Re: Truce & Who Cares?
|by Allen Thornburgh|
There's kind of an amusing angle on this debate in which we see, either actually or by proxy, Christian conservatives and Christian liberals saying "Our atheists and agnostics are more generous than your atheists and agnostics." At which point, I quite readily agree with Catherina: Who cares?
On the other hand, I'm not quite sure, Catherina, that you make the point that there is no difference between small government and paternalistic Big Government when it comes to "doing good." In the situation you discuss in your last paragraph, you have a governmental agency acting diplomatically to clear the way for a private organization to act. But it is still a private agency acting; we are still likely talking about a small government scenario here.
Nobody, even including much of "The Christian Right," seems to want to think that small government philosophy has any bearing on "doing what is right." And that misunderstanding is a real shame. When Big Government gets involved, we have to secularize the ministry. Of course, "secularizing the ministry" makes no sense, does it? Exactly. It is no longer ministry, but temporal help.
Now, temporal help is still a very good thing indeed, but ...
... we need to understand what has happened. You, as a hard-working, tax-paying Christian, may want to give your money to a private ministry which provides both temporal and spiritual help to those affected by Need X. But because Big Government has inserted itself into your life in ever expanding ways, it has decided that it can handle Need X better than anyone (because Big Government advocates always believe this ... which, of course, contradicts nearly all historical and empirical evidence), so it takes more money from you and provides temporal help to Need X.
Now, even if we assume that the government has done a reasonably good job providing temporal help to those affected by Need X, using the funds it confiscated from you, we must not confuse it with the temporal AND eternal-spiritual help that you wanted to provide for Need X with your money. Of course, those who don't personally adhere to Christianity or another religion may think "Well, who cares about eternal-spiritual help." Well, you, the Christian, may care quite a bit about providing such help; to you, it is important to help in both ways. But the government takes your money and, necessarily, only does one of the two things with it. To you, your money is now doing much less good.
Now, should you refuse the government's attempt to use your money for temporal help -- so that you may use those funds to also provide spiritual help -- you will be provided a fancy set of drab Dickies to go with your three-hots-and-a-cot.
All of which is to say that there is a very real and meaningful difference between small government and Big Government solutions to problems. Small government scenarios allow people of faith the flexibility to use their funds to solve problems as holistically as their faith convictions may prescribe.