Sunday, September 30, 2012

Matthew 25:36

In the last few days there has been a swirl of coverage and conversation about comments made by Governor Romney about people who "who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."

I think it was when he disparaged people who thought they were entitled to food that I'd finally had enough.


Mr. Romney professes to be a man of faith.  I don't know enough about the Mormon religion to know if they use the Bible the same way Catholics and Protestants do.

I don't know if Mr. Romney believes as I do that the central teaching of Jesus Christ as that we do unto other as we would have done unto us.  That our highest purpose in this life is to love one another as Christ loves us.  To feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Visit the prisoners.

A teaching so simple and so elegant it can be the guide for an entire life.

And God knows we will fall short in achieving that. We try knowing we will fail.

But one of the great things about government, about OUR government, is that it IS us.  That it can act in our stead. It can make one person mighty. It can do what we alone can not.

I can not feed a hungry man in New Orleans. My government can.

I can not clothe a man devastated by disaster in Colorado. My government can.

I cannot help a child imprisoned by poverty in the rural west. My government can.


Because I believe that faith without works is hollow, I am glad to support the government doing what it is beyond my power to achieve.

Will there be mistakes, waste, fraud, downright chicanery in the allocation of resources and planning of priorities? Without a doubt.

I accept that risk. I would rather do something than nothing. I would rather try and fail, I would rather my government try and fail, than do nothing.

I pray that Governor Romney is so caught up in the craziness a campaign becomes that he said things he doesn't mean and does not believe. I pray  he has a blinding moment on the road to Damascus and realizes what he said wasn't what he knows in his heart.  Christ does not call us to feed the hungry only if they deserve it; to clothe the naked if they failed through no fault of their own.  To visit only those imprisoned unjustly.

Christ calls us to love all of God's people. There are no ifs ands or buts. No clauses, dependent or otherwise.

It is a difficult and holy calling.

But if you ask me if I can vote for a man who says hungry people are not entitled to food I can not.

55 comments:

kris said...

AMEN.

Alice said...

I'm not a passionate Christain myself but if there were a like button here, I would be clicking it.

Wry Wryter said...

Ah…everything you said.

I’m not a religious person but I am a person of faith. The conservatives are supposed to be so steeped in faith and values and yet in this election they come off as so heartless. What’s with that?

Janet thanks for stepping out from behind the curtain and taking a stand.
Isn’t it weird though how this time around standing up for something as simple as a meal for someone with an empty belly has become political? Sad...how low the diatribe against those in need
.
I’m voting for the shark.

stacy said...

Beautifully written, Janet. And spot on.

Tracy Woodward said...

Thanks for leaving this comment, Janet. As someone new to the "business", it is encouraging to know that people of faith are out there! Thanks for that!

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

"Faith without works is hollow." Amen to that. Janet, you have surprised me, & I like that because I'm rarely surprised. I don't know anything about the politics in your country, but I know a lot about faith. I'm not a church goer, I'm not a Christian, but I strive to live with Christian values. My intention is always to be kind & respectful. All governments & people have the power to feed the hungry & shelter the homeless. All peoples have the power to choose peace over war. The Jesus I know is not the Christ of religion. I speak to spirits & a regular visitor to my home is Jesus. He's a kind & honest man. He's also an exceptional healer. With kindness & honesty we can heal the world. I pray that our governments are kind & honest & use the resources they posses honourably. Wonderful post, thank you.

otin said...

I tweeted this the other day...."Politicians should never make the assumption that all people who are out of work are lazy, unmotivated, and happy to take a handout."

Melissa Dymock said...

I am Mormon and proud to be so. Romney is one man and is fallible as we all are. My church has a wonderful welfare system in place that has helped my family in times of trouble and millions others of different faiths.

Joyce Tremel said...

Amen. I am passing this on to everyone I know. And I hope someone passes it on to Mr. Romney.

It makes me wish your name was on the ballot.

Keisha Martin said...

