Recently, I overheard a lively political discussion between two students in the Learning Commons. One was explaining how the federal government needs to grow as the U.S. population grows while the other offered counterpoints about minimal roles of the state.Â The first asked, “How can Christians complain when the government is filling the gaps Christians won’t fill?”
I’d like to answer that.
As a Christian, I am very concerned about people who don’t have enough food, adequate shelter, or medical care. I also want people to have equal protection under the law and equal opportunity to participate in our democratic processes. When I think of Jesus’ ministry, I see him addressing the felt needs of the poor and calling for his church to do the same.
However, when I look at the items our government – both parties – spends tax monies on, I see enormous sums going toward things that have nothing to do with my faith: millions of dollars to “promote farmers markets”; one and a half billion for a so-called “green” company that went bankrupt (Solyndra), even when government documents showed it was a risky venture; trillions on questionable wars; huge sums to bail out corporations deemed “too big to fail,” for homeowners who acted irresponsibly, and for people outside the U.S. to receive abortions (see the “Mexico City Policy”). Such expenditures of my tax money are infuriating and do not align with how I understand my faith imperatives toward those who need help.
If my taxes went to Love and Care Ministries, Eternal Threads, Sanctuary Home for Children, or the International Justice Mission, the student I overheard would have more of an argument. How upset could I really get if the issue were simply about the mechanism of collection?Â Granted, I still would object to the state taking over the function of charity, but at least I would be happier at the effects of bad policy.
However, the government is not interested in my faith or my ideas of charity; it’s interested in pleasing certain constituents, many of whose ideas and faith goals do not align with mine, and thus, do not deserve my financial support.
In the end, I disagree with the student who feels Christians should not complain. Although our government may fund some programs that take care of people somewhat, the massive waste, abject fraud, and redirection of funds toward pet projects deserve my derision. In the name of good stewardship, I should support the best charities I can find, the ones who take care of people efficiently, lovingly, and productively. In the mean time, I should object vociferously when I am forced, by penalty of jail, to send money to Washington for wasteful, unconstitutional reasons.
Associate Professor of English