Discussing
Rick Perry and a different religious test for candidates

Timothy Hendrickson

Jason Summers
August 10, 2011

Timothy,<br><br>You are very much correct that the coherence of those policies supported by candidates with our own faith commitments ought be one of the primary criteria by which we evaluate a candidate and that such a process might lead us to vote for candidates that do not share our religious convictions---that is right and a cornerstone of what allows a modern, just, pluralistic state to function.  I'd caution you though, that there is often much complexity in translating the character of Jesus in the interpersonal realm into the desired characteristics of the State.  Folks far more intelligent than I (e.g., Augustine and Aquinas) have struggled with that question, and the Church continues to do so.  A simple process for working this out, such as you propose, seems desirable but might, for example, lead us to believe that the State, like Jesus in his interpersonal relationships, should recognize and call out sin in individuals while forgiving and calling offenders to a new way of life.  That seems to me to be overreach that does not respect the pluriform nature of creation and applies, in this case, the norms of the Church to the State.<br><br>js

Jeff Wright
August 10, 2011

Christianity=compassion, compassion=universal healthcare therefore Christians shouldn't support Perry since he doesn't fit the odd way Christianity and compassion have been contrived in this formula. I'll use different criteria, thanks.

Mitch Ruth
August 10, 2011

Why is universal health care for those under 25 the distillation of compassion?  Are you using the idea of mandating health care (meaning that others pay for it) as a cover for your lack of compassionate action?  Compassion is an individual action.  We are called individually to be compassionate, but how compassionate is it to mandate a government program that bankrupts our government and encourages the deterioration of individual responsibility?  Your points are good but you have to be careful that you don't use them to just validate a political position that you hold.

Tim Hendrickson
August 10, 2011

@Jeff, I encourage you (and others) to insert your own values into the formula I propose. Compassion is only what I come up with, and I in no way expect people to universally agree with me. You may not view compassion as a core value of Christianity, or you may not equate socially progressive policies with compassion (which is just fine with me). What I mean to suggest here is that the decision to support a candidate should be an individual one based on careful consideration of whether that candidate's positions reflect what YOU consider to be Christian values, not simply a result of someone saying they go to church. I am perfectly aware that my sensibilities are not yours, and I celebrate that diversity as proof of God's creative power.<br><br>-Tim

Jamesggilmore
August 10, 2011

Might we use a different criterion—like, say, justice? Because I would suggest that it is unjust that in our society, if a rich child and a poor child get cancer, the rich child will get treatment for that cancer while the poor child won't. It's unjust that a kid who goes to DC public schools will be in a run-down classroom with 35 other kids, while a kid who goes to Montgomery County public schools just outside DC will be in a state-of-the-art facility with a class size of 20-25. If a candidate took Biblical notions of justice seriously, what do you think he or she would have to say about the massive gap between rich and poor in this country and how to fix it?<br><br>Or perhaps our criterion is Matthew 25, in which Jesus tells us that He will reject those who do not feed the hungry, aid the sick, and in general act to ensure that those who are oppressed by our economic condition are empowered and brought out of oppression—because when we ignore those who are oppressed and downtrodden, we ignore Jesus Himself. If a candidate took that seriously, what would he or she say about our health care system, food stamps, or WIC assistance?<br><br>Or perhaps our criterion might be the Biblical principle that God, not any human, is the true Owner of all wealth and resources—and that those who are their stewards on this earth are made stewards for the purposes of serving <i>all</i> of God's children, not just themselves, with the resources with which they've been entrusted. One wonders what a candidate who takes that principle seriously would have to say about the wealthy sitting on historically unprecedented amounts of wealth while so many Americans are jobless, homeless, or hungry.<br><br>Or maybe our criterion is the principles of the Old Testament Law, including the part that expressly forbids usury and the exploitation of the poor, and proclaims that every seven years all debts must be forgiven and every fifty years the land must be redistributed. I wonder what a candidate who took that principle seriously would have to say about our banking system, which is based entirely on usury, the so-called "right" to private property, and the notion that debt is perpetual.