I rarely involve myself in political conversation, however, since I am Canadian and my country is close allies with the American government I am very interested in the election, however many of Mr. Romney's comments wasn't a slip of the tongue in my opinion, I will pardon 1 maybe 2 but numerous comments that don't reflect his purpose for citizens such as woman and their choices, if he is chosen as the next president, I have researched a few sites regarding the Mormon faith and I do not agree with the religious views of the church but that is the wonderful thing about freedom all human beings should have the right to worship their own faith. it will be interesting to see how the votes play out and the new path the American citizens intend of taking.

realityanalyst said...

I cannot speak to what Mr. Romney thinks, but here's something from one theologian . . .

I, personally, do not believe the government should give food -- hear me out!

I *do* believe that there should be large organizations that give people the food and shelter and help they need, I just don't think those organizations should be government-run. Private charities are much, much better. In well-run private charities, 70+% of the donated money is then transferred to the people who need it, in one form or another. Through the government? That percentage is frankly tiny. Government is an incredibly inefficient and unhelpful way to run a charity. (Note on this: my mother was a social worker for decades with both privately and publicly run institutions. I'm not just making these numbers up.)

But there is more than that.

Although I am an American, I'm very fond of the UK and spent the majority of the past four years in Scotland. In the UK, charity is very much run by the government rather than by private organizations. Know what I noticed? Because people relied on the government for their charity, there was extremely little in the way of personal charity. Almost no one *gave* to charities -- instead, they had their money *taken* from them, and figured that was good enough. Moreover, personal charity was extremely low. People whom I considered friends would be shocked when I would, say, help them move house without expecting anything in return. Once when I broke my toe, a friend who had a car (the hospital was a two-and-a-half mile walk) asked if I could wait, because she couldn't help me now; she had fencing practice. Another time, someone I knew was in desperate need of a place to crash and I was leaving and said she could use my bed -- but my flatmate (whom I had thought very well of up to then) refused, because she "might want to see a friend that evening, she wasn't sure, and it wouldn't be convenient."

Now, of course, it just sounds like I have a horrible taste in friends . . . but that never happened to me in the US. People who were otherwise very nice people in the UK (English, Scottish, and Northern Irish -- I never knew anyone who was Welsh) had no concept of personal charity. It actually flabbergasted me

I'm not saying that everyone was like this -- but I did come across a shockingly high percentage.

So basically, I'm saying two things: 1) government-run charity is economically unsound because it's horribly inefficient; and 2) government-run charity is socially unsound because it teaches exactly the wrong lesson -- it teaches that charity means that money is taken from us whereas privately-run charity teaches us that charity is something we give. And that philosophy extends to many facets of life.

jan said...

Thank you for this post. Add to it this: anyone who implies that the uninsured can always go to an ER for care doesn't understand the most fundamental issues in health care reform.

Rick Daley said...

A while back I developed The New 10 Commandments based on the words and deeds of modern political HypoChristians(TM).

They seem even more relevant now, and echo your sentiment, although with more smart-assery, but that's just the way I roll.

http://mydaleyrant.blogspot.com/2011/08/new-10-commandments.html

Sometimes laughter is the only way to keep from crying.

A.J. said...

Janet,

You CAN feed a hungry man in New Orleans.

You CAN clothe a man devastated by disaster in Colorado.

You CAN help a child imprisoned by poverty in the rural west.

How? Give to a private organization like Catholic Charities http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/). Eighty-eight percent of the funds donated to them go directly to their programs, which help the impoverished and devastated in our country.

I have to agree with realityanalyst above. Our government simply isn't the answer to our problems. I've taught in both public and private schools, and I can tell you that the private sector is much more successful at accomplishing their goals on a smaller budget than our overly red-taped public sector.

Give to private charities, Janet, and you will do all the things our government cannot do.

Also, let's not forget where the government gets its money--from OUR tax dollars. I'd rather give to a private organization (and take a tax deduction!) than be forced to pay higher taxes.

BP said...

