Vital Signs

Politicized Christianity

On a recent Sunday, my church bulletin ran this edifying announcement: "Is cutting health, income assistance, nutrition and safety guarantees of millions of children and shredding the national safety net for children the kind of reform we support? Call President Clinton to let him know what you are for. 'I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick and you . . . '" So Our Lord and the welfare state are on the same side. Funny, I don't recall Him telling the Roman authorities to extend the grain dole to Judea, or Zacheus to go and collect more taxes to make it possible.

Today, the social democracy gospel is not only the mainstream opinion among the ecclesiastical elites. It is the prevailing orthodoxy of virtually every organized religious body in the United States. This represents a repudiation of history. For example, the Catholic tradition is steeped in the defense of private property, localism, and, with the neo-Scholastics, antisocialist economic thought. But today, American bishops hold press conferences to denounce any cuts in welfare. God, they assure us, opposes the balanced budget, and the press packs the room to take down every word.

The bishops—unaware or indifferent to their use by a secular elite that despises Christianity—love the attention. They also like the fact that political campaigning gives them an excuse not to do what they are supposed to do.

While the bishops...

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