George W. Bush and Jesus

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Steve Bie, Jun 11, 2004.

  1. Steve Bie
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    Question: Isn't it ironic that W Bush calls himself a follower of Jesus when, in fact, his fundamental values are exactly the opposite of Jesus'?

    It is undoubtable that Jesus cared absolutely nothing for wealth and worldly possessions, nor did he counsel people to devote themselves to the acquisition of riches. He was on the side of the poor, downtrodden, and peaceful.
    Bush, contrarily, is on the side of the rich, powerful, and militaristic.

    Jesus stated explicitly, time and time again, that one should devote oneself to helping the poor and care nothing for one's own net worth. He would never have been in favor of a huge tax cut for people who are already super rich while hundreds of thousands of children in the US lack food and basic health care.

    Jesus said,
    "If anyone wishes to be first, he will be last of all and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35; see also Mark 10:42-44)

    "Whoever is least among you, this one in fact is great." (Luke 9:48)

    "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11)

    "Blessed are the poor"; "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst" Luke's Beatitudes

    "Woe to you who are wealthy" Luke 6:24

    "No one is able to serve two lords. ... You can't serve God and material things." Luke 16:13, Matt 6:24

    "You still lack one thing: go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." Mark 10: 17-21

    "It's harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle" Mark10: 23-25

    note: All of Jesus' disciples were poor and all were willing to give up their careers to follow Jesus.

    I find that most people who call themselves Christians are also devoted to getting as rich as possible and are opposed to any tax that will help the poor live better lives. Given that Jesus counseled exactly the opposite- caring not for one's personal wealth but caring for the poor and downtrodden- they are forced to rationalize away all of the above statements by Jesus. But whether they rationalize or not, Jesus was very very explicit on this point.

    Jesus clearly did not ask his followers to seek political power and then give huge tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the wealthiest country in the world. This, however, is what George W Bush devotes himself to. It is ironic that he, inconsistently, calls himself a follower of Jesus.
     
  2. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    You should go look again at the tax cuts as too how much EVERYONE is getting before you make an ignorant statement like that again.

    As for Jesus's vision of peace, he had to die for our sins at the hands of the Romans. So to take things literally and love thy fellow man even if he does not love you would mean to be killing ourselves at the hands of these terrorists. If we continue to follow this policy of Jesus and continue to kill ourselves then there will be no one left to carry on christianity. We will all die at the hands of the Islamic Fundamentalists whose only wish is to eradicate all non-believers. How would Jesus handle that?
     
  3. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    Actually, Bush is on the side of all Americans, not just the rich. His beliefs are that a smaller government is the one that will best help people prosper.

    So you really think Jesus was a socialist? If you read the entire gospel account, you will see that Jesus' statements were made to people as individuals, not to kings or government officials. As individuals, we should help people as much as possible and not be greedy with our wealth. Jesus never mandated that governments engage in wealth redistribution in order to attempt to help the poor and downtrodden.

    I wonder how many Christians you really know. The ones I go to church with are generally concerned with spreading the Gospel of Jesus and with helping others out. We have a halfway house that is being used to ehlp single mothers get on their feet. You know how much goernment money we got for that house? ZERO. And there would be more money available for that ministry if church member's taxes weren't so high, and people had more to give.

    You have no way to look into Bush's heart and know whether he is a follower of Jesus. I believe that he is because he says as much, but also because I see him display other Christian values: he believes in expanding faith-based charities; he prays often; he publicly proclaims his faith in Jesus; he believes in keeping the government out of people's lives (and wallets) to the greatest extent possible; he gives to charities himself (I don't know how much, but I know it's public record). So your argument that Bush isn't a Christian because he doesn't believe in wealth redistribution and universal health care is, at best, flimsy.
     
  4. Gop guy
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    I was gonna take this earlier, but you guys have this on lock.
     
  5. Socrates
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    Yes, Steve. It is ironic, and in light of the responses, you were obviously right that many people who call themselves Christians find a way to rationalize their views. I'm a Christian, and it is disconcerting to have so many members of my faith care more about making the rich richer than about making sure everyone's basic needs are met.