I agree with you, but both @Reality and @AJ have a point. We *should* take care of the people around us, but a non-religious branch of society, that answers to nothing but documents and the whims of isolated councils of power, is hardly the organization to be reallocating funds of people who are more fortunate. This is a subject that certainly needs more attention; I am not saying that ANY organized group shouldn't be in charge of charity; I'm just saying that groups which answer to anything less than God are more apt to fall short of the personal and serious attention that this topic needs.

Very true that this line of thinking is prevalent in Europe; one problem (a huge disparity between social classes) is solved by creating another problem (lowering commercial incentive) and ignores the entire main problem of base selfishness in the first place. What we really need is for people to be generous and caring out of their own kind hearts and good will, regardless of their social class. Unfortunately, the government is not the organization that can instill intrinsic character in humanity.

Anne-Marie said...

I am Canadian, and don't pretend to understand US politics, but I do understand lack of compassion and lack of empathy. You, dear Janet, have both in spades while those who seek to serve seem to be lacking in it.

Whatever happens in November, I do hope kinder, gentler days are ahead for America, because the words that have come out of this candidate during the election are nothing short of mean and spiteful sometimes.

Cassandra said...

Thank you, Janet, for this eloquent and courageous statement. I hope everyone links to it on every social-network account they have, and that Mr. Romney sees it -- and also Mr. Ryan, who claims to be a devout Catholic.

With due respect to the views expressed by Realityanalyst and others, while it is certainly true that government is often inefficient, it is unrealistic to hope that if government assistance were eliminated voluntary donations would even come close to making up the difference. Americans are the most generous people on earth in a crisis, but private charities could never hope to provide the kind of predictable, consistent support needed by the disabled, the elderly, and the struggling poor.

"Government" is not some conspiracy designed by evil aliens to deprive and oppress "ordinary" people. It is, as Janet suggests, what we call it when, however imperfectly, we all work together.

Robin Ruinsky said...

The 47 percent of Americans Mr. Romney dismissed for not paying income taxes, who he said won't take responsibility for themselves, who he treated like dirt are a diverse group of Americans. Let us look at who those people are.
They are VETERANS. I hate to shout, but I needed to stress that part of the group are veterans, many disabled who because they went to fight our wars came back with head injuries, missing limbs etc. Some can't work. They get assistance from the Government. Why? Because they sacrificed their bodies for US.
The next group are Senior citizens who are on Social Security and Medicare. They PAID, yes, shouting again, paid for these benefits, they earned them.
Third group are students who are trying to get an education to make something of themselves in this world.
Fourth are the working poor. Yes, people who work, many very hard, at one or two or three jobs, can still barely feed their families and so they don't pay income taxes. But they do pay payroll taxes.
IF we relied on all the lovely charities to take care of those who need help the situation would be worse than it is now. It is naive to think Catholic Charities or any other charity can do what our Government can do.
I would rather see my tax dollars help disabled veterans than be spent on more bombs and unnecessary weapons.
I'm tired of people bashing our Government for helping those in need.
You want Government to save money? Get rid of Corporate welfare like tax breaks for Big Oil.
As for Mr. Romney? My personal opinion is he's a sociopath, a real life Midas who only cares about money. There is no there there, no chance of a great epiphany for him because he is the clothes with no emperor, the emptiest of suits and the most hollow of men.
Next time I won't hold back and I'll tell you how I really feel.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

"But one of the great things about government, about OUR government, is that it IS us. That it can act in our stead. It can make one person mighty. It can do what we alone can not."

Thank you for saying this. It is a beautiful elegant summation of what I have argued for years. The government can take my contribution and leverage them into something mighty.

And with all due respect to one of the commenters above, private charity, for all of its wondrous works (I support the Christian Appalachian Project), can't build bridges, can't create national parks, can't put a damn-near-sentient robot on Mars. It takes the United States, the US, the us, to band together and do that.

This election is also a bizarre referendum on the power of novels, to-wit: Ayn Rand. Well, as we all know, the cool thing about novels is that you get to make stuff up and it can end however you need it to in order to prove your point.

Beautifully written. Terri

steeleweed said...

"...said things he doesn't mean and does not believe."
Unfortunately, from all I have seen and heard from Romney, Ryan and those controlling the current GOP, that quote reflects what Romney et al really believe. It also reflects the views of those Romney courts and for whose benefit he would rule if elected: the modern Robber Barons who have trashed the world economy for their own benefit.
Yon don't have to be a Christian or have any religious views to know the man is wrong - you just have to be human and care about other humans.

Penelope said...

You've lured me out of lurkdom once again.
Amen!

Stephanie Evans said...

Whether you agree with AJ or realityanalyst (and I know good and Godly men and women on both sides of this argument, this is an eloquent and courageous statement and it is just one more reason why I am so blessed to have Janet Reid as an agent.

Aimee L. Salter said...

And all God's people (who actually listen to Him) said AMEN!

Marsha Sigman said...

I don't ever talk about politics or religion on the internet. Or at most family gatherings. I listen, I learn, and I try to keep an open mind.

But I will say this guy seriously scares the shit out of me.

Susan said...

Amen, and Amen.

Beautifully said.

Caitlin said...

Very well stated. So say we all!

Wry Wryter said...

Okay boys and girls I wasn't going to play but I can't stand here any longer and just watch.

As a citizen who has been alive since Truman and voted since Nixon, this election scares the shit out of me. I am so afraid for my beloved nation if Romney and Ryan get elected and petrified if the same DC divisiveness and malaise continues. Never have I seen such vitriol from the conservatives who used to care but only love themselves and their money now. Never before have I watched liberals bend so low against the winds of wrath.

I have lived half-way around the world in a country which suppressed freedom in a way considered unconscionable. We are a beacon. Whether you believe it or not we are a beacon to many of the world’s citizens even if we are not a light to their governments. I’ve seen it, lived it and I fear if our leaders do not get their shit together, get OUR shit together, the beacon will go dark.
I beg, I implore that we not only give the current administration more time but that the conservatives grow balls, stand against the fringe and together with our leaders, fix us, or the light of the world will dim , for, a, very, long, time.

I'm taking my ball and going home now, locking my door and not coming out until November 7th.


J. F. Constantine said...

Janet, that is brilliant. God bless you, and Amen!

Jay Bendt said...

Well said, Janet. Thank you.

Something for me that is even more troubling with his statement is that, whereas religious beliefs are very personal and it is up to him to act on them (or not) and leave it to his conscience - Romney makes the word "entitlement" into such an ugly, nasty thing. It disgusts me to think that he dismisses 47% of the population as useless, even while wanting to be the president for that 47%.

Also, he obviously was never acquaintanced with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created after WWII, which indeed does entitle people to things like food, housing and health care. He should check it out. Our country endorsed it, after all.

GillyB said...

This will be the first election I am eligible to vote in, and for me the choice is clear. As Americans, we CAN and SHOULD help the hungry and poor and out of work. I am not a Christian, but I believe wholeheartedly in Christ's philosophies. And AJ, what's the difference between donating to a private organization and paying the taxes you owe, that you can afford? If you're a millionaire, your taxes should be higher, because you can afford it. If you are poor, your taxes should be lower, because you can't.

To dismiss those who don't pay income taxes as lazy and entitled is sheer arrogance. It's the philosophy of a rich man who is himself entitled and closed off from the real world. He is belittling soldiers, single mothers, the elderly- you name it. He is also insulting a good portion of previously staunch Republicans.

"Redistribution", a concept which Romney and co. consider to be the most evil thing on the planet, is really just basic human morality (AND no government on earth has ever run without some form of distribution. Including ours). We are not trying to remove the "success" rich people have achieved. We are trying to make it so more Americans, those not born with a leg up or silver spoons, those who did not inherit millions of dollars in stocks, those who did not have parents able to pay for their children to go to Harvard Business School, have the same opportunities to succeed.

