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It’s Time For Christians To Speak Up

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT HOW THE RECENT DEBATE ABOUT OUR DEFICIT HAS BEEN FRAMED

Posted: December 4, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.

Several of my columns have focused on the plight of the poor in the United States and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people over the last three decades. Some readers have challenged me on a couple of grounds: F

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Opinion, Pages 17 on 12/04/2011

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Reverend Grisham always brings the Christian message in universal language, conveying that right action is possible and necessary.

One need not accept any Christian creed at all to know that he is right. In fact, we can reliably predict that this comment board will soon be filled with posts from nominal Christians, enraged and hateful, proselytizing for their particular dogma which excludes the concept of social justice. It's all very tiresome, but those of us unencumbered by rigid dogma thank you Reverend Grisham.

Posted by: FrankLloydLeft

December 4, 2011 at 1:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

When I saw the title of this item, I thought it was going to be another of Mr. Cooper's protracted and specious whinefests about the marginalizing and persecution of Christians in America. Fortunately for the truth, as well as for those of us who know better, it is not.

Thank you again, Reverend Grisham.

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 4, 2011 at 2:13 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Wow, the ink is barely dry and the bullying begins. FLL and Alpha are here, but where is FFT?

Posted by: patrioteer

December 4, 2011 at 2:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Thank you, Lowell. You have presented a very clear Biblical perspective and plainly stated the very real limitations that all churches have in trying to meet the needs around us.

Posted by: Jim_Huffman

December 4, 2011 at 3:01 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

patrioteer--

RE "Wow, the ink is barely dry and the bullying begins."
What bullying? By all means, give some examples.

Perhaps you feel bullied because you can't maintain your side of a discussion. That's not our fault. Or are you taking up Mr. Cooper's mantle of persecution and martyrdom? That's not our fault, either.

For corn's sake, put on some long pants, stop whining, and make a point.

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 4, 2011 at 3:46 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Hello patrioteer, thanks for thinking of me. I didn't really have anything to add to Rev. Grisham's article.

Happy holidays to you and yours.

D.
-----------
"The best theology is probably no theology. Just love one another." --Charles M. Schulz

Posted by: fayfreethinker

December 4, 2011 at 6:17 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The Reverend's commentary (and those of his followers) is typical of the attitude of the Pharisees, who sought to employ Caesar (the government) to put a knife to the throats of those whom they deemed to have more than their "fair share" in order to either grab for themselves a share of the proceeds, or to avoid the responsibility that comes with their calling.

True Christians work to alleviate the suffering of the poor as they are able. They do not demand that somebody else (particularly a king or government) steal from those who work in order to give it to those who do not. True Christians practice charity because they choose to do so, not because they are forced to do so by those who exalt themselves as kings, such as the Reverend and his friends who believe that it is Christian to covet, steal, and bear false witness to suit their aims. True Christians would see the Reverend and his followers for what they truly are...hypocrites.

Posted by: IrishMensa

December 4, 2011 at 9:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Ah, IrishMensa, representing the sneering, exalted "true Christian," explains hypocrisy.

Thank you, oh wise and humble one.

Posted by: FrankLloydLeft

December 4, 2011 at 10:41 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

IrishMensa (with my apologies to the high-IQ organization)--

RE "typical of the attitude of the Pharisees..."
If you wish to cite the "attitude of the Pharisees", you really should mention public prayer, for which Jesus showed specific disapproval, yet which "real Christians" are all for.

RE "...who sought to employ Caesar..."
Wasn't it Jesus Himself who said, "“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”?

RE "to avoid the responsibility that comes with their calling"
If people are willing to pay taxes in order to perform good works, how does that avoid the calling to provide money for good works?

RE "True Christians work to alleviate the suffering of the poor as they are able."
Then why object to letting the government do the same thing? According to Maimonides, it's a higher form of charity.

RE "They do not demand that somebody else (particularly a king or government) steal from those who work..."
Neither do Reverend Grisham or those who agree with him.

RE "...in order to give it to those who do not [work]."
How do you keep that from happening with "real Christian" charity?

RE "True Christians practice charity because they choose to do so, not because they are forced to do so."
If you are willing, and the charity is taken care of through the government, then where is the force?

RE "They do not demand that somebody else (particularly a king or government) steal from those who work in order to give it to those who do not."
Instead, they demand that the government be made an unconstitutional "real Christian" theocracy so that they can extort money from everybody directly.

RE "...those who exalt themselves as kings, such as the Reverend and his friends who believe that it is Christian to covet, steal, and bear false witness to suit their aims."
Who has exalted himself as a king? We're just taxpayers-- and willing, as commanded. But by all means-- do give examples of this supposed covetousness, stealing, and false witness.

Nine strikes. That's your team's half inning.

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 4, 2011 at 11:54 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Matthew 6:24, King James Version

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

Posted by: Hammer1

December 5, 2011 at 9:57 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Hammer1--

RE Matthew 6:24
Excellent point. Money is only a tool, and "real Christians" would do well to not be so obsessed with it that they consider taxation "stealing", and instead let it do its job.