    Other than agreeing with you, I'd like to respond to one of the pro-rich responses.


    quote:
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    Actually, Bush is on the side of all Americans, not just the rich. His beliefs are that a smaller government is the one that will best help people prosper.
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    Bush's tax policies have (in your terms) redistributed wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich. The one tax that applied only to rich people, the inheritance tax, he abolished. The tax that rich people pay a higher percentage than poor, the income tax, he decreased; much more for rich than poor. The tax that poor people actually pay a higher percentage than rich, the payroll tax, he didn't change at all. In fact, he's been using the proceeds from this tax to pay for services that were formerly paid for by the other taxes. There is no doubt that Bush's tax policies help the rich at the expense of the poor. He's the "reverse Robinhood" president.

    Also,
    Bush says he's in favor of smaller government, but he gives our tax money to corporations all the time. He even tried to give 50 million dollars to Enron executives in his first budget proposal. That's not small government. It's taxing the average American in order to give it to some highly immoral energy executives who funded his campaign. Notice, he didn't make any attempt to give any tax money to the laborers who were defrauded out of their life savings. Kenneth Lay was more important.

    Second, Bush recently expanded goverment services with a prescription drug benefit. That's not small government either.

    Third, he used our tax money to hire other rich friends of his at Halliburton even though other companies wanted to do the same job for less money.

    He says he's for small government, but his actions differ.


    quote:
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    So you really think Jesus was a socialist? If you read the entire gospel account, you will see that Jesus' statements were made to people as individuals, not to kings or government officials. As individuals, we should help people as much as possible and not be greedy with our wealth. Jesus never mandated that governments engage in wealth redistribution in order to attempt to help the poor and downtrodden.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In critical thinking classes they call this "the strawman fallacy." Nobody in this debate ever said Jesus was a socialist. So this response isn't really a response at all.

    The second fallacy in this "response" is the use of loaded language. "Wealth redistribution" is not an objective term, it's like calling a pregnant woman "knocked up." Taxing the rich at a higher percentage than the poor is not "wealth redistribution." Since the richest 1% of Americans have over 40% of our nation's wealth, the only way to pay for the military, public schools, and infrastructure of all kinds is to tax the rich more. They have almost all of the money that isn't getting spent on food and rent.

    Lastly, it's true that Jesus never explicitly mandated that the rich be taxed more than the poor, but he never voiced any opposition to the idea either. The one comment he made about taxes was that people should pay them, even to a pagan goverment ("give unto Ceasar"). Since he never made any explicit statement about what he thought the appropriate tax rate should be, we can only guess. And I have a feeling that given a choice between a) feeding the poor or b) allowing some idle rich kids who inherit tens of millions of dollars to not get taxed on their inheritance at all, he'd choose to feed the poor. It was a much higher priority for him.


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    I wonder how many Christians you really know. The ones I go to church with are generally concerned with spreading the Gospel of Jesus and with helping others out. We have a halfway house that is being used to ehlp single mothers get on their feet. You know how much goernment money we got for that house? ZERO. And there would be more money available for that ministry if church member's taxes weren't so high, and people had more to give.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I know hundreds of Christians and I am one myself, and most of them do everything they can to maximize their own net worth and do little or nothing to help others. There would be even more money available if the goverment required everyone to pay his/her fair share, instead of letting the burden fall completely on a few generous individuals. Imagine if we adopted that policy for our public schools: public schools only get funded if rich and upper middle class people voluntarily donate the money. The schools would close overnight for lack of funds and the US would have a mass of uneducated kids, committing crimes left and right. Bad idea. Much better to require everybody to contribute to the basic services we need to have a good society.


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    You have no way to look into Bush's heart and know whether he is a follower of Jesus. I believe that he is because he says as much, but also because I see him display other Christian values: he believes in expanding faith-based charities; he prays often; he publicly proclaims his faith in Jesus; he believes in keeping the government out of people's lives (and wallets) to the greatest extent possible; he gives to charities himself (I don't know how much, but I know it's public record). So your argument that Bush isn't a Christian because he doesn't believe in wealth redistribution and universal health care is, at best, flimsy.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Again, nobody every said he had looked into Bush's heart. The claim was simply that his ACTIONS are not consistent with the teachings of Jesus, and they are not. Bush's public proclimations of his beliefs don't give us access to his heart either. In any case, this debate is about his policies, not his heart.

    Try not to rationalize away the explicit meaning of Jesus's words.
     
  6. HGROKIT
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    EDIT - This is really in Response to Steve - I just hit quote at the wrong time I guess.


    "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"

    IMO - a person that claims to be a christian would not use the scripture to judge or accuse. That is the Lord's purview. There is one thing I know for certain about God and that I am not he are you? If so, I need to know this. :bow3:

    Your whole thread was to bait others into your perverted argument. The whole message of Jesus is to amplify that we are sinners and as such, we should seek forgiveness. We must forgive if we are to expect such.

    I am pretty sure there was a message of patience, love and tolerance in there; none of which I have seen in your thought process thus far.

    Nothing in the Gospels or any of the NT teachings gives credence to what you are saying. All I am hearing is your issues with the "world". As you state you are a believer, then you should know we are not to concern ourselves with worldly issues. I find it tragic that you would try and espouse your faith and reach others with the message your are brining.

    Sorry if I have flammed or offended anyone's Christian sensibility, I just get a little riled when people misuse or misrepresent scrpiture out of context to make a political point and then claim they are discussing faith.






    :dunno:
     
  7. insein
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    Nothing like forced charity. Nothing kills the human spirit faster. If people had a genuine faith in god and had some extra wealth in their pockets that they didnt have to hoard for fear of the tax man, they would be inclined to be more generous with their money. When you see people abuse the free handouts government gives through welfare programs, people are less likely to be generous. Governement shouldnt force people to share the wealth. People have to want to do it. Otherwise you DO get socialism. With socialism, a person eventually leans away from the light of generosity towards the darkness of free handouts.
     
  8. Socrates
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    quote by HGRockit:
    "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"

    IMO - a person that claims to be a christian would not use the scripture to judge or accuse. That is the Lord's purview. There is one thing I know for certain about God and that I am not he are you? If so, I need to know this.

    Your whole thread was to bait others into your perverted argument. The whole message of Jesus is to amplify that we are sinners and as such, we should seek forgiveness. We must forgive if we are to expect such.

    I am pretty sure there was a message of patience, love and tolerance in there; none of which I have seen in your thought process thus far.

    Nothing in the Gospels or any of the NT teachings gives credence to what you are saying. All I am hearing is your issues with the "world". As you state you are a believer, then you should know we are not to concern ourselves with worldly issues. I find it tragic that you would try and espouse your faith and reach others with the message your are brining.

    Sorry if I have flammed or offended anyone's Christian sensibility, I just get a little riled when people misuse or misrepresent scrpiture out of context to make a political point and then claim they are discussing faith.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    First, it is inconsistent for you to say no Christian would use scripture to judge someone else since you say you are Christian and you used your understanding of scripture to judge me.

    Second, I didn't judge George Bush. I simply said that his actions are not consistent with the teachings of Jesus. If someone commits murder or rape, I would be comfortable saying that his/her actions are not consistent with Jesus's message either. This isn't judging the person, it is simply acknowledging that there are some actions Jesus approved of and others he did not. I think we agree on this point.
     
  9. HGROKIT
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    HGROKIT Active Member

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    Go see the EDIT I made.

    And I will concede that there was a judgement on my part. Not necessarily of an individual, but on the methodology and use of the scripture.
     
  10. Socrates
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    insein said:
    "Nothing like forced charity. Nothing kills the human spirit faster. If people had a genuine faith in god and had some extra wealth in their pockets that they didnt have to hoard for fear of the tax man, they would be inclined to be more generous with their money. When you see people abuse the free handouts government gives through welfare programs, people are less likely to be generous. Governement shouldnt force people to share the wealth. People have to want to do it. Otherwise you DO get socialism. With socialism, a person eventually leans away from the light of generosity towards the darkness of free handouts."


    Response:
    Calling someone a "socialist" and making dire predictions about the future isn't much of an argument. No one is advocating handouts. I simply think that since the top 1% of our population has almost 45% of the wealth while 90% of our population has only 25% of our wealth, it makes sense to tax that 1% at a much higher rate than we do now. It would relieve the tax burden from the working class so they'd have more money to spend. That would stimulate the economy and be more fair. I'm for opportunity, not handouts. Calling me a "socialist" in favor of "handouts" is like me calling you an "elitist" and "aristocrat" since you believe so much in inherited wealth. That's just name-calling. Let's try to stick to the issues.
     

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