I am not a Christian, and I don't believe in God, but I believe in the teachings of Christ. Love thy neighbor, feed the poor, look out for one another. And if you don't, then I don't want someone as non-compassionate as you in charge of our nation. Thank you for this, Janet.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

As a Mormon, I agree with everything you have said. The teachings of Christ should have more of an influence in the lives of politicians in general.

Wry Wryter said...

I am amending my 1:58 comment.

"...locking my door and not coming out until November 6th, I'm voting".

Colin Smith said...

I'll save a complete exegesis of Matthew 25:31-46 for my own blog. For now, let me just make 3 general points.

1) Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus ever exhort his followers to give money to the Roman authorities so they can feed and clothe the poor elsewhere in the Empire on their behalf. This passage addresses one way the church should live out Jesus' teachings. Collections were frequently taken up within various churches to be distributed first to other churches in need, and then to help those within the society outside the church.

2) Jesus' primary message was "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15) Everything else he said and taught (and his disciples, for that matter) is an outworking of this.

4) What RealityAnalyst said.

Nuff said. :)

Elissa M said...

I'm not disagreeing, but I'm not agreeing, either. In no way do I support the appalling comments made by Romney, but I do not have nearly so much faith in government as many of the posters here.

Government should be limited to doing only those things which we cannot do ourselves. Defense is the number one thing which comes to mind. And of course there should be safety nets for the poor, elderly, disabled, etc. But otherwise, I strongly feel I should not depend on government for anything.

I CAN feed the hungry, clothe the desperate, and aid the destitute. I will NOT turn away and leave it to the "government" to do what I myself should do. Regardless of my religious (or political) beliefs, it is my duty as a human being to help others and not depend on some larger entity (with its own agenda and priorities).

Colin Smith said...

Point 4 is actually point 3. You didn't miss something. :) Mea culpa.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Hear hear, beautifully said. While I do partially agree with some of the above comments about private vs. government charity, I think a government is obligated to take care of its people. I believe people ARE entitled to food and so on. Aren't we all entitled to life as part of that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" thing? If a government is going to promise us those rights, then they should be involved in the fulfillment of them, and that means making sure people can get food.

Frankly, I think it's a duty of all human beings, no matter what they believe, to take care of each other, and for that reason I don't oppose our taxes going toward such causes. Is the government horribly inefficient sometimes? Yes. But that means that we need to continue improving the distribution systems, not scrap them altogether.

But with laws and regulations being what they are, both private and government charity is needed, because neither can fulfill all needs on its own.

I don't think it will get any better if we rely solely on private organizations, because I don't think most people will give sufficient amounts of any tax money they would save by not paying into government charity to private charities. Especially given the economy, most people will use to it to fulfill their own needs and wants.

Laura W. said...

"As soon as he disparaged people's right to food" <-- THAT. Instead of being CONCERNED that many Americans don't have basic needs met, like food and shelter, he scorns them. How dare they want to eat?! How dare they want to live?!

God and Jesus and Romney's personal hypocrisy aside, I don't want a President who doesn't care about the people. ALL of the people.

Sarah said...

I would hate to see anyone disparage an entire religion based on what one man has said.
If anyone has any doubts about what the Mormon church, and it members, have done, and continue to do for the needy around the world (and in our own backyards), please check this out…
http://www.lds.org/topics/welfare?lang=eng

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

Sorry for the length; won't do this often!