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 5, 2011 at 10:44 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

The Bible warned us about this ancient liberal battle against the Greedheads:

“The instruments and methods of the fraudulent and greedy [for gain] are evil; he devises wicked devices to ruin the poor and the lowly with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is just and right.
But the noble, openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things; and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous.” --Isaiah 32:7-8 (Amp)

Sometimes when an ideologue finds themselves not just wrong, but 180 degrees wrong, the conservative tires of always being in this unfortunate situation and they try what is called an "inversion." This is where they sit reality aside and shamelessly flip things around, invert them. There are many examples, Jonah Goldberg with his book on "liberal Fascism" or the farce of a story that George Will ran with in the Post about the Hummer using less energy and being less polluting than a Toyota Prius. These people know that the Fascists were/are Reichwing, they know the Hummer is a disgraceful affront to humanity meant to compensate for small genitals, and they also know that Jesus consistently hated, no loathed, the rich and their lame rationalizations for why they should have more so others can have less. He told them to get stuffed, and he did it a lot.

In Mark 10, when the wealthy fellow who had been doing everything right came along, Jesus pointed out that there was one thing he lacked, he was rich. Can't have that, Jesus hates that. So he commands him: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor..." Not some of it, not most of it, "everything."

So along comes Irish to tell us that we can't read Jesus right. It's actually the opposite of that. It's Lowell, advocate for the poor that is like the "Pharisee." This is true of course, but only in the sense that a Hummer gets better mileage than a Prius.

Irishm tells us:
"True Christians practice charity because they choose to do so, not because they are forced to do so...">>

Frank suggests that Irishm might be a True Christian(TM). I rather doubt it (most Christians know to put a little more polish on a turd this big). I really doubt Irish knows much about the Bible at all and he is just going by what he saw on TV.

The claim that charity was not enforced is not remotely true. When the disciples finished reading the Jesus stories how did they come together to conduct themselves? We look to Acts:

"Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold. "And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." (Acts 4:32-35)

100%, pure, socialism, that's what they did. And was this "charity" optional? Not at all:

cont...

Posted by: fayfreethinker

December 5, 2011 at 11:11 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

cont...

And was this "charity" optional? Not at all:

"Chapter 5 details how when a church member fails to turn over all his property to the church “he fell down and died,” when his wife later did the same “she fell down… and died… Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

Irishm wants to make a distinction between church and state on this moral issue. That's just silly. The state and authorities are put in place by God, so says Paul. For most of history the Church has ran the show anyway, it's only be the last while when we've been free of that.

Irish finishes his "it's opposite day" inversion attempt by telling us "Reverend [Grisham] and his friends... believe that it is Christian to covet, steal, and bear false witness to suit their aims... hypocrites."

But no one could believe that. It's not even worth making fun of. In saying this Irishm reveals that Lowell's article has made him furious, so furious it's made him have to stoop to not making any sense at all. Good. When a conservative like Irishm reaches that point on their own, my job is done.

D.

Posted by: fayfreethinker

December 5, 2011 at 11:14 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

FFT
You know better.

"Chapter 5 details how when a church member fails to turn over all his property to the church “he fell down and died,” when his wife later did the same “she fell down… and died… Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

They were killed for lying about how much they gave, not the fact they didn't give it all.
That's clear when the scripture said It was yours to give or not give.

Giving was not required.

Posted by: P5harri

December 5, 2011 at 6:27 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

P5, if you notice, I included quotation marks for the paragraph you cite since I was in fact quoting this article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/g...

Your interpretation is plausible. Another one would be that you best be bringing all of your goods to donate to the commune, and don't be fudging your numbers while you are at it, lest you go the way of Ananias and Sapphira.

P5: "Giving was not required.">>

Where does it say that?

D.
---------------
"For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." Deuteronomy 15:11

Posted by: fayfreethinker

December 5, 2011 at 7:44 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

You should probablly properly cite things you quote, that we know it's not yours.

The point is to be a cheerful giver, not to give out of compulsion. That's clear in scripture.

Posted by: P5harri

December 5, 2011 at 8:03 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

RE "You should probablly properly cite things you quote, that we know it's not yours."

Yes, fayfreethinker is so bad about failing to cite his sources that he got chewed out by another "real Christian" in a different thread-- for citing his sources!

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 5, 2011 at 10:54 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

I'm happy to give to my church. I understand (although I am not happy about it) that I have to pay taxes in order for essential services to continue. What get's under my skin is this idea that taxes MUST be increased on somebody (the wealthy, the middle class) in order to make sure the hungry are fed. It kills me that we never consider the ridiculous spending habits of our federal government.

I heard an interesting proposal the other day. One of the Republican proposals was to freeze pay rates of federal government employees for the next year (maybe more) in order to fund the tax cuts that are expiring. I don't necessarily agree with that, but it did make me think about how poorly our federal government is run. While state and local employees have gone years without pay raises because revenues were down, our federal government pay raises happen every year lock clockwork. If there isn't enough money to pay for it, then we simply borrow money or raise taxes. There never seems to be consideration for "cutting back" at the federal level.

