In one of his characteristic awkwardly improvised responses to a question that any intelligent adult should be able to answer without much consideration, George W. Bush answered, “Jesus Christ”. The question: who was his favorite political philosopher. Jesus a political philosopher, huh? Well, I thought that Jesus was famous for saying that we ought to keep the things for God and Caesar separate, but I guess if I had to try to construct a coherent political philosophy out of the ramblings attributed to Jesus, I’d look to the Sermon on the Mount, commonly identified as the foundation of all of the teachings of Jesus.
This is where things get confusing for me. On the one hand, George W. says that Jesus is his favorite political philosopher. On the other hand, as President he advocates policies that directly contradict the teachings that Jesus is reported to have given during the most important sermon of his short career.
What I’m saying may confuse you if you adopt the popular conceptions of Christianity. On the other hand, if you’ve actually read the Bible, you’ll know what I’m talking about: The book of Matthew chapter 6, verses 1-6. Look it up, now. That’s where Jesus instructs his listeners,
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
In sum, these Biblical verses give the following message: don’t make a big deal about it when you do charitable acts. Don’t do them in front of others in order to impress them, Jesus says, even when your charity is done in a holy place. In fact, you shouldn’t let anyone else know of your charity. It should be kept private and individual, even to the extent to which you shouldn’t focus on your actions too much within yourself.
How do these Biblical verses contradict any policies of George W. Bush and his administration? First of all, Bush himself is the most grandiose proponent of religious charity to come on the scene in decades. He talks about how great the religious charities he proposes are all the time. He’s gone so far as to establish a special high-profile office for the promotion of religious charitable organizations within the White House. Even worse, Bush-the-younger used his ostentatious support for religious charity as a tool for the craven promotion of his personal rise to power during his Presidential campaign. If that’s not sounding a trumpet before thee, I don’t know what is.
As if Bush’s personal rejection of Jesus’ teachings weren’t enough, he’s designed special programs to provide government funding to religious organizations so that they can trumpet their alms to gain the glory of men even louder. Bush has proposed that the secular government give funds to religious groups that provide charity, specifically protecting the right of those groups to expose beneficiaries of the charity to messages that promote the glorification of the religious groups. In other words, Bush wants Uncle Sam to fund churches in such a way as to encourage those churches to use the enticement of charity to promote the righteousness of the churches. During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to keep charity secret even to yourself, saying that charity should be a private matter performed humbly, but under Bush’s plan, Christian churches will now trumpet their generosity even more loudly than they do already, using public-funded programs to support the construction of louder trumpets.
It’s the literal truth: conspicuous charitable activity is downright un-Christian. I’m not making it up. It’s in the Bible that Jesus said so himself. Of course, most Christian churches don’t emphasize this vital teaching. They keep it secret from their loyal members, all the while making a huge display of their holier-than-thou righteousness with charitable programs operated as much for the purpose of public relations as for the aid of people in need.
Well, the truth is out. It’s time for Christians who believe in the word of their Holy Bible to withdraw their funding from organized Christian charities that publicize their activities in order to make Christianity look good. As for Bush, it’s time that he followed the teachings of his favorite political philosopher and retract all his proposals for government funding of faith-based charities. They’re unseemly and, according to Jesus himself, unholy. Besides, I thought Bush said that government ought to get out of the affairs of ordinary people. Did he mean to give religion a special exemption in that way too?