A training manual rests on a shelf in the library of my church. It claims there is no such thing as poverty in the United States. Evidence point? People defined as poor in the United States own and use cellular telephones and other modern conveniences. People who own such things cannot possibly be classified as poor. Therefore, no authentic poor people live in the United States. True Biblical poverty exists only in foreign countries, and it looks like this photograph:
This training manual was prepared and published by The Heritage Foundation, apparently for use in American churches. Some person unknown to me brought this despicable, God-hating training manual into my United Methodist Church and sneaked it onto a library shelf. Best I can tell from flipping through this training manual, it is designed for adult Sunday school teachers so they can teach the members of their Sunday school classes that they have no responsibility within our own country for poor people and other members of the group Jesus called “the least of these” because no such people exist in the United States. Perhaps The Heritage Foundation does not read articles like this one:
I would like to remind my readers that Paul Weyrich was one of the founders of The Heritage Foundation, a right wing extremist “think tank” in Washington D.C. Paul Weyrich was the key Republican political operative who began politicizing American churches in the 1970s. Today, as a direct result of Paul Weyrich, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals fall all over themselves for an opportunity to lick the dirty boots of Republican candidates for political offices. Weyrich hijacked the fundie segment of the American church, and this is why the Republican Party regularly and easily beds their churches down like cheap whores. As recently demonstrated with the several Trumpcare bills in the U.S. Congress, the Republican Party has little to zero concern for sick people, poor people, or any other members of “the least of these.” Just like children following some pied piper, the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals gladly and blindly fall into line and follow the evil lead set by these heartless Republicans—just as Paul Weyrich planned it. It is done with almost complete disregard for what God says in scripture about Christian responsibility for poor people and the other members of “the least of these.”
The Heritage Foundation says that the American poor (who they claim do not really exist in their manual—odd paradox) get poor and stay poor because of a mythological creature they and others like them have created. This mythological creature is called “Big Government.” That is so funny and so pathetic.
I grew up as a poor child in an old house with no running hot water, no telephone, and no automobile. For the first few years of my life, we did not have a bathroom—just an old outhouse in the back yard. Best I could tell, no such creature as Big Government was swirling around our house. We were poor for one of the many reasons most people are actually poor in this country—and Big Government had nothing to do with it. My chronically sick dad (No—it was not alcoholism or drug addiction) made just barely enough money at his minimum wage job to keep our poverty-stricken household going, and my mother was home-bound by a severe mental illness and no health insurance. And no, the mythological creature of Big Government did not present itself as the federal minimum wage. If the minimum wage had not been $1.50 per hour, the men my dad worked for would have gladly paid him 75 cents per hour. We only had a roof over our heads because my mom’s distant cousin Arlene compassionately rented the old house to us for a paltry $25 per month when she could have easily gotten far more from another family.
In my honest opinion, The Heritage Foundation does not really care anything about poor people or any of the other “least of these.” What they actually care for most of all is wealthy people of high social position—the now famous 1 percent and another 10 percent right below them—and protecting those wealthy people and their assets by ensuring federal, state, and local governments will not tax them to help “the least of these.” The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have been deceived by organizations like The Heritage Foundation and are “all-in” with them and the Republican Party. Selfishness, money, and material things have become their new god. They have been spoon-fed a piece of recent, highly convenient (for rich people), man-made theology that says:
It is morally wrong for governments to help “the least of these” through government programs paid for with tax dollars. Doing that is stealing money from people who work to give it to people who refuse to work and be responsible for themselves. Besides, Big Government has usurped the Bible and the role of the church. The few legitimate “least of these” that might be among us should only be served by voluntary gifts of charity from private individuals and the church. Right now, the “least of these” think the government is their god rather than Yahweh. They should quit looking for the government to help them, be still in their poverty (or other bad condition), and instead wait for Yahweh to rain down his blessings upon them and directly meet all of their needs.
Now, let us take a black snake whip to this piece of Satanic bullshit that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are spoon-fed every day of the week by their sold-out pastors, Republican political operatives, and the so-called Religious Right:
(1) Is it Biblically and morally wrong for government to tax people and use tax money to help poor people and the other “least of these”?
No!! In Old Testament Israel and New Testament Israel, the Jewish religion and the Jewish government were one and the same. The ancient combined Jewish government and Jewish religion levied temple taxes and other kinds of taxes—and God did not object to it in the Bible. Government taxation is not a sin and it is not theft.