Posted by: superdave10

December 6, 2011 at 9:51 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

superdave10--

RE "our federal government pay raises happen every year lock clockwork."
That's not exactly true. While many federal workers receive cost-of-living adjustments, maintaining the purchasing power of a salary isn't really a raise. Congressional pay raises have occurred in half the years since 1969. And federal civilian employee salaries haven't kept up with average annual salaries and wages. See Table 1. Increases in Social Security Benefits, Federal Civilian Pensions, Federal Pay, Congressional Pay, National Average Wages, and Consumer Prices, 1969 to 2010 on pages CRS-7 and CRS-8 (document pages 10-11) here:
http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/94-971...
Note that federal civilian salaries have, on the whole, not increased as much as average wages and salaries over those years-- 528% and 732.3%-- while the CPI has increased 577% (all indexed to 1969).. The text explains some of the factors that caused the apparently high figures for Social Security.

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 6, 2011 at 11:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

RE "That's not exactly true. While many federal workers receive cost-of-living adjustments, maintaining the purchasing power of a salary isn't really a raise."

Call it a raise or not, it's more than many of our state and local government employees have received. On the whole, federal employees are paid considerably more than their state counterparts. I would encourage you to compare the salaries of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to that of FEMA, or the salaries for Arkansas State Police to any federal law enforcement entity.

Posted by: superdave10

December 7, 2011 at 8:57 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

superdave10--

RE "Call it a raise or not, it's more than many of our state and local government employees have received."
However, if you look at the aggregate increase since 1969, you will see that federal civilian salaries have far from kept up with wages/salaries in the private sector and haven't quite kept up with the CPI, which tends to disprove your implicit contention that federal employees are highly paid, and makes the fact that they regularly receive pay adjustments irrelevant. (Not that averages are an entirely accurate way to make such a point.)

It is not clear in the cited study, but state employee wages and salaries are included in the "Average Annual Wages/Salaries" column. The mean average annual salary for Arkansas employees is 80% of the national average for state employees. You might as well complain about all of the other states that pay their employees higher salaries than Arkansas does.

Instead of complaining about "high" federal salaries (they aren't, for various reasons), why aren't you complaining about the clearly low state salaries in Arkansas, which is the real problem underlying your complaint? Would you really prefer to drag everybody else down to Arkansas' salary level? What about the federal employees who live in high-cost areas of the country?

I guess it's a good thing that Arkansas is a net recipient of federal funding, or we'd really be in a sinkhole.

Posted by: AlphaCat

December 7, 2011 at 11:53 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Alpha - three points here:

1) By definition if you increase someone's salary you give them a raise.

2) To state that Federal Civilian salaries have 'far from kept up with wages/salaries in the private sector" is misleading to the reader. Fed Civ Salaries ARE higher than civilian salaries:

http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/o...

There are many sources available to anyone willing to look that show the disparity between Private and Fed Civ Worker Salaries. This example shows an average difference of 62% more for Fed Workers. When you factor-in benefits, the difference is 100%.

3) Jumping over the argument presented and trying to lure the reader into some comparison of increases since 1969 based on your referenced article is missing the point. The bottom-line is the average pay for Fed Civ Workers is Significantly higher than for the private sector. This is because the wages for FCW were higher to start with. The basis for the argument is actual pay. Actual pay is higher for FCW. That cannot be disputed.

Posted by: commonsense96

December 7, 2011 at 9:06 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lowell Grisham says it plainly and clearly: "I join other Christian leaders who are deeply concerned about how the recent debate about our federal deficit has been framed. Yes, we have a deficit, but it is not the fault of the poor. The rich and powerful have created the deficit." With two-thirds of our Congress being millionaires, how do you think that happened?

I fully support the separation of the Church and state, as set forth in our Constitution. Because it is only by having freedom *from* religion that we can have freedom *of* religion. But what's happened is the wealthy sought to tap into the zeal of fundamentalism to bring revival to the Republican party base, and they've hoodwinked them into believing that rich-party-politics represents the values of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ!

I agree with Lowell: it's time for Christians who really get Christ's message to speak up. It's way past time to sit in your cozy Christian haven and figure that the rich fascist will come for you last. They might come for you last...but they'll come for you eventually. Throw the money changers and hate mongers out of the governmental temple and hold them fully accountable for their violation of ethics, for their pursuit of Gold over ethical civil service.

Posted by: SPA

December 8, 2011 at 10:37 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Commonsense displays his usual gullibility in referencing flawed data comparing average compensation for federal workers compared with workers in the private sector.

Labor and wage statistics are easily distorted when "averages" are compared. The federal government employs a greater proportion of white collar workers than the private sector. For an obvious example, low paid retail clerks are ubiquitous in the private sector; the feds don't have many openings for that level of service. When comparing compensation for positions at the same level of expertise, the results are similar; this is by design. The federal pay scale is determined by compensation for similar work outside the government.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-met...

http://fcw.com/articles/2010/11/01/bu...

Posted by: FrankLloydLeft

December 9, 2011 at 8:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )