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John Boehner’s Moral Hazard With The Budget

“This immense debt is a moral hazard,” John Boehner told a gathering of National Religious Broadcasters in February. Boehner told the audience there that he was trying to run the House of Representatives based upon Biblical principles, making the claim that he would follow the Christian religious law first, and other law second. “I’m humbled by the trust and confidence placed in me,” he told the Christian broadcasters.“Humility isn’t something you ‘do,’ of course. It’s how you live. It’s putting your faith in a gracious and sovereign God. ‘No man can serve two masters’ was the message from Matthew this morning. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.'”

Such abstractions are easy to make, of course. It’s simple for someone to merely state that they’re going to govern according to Christian principles. It’s less simple to link those Christian principles to actual government.

For one thing, the Christian Bible itself recognizes the separation of Church and State, distinguishing between what should be given to human government (“Caesar”) and devotion that’s supposed to be given to the divine. The Bible recognizes the legitimacy of taxation, and urges its adherents to pay taxes without religious protest.

john boehner as jesusThen there’s the warning by Jesus that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich person to make it into Heaven. Yet, John Boehner has joined with his Republican followers in making a cult of wealth. Rather than accepting the donation unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, they pass legislation giving enormous tax cuts to America’s wealthiest people, making them even wealthier, and making it even harder for them to get into Heaven. How is it Christian to do that?

John Boehner and his supporters claim that the United States of America is a Christian nation. If that’s true, then the government of the United States of America ought to be operating according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. That’s not the path that Speaker Boehner and his supporters are urging, though.

The Gospels of the New Testament of the Christian Bible quote Jesus Christ as teaching his followers to give without expectation of anything in return. The words, “Him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again,” are attributed to Jesus in one of the Gospels. Yet, John Boehner and his Republican followers are demanding cuts in giving to those who ask for help from the government… mostly.

A conspicuous exception is given to the most wealthy Americans and to corporations. John Boehner’s Republican House of Representatives is lavishing gifts on the financial elites, even while they’re taking away from working Americans.

Boehner ought to be mindful of the consequences of such selective giving, because the meek, Jesus said, would inherit the Earth, and they just might inherit Congress too.

One final question comes to my mind. Which budget would Jesus cut: The military or Medicare?

4 comments to John Boehner’s Moral Hazard With The Budget

  • Jon

    Clifford, your understanding of Christian principles is a little embarrassing from my perspective. Rather like a child explaining the complexities of how their parents do their job at work: Simple, ill-informed and naive.

    First, Jesus teaching of “render unto Caesar” is not an endorsement of the separation that liberals have falsely placed between Church and state (which by its self is turned backwards from what T. Jefferson was assuring the Danbury Baptist Minister) it a in reply to the Pharisee’s question that was meant to entrap Jesus into what they consider a blasphemy, that of paying tribute to Caesar who was considered a Deity by Romans.
    Second
    It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle… however that passing is a personal responsibility not the purview of the state mechanism forcibly taking money. In other words, it isn’t the government’s responsibility to take our money to guarantee our salvation. Even Jesus said “the poor you will have with you always”. Charity is charity because it is freely given not taxed.

    Did you ever hear of Jesus attempting to cause a political revolution? Not it was an internal spiritual one. I have a responsiblity to be generous, but the government doesn’t have a right to demand it. For that turn to Islam.

    You seem confused, on the one hand you espouse a separation of church and state and on the other you suggest that if we are a Christian nation we should operate the way you perceive Christianity. I would counter we were founded as a Christian Nation and the expression of that belief system operated best when left to individual acts of charity and compassion. Not as the expression of the socialist gospel of atheists.

    • Jon, your interpretation of my article is sincere, I know. Still, it is a misinterpretation, based upon the presumption that I agree with John Boehner that Christianity ought to be the highest political law of the United States of America. I don’t agree with that. Instead, I’m taking John Boehner’s own standard – that Christianity ought to be the first and most powerful force in American government, and examining whether Boehner’s own politics are consistent with that.

      I’m not one to come down with a definitive argument as to whether Christianity is a political movement or an abstract philosophy, or both. Christianity is many things to many people, and consistent for very few, and only for those because they select favorite passages and ignore others. I will point out, however, that for the majority of its existence, Christianity has been, foremost, a tool of political power.

      You’re stating that the passage on separation of church and state – “give unto Caesar” – should not be interpreted literally, because it was only a clever but dishonest piece of political spin. How can you tell that, Jon? Are there brackets in the Bible that say, “[he didn't really mean it, but was just saying it to be evade the truth]“? No. That’s a big problem for the use of the Bible as a political handbook, as a basis for law. Elsewhere, you urge a literal adoption of the words of the Bible. What’s to stop someone from saying that the whole Camel Through The Eye Of A Needle parable can’t just be dismissed as a clever fundraising tool by Jesus? Can I dismiss “Thou Shall Not Kill” too? Maybe Jesus meant to say, “THOU shall not kill. Let someone else do it for you.” That would be consistent with the political-religious philosophy of John Boehner, certainly.

      I find your selective cafeteria Christianity to be rather cynical in its application, though I don’t think you mean it to be that way.

      Your own confusion on government and religion is astounding. In one place, you argue that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, though the founding law of the United States never establishes any Christian concepts in the law at all, and forbids religion from interfering in government twice. Elsewhere, you’re saying that the religion ought to be an individual matter, not a governmental matter. Which is it?

      I find nowhere in the Bible that Jesus amends his statement on the unheavenliness of wealth with a statement akin to “passing is a personal responsibility not the purview of the state mechanism forcibly taking money”. For goodness sakes, in spite of your Bracketed Bible, you yourself have argued that Christianity isn’t supposed to be about political matter such as taxation… which certainly WAS endorsed in the “give unto Caesar” teaching.

      Take a look at the John Boehner approach of claiming that Jesus would want budget cuts to Medicare but no cuts for the military. He is certainly willing to have it be “the government’s responsibility” to ban people from getting married, and impose his vision of Christianity in other ways. So, why the double standard? Why say that Christian charity must be for individuals, not government, but then say that Christian sexual morality must be for the government to decide, not individuals?

      The point of the article, Jon, is that John Boehner’s application of supposedly Christian principles to the law is a matter of mere convenience. He cites Christianity when it supports his political agenda, and ignores it when it doesn’t.

  • mike

    Yep, Christianity’s dirty little secret is Jesus was a pinko commie liberal. So they have a very customized way of adhering to the Bible. It’s not a problem to proclaim Bible is the literal word of God, therefore dinosaurs walked with men 3000 years ago. I mean, that IS a problem, but you can concoct circular debates, employ specious logic, and apply crappy science sufficient for the people who want to believe the young earth nonsense to sleep guilt-free at night. But there are parts of the Bible that mention self-sacrifice- oh, suddenly we’re in metaphor territory again. I don’t know one Christian living according to the teaching of Jesus outlined in the Sermon on the Mount, yet at the same time, it encompasses the lion’s share of direct Jesus quotations included in the Bible. Those who don’t want to acknowledge this already have a vast literature of rationalizations at their disposal, which is why you can never convince a hardcore mainstream Christian of anything using logic or science.

    • Jon

      Is that a question, a comment, or a Jason Loughner dream? “I don’t know of one Christian living according to the teachings of Jesus outlined in the sermon on the mount”

      Which part? You know many Christians?
      I sure know many that make a valiant attempt to follow his teaching, maybe you know the wrong people! Ever Watch the Amish? Cristian Missionaries? Or maybe you don’t want to see, because seeing would demand a change from you.

      The Sermon On The Mount

      MATTHEW 5-7 (King James Bible Clarified New Testament)

      5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he
      was set, his disciples came unto him:

      5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

      5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of
      heaven.

      5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

      5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

      5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:
      for they shall be filled.

      5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

      5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

      5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children
      of God.

      5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      5:11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,
      and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

      5:12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in
      heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

      5:13 You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its
      savour, with what shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for
      nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

      5:14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill
      cannot be hid.

      5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on
      a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house.

      5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
      works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

      5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I
      am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

      5:18 For truthfully I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one
      jot or one small mark shall in no way pass from the law, till all be
      fulfilled.

      5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,
      and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of
      heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be
      called great in the kingdom of heaven.

      5:20 For I say unto you, That unless your righteousness shall exceed
      the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case
      enter into the kingdom of heaven.

      5:21 You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall
      not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

      5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother
      without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever
      shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but
      whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

      5:23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember
      that your brother has anything against you;

      5:24 Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be
      reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

      5:25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with
      him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the
      judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.

      5:26 Truthfully I say unto you, You shall by no means come out from
      there, till you have paid the last copper coin.

      5:27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall
      not commit adultery:

      5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after
      her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

      5:29 And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from
      you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should
      perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.

      5:30 And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from
      you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should
      perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.

      5:31 It has been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give
      her a writing of divorcement:

      5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife,
      except for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery:
      and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.

      5:33 Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time,
      You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform unto the Lord your
      oaths:

      5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it
      is God’s throne:

      5:35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem;
      for it is the city of the great King.

      5:36 Neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one
      hair white or black.

      5:37 But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatsoever
      is more than these comes of evil.

      5:38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a
      tooth for a tooth:

      5:39 But I say unto you, That you resist not evil: but whosoever shall
      smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

      5:40 And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat,
      let him have your cloak also.

      5:41 And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.

      5:42 Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you
      turn you not away.

      5:43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your
      neighbor, and hate your enemy.

      5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
      do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use
      you, and persecute you;

      5:45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:
      for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends
      rain on the just and on the unjust.

      5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? do not
      even the publicans the same?

      5:47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than
      others? do not even the publicans so?

      5:48 Be you therefore perfect, just as your Father which is in heaven
      is perfect.

      6:1 Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of
      them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

      6:2 Therefore when you are doing your alms, do not sound a trumpet
      before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets,
      that they may have glory of men. Truthfully I say unto you, They have
      their reward.

      6:3 But when you are doing alms, let not your left hand know what your
      right hand does:

      6:4 That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in
      secret himself shall reward you openly.

      6:5 And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for
      they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the
      streets, that they may be seen of men. Truthfully I say unto you, They
      have their reward.

      6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have
      shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your
      Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.

      6:7 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:
      for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

      6:8 Be not you therefore like unto them: for your Father knows what
      things you have need of, before you ask him.

      6:9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in
      heaven, Hallowed be your name.

      6:10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in
      heaven.

      6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

      6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

      6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For
      yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

      6:14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father
      will also forgive you:

      6:15 But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your
      Father forgive your trespasses.

      6:16 Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad
      countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto
      men to fast. Truthfully I say unto you, They have their reward.

      6:17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

      6:18 That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father which
      is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you
      openly.

      6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and
      rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

      6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth
      nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

      6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

      6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be sound,
      your whole body shall be full of light.

      6:23 But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of
      darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great
      is that darkness!

      6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one,
      and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the
      other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

      6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you
      shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you
      shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than
      clothing?

      6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they
      reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are
      you not much better than they?

      6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his
      stature?

      6:28 And why take you thought for clothing? Consider the lilies of the
      field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

      6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was
      not arrayed like one of these.

      6:30 Therefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today
      exists, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more
      clothe you, O you of little faith?

      6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What
      shall we drink? or, How shall we be clothed?

      6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your
      heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

      6:33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and
      all these things shall be added unto you.

      6:34 Take therefore no thought for the next day: for the next day
      shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day
      is the evil thereof.

      7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged.

      7:2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with
      what measure you mete out, it shall be measured back to you again.

      7:3 And why do you behold the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but
      consider not the beam that is in your own eye?

      7:4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the speck out
      of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?

      7:5 You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and
      then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother’s
      eye.

      7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your
      pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn
      again and tear you.

      7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock,
      and it shall be opened unto you:

      7:8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to
      him that knocks it shall be opened.

      7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he
      give him a stone?

      7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

      7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your
      children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good
      things to them that ask him?

      7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to
      you, do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

      7:13 Enter you in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad
      is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in
      there:

      7:14 Because narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way, which
      leads unto life, and few there be that find it.

      7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing,
      but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

      7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of
      thorns, or figs of thistles?

      7:17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt
      tree brings forth evil fruit.

      7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt
      tree bring forth good fruit.

      7:19 Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is hewn down, and
      cast into the fire.

      7:20 Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.

      7:21 Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
      kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in
      heaven.

      7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
      prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in
      your name done many wonderful works?

      7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from
      me, you that work iniquity.

      7:24 Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I
      will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

      7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
      and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a
      rock.

      7:26 And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them
      not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon
      the sand:

      7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
      and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof.

      7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the
      people were astonished at his doctrine:

      7:29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the
      scribes.

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