Dear Christian “Winners”

(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

I’m sorry, but this is necessarily a little harsh.

You’ve won your Supreme Court Justice, and you must be feeling pretty good about that. After all, it’s just another indicator of how your interpretation was right, and God was at work in an unrighteous king to turn what was evil into good on your behalf. You can comfort yourselves now in saying, “Now at least we might be able to find some mercy for those poor babies being murdered, even when they’re late term and viable.”

Ah yes. The babies.

You finally can rest assured after this that the Republicans have your best interests at heart and will fight with you on social issues such as gender equality, sexual sins, pornography, and that catch-all, religious freedom. Surely God is at work to relieve our nation of the sin and moral decay of the modern age. Right?

All you have to do is their bidding, and what’s a little subjugation to the rich in the name of advancing the gospel? What could possibly go wrong?

You cry for religious liberty and then use that liberty to do the most irreligious things, especially as it relates to pleading the cause of the poor and the afflicted. What does God think about that?

Yours is a simple narrative that presents yourselves as the people of Zion under the yoke of Jehovah with Jesus Christ as your mediator. With Him on your side, all you have to do is plot a precise course towards eternity in Heaven, color within the lines of life, and recruit others for the cause. That’s it. That’s the deal.

I get it. It seems so real, because it’s based on thousands of years of history and 500+ years of “the just shall live by faith.” There’s also wonderful emotions that accompany the certainty of salvation, a giddiness that comes with the idea that you’ve joined the right tribe, the one that’s going to be with each other for all eternity in the ultimate land of milk and honey.

It’s something you want for your children, too, for you surely wish to be with them in the afterlife. After all, what’s the point of living absent winning-in-the-end as your ultimate purpose? My goodness. Of course, we want to protect our kids from the evil of this life by guaranteeing that at least we’ll see them again, safe and sound in Heaven. I mean, what’s a little suffering here, if that’s your bargain? Right?

Turns out, however, that your bargain is Faustian, that you’ve walked into a trap that isn’t going to end the way you think it will, that by denying Heaven in the here and now, you are ill-prepared for what’s to come, that by forcing yourselves on others — just as you did in 2016 — you’ve swapped your faith for political action, that God expects you to work out your difficulties with the culture via political means, which means you must surrender your tax exemption.

Heed well the story of the sons of Seth, who dabbled with the sin of worldliness only to discover they could not return to the Holy Mountain in the wake of having done so.

Your vast cathedrals shout “prosperity” for all who enter, assuming you behave yourself and do what your leaders tell you to do. Your prophets fly around in private jets and vacation in places that the rich and famous frequent. They rub their elbows with worldly leaders in the hope that some of what they have will rub off on their “ministries”. They preach that the only healthy congregation is one that prospers in all ways. Those Bentleys you see in the parking lot every Sunday morning remind you that this is the real prize of yoking yourselves with them.

And for God’s sake, stay the hell away from the poor and the afflicted! God forbid any of that should rub off on you or worse, your family. Let “them” not invade your peaceful neighborhood, for surely the blight they bring with them WILL rub off on you.

This is why you cannot abide the idea that abortion is legal. You think God is more concerned with the unborn than the born, but you’re really just protesting the idea that life includes poverty, oppression, racial discord, and, of course, the taking away of your right to defend yourself against such.

And now you have what you’ve demanded. That 6–3 majority means you can breathe easier as you go about your lives. So what if the mammon hoarders are calling the shots? They’re the good guys, right? And maybe, just maybe, God will bless you in kind.

What if, instead, God is saying, “What have you done?” What if He’s more concerned with what you haven’t done, with those very poor and afflicted you wish to avoid? What if He holds YOU responsible for trusting in the political process more than Him? What if He is bearing the shame of your actions as He wraps His arms around the very people you’ve shunned?What if He is judging the church right now, not the culture? After all, judgment begins at the house of God.

And now that you’ve turned to the world to get what you’ve wanted, here’s the thing about all of that:

Which would you rather have, your political clout or your tax exemption, because in this country, you can’t have both and claim the First Amendment as justification. So which one would you rather have, because I promise that those of us who have eyes to see are going to demand your tax exemptions, if you don’t repent and turn from your wicked ways. Just imagine the outcry from the haves, those who manipulated you into worshipping a demon unawares. You have a lot of explaining to do.

And, I can also promise that God is telling you the same thing.

Sorry, not sorry for the umbrage.

Debunking the Right’s Straw Man Fallacy, Part 1

“A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.” Excelsior Online Writing Lab’s Argument and Critical Thinking curriculum

This is the strategy of the extreme right in the U.S., which I deconstructed in part in my argument regarding the response of James Dobson to Christianity Today’s editorial about removing Donald Trump from office. This is the first in a series of discussions about the Right Wing Straw Man Fallacy.

The most heinous of the fallacies promoted by the extreme right (which includes our current leadership) is that the have-nots somehow only want handouts — usually from the pockets of the haves — rather than working in the same way that the haves have. These “conservatives” are truly disgusted by those who “refuse” to take care of their own. These people are likely well-intentioned, but this perspective is so addictive that people will follow it to sometimes bizarre conclusions.

This position is but a single facet of the straw man created by the right to justify its extreme positions, and the problem with straw men is that they don’t have to be real to be bullied. This straw man is multi-faceted and represents the extreme of everything the right “hates”. Borrowing in large portion from Dr. James Dobson, here are a few of the characteristics of this “opponent” of the Christian Right:

Pro-abortion
Anti-family
Promotes laziness for the poor
Hostile to the military
Dispassionate toward Israel
Supports a socialist form of government
Promotes confiscatory taxation
Opposes school choice
Favors men in women’s sports and boys in girl’s locker rooms
Promotes the entire LGBTQ agenda
Opposes parental rights
Distrusts evangelicals and anyone who is not politically correct.

In attempts to cloud reality, these people mash all of these into one enemy called “the left”. They are highly adept at promulgating such a fallacy, because their Bible tells them they can make sweeping judgments in the self-serving name of God’s prosperity.

This was recently revealed in a Brookings analysis paper “Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay.”

Some will say that not all low-wage workers are in dire economic straits or reliant on their earnings to support themselves, and that’s true. But as the following data points show, it would be a mistake to assume that most low-wage workers are young people just getting started, or students, or secondary earners, or otherwise financially secure:

  • Two-thirds (64%) of low-wage workers are in their prime working years of 25 to 54.
  • More than half (57%) work full-time year-round, the customary schedule for employment intended to provide financial security.
  • About half (51%) are primary earners or contribute substantially to family living expenses.
  • Thirty-seven percent have children. Of this group, 23% live below the federal poverty line.
  • Less than half (45%) of low-wage workers ages 18 to 24 are in school or already have a college degree.

These statistics tell an important story: Millions of hardworking American adults struggle to eke out a living and support their families on very low wages.

My own research confirms the position that unemployment numbers are extremely unreliable as a measure of our economy, and the Presidency of Donald Trump has exacerbated the problem. Here’s a graph revealing that in 2019 poverty shows up in unique ways. This graph reveals the growth of people in the labor force working multiple jobs. The source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

MULTIPLE JOBHOLDERS 10-YEAR TRACK

Of course, this only reveals about 5% of the labor force. However, other employment categories combine to tell the bigger story:

“Even with sunny job statistics, the nation’s economy is simply not working well for tens of millions of people.” (Brookings Analysis)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 48.8% of the labor force are dual income families. 63% of families with children had both parents working, Even 65.1% of mothers with children under 6 are working. A BLS profile of the working poor in 2017 offered five points worth noting:

  • Full-time workers continued to be much less likely to be among the working poor than were part-time workers. Among persons in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 2.9 percent of those usually employed full time were classified as working poor, compared with 10.9 percent of part-time workers.
  • Women were more likely than men to be among the working poor. In addition, Blacks or African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos continued to be more than twice as likely as Whites and Asians to be among the working poor.
  • The likelihood of being classified as working poor diminishes as workers attain higher levels of education. Among those with less than a high school diploma, 13.7 percent of those who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor, compared with 1.5 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Individuals who were employed in service occupations continued to be more likely to be among the working poor than those employed in other major occupational groups.
  • Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those with children under 18 years old were over four times as likely as those without children to live in poverty. Families maintained by women were more than twice as likely as families maintained by men to be living below the poverty level.

The point of all of this, of course, is that silly arguments that present poverty as single dimension are extremely misleading, for nowhere is there a way to nail down the laziness of one group of people over another. Margaret Sanger, in speaking about men, once said, “Women have just as much right to be lazy as men,” and that generalization is just as false as the one presented as part of the left-wing boogieman that the Republicans reference.

But that’s the way it goes when political manipulators paint horrendous pictures of their opponents. Beware the straw man of the right, for the character is quite unbelievable.