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2.15.2005    |    "make bricks without straw"
There is a searing indictment of President Bush's "faith-based initiative" by its former deputy director, David Kuo. Kuo's piece appears in Beliefnet, and he goes into great detail as to how "com-cons," "compassionate conservatives," are not really compassionate.

If I could summarize Kuo's thesis, it would be in this short sentence:

Republicans were indifferent to the poor and the Democrats were allergic to faith.
Ouch. That hurt, no matter which side of the political isle you're on. Because Kuo is rather critical of something that President Bush proposed, his complaints made the front page of the Democratic National Committee's house organ, the Washington Post.

Kuo mentions the little things that might have occupied the President's time and taken all of his political capital. Little things like our war on terror, ousting Iraq, and rebuilding a shaky economy inherited from Bill Clinton. Kuo also appears to be one of those pesky works uber alles guys. How else to explain this rather disdainful dismissal of the faith community's leaders:
...since this community's most powerful leaders - men like James Dobson of Focus on the Family - weren't anti-poverty leaders, they didn't care about money.
The key words are "anti-poverty leaders." Kuo's universe is apparently populated by people who, if they do works (are "anti-poverty leaders") will have faith. Or so it would appear from his choice of wording.

I don't wish to be overly critical of Kuo. He, at least, does not appear to be hostile to faith. He is overtly hostile to evangelical faith, which, as he notes, doesn't "care about money." A Christian must not care about money; at least not as his first priority. His first, and by far most important priority, is salvation in Christ Jesus. And, yes, of course, as James tells us in 2:17 that "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." The problem for the Kuos of this world is that they wish the government to be the dispenser of deeds, in the form of money.

This criticism of Mr. Bush is misplaced. Charity for those in need is a natural outcome of faith. Not the other way around (as any Reformed believer would tell you). As a political conservative, my instincts are to keep government as much out of our lives as is possible. In times of great stress on the federal budget (due to a war that we did not seek, despite what liberals might believe), the best course of action to help the poor was in exactly what the president did -- lead the charge to give believers, those of faith, back some of their hard-earned money in the form of tax relief. So that we could then have that money to perform those vital works of charity.

So that, even if the government was not the source of charity, we in the faith community would not be expected to "make bricks without straw." We'd have the money already in our pockets, rather than waiting for Uncle Sam to do it for us. If you doubt this, consider the generous private outpouring for tsunami relief as but the latest example of what a faithful people will do when faced with a challenge.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.