Some misinformed fundies apparently think any kind of taxation is sinful because the New Testament speaks badly of tax collectors. News flash!!! Those New Testament tax collectors were working for the hated Roman conquerors of Judea, and they were artificially raising the taxes at the “door knock” of homes so they could thieve a cut for their own pockets. If a homeowner’s true Roman taxes for the year were 10 coins, the tax collector would lie to the homeowner and tell him his taxes were 15 coins—and the tax collector would pocket 5 coins for himself on the sly. That was true theft—-just like stealing a camera at Wal-Mart. The Jewish government taxes and Roman taxes in the Bible were legal taxation (Matthew 22:20-22 and Romans 13:1-7). Government taxation itself is not a sin in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is morally wrong for a government to use tax money to help poor people or the other members of “the least of these.” Personal charity is encouraged in the Bible, but nowhere is government-based charity discouraged.
(2) Are most poor people and “the least of these” really just lazy, able-bodied people who refuse to work and take proper care of themselves?
No!!! That is what millions of American sinners wrapped up in a life of personal selfishness, money, and material things want you to believe because they profit from getting you to believe that lie. Famous Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson addressed this subject on The 700 Club way back in the 1980s—and he did a really good job. I was watching the show that night.
He made the point that most Americans do not actually know who poor people and the other members of “the least of these” actually are in their communities. For example, many of them are severely retarded people with brains so badly damaged that no employer wants them in their workplace. Many are people too sick with diseases to work, like people lying in their beds in nursing homes. The ranks of the poor include severely mentally ill people no employer wants to hire. Many are people addicted to drugs through no real fault of their own—their doctor just gave them too many opioid pain killers when their limb was amputated. Many of the poor are physically handicapped and physically disabled people who simply cannot work. Many of “the least of these” are people with limited learning abilities who cannot learn and retain enough information to do a job that allows them to fully support themselves. The list goes on and on and on and on—and Pat Robertson rattled off as many groups as he could—with even more unrattled. When you consider that the United States has 320,000,000 people, even the small percentages of people that comprise these groups, who legitimately cannot support themselves, add up to millions of people——–millions.
Sure. There may be a few lazy loafers on the take here and there, but they are the rare exceptions rather than the general rule. You may hear or read occasional anecdotes about a welfare recipient with a new pink Cadillac and eight pounds of gold jewelry around her neck, but those are just isolated, sensational stories the news media jump on like flies to spilled honey because they know such fantastic stories will bring in a flood of readers. Then your half-brained Aunt Millie opines to seven friends over tea that there must be millions just like her—when there are really not—add in several thousand gossiping Aunt Millies all over the country—and you suddenly have a widespread false rumor saying that 25 percent of all Americans who get some type of public assistance drive brand new welfare Cadillacs. This is mostly just oral folklore and fantasy that grew out of small bits of truth here and there over the past 52 years.
The bare bones reality is this. All across the United States, there are children who do not have enough to eat. There are adults who are too poor to buy enough food—or who must choose between a nutritious meal and buying the medicine that keeps them alive. There are numerous people who either cannot work or no employer wants them because of their mental or physical condition—or old age. There are millions of these people who legitimately need public assistance, and many of them are in our own extended families. Unfortunately, as some have recently observed (tongue-in-cheek), all the needy members of our own extended families deserve assistance, but the needy members of every other American extended family are all just faking their neediness. Do we really believe such needs occur only in our own families? Apparently, many American conservatives, Christian fundamentalists, and conservative evangelicals are stupid enough to think so—and worst of all—they act upon it to the hurt of the “least of these” Jesus dearly loves.
(3) Has Big Government usurped the role of God and the church in helping the poor and “the least of these.”
No!!! In fact, one of the reasons Big Government originally got into helping poor people, sick people, and other members of “the least of these” is because the churches and private charities alone did not have enough funds, facilities, and personnel to help most of the people who legitimately needed help. Think about it for a minute. Most churches do not take in enough money to help the many people who need help. Neither do private charities. Most American churches are fairly small, and many of them are located in rural areas. The weekly tithes and offerings at a small church in the country or in the city are often barely big enough to keep the lights on, maintain the building, mow the lawn, and keep the preacher paid. Are they going to pay the $300,000 cancer treatment bills for each of the 10 poor cancer patients living in their neighborhoods? No!!! They do not have that kind of money—and they never will.
I want to emphasize this again. The reason Big Governments helps “the least of these” is because the churches and the private charities alone do not have the funds, facilities, and personnel needed to help the vast number of people who legitimately need help. Big Government has that ability to help vastly more people.
(4) Yes. But when people get help from Big Government, the government becomes their God. They get rid of the real God, if they ever had him, and start depending on government like they would God. Right?
No!!! That is just plain silly. Is the Ford Motor Company your god if it gives you a paycheck that buys your food, pays your home mortgage, and pays your doctor’s bill? If your mom buys you a riding lawn mower for Christmas, does that make her your god?
