A friend recently e-mailed me a link to this article.
It points out that religious conservatives give more money to charities that assist the poor than liberals do. If the data is correct, it highlights an issue I came to realise several years ago.
Consider two situations (a) and (b). In (a) my neighbour is in need, I take out my chequebook and give him some money; in (b) my neighbour is in need I take out a gun put it at another’s neighbours head and say to him, give that guy your money or else.
As a Christian, I advocate the former. Those on the political left, while claiming to support the former, frequently support the latter (the gun being the force of the state and the means taxation).
These two are clearly not the same, the first is generous, voluntary giving the second is violence against others.
However, so often in discussing this issue with other evangelicals (a) and (b) are conflated. I am told that because we have a duty to give charitably to the poor we have a duty to support socialist welfare programs. This is a non sequitur. Failure to be attuned to this distinction means that genuine desire to assist the needy is misguidedly thrown in behind acts of state-sanctioned violence and threats against innocent people.
Surely, the real test of virtue is what you are willing to do with your own money in the absence of a gun being held to your head and not what you want the state to force others to do with theirs.