Hatred of the poor and the Party of God

An edited version of this essay is included in my recently published book The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress:

For years I considered myself a conservative and probable Republican.  However, over the last few years I have watched first with alarm, then with disgust and now with anger as the conservative movement has given itself over to lies, manipulation and hatred.  While the Republicans were never great at care for the poor, for some reason, the debacle of the Bush administration and the failure of “compassionate conservatism” to make Republicans look kind and caring, seems to have lead people to focus more than ever on scapegoating the poor.   There are many aspects to what is going on in the Republican party and conservative movement which are grounds for disagreement.  However, the antipathy towards the poor is particularly alarming because it puts those who blame the poor for our country’s problems in direct opposition to God’s affinity for the needs of the poor.  (Note that God didn’t preface poor with “working” or “innocent” or “virtuous” or “clean”.  He just said poor.)  So, based on some conversations over on facebook – thanks Darren! – here are some of my random thoughts and warnings:

Do you believe that generous unemployment benefits and social supports are destroying our country’s long-term survival? Right now, 3 million jobs are unfilled. Is this because of the many people who have been out of work for years? Companies are advertising jobs with the words “unemployed need not apply”. Sound familiar? Those who come after us will look on us with no more mercy than we give our forefathers who used those same words to keep out blacks, hispanics, the irish and others who were blamed for their own oppression. Only it will be worse for us because we have seen this before and will not be able to say “we didn’t know any better”.

‎Is your response to so many unfilled jobs to say, “The 3 million are unfilled mainly due to incompatible skillsets and location”? Then you admit that it is not an unwillingness to work and a desire to just suck money from the government teat that is creating poverty and draining our resources.

Do you believe that morality – particularly care for those in need – is a personal issue and not the job of business or governments? You can argue all you want, but God has set out his ways and they apply to all that man does. God judges men and he judges nations and tribes. God judges all that we do and trying to hide by claiming personal holiness even as one protects and benefits from a system that creates poverty and oppression didn’t work for kings and princes in the past and it will not work for us either. Loopholes are created by men writing their own rules and the rich pay others to find the loopholes they use. But God’s rules are absolute and no man is rich enough or smart enough to find loopholes in them. Those who do mock God and are active participants in their own destruction.

Many believe that taxes are inherently oppressive and oppose them on those grounds alone. How many of those people make enough money to be affected directly by any of the proposed tax increases? For those who do really are defending their own position, I will leave that is between them and God. But don’t expect those of us whose oppression comes from unemployment, poverty, working 80/week, having to move from family and place just to feed our families to fall in line and take up your cause. If you are not directly being asked to give more money to the government, then you are not fighting for yourself or your family or community. You are fighting for a rich man who has been blessed with abundance unknown on the face of the earth before. You are being held hostage to someone who uses the threat of with holding what the people need – jobs, education, security, abundance to avoid having his riches touched and put to uses he has not desired. IOW, you are serving and being held hostage by men who expect to be treated like gods. Don’t serve them and fight for them. Serve God and he will bring forward the sort of government you seek.

The rich expect workers to come to them, already be prepared to meet their needs, at a wage that is to their liking. Many Americans don’t blame or judge the rich for expecting to be treated and served like gods – having what they want brought to them according to their liking in return for their favors. Now that the favors of the  rich are no longer sufficient to meet our needs, man are trying to protect the rich and serve the rich even more; just like the Mayans during times of drought and disease became more feverishly religious and ardent in service to the gods. Today we respond to oncoming calamity by working even harder to protect the assets of the rich, by passing blame on to those who do not follow the ways of the rich and by insisting that if we just work harder and take on the responsibility for giving the rich what they say they need – lower taxes, workers willing to leave family and place behind to serve them, wages determined by the needs, desires and rules of the rich rather than the worth of the worker. This is necessary, we are told, for the rich to be happy and secure enough to be willing to spare some of their blessings with those who have earned them by faithfully imitating their ways. This is the same relationship the ancients had with their capricious gods. Just like the gods of the ancients, these “gods” demand obedience, but are not loyal in return (I can get a cheaper engineer overseas). They don’t act for the good of the people who are trusting them for a good reward. Instead they act according to their own whims and desires. When they are confronted, they insist that we just don’t understand the ways of the gods – they are different sort of creatures with different rules and concerns than the rest of us.

Fortunately, the true God returns loyalty for loyalty and gives us what we need because we need it, not because we’ve earned it. His concern is for us and He will willingly die to ensure our well-being. He is the perfect God of heaven and not at all like the gods of Wall Street or Mount Olympus. And he says to love and serve the poor. Not the worthy poor or the innocent poor or the receptive poor. We cannot love God if we hate the poor. And when we love the poor, we are loving and serving God. If a particular poor person won’t respond to God’s ways, they will suffer at God’s hand and God doesn’t need your help with that judgment. The rich don’t need protection from the poor or the government or regulations. They need protection from God’s judgments. When we expect the rich to demonstrate as much care and protection for the poor as they have been offered, we are helping to rescue them from their own suicide.

****A bit of clarification because I know that the accusation will be made. I do not hate rich people. I do not think that being rich makes you bad. I do not think God wants us to live in poverty. I am unbelievably blessed to come from a family with a lot of material abundance. Most of the people I know who are rich are good people. Some are arrogant and contemptuous in their wealth. I am using rich as short-hand for those whose primary identity, desire and purpose is wealth and all the privileges that can come with wealth. Many very good people have been blessed with wealth and experience it as abundance. Bill Gates and Oprah are examples of this, imo. Whatever else they are getting wrong, they are trying to use their wealth to serve mankind which is the same as serving God. Wealthy people like that are a blessing to the land. Wealthy people who bitch and moan about not being able to control all they touch and don’t think they should have to use their wealth for anything other than their own desires or anyone not of their own choosing are a curse on the land.

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15 thoughts on “Hatred of the poor and the Party of God

  1. Dear Rebecca, I too am a christian concerned about the poor. After 25 yrs of trying to bring people into the Kingdom of God I have collected some thoughts on it. Maybe we could discuss it further over FB . For now I will limit my response to your piece w just a few points. God loves the rich as well as the poor. He wants all to be saved. He has given us a plan to reach and meet the needs of both; through declaring the gospel. As faithful from these two socio-economic groups enter The Kingdom they become brothers with relationship beyond this world’s system. They now share a common calling and concern to redeem their former cultures. St Paul had such a plan. He was called and given the apostolic mandate to go the Gentiles and their Kings. To save the poor and their rich who ruled over them. If you read the book of Acts you can see how successful this plan was. In his day the church was so intent on evangelizing kings they had to be reminded to minister to the poor. Still, they got both helped. In our day all we do is think about the poor and we have made no headway for nearly 2000 yrs. Maybe we, the church, not the US Govt, should go back to Scripture’s apostolic mandate and target the rich with the gospel. Just a thought. Maybe it is insanity to continue what christians have been doing for @ 1700 years. Let’s stop being emotional about the poor and solve the poor and the rich’s common problem. Bring the rich into the Kingdom and the poor follow w them and both are enriched. I would love to explain further if you wish. Let’s talk.

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  2. Maybe I’m just too jaded, but I think it is naive to think that either party contends for the poor. All the people in power in DC are rich by most standards. There are men on both sides that want to be treated like gods. If I did decide to vote D because of it’s traditional stand for the poor, that would compromise, in most cases, my stand for the unborn. It is too muddy of a problem to think that choosing either party is the Christian thing to do. Even if you consider a third party, you only exchange one load of problems for another.

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  3. Reblogged this on The Upside Down World and commented:

    I wrote this quite a while ago, but in light of recent news, it seems it bears repeating.
    Allow me to put the clarification up front: “I do not hate rich people. I do not think that being rich makes you bad. I do not think God wants us to live in poverty. I am unbelievably blessed to come from a family with a lot of material abundance. Most of the people I know who are rich are good people. Some are arrogant and contemptuous in their wealth. I am using rich as short-hand for those whose primary identity, desire and purpose is wealth and all the privileges that can come with wealth. Many very good people have been blessed with wealth and experience it as abundance. . . Whatever else they are getting wrong, they are trying to use their wealth to serve mankind which is the same as serving God. Wealthy people like that are a blessing to the land. Wealthy people who bitch and moan about not being able to control all they touch and don’t think they should have to use their wealth for anything other than their own desires or anyone not of their own choosing are a curse on the land.

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  4. why don’t you take a good look at this CNN video:
    http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2012/08/22/n-low-wages-welfare-bronx.cnnmoney/index.html?iid=HP_Highlight

    After you see how the media depicts the poor in America, I want you to post your own reactions. Tell me what you think about this couple, despite getting welfare, food stamps and their $1147 rent was subsidized how they still owed their landlord $7,000, thus they got evicted. Tell me how they own a flat screen TV yet complained they couldn’t afford their cable bill, how the two of them own smart phones, like iPhones, look at all the ‘stuff’ they had cluttered up in their messy apartment, despite being home all day, AND how the two of them decided at the end of the video that they made the same amount of money on welfare, so they quit their $8 an hour job?

    Help the poor in America? That’s an oxymoron. Look at the top ten poorest countries on the globe and compare it to this couple from the Bronx.

    I’m perfectly fine helping those who truly need help, but clueless people like this couple? They get none of my money and I would NEVER vote for a political party that supports them.

    GET IT?????

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    • There will always be people who are corrupt, dishonest. lazy, etc. Some will be rich. Some will be poor, Most will fall in-between. Fortunately they are outliers. There’s a saying in legal circles – “hard cases make bad laws”. When we start viewing the outliers as the standard by which we make decisions, judgements and rules, the results will inevitably be bad. Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t enforce our laws to prevent fraud and such. However, the world is imperfect and where there’s a will, there’s a way.

      People like those in that story are sad. Would you trade places with them? Would you want to have all that stuff and be living in continual chaos, with no perspective and no future? I wouldn’t. And I promise you, I don’t have a quarter of the stuff that they have. Frankly, I can’t get myself to be mad at or about people like that. They have created a life that is hardly worth having lived for themselves. And they will continue to reap what they have sown. It’s sad and pathetic.

      The percentage of our money that goes to people like this is so small when compared to the legitimate needs of people who can’t find jobs, have a disability or care for someone who does, works full time but can’t afford basic food and housing, etc. And really, the difference between these sorts of fools and someone like Paris Hilton is nothing more than accidents of birth. They will each reap what they sow.

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    • “How the media depicts the poor in America.” Isn’t that the point, “Anonymous” [Interesting name, that; mine is ‘Forrest Curo’] — You’ve been offered a cartoonish depiction that has no relation to the actual situation poor people typically face, but does give you scope for thinking badly of them. And you’re eating it all up, eagerly spreading it around for everyone else’s benefit…

      So, why are you taking this propaganda at face value — and leaping at the opportunity it offers to join a self-righteous verbal lynch mob?

      Dr. Jesus would know how to fix your head…

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  5. OMG! You people live in dream world. The video came from CNN News. It was propaganda in the way it wants you to vote for Obama. CNN was trying to get pity out of people and continue to help the poor, as Obama claims to do. Can’t you see that the more money we throw at the poor the less they can help themselves?
    Truthfully, I would LOVE to be those two people. I would LOVE to live in a 3 bedroom apartment at $1147 per month and be having the government pay for most of it. I would LOVE to have a flat screen TV and an iPhone. I would LOVE to be on food stamps. I would LOVE to have a job that paid me $8 an hour or $36 a day just for watching 2 kids inside my home.
    First off, I’d be very resourceful. I could do a lot with food stamps. I would cook beans and rice and use my creativity to make delishious and healthful meals. Did those two women look like they were underfed? They had jobs and brought in money. What was wrong with them is that they didn’t make right choices. The flat screen TV is digital and for $28 I could have bought an RCA antenna at Wal Mart, and being in the Bronx, I could have picked up 120 channels of FREE TV. Duh? Also, I wouldn’t be buying smart phones that cost $100’s a month to upkeep. A simple Tracphone pay-as-you go for $25 a month is adequate. I’d shop at thrift stores, goodwill, consignment shops, in other words, I could make it work out perfectly!
    Why would I succeed better than those two ladies????? Because I never took a government handout in my life, so I am forced to use my brain and be creative and make my life work out successfully. When you give people handouts, they cease to be a be to take care of themselves. You don’t have to be rich to keep a neat home! The place was a mess. Just another liberal ass lame, pathetic excuse.
    Those two women were given every single opportunity by the government on both the federal and state level to help themselves and they failed big time! Do you really think more money would help them?
    What was their dream? Oh, to become millionaires and rich and live in a mansion. Ain’t gonna happen baby. Obama can do THAT kind of wealth distribution.

    I live near the Bronx NY. So I know what a barrel of BS that CNN video was. This CNN video is on their website! They spread this garbage around! Not me.

    Really, Rebecca, you need to get a life or something. You are like sooooooo wrong.

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    • Here’s the thing – I know people like those two fools, people who came from people like that as well as people who simply struggle. I have struggled myself. I have a $30/tracphone, just bought clothes for my kids from goodwill yesterday, have no cable (or antenna – no money!), etc., etc., etc. I feed a family of 7 on a food budget of about $600/month with occasional trips to the food shelf. I GET IT. I totally get it.

      But this essay was about God’s instructions for dealing with the poor. One of the defining characteristics of God is that his goodness and love and provision come out of who he is and not in response to anything we do. As scriptures say, he “makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.” (Matthew 5:45) It is this characteristic which Jesus refers to when he says, “Therefore, be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) These are his instructions – to love, to offer provision for, to be good to those in need – the good and the unrighteous alike. Just like He does. It’s His way of doing things. You are free to reject it and trust in your own judgement, of course. But for those of us who claim to be following the Christ, these are our instructions. Perhaps you want to take it up with God instead of being angry with me simply for advocating what Jesus said.

      Sure it may not make sense to us in the here and now – at least not at first. But that shouldn’t be surprising to us – “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

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  6. Lovely post, Rebecca. Glad to have found you. We may be quite different on paper: (I’m a secular Jewish democrat), still, I think there is so much common ground. Well said. I admire the way you gracefully handled the anger in some of the comments above.

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    • Well, thank you, Lisa! Frankly I hate the way that a lot of the Christian community seems incapable of communicating or allowing common ground to exist with people who don’t believe what they do. It’s so nice to hear from someone who is coming from a different place then myself that there’s some meeting of the heart or minds going on.

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  7. My goodness, You’ve got a lot of gall to reflects such an unpopular opinion right now! The nerve! Defending those greedy no good thieving Jews! Oh wait! Whispering to someone else; “Black people? Illegals? Really? We’re not doing those right now? We’re doing poor people?”

    Comes Back: “Ok, What I meant to say was you’ve got some nerve defending those rotten, thieving baby eating poor people!”

    LOL!

    If you stand up for whats right its against some stiff headwinds made of ignorance and stupidity. Seriously, anonymous up there is not even aware that she’s paralyzed from the neck up. You are very nice to dignify her comment with a serious response. I try to be good but when I read comments like that, “OMG!” I feel like the human race is a total loss sometimes. Such an illogical thought process full of so many holes and mistakes and compounded by assertions and generalizations makes my head spin. It’s like watching someones mostly paralyzed pet slowly dragging itself across the floor and knowing it doesn’t even realizing how pathetic it is. A lot sad, a little sickening. It’s complicated in a human case though because a faulty viewpoint, held by too many can destroy an entire society. And viewpoints are easily manipulated.

    Money buys smart people to sway the easily influenced. The truth is that the top 20% in terms of wealth are holding something like 95 percent of the wealth. (this doesn’t include things like houses or yachts, just liquidity) That means hundreds of millions are sharing just 5% (actually it was more like 4.7 but who’s counting?) If that’s not an indication that something is funny I don’t know what is. To boot the recession impacted everyone at first but the rich have actually benefited massively from the downturn, resulting in the above mentioned stats, while the bottom 80% are struggling with poverty that in many cases was completely unknown to them before.

    At the same time a good portion of this same 80% has taken up the cause of the benevolent “Job Creators” in a way that holds no water and literally makes me sick to my stomach. I am a Christian as well, and it really does seem like they are putting these people in God’s Place. I have noticed that “poor people want a hand out because they are really just lazy” types miss the glaring omissions, flaws, and inherent untrustworthiness implicit in using “information” to make their decisions that is obviously bought and paid for.

    Propaganda is as old as Satan people. This isn’t even very good propaganda.

    Whats really disgusting is that the masses are more than willing to believe the obvious tripe. Like a stupid woman who wants so bad to trust in a sleazeball boyfriend that she believes him when he claims he has no idea where those panties in his car came from. I have a theory about this willful suspension of proper suspicion that I’ll elaborate on further down.

    Who would have the means, the motive and the opportunity to deliberately spread disinformation about the general composition of the poor and those who get help from the government. It couldn’t be the people whose taxes will have to go back up to normal levels if every scrap of help to unfortunate isn’t eliminated could it?

    I don’t get involved in the political process because I believe this world is at odds with God and it’s governments are doomed, but I do keep an eye on current events for our own well being. I’m watching the right use crowd manipulation techniques that have been used by the worst murderers in history to stir up a frenzy of hatred and allow for a power grab.

    It’s how Hitler convinced the Germans that genocide was just what the country needed. Human nature is repetitive. Times were desperate and hey were so eager to grab onto absolutely anything that gave them a possible solution or at least someone to blame, something tangible to beat down with fists. An enemy to take their minds off the anxiety of the uncertain future right now.

    Human societies historically commit things like witch hunts, genocides, jihads, inquisitions, wars, and massacres when they are under great stress and scared about the future.

    They find a scape goat, who looks or acts different in some way and is weak enough to take down, work each other into a foaming frenzy and attack.
    There is no reasoning with that kind of mob until innocents have died.

    Afterward people will realize that the people murdered had nothing to do with the problems the crowd feared they were just a handy outlet to vent their rage and fear or to steal material assets from.

    In this case no one is literally attacking anyone, yet, but the mentality still holds true. The poor are being demonized right now and charges trumped up so that they can be harmed with impunity.

    It makes sense then, that if people think yanking safety from the poor will revitalize the economy by preserving the good will of the rich ( load of garbage alert ) they will do it. But they need to see themselves as good people so the rich have kindly provided a salve for their conscience by assuring them that all the poor are disgusting deadbeats and pretending children, the old, and the sick don’t even exist. They are going to deliberately seriously hurt a lot of people while pulling the wool over their own eyes.

    The Bible talks about what happens to those who neglect the poor, widows, and the fatherless boys but the “Christian right” are not Christian if by that you mean having anything to do with Christ (Who?) and the left are just bad in different ways.

    There you have it, “How to Manipulate the Masses and Dominate While No One’s the Wiser.” Except us.

    Sorry for the monologue and the intensity. The ability to dial that stuff down wasn’t included with the rest of the gifted package. Which is what led me to your site. I could go back and and rewrite everything to be less in-your-face but I won’t 🙂

    I love your site BTW

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    • Excellent, thanks. In fact, I remind myself many times a day that even though I can’t pay my bills, by any rational accounting I am rich compared to the majority of human beings. I think it’s a shame that so many of us are being deprived of the gratitude and peace we ought to be enjoying due to our wealth because we’ve bought into a notion of wealth which leaves even those making a couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year feeling impoverished. It’s quite absurd, really. Why do you ask?

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