Monday, October 12, 2009

Social Justice that Jesus Could Support

Okay. So "social justice" wasn't the next post after writing about the Bible's liberal bias. :eye roll:

I wanted to take my time with this. I didn't want to just lambast a bunch of idiots and their idiocy like I usually do. I took this seriously cause dammit, they had to go bring my God into this!

Now, I've already done a post on what I think about social justice:
For clarification, according to Glen Harold Stassen and David P Gushee, in Kingdom Ethics (p151), the Hebrew word for "righteousness" means "delivering justice."

--the kind of justice that delivers the downtrodden from domination and brings the outcasts into community

I pulled my working definition so that we could have it in front of us. I increased the font size so that I would stay in front of us.

Happily, I doubt this will take as long as I had thought. I read several articles and essays on social justice and especially whether or not "welfare" did more harm than good. I had hoped to get to hard and fast numbers, but that wasn't as easy I had hoped. But what I found is more than sufficient for my purpose.

And that purpose is to not so much argue conservative Christians to my perspective as is challenge them to question their own. By that I mean taking a good look at reality, read the studies and do the research, and then ask yourself if you really mean what you say about God and government.

More importantly, I wanna get God out of partisan politics. Don't get me wrong. I'm not asking that people leave their faith outside the voting booth. No. I'm asking taht people who vote based on religious conviction also take into account facts and reality. Let's have our working base be a just and righteous government, regardless of its size. Let's put in place laws and agencies to ensure justice and righteousness then worry about size.

Cause ultimately, I suspect far too many conservative Christians are forcing religion to fit their predetermined political leaning. And while that make happen with liberal Christians as well, liberals aren't complaining that the Bible is too conservative. Let's be clear. A bible which highlights and emphasizes passages concerning the environment and man's relationship to nature is quite different from a bible translated with an end goal in mind. (There is no "feminist" bible, only feminist interpretations.)

I was with the author of the article on Christian social justice for a good portion of the essay actually. It's when the discussion turned to government's roll that the author lost me. For example:
A word of caution about socialism (democratic or otherwise) is in order here. Should Christians advocate a state political and economic system that to some extent redistributes wealth in order to bring about equality and lift up the poor? This temptation to use the state as a collectivist Robin Hood that steals from the rich and gives to the poor must be avoided at all costs. In fact, socialism, in any form, only hurts the poor in the end. Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute clearly addresses the dangers of socialism in his paper, “Capitalism and Christianity: an Uneasy Partnership”:
Really? Shouldn't a person at least define socialism before issuing a word of caution? Or, have a more concrete idea of which just and righteous acts are better done by individuals and which government before being so cautious?

And from the same essay:
Some examples of seemingly helpful actions – distributing condoms in Africa, clean needles to drug addicts, or incremental welfare to unwed mothers – may address immediate or surface problems, but over time, they can lead to much worse social problems. It has been widely shown that distributing condoms, clean needles, and incremental child welfare only perpetuate the social problems those state distribution programs are attempting to alleviate. Christians have a duty to offer prudent and wise solutions.
So I did attempt to find hard numbers showing that these seemingly helpful actions can leed to much worse social problems. Nothing. I did find a study on how much teens in low-income families work. It was helpful to the extent that the teens who could use jobs the most had the least access to jobs and/or just not a good employment model. But nothing suggesting that distributing clean needles and condoms actually increased the number of AIDS infections. And the only time child welfare "perpetuated" the problem is when due to the costs of transportation, childcare, etc, remaining on welfare was just the better, wiser decision. But most conservative Christians I hear and see don't suggest bringing good-paying, green jobs into urban centers. No, instead they rail against Van Jones, a person who did. They don't suggest easier access to childcare or an increase in the minimum wage. Do they? No, they just . . .

I'm sorry. I forgot I'm trying not to point fingers. So let me make my point another way.

Let's take abortion as an example cause that's an issue that can run people hot. And let me make my position clear. I'm not "pro-abortion" as though I think every woman should have one at least once in her life. I'm pro-choice because whether or not to bring life to fruition is between a woman and her god. I'm not going to tell some teenager or even 40-year-old career woman that they have to carry this . . . I'm sorry. People have names and memories. So I can't say "person." And I can't say "baby." But whatever the term, that's 9 months in a body that's not mine wearing shoes that don't belong to me. And that's not even getting into the 18-year commitment.

You know what. Yes. Let's get into the 18-year-long commitment. If I'm gonna force a woman to have a baby against her will, as though that's not rape, because I want to protect the life of the unborn, shouldn't I really put my money where my mouth is? But remember the big hubbub about S-CHIP? And what about making sure all kids get a quality education? Cause trust me, it ain't just urban schools that are crumbling. Poor white kids are going to piss poor schools to.

But that's not all. Long-term studies show that poverty can damage the brain's growth. So basically, no matter how much the child studies or the parents are involved or turn off the TV; if the child is in a precarious financial situation, the stress of wondering what you'll eat and how much you'll get to have or where you'll live is gonna damage his/her prospects for school and life. Now, while we previously thought poverty only affected the child to the extent that s/he received proper nutrition and medical care, and only recently are we looking into the effects of stress chemicals on the child's brain; we've known for a very long time that a child born in poverty really didn't have "equal opportunity." But just recently, Republican Cynthia Davis of the Missouri house suggested that "hunger can be a positive motivator."

Again, I haven't found anything suggesting that people willingly choose welfare over work out of sheer laziness. Or anything suggesting that clean needle programs actually increased the rate of illegal drug use. So please. Before you start taking the Lord's name in vain politics, first have a concrete idea of what social justice should look like absent prejudices for any particular "size" of government; second, deal with the facts and not speculation and conjecture; last, just flat keep YHWH out of partisan politics!

What really pissed me off in the previously referred to essay on Christian social justice was this line: If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70’s, it wouldn’t have happened. But the church was asleep” (Goodstein, “Disowning Conservative Politics”). Now granted, he was quoting someone else. And granted I think I may have heard the quote before. I just wanna pop go the weasel till the weasel go pop!

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But Don't Jack My Genuis