There is not too much to know about the central tenets of Mormonism beyond those at the core of EVERY religion: 1. You are not necessarily the center of the universe, so 2. Don't be a jerk. On these hang all the Law and the Prophets (This may not be a direct quote.) The issue of individual virtue vs group virtue and the ways this tension comes out in recent (20th and 21st century) Mormonism boils down to historical mistrust of government. Janet is right--a government BY, FOR, and OF The People would mean "us", inclusive, but there is a strong strain within a lot Mormonism that both implies and sometimes directly states that the ONLY collective group to be trusted by Mormons is a collective of Mormons. It is sad, but makes a (sad, again) sort of sense, when you consider how the earliest Mormons clashed with and were driven all over by *governments.* It *excuses* exactly BUPKISS, however, when it comes to arrogance and lack of generosity of spirit toward the poor. If Mitt has read ANY Mormon scripture all the way through he has read a LOT of things to this effect. I can assure you that scriptures in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants, all of which Mormons revere as sacred texts, call for not only individuals but entire societies to put their energies into peace, care, justice, kindness, and equality, for "It is not meet that one man should possess that which is above another; wherefore the world lieth in sin" (Doc and Cov) and "I say to you, if you are not One, you are not Mine." (ibid) So Mitt is already on the wrong side of that part of Mormon doctrine. And then there's this, from Joseph Smith: "Renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers." (Doc and Cov again) The whole project Smith started was toward a peaceful, Christ-like SOCIETY, made of peaceful, Christ-like individuals. Such hard balances to strike, but no Mormon is off the hook. Not even Mittens.

Stephanie said...

*applause* This was beautiful. Thank you. :)

otin said...

The problem with politicians is that most of them see the world in the wrong light. It is naturally assumed that if you work hard you will succeed, and that if you are lazy you will be on welfare. This is not true. In my years working construction, I have seen men who will work to their fingers bleed for 9 dollars an hour. I have also seen people who chose careers simply because they were easy and good paying.

Have you noticed that the only people who bitch about other people getting health care are the ones who already have it?

As far as I'm concerned, the difference between the Republican party and the Democratic party boils down to compassion. Republican's say they want to shrink government interference in our lives, but then they turn around and want to regulate women's bodies and tell people who they can and can't marry.

Maybe if politicians took some of the millions they spend on smear ads, they could feed a few hungry people and give some homeless family a warm night's sleep.

GillyB said...

Otin- excellent point on the hypocrisy of believing in small government, but also believing in the ability to regulate what a woman doe with her body, and who is allowed to marry and who isn't. And I've always found our system of campaigning with millions of dollars, all the while talking about the poor who need money and the economy failing, corrupt from conception.

Bill Scott said...

The shark made me tear up.

Becca said...

I don't agree with Romney's comments. I find them loathesome.

But I do know that Mormons are incredibly giving, loving people. Not content to rely on the governments around the world to take care of people, they have developed their own welfare system to feed the poor, make sure families have homes, help with medical care and mental health care, and fill any need you can imagine.

Mitt Romney personally helped my family with immense generosity in paying for my cousins' college education as well as both donating generously and volunteering for their fundraisers for quadreplegics. He also has given 12% of his income for years to his church, which uses a lot of that money to provide food and education for poor people all over the world--and he knew that was what the money was for, and it was given in secret, so it wasn't just for show.

So yeah, he said something really awful. But his behavior doesn't match up to that. I'm still trying to figure out how to match that all up in my mind. Confuses me no end.

But I do agree with Sarah--don't judge all Mormons based on one horrible comment by one man.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Again, to all of those who say, "leave the social safety net to the churches," until you have had zero health insurance and a knock on your door at 1:20 a.m. and heard the four words that change everything, "there's been an accident," you don't understand the power of leverage and the true meaning of "E Pluribus Unum."

When you've been through that cauldron, tell me that we don't need government assistance to depend on, that as Americans we aren't entitled to it. I know that every contribution I have ever made was in anticipation of that moment and that every contribution I make for the rest of my life will be in anticipation of helping someone else through that moment.

The only blinding bit of clarity ahead for Mr. Romney, and I hope this with my entire soul, is on November 7, 2012 when he realizes that this nation didn't buy what he was selling.

Leah said...

Amen times a hundred.

Rissa Snepp said...

Amen Janet. I agree wholeheartedly.

Mitt Romney: “There are 47 percent who are with [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement.”