This may come as a shock to the fundies, but a great many of the poor and “the least of these” are Christians just like them. Their God is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Not Uncle Sam. My poor parents were both Christians—and close to being fundie in their particular Christian worldview. My dad worked harder and smarter than many of the fundies do at their jobs, including in his huge vegetable garden for four hours on weekday nights after a long day in the workplace. Yet, he and my mom were poor as church mice. A great many of the poor people in the United States and the other “least of these” are Christians officially defined as the working poor—and if they get sick—they do not have any health insurance. These millions of poor Christian brothers and sisters (among others) were the targets when the fundies allied with their Republicans masters to screw them out of their Affordable Care Act insurance a couple of weeks ago. These members of the “least of these” know who their God is—and it is the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit—not Big Government.
When the fundies conspire with evil politicians and wealthy men to take away the health insurance of the poor, who is their real God? Maybe it is their local Mercedes dealer, their private interior decorator, or their local bank account? Ever thought about that?
(5) Well, the Bible supports dependency on God—not dependency on Big Government and my tax dollars. Right? I think these so-called “poor people” and “the least of these” need to get off taxpayer help, get down on their knees, and pray to God to directly meet their needs instead of the government stealing from my wallet to do it. They need to depend on God—not me. Right?
Wrong!!! So, if a poor person needs a medical procedure that costs $130,000, he should just fall down on his knees at a street corner and pray for a check to fall out of the sky into his hands. If he needs a reliable car to keep his low-paying job, God is going to drop a nice new Mustang right out of the sky onto the pavement. Not only that, He is going to do that for every poor person and every sick person in the United States. All they have to do is just pray, and every need will be directly met by God.
Let me ask you a few questions. How well did this method work for you when you asked God to intervene and keep your mother from dying? If it works so well, why not quit your job tomorrow and ask God to make a paycheck materialize out of thin air in your mailbox every Friday? The next time you have a flat tire in the middle of nowhere with no spare, why not pray to God for a new Michelin to fall out of the sky onto the edge of the interstate? Yes, I know God can do it. The question though is: “Will He do it?” In most instances, the answer will be a firm “no” because it falls under the rubric of a fatigued young man standing in a desert wasteland with Satan next to him—asking him to jump off a cliff onto the rocks below. What does the young man say, as translated from scripture? “Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to a foolish test.” How dare you ask millions of the “least of these” to put God to a similar foolish test every day just so your taxes will go down? Click on this and consider it well:
Stand to post citizen of Fundieland!!! God gave you two good hands to work for him and to help meet the needs of “the least of these.” Your problem is that you simply do not want to do it, and you will come up with any lame excuse you can find to avoid doing it and save a bunch of your tax dollars in the process. That includes buying into that lame piece of recent, highly convenient, man-made fundie Rot Doctern written in italics above—a Rot Doctern that does not hold an ounce of weight in Holy Scripture—and was probably generated for you by some Republican Party political hack working for the wealthiest Americans.
I have said this before, but I am going to say this to the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals one more time. You are responsible for “the least of these” as much as every other American. The Bible contains more than 2,000 verses of scripture where God commands the citizens of Planet Earth to speak up publicly for poor people, sick people, and the other “least of these.” You are the ones God has designated to be his hands on this Earth. Those hands were designated by God to meet the needs of as many of “the least of these” as possible in the ways that will do the most good for the most people. Those hands are for giving to people—not taking away what little they have.
I know how you fundies love to cherry-pick scripture—taking the parts you like and giving passing lip service to the parts you do not like—and even ignoring a lot of it. Today you are becoming famous for it worldwide. Here are some of the 2,000 verses of scripture pertaining to YOU and “THE LEAST OF THESE.” Suck it up and read each one carefully—and be aware that the other 1,994 verses about poor people in the Bible are just as direct and just as frightening—and the old, gnarled, skeletal index finger of the ancient Biblical law you love so much is in each verse and pointing straight at you. What are a few begrudged tax dollars in the face of all this? Take a look here:
If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty. (Proverbs 28:27)
Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God. (Proverbs 14:31)
He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need. (Proverbs 21:13)
But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him—how can God’s love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God’s side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord. (1 John 3:17-19)
Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless. But someone may well argue, “You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith. (James 2:14-20)
The axe of his judgment is poised over you, ready to sever your roots and cut you down. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” The crowd replied, “What do you want us to do?” “If you have two coats,” he replied, “give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.” (Luke 3:9-11)
“Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ “And I, the King, will tell them, ‘When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!’ Then I will turn to those on my left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry and you wouldn’t feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn’t give me anything to drink; a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And I will answer, ‘When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.’ “And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life.” (Matthew 25:34-45)