Guest
August 10, 2011

It is easy to be seen as a "Good Christian" when leading prayer at the front of a church, more difficult when the test comes where "being as Christ to others" could cause embarrassment or cost a person their career for an unpopular choice. <br><br>I have met many people who labeled themselves Atheists for lack of confirmed faith in God, who in action and daily life were better Christians than some of the self labelled Christians I have also met. <br><br>God knows our hearts. He made us all in all our wonderful variations.

Garrett Sandeen
August 10, 2011

I'm disappointed with this article for 2 reasons.<br><br>First, there is absolutely no mention of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe it goes without saying that He should very much be involved in our choices for both policy and candidates.<br><br>Secondly, while I understand there was an attempt not to guilt others here by stating your idea of what compassion in policy looks like, I believe, as the post below me suggests, that you didn't accomplish this. For instance, as a Libertarian, I find that compassion is best communicated at local, not federal, levels. You may disagree, but to include that contrarian point in your article would have done much to communicate what you were actually trying to say in the article.<br><br>The emphasis at the end, on trusting God is something I always appreciate. An important component to any discussion who believes the "sky is falling" whenever a certain candidate or issue wins out.

Tim Hendrickson
August 10, 2011

James,<br><br>Yes. My invocation of compassion is both personal and meant as an example of how I would apply the process. Justice, mercy, love, and more varied criteria make sense; indeed, my "formula" encourages individuality of understanding in this regard, noting the value of diverse over monolithic thought. Thanks for commenting.<br><br>Tim

Jamesggilmore
August 10, 2011

I'd root an argument for universal health care for those under 25—and we can certainly quibble about the high end of the age range here—not in terms of <i>compassion</i> but in terms of <i>justice</i>.<br><br>I think a person can make the case—though I don't agree with it, given the rapaciousness of the for-profit health insurance industry—that adults should take "individual responsibility" for providing for their own health care, and if an adult doesn't want to work or makes life-choices that lead to the kind of employment where they don't have employer-based health insurance or the money to buy an individual plan, we shouldn't provide health care for them. The argument can be made—though, again, I don't agree with it—that it is <i>just</i> that an able-bodied, able-minded adult without the means to get health insurance doesn't have it, because he or she has presumably had opportunities to make different choices that could have led to his or her having it.<br><br>But I think that argument breaks down when we're talking about people who can't control their economic situation. We generally acknowledge this already in the case of those who are physically or mentally disabled to the point where they're unable to find productive employment; I think most of us would agree that it wouldn't be <i>just</i> for us to demand that they do something that's impossible for them, in order to have their basic human needs met. We generally agree that it's just for <i>society</i> to provide for their needs, acknowledging that circumstances outside their control make them unable to provide for themselves or be held to the same "individual responsibility" standard to which we'd hold an able-bodied and/or able-minded adult. <br><br>My argument for universal health care for the young would be that they fall under that category as well. A cancer-stricken 5-year-old boy doesn't have any control over the matter if his parents aren't willing to go out and get a job; while I can see the argument that it would be <i>just</i> for the adults in the situation to be unable to get medical care, I don't think there's a moral argument to be made that it would be <i>just</i> to deny this 5-year-old the cancer treatment he needs because of his parents' circumstances. I think we can say that as a society, just as we do for adults who aren't able for whatever reason to provide for themselves, we're not going to punish children for circumstances that they're powerless to change. We will ensure that their needs are met, because it's <i>absurd</i> to demand that a 5-year-old exercise "individual responsibility" in providing for himself.<br><br>That's why we have public schools that are open to all children; we don't believe that only children who are born to parents who can afford tuition at a school deserve to be educated, and we acknowledge that an educated populace is a <i>public</i> good. If this is so, then how much more is a <i>healthy</i> populace a public good? Those who argue against universal health care for the young should, by the same token, be arguing against the existence of any governmental support for education; there is no reasonable argument for supporting the latter while not supporting the former.

Jamesggilmore
August 10, 2011

[Jesus said:] "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." --Matthew 6:5-6<br><br>Your comment, combined with that picture of Rick Perry, made me think of that verse...

Jamesggilmore
August 10, 2011

I do think there's a potential caveat there, though, with personalizing it too much. When we talk about things like justice or God's ownership of everything, we aren't just talking about individual ideals; we're talking about what we understand to be communal values, values that we consider binding on others as well as ourselves.<br><br>When I say that something is just or unjust, I'm not saying that it's just or unjust <i>for me</i>—I'm saying that it's just or unjust, <i>period</i>. It's my opinion, sure, but it's an opinion with a universal scope.<br><br>I think that differentiates it from compassion, where compassion is entirely something that occurs or doesn't occur within my own heart; you can suggest that I should have compassion for someone else, but you can hardly compel it.<br><br>Justice, though, is an external force that binds us to act in a given way whether it's what our hearts want or not. We acknowledge that those who represent us in power <i>can</i> compel us to act justly, or at least not to act <i>un</i>justly, and also agree on an interpersonal level that one person is justified in telling another person that they shouldn't commit an unjust act, because the first person is delivering what they understand to be a collective or universal truth and not their own opinion.

Rickd
August 10, 2011

Where do we get “all healthcare for those under 25 should be free?” Perhaps all food should be free, too. Or, all housing should be free. Or all clothes should be free. In fact, no one should wear better clothes than another person, wouldn't that be just and loving? I am not sure where these “shoulds” come from.<br><br>There are costs associated with even basic needs like food and shelter. It is the height of folly to launch a social policy without the ability to pay for it. Or worse, to pay for it by borrowing or worse yet, to hand the bill to our grand children. Jesus believed in paying for things, not borrowing, or taking by force from someone else to pay for things.<br><br>“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’<br><br>“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”<br><br>We have a tendency to concoct arbitrary theologies based on extrapolating a principle from a single divine attribute. For example, if God is love then all would go to Heavan. But God is also a consuming fire. Although He is compassionate, He also sends people to hell. In many ways God is fundamentally an accountant requiring balance in everything. Stealing or taking from others is forbidden. That is one of the qualities I will be looking for in a candidate.

Jason Summers
August 10, 2011

James,<br><br>You are correct in noting that individuals and the State are different in kind.  An individual can and ought act out of compassion and love, but the State has the responsibility of ensuring justice.  Oddly, however, you seem to conflate the two in your prior comments.  <br><br>But, clearly, there are complications in working out what exactly justice entails.  In your example related to schooling, does justice demand only that public schools offer equal quality regardless of location?  Certainly that does not ensure that the child of a wealthy person will not get a better education in a private school afforded to him or her simply by accident of birth.  Nor does universal health care ensure that the wealthy will not have access to the best possible care in private clinics.  Are these examples violations of justice?  If so, justice is impossible without controlling allocation of all resources.  However, if justice demands instead that government ensures a basic level of adequate education or medical care for each child, regardless of circumstance of birth, then it is realizable.<br><br>js

Tim Hendrickson
August 10, 2011

@Garrett:twitter , the emphasis of the article was meant to be the process that encourages reflection on policy, not my particular application of that process. If that was not communicated well enough, then that is a fault of mine.<br><br>-Tim

Paulvanderklay
August 10, 2011

You're hard pressed to find a major party candidate for the office of POTUS who didn't identify himself/herself as a Christian. Karl Rove changed the political equation by noting the importance of making a specific evangelical appeal for winning key states. In that way Rove changed the political landscape in the US. Jimmy Carter could have used a Karl Rove strategy in 1980 given the fact that he was far more evangelical than Ronald Reagan or even the Episcopal Bushes I and II. <br><br>Post-Karl-Rove participating at the right kind (wink wink) of "prayer breakfast" is all fodder for political theater. It all depends who the non-political headliner is at the "breakfast", Franklin Graham or Oprah. What kind of "prayer" is the "breakfast" really about if it is about prayer at all.  <br><br>I think you are correct that people make their calculations based on their perceived center of their faith system, Christians included.

Marvinvanwyck
August 10, 2011

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers ( and sisters), ye have done it unto me."  As politicians, some who call themselves Christian, others not, attempt to cut back on the programs that help provide for health, education, and general welfare . . .   I like your closing comments.  I truly understand your comments about feeling conflict with other Christians.

Garrett Sandeen
August 11, 2011

I understood. But judging from the replies, I'd say that others did not.<br><br>You live and learn! Some people can just be unreasonable, though.

Jamesggilmore
August 11, 2011

<i>Where do we get “all healthcare for those under 25 should be free?” Perhaps all food should be free, too. Or, all housing should be free. Or all clothes should be free. In fact, no one should wear better clothes than another person, wouldn't that be just and loving? I am not sure where these “shoulds” come from.</i><br><br>For me, the "shoulds" come from the basic requirement of justice—not that all have full equality, but that all have the basic necessities they need to make a life for themselves. <br><br>Most of us agree that public education should be free of charge, because we believe that education is a basic right and that an educated citizenry is a better citizenry. Isn't a citizenry with enough to eat, with clothes and shelter to protect them from the elements, with their basic health care needs met, also a better citizenry in the same way that an educated citizenry is better? <br><br>I still can't think of a reason why we should support universal public education at no charge to the student or his/her family—which I'd wager most if not all of this site's readers support—while suggesting that it's morally acceptable that we allow the children attending those schools to be undernourished, homeless, or without access to basic health care.<br><br><i>There are costs associated with even basic needs like food and shelter. It is the height of folly to launch a social policy without the ability to pay for it. Or worse, to pay for it by borrowing or worse yet, to hand the bill to our grand children.</i><br>We have the ability to pay for it, and we have the ability to pay for it without borrowing. It is a myth that America is broke. The reality is that most of the nation's wealth and resources are in the hands of the relatively few. We simply need the political will to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.<br><br><i>Jesus believed in paying for things, not borrowing, or taking by force from someone else to pay for things.</i><br><br>I could see where you might get the former—though Jesus also came proclaiming the forgiveness of debts for those who were poor, as the nation had gone for far too long without obeying God's commandment to have a year of Jubilee, which demonstrates an understanding that sometimes debt is a sad necessity of life.<br><br>However, as for the latter—by which I'm supposing you mean taxation, not Robin Hood-esque vigilantism—Jesus was pretty explicit in <i>supporting</i> the right of the government to tax its citizens. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's."

Jamesggilmore
August 11, 2011

<i>But, clearly, there are complications in working out what exactly justice entails.</i><br><br>That's why we have discussions like this one, to figure out what justice means.<br><br>For me, it means this: not that everyone should be equal, but that everyone have the basic necessities of life. It should be based in the Golden Rule, the first rule of justice: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Don't accept it if others have to face conditions that you wouldn't be willing to live under yourself. It also has a corollary in liberal democratic theory, the idea that if one is making suggestions for society, they do it in such a way that they'd find it just as acceptable to be on the lowest rung of the ladder as they would the highest.<br><br>Let's take education for example. I don't think it's unjust that rich children can go to a private school—but it <i>is</i> unjust if it happens at the expense of the public education system, which should not be deprived of the resources it needs to ensure that every child gets an education. The basic standard for that should be: Would the rich parent find it acceptable if their child exchanged places with a child who went to the lowest-income public school? If not, then it shouldn't be acceptable to them for a poor child to receive that education either. <br><br>I'd wager that most rich parents would find the public schools in upper-middle-class suburbs acceptable, even if not ideal, for their kids; the class sizes are small enough, the curriculum offers lots of extras, the facilities are generally kept up well. But would the rich parent find it acceptable if their first-grader were in a lower-class public school classroom—a class with 37 kids but only 32 desks, where the heat sometimes didn't work and there sometimes wasn't toilet paper in the bathroom stalls, where they spent two months out of their school year filling out bubbles on standardized tests rather than actually learning, and an additional month and a half learning nothing but more efficient ways to fill out those bubbles?<br><br>If they wouldn't—and I'd wager they wouldn't—then it shouldn't be acceptable that someone else's child be put into that environment either. That rich parent should support public education, by advocating that the rich pay more in taxes, by advocating parity or even an imbalance in funding in favor of the lower-income schools, by opposing vouchers and charters that steal money from the many in the public schools to benefit the private interests or the few lucky students.

Rickd
August 11, 2011

We simply need the political will to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. To ask? When the soviet union experimented with a marxist utopia “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” they discovered it required a police state to administer this justice. The productive person is punished and the free-loader is rewarded under this system. We can watch the implementation of this philosophy in England today as they make the transition to the welfare state. And who is the wealthy? To the yob on the London street it is anyone with a nicer suit of clothes and they are being asked to strip. Anyone who makes over $250,000 a year is by definition a job creator, the engine of employment. Yes, America has the ability to pay it’s bills, if we confiscate everyone’s personal income, property and savings. The only way we can keep up with our entitlements and discretionary spending today is to sell IOUs to the Chinese government and keep borrowing. When is enough, enough?

Guest
August 11, 2011

Speaking as a Canadian with "so called FREE Health Care and Education"; it is not free. Our federal and provincial tax systems pay for it and we are heavily taxed but when my mother was at death's door 2 years ago and needed over 500k worth of emergency medical care on the spot they didn't ask me to write a check. The doctors helped us through the ordeal and the nurses let me sleep beside her bed for 3 nights straight. The people with more money pay more taxes and essentially pay for the health care for those who cannot pay. It may not seem fair to the rich, but life is anything but fair or just. Life is a work in progress. Civilization is an upward struggle toward a fair and just society, where justice should be about giving individuals what they need to flourish without diminishing others. So long as we stay on the path toward that goal we are doing God's work.

Jamesggilmore
August 11, 2011

<i>When the soviet union experimented with a marxist utopia “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” they discovered it required a police state to administer this justice. </i><br><br>I'm sorry, where did I advocate a Marxist utopia? I suggested a more steeply progressive income tax system—changes in rates for the same income tax system we've had right here in America for quite a while now. Right now taxes are lower—both in terms of marginal rates <i>and</i> percentage of GDP—than they have been in decades. But more on that later.<i>The productive person is punished and the free-loader is rewarded under this system.</i><br><br>Yeah, those darn free-loading children. Demanding to be fed, clothed, have a roof over their head, and get an education, and they refuse to go out and get a job! Stupid child-labor laws; they should be down in the mines earning their keep. And those free-loading old people with their Medicare—sheesh. Always with the "I broke my hip" or "I need dialysis" or "I have cancer," and <i>never</i> going out and getting a job, just expecting us to pay for their health care. The nerve of those free-loaders.<br><br><i>Anyone who makes over $250,000 a year is by definition a job creator, the engine of employment. </i><br><br>So why do we have an <a href="http://portalseven.com/employment/unemployment_rate_u6.jsp" rel="nofollow">unemployment rate</a> hovering at 16%? Are there just not enough "job creators" out there? It can't be because they're overtaxed; their tax burden is the lowest it's been in decades, both marginally and in terms of GDP. It can't be because they don't have the money; rich Americans are among the richest people in the world, and our top 5% are sitting on amounts of assets and money that would have been undreamed-of even 40 years ago. <br><br>You call the wealthy the "engine of employment"; right now, the engine doesn't work. I don't know if you own an old car, but I have in the past, and let me tell you from personal experience: if the engine in your car is making funny sounds and smoke's coming out of it, and the "check engine" light is blinking like there's no tomorrow, you don't just pump more and more gas in there and rev the thing, because that's a surefire way to blow a rod or a gasket or do other irreparable damage. <br><br>No, when the engine doesn't work, you have the mechanic <i>take it apart</i>, see what's the matter with it, and <i>fix it</i>. If it's a broken part, you <i>replace it</i> with a part that works. If it's something out of alignment, you re-align it. But you don't just drive it like you normally drive it, as if nothing's wrong; you <i>take it in and get it fixed</i> because you know that it's just going to be more expensive and more disastrous if you leave the problem be.<br><br>Your solution is to just ignore the problem, to keep flooring the gas pedal and pumping more and more gas into the "engine of employment" and hope it starts working again. My solution is to take a serious look at our economy and see what parts of it are broken, what parts aren't fulfilling the primary purpose we need American business to fulfill—providing good-paying jobs to Americans. Then, if certain parts are broken, if they're not "creating jobs" for Americans, we fix or replace those parts.

Jamesggilmore
August 11, 2011

I agree... I might have missed one or two times, but I tried to make it clear in my comment that I think public education should be free of charge for the student or parents—not that it's totally free. The parents pay for it in property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc.—but even if the parents don't make enough to pay much, if anything, in state/local taxes, that doesn't mean that the school will deny the child an education. That was what I meant there... that there aren't any user fees assessed.<br><br>In fact, I think your point is very well taken, in that we get the government we pay for... if people constantly vote for politicians who promise to cut their taxes, pretty soon they're going to have to cut things the people want to keep. If they vote for ridiculous things like that California proposition that made it all but impossible to raise residential property taxes, they're eventually not going to have the money for schools or roads or parks. We have to make the tough decision sometime—do we want to pay more in taxes, or do we want to dump things like Medicare (the US government-run health insurance system for the elderly) and public education? We get what we pay for.<br><br>I also want to jump off of a point you're making: Not only is a national health care system more fair and just, it's also more economical. Even though you are, as you say, "heavily taxed" in Canada for your healthcare, as a whole, you're still spending <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_the_health_care_systems_in_Canada_and_the_United_States" rel="nofollow">half as much per capita</a> for healthcare as we Americans are spending. That's right, we in the USA pay twice as much for a health care system where, maybe even if you <i>did</i> have insurance, you and your mom would have been bankrupted with that $500,000 medical bill—to say nothing of the fact that without insurance, she might not have been able to get treatment at all, depending on what the emergency was. <br><br>The only difference between your "heavy tax" and ours—which is twice as much—is that we don't call it a tax. It's just another $500+ per covered person coming out of our pay (whether out of your paycheck or your employer's contribution) per month—for those of us who are lucky enough to have jobs. The alternative to this "tax" is risking medical-cost bankruptcy with each passing bus and each potentially-e.Coli-laden steak.<br><br>Given the choice, I'd take Canada's "heavy tax"—and never having to worry about how I'd pay for an emergency appendectomy if I needed one tomorrow—over the US system every single day of the week.

Tim Hendrickson
August 11, 2011

True. In response to your first comment/objection, I would argue that our reflections on Christianity (and whatever clarity we gain from them) are a function of the Holy Spirit working in us. Maybe that puts me out of the mainstream, or maybe I should have made that connection explicit in the text of the post.

Rickd
August 11, 2011

I was referring to the Marxist system where producers are disincentivized and freeloaders are rewarded. We are not there yet. Britain, as its own journalists have made the case, is. As is Greece and others. At some point a steeply progressive tax system and increasing incentives for indolence drifts towards the social paralysis that England is now enjoying. I am all for reform and fairness in the tax code. I don’t believe in cutting medicare or medicaid, only in means teating so that it goes to those who truly need it. We need to take a hard look whether we should be the policeman for the world and sponsoring unfunded wars. Did I say anything about child labor laws? We need to be focused on jobs. Which means to provide a stable business climate that encourages investment and growth. Sure interest rates are at record lows, but can you qualify for a home loan? Can you sell your existing house? Sure corporations have money they are sitting on. Why aren’t they hiring? Why aren’t they investing? We can't keep flooring the gas pedal on the old Chevy if all the petrol is borrowed from China. Hold the line on spending and get our house in order.

Jason Summers
August 11, 2011

James,<br><br>I think we are in basic agreement about the nature of justice, though I don't quite agree with your definition of justice that suggests I cannot accept for others conditions I would not accept myself.  I understand what you are driving at, but to phrase it that way ignores the diversity of people and cultures.  Indeed, to treat everyone the same is manifestly unjust.  Consider a trivial example: I am a fairly wealthy person, but I eat a diet best described as third-world in ingredients and cost.  While I am quite satisfied with this, to impose such a diet on all Americans---the majority of whom have learned to eat higher on the food chain---would be unjust.  Perhaps then it is better to first state a standard to which all people are entitled by virtue of human dignity and then, from that, allow the rubric that each is treated according to his or her nature and actions to manifest that plurality.<br><br>This then is the complaint I would have against your final paragraph: you impose a one-size-fits-all solution that ensures injustice.  Now by no means am I suggesting schools should not meet performance standards independent of location (avoiding "the soft racism of reduced expectations").  I am quite intimately aware of the DC/MD school divide you describe; it is true that many children in DC receive inadequate educations simply because of accident of birth.  However, private and charter schools are meeting the needs of many low-income students in DC and, in so doing, vouchers, for example, reflect the basic justice of allowing low-income parents to choose religious education for their children just as a wealthier family might.  That said, such gains are not available to those children not fortunate to have such engaged parents, and that remains a fundamental injustice if the schooling they do receive is inadequate.<br><br>But again, I disagree with your premise that increased funding alone is the answer to that.  It simply has not proven to be, nor can it ever be.  If DC funded schools at a greater level or paid teachers at greater level through transfer of wealth from other districts it would do nothing to address the broader structural issues that are in large part responsible for our failing schools.  Justice demands that many sectors of society address all and each of the root causes for failing schools.  In some places that means churches must provide wrap-around services to support public and charter schools.  In other places that means churches should form low-or-no-cost private schools in areas of need.  In all places it means that individuals and families should offer support to children and struggling families in a multitude of ways such as mentoring, tutoring, and child care.<br><br>js

Jay
August 13, 2011

Do not listen to the lies put out by the Republican/Tea Party that bash our Canadian healthcare system.In our country we only need a health card and not a VISA card.Our hospitals use all floors to care for people,and not for billing patients.<br>US health insurance companies have brainwashed the people.They have a good thing going and will do anything to protect their goldmine.It is sickening to hear the Republican/Tea Party  can`t wait to repeal the Health Care plan that President Obama worked so hard for.<br>It boggles my mind that these so called Christian politicians would take affordable/free healthcare away from the poor/homeless and evicted people.It is so true....the door to heaven is narrow and the rejection line is going to be long and steady going the other direction.God is going to be ruling their insurance plans VOID!!

SiarlysJenkins
August 13, 2011

I would as soon vote for Pontius Pilate or Judas Iscariot as Rick Perry. He exemplifies all Simon the Rock's worst qualities: ego, self-gratification, pompousness when on top of things, cowardice when the world turns against him, grasping appetite for office, with none of the good points. Aside from a propensity to pray aloud in public places so that he may be seen of men, like any good pharisee, what is there about him that could be identified as "Christian"? Has he sold all that he has and given it to the Trinity Foundation? Has he brought liberty to those in the prison house?

SiarlysJenkins
August 19, 2011

Jimmy Carter heavily emphasized his born-again Christianity in his 1976 campaign. Many who considered themselves born-again were excited that for the first time in the history of the United States, we might have a president who defined himself as born-again. What changed in 1980 was that political operatives who didn't like Jimmy Carter's policies developed a conscious plan to deny him the votes of his fellow born-again Christians. I don't know if that was particularly decisive to how people voted, but electing Reagan made that brand of politics de rigeur in the Republican Party. Don't forget, as we look backward, that in 1992, there were still voters in the south who were excited to see a ticket of two Southern Baptists: Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

SiarlysJenkins
August 19, 2011

Although I probably wouldn't agree with Rick on the nuts and bolts policy implications, what our government should and shouldn't do now, it is true that all the justice and fairness we want to guarantee as a right has to be paid for, by someone, and if its not, we will eventually lose it all.<br><br>In a subsistence community that raised only enough food for twenty people to