Jesus: “[The King] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

Jesus: “Truly I tell you…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

http://arewomenhuman.me/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-vs-jesus/

Ryan said...

Just from reading through these comments, I think this might be one of your most controversial posts. And rightly so, nothing gets people heated up faster than discussing religion and politics. Which begs the question, what was your purpose in posting it?
I was excited to see that you're a bible-reading God-fearing woman. I think it's laudable that you don't apologize for your faith.
I wasn't as excited about the way you presented Romney or Mormons in general. I think a better understanding of how the Mormon church (actually called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) approaches the problem of feeding the poor and clothing the naked will give you a better understanding of Romney's position.
Members of the LDS church are encouraged to pay a generous amount every month specifically to help those in need. The church doesn't just hand out those, funds however. They are used to buy groceries, pay rent, and give relief to people (both in and out of the church) that also accept the church's help in finding work (or better work), being fed spiritually, and making a plan to self-sufficiency. In other words the church isn't in the business of handing out fish, but in teaching fishing.
As Mormons we read the King James Version of the Bible and know it is the word of God. We believe everything Jesus Christ said about giving to those less fortunate. Romney does too, that's why he's given so much of his substantial income to charities (in addition to the money given to the poor through his church.)
I agree that Romney's words on the subject came across as somewhat unfeeling, but the principle is sound. Like Realityanaylist said as well as those that supported his/her statement, if you take the Charity out of feeding the hungry what you end up with is a people feeling cheated, forced to provide for the poor (and very inefficiently to boot) rather than helping out of LOVE. And that's the greatest commandment of all. Christ didn't say the greatest commandment is to make sure there's someone out there taking care of the homeless, he said LOVE they neighbor as thyself. Christ also didn't ask people to give money to him (or the Romans) so he (they) could care for the needy. He wanted them to do it on their own and for the right reasons. (Because they wanted to.)
The government will always have a hand in caring for the poor and I think that's appropriate. Romney has expressed his support of those necessary "safety nets". He's not suggesting they be done away with. He just wants to move away from handing out fish and make an economy where more people can find good work.
I have first hand experience with the government safety nets. Although I'm employed, my job doesn't pay very well. My family has been on Medicaid since just before my first child was born. Now I have three and another on the way. We never expected to be relying on the government this long, and I'm hoping to be able to get my own healthcare soon, but I've been very grateful to the government (and the taxpayers) for their help. But even I've realized that when someone provides you with money without any strings attached it's human nature to sit back and relax. If it's not broken, why fix it? I don't claim to know the answers to these complex social problems, but I know one thing:
Like all Mormons, Romney is a dedicated Christian. I plan to vote for him. Not because we share the same religion, but because I understand how important it is to give people the chance to serve rather than letting the government take it over completely.
Thanks for providing this forum for writers to share our political and religious beliefs!

J.M. Bray said...

Janet,

Thank you for a well considered blog post. It gives us another reason to consider the great choices that we face. Both as a country and as citizens of that country.

Your sentiments are further supported in what Jesus said about our responsibility as citizens. The Gospel of Mathew chapter 22 says :

"17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Furthermore, those of us who believe in prayer are also encouraged to do the following in 1Timothy Chapter 2.

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

Janet, you are my hero. Without a doubt. Thank you for this post. A million times over.

Katie T. said...

Ah, I am but disappointed, Ms. Reid. Using this awesome blog as a political soapbox...

It was one of the places I could go without hearing political rhetoric. Now it's just another place for 'hope and change' that never happened, and yet everyone STILL drinks the Kool-aid. *sigh*

Please don't mix God and politics. They are two separate beings.

And don't tell me (@R.Ruinsky) that 47% of non-tax-paying citizens are veterans. My son, uncle, and father are all federal income tax-paying military. They all work. That 47% represents lazy people too. Yep. With flatscreen TVs and Obama phones. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

But now, I'm preaching. So I'm out.

