him nowhere to sideline our concerns about his “pro-poor” policies and elevate his progressive approach as the obvious fulfillment of the Sermon on the Mount. If he is really interested in persuading us toward his supposedly Christian outlook, he should start by explaining why and how these programs are, in fact, “pro-poor,” and how a proper Christian anthropology starts with coercion and manipulation. Instead of claiming our reasons to be purely political, he should explain how exactly his blatant desire to increase political power is somehow less so.

Read the full post here.

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  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/139025542887378945 Remnant Culture

    When did state-run nutrition programs become the ideal for God's people? http://t.co/4Oi5JZHb

  • http://twitter.com/jordanballor/status/139026069805211648 Jordan Ballor

    RT @RemnantCulture: When did state-run nutrition programs become the ideal for God's people? http://t.co/Fg2IDl2v

  • http://twitter.com/missionalyoda/status/139026995102232576 Missional Yoda

    When did state-run nutrition programs become the ideal for God's people? http://t.co/4Oi5JZHb

  • http://twitter.com/friendofgrace/status/139027003885105153 C.R.Mafia

    When did state-run nutrition programs become the ideal for God's people? http://t.co/4Oi5JZHb

  • http://twitter.com/jeffwrightjr/status/139027007819362304 Jeff Wright

    When did state-run nutrition programs become the ideal for God's people? http://t.co/4Oi5JZHb

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/139391629495767040 Remnant Culture

    Do conservative Christians hate the poor & love fat cats? Why are evangelicals wasting their time with this question? http://t.co/U9MDK2pP

  • http://twitter.com/jeffwrightjr/status/139437722623426561 Jeff Wright

    Do conservative Christians hate the poor & love fat cats? Why are evangelicals wasting their time with this question? http://t.co/U9MDK2pP

  • http://twitter.com/friendofgrace/status/139437727388151808 C.R.Mafia

    Do conservative Christians hate the poor & love fat cats? Why are evangelicals wasting their time with this question? http://t.co/U9MDK2pP

  • http://twitter.com/valuesandcap/status/141275522784169984 Values & Capitalism

    “Anti-Poor!” – More Demagoguery from the Evangelical Left http://t.co/5qehISyG via @RemnantCulture

  • http://twitter.com/jeffwrightjr/status/141277454089203712 Jeff Wright

    “Anti-Poor!” – More Demagoguery from the Evangelical Left http://t.co/5qehISyG via @RemnantCulture

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/141617728162242560 Remnant Culture

    “Anti-Poor!” – More Demagoguery from the Evangelical Left http://t.co/5qehISyG via @RemnantCulture