Thursday, December 02, 2004

Welfare and Christianity

Though social issues have pushed many Christians into the Republican column, some nevertheless feel that big-government welfare programs are biblically mandated because they "help" the poor. They reason, then, that the Democratic party is more caring and Christ-like.

But are involuntary, bureaucratic programs - forced "charity" - really the way to go? Are socialist, redistributionary policies that handicap private ownership rights and siphon more control to the state, rather than the individual, really what the Bible teaches?

No, the Bible doesn't contradict a basic system of economic liberty. Every man can earn his own living - and "you shall not steal." As Craig Westover writes, "Where is the moral virture in A and B getting together to rob C for the benefit of D, which is the format of so many Democratic proposals?"

What the Bible does teach is to be generous. And virtue is necessarily voluntary. Consider 2 Corinthians 9:7: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

This is besides the fact that private charity is simply more effective than government welfare. Autonomous, private organizations competing in a free market system of philanthropy will maximize their efforts, adapt to individuals, distribute services conditionally to foster personal accountability, and help solve the spiritual and emotional ills (as well as the material needs) that are at the root of much of society's problems.

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