One last word, Ms. Reid. I know this is your blog and you can say whatever the heck you want. But voicing your political views when we thirst for literary knowledge makes the pedestal on which I've placed you as a literary agent very wobbly.

averildean said...

To those who believe that it's not the government's responsibility to care for the poorest among us, that we can do right by each other through a one-on-one approach, ask yourself honestly whether you'd step over the homeless man on the street or stop to lend a hand. If someone outside your family asked you for help–or money–would you give it, or would you make some excuse? Do you contribute without fail to the charity of your choice, or do you give only when you can afford it–and be honest about what 'affording' it means. Would you give your new iPhone to help a stranger? Would you trust a stranger to do the same for you?

People may have the best of intentions with regard to altruism, but the fact is that leaving it to the private sector means leaving children hungry and the poor without shelter. Besides, who's to say that a private charity is any better at dispensing aid than the government? You're exchanging one committee for another.

I am an atheist, but 'love thy neighbor' is good advice for all of us.

Thanks, Janet.

DD3123 said...

I won't comment on MR's mindset, or defend any such words as that really isn't anyone's role but his. That being said, IMHO, the essence of Matt 25:36 is on voluntary charity to those you see in need. This theme runs its course throughout the NT (James 2:15 for example) that if one says they have the love of Christ (faith) in them, but their actions do not reflect it, their faith is dead. This theme -- or any passage -- suggests that charity must, or even should, be done through the government. Nor does the passages command or suggest that one should support those who would abuse the system (and I'm not suggesting that a majority, or even a good number are). There are people however, and I will lump myself into this broad group, that think the gov't has become so ridiculously bloated and wasteful, that far, far more good is done via private charity and on the local level than the Feds could ever hope.

Also, as long as we're talking one side vs the other, I can't see Christ coming back and being happy with politicians on either side of the fence due to ever increasing corruption, power grabs, erosion of freedoms, more wars, etc. all at the expense of the country's citizens. Along those lines, who is more evil? The one that says he doesn't wants limited federal funding for charity, or the one that says he does, takes funds for it, and misappropriates / wastes said money so that the net result is still the same (i.e. no help to the poor)?

I've wondered at times, assuming there is a "Final Judgment", if politicians (with exceptions of course) won't end up getting one of the nastiest surprises. By that I mean, we usually think of murderers, rapists, etc. as really being the worst of the worst. But how many lives to they affect? A number, certainly, and deeply. But whatever number that is, it certainly pales in comparison to how many rulers can effect. Thousands. Hundreds of thousands. Millions. But that's a whole other discussion :)

Sara said...

This is so eloquently and beautifully said. Thank you!

I know it's scary to post about politics, but I'm so glad you did.

ChiTrader said...

I'm with realityanalyst. It's not the federal government's job (or any government's job) to take care of everyone. One of the great fallacies I see in modern political debate is the presumption by both Democratic and Republican voters and politicians that if the government doesn't "do" a certain thing, "provide" a certain service, or "help" a certain group(which includes senior citizens, disabled, veterans, poor, homeless, etc., as well as large corporations and wealthy special interests), then that "action" won't get done. BULl**IT!

What happened before there existed our modern-day megagovernments? People pretty much helped themselves, and especially helped those they cared about who were unable to help themselves in one way or another.

Charities abounded, fraternal groups thrived, arts and crafts guilds existed to help its members, churches, synagogues, temples and mosques helped their congregations. And each of those organizations helped those who needed help the most, not because a service was mandated by government.

Instead of sending the government $100 dollars to feed the poor in New Orleans and have them filter that money through several layers of bureacracy, each level taking a chunk of that money so the net benefit to a hungry person is say, $50; why not send $100 to a humanitarian or faith-based hunger relief organization on the front line in New Orleans and have perhaps $90 of that $100 dollars go to a hungry person?

If you think government is the only way for "good things" to get done, check out the Libertarian Party ( http://lp.org )or the Ludwig von Mises Institute ( http://mises.org )and learn about alternatives to bloated government that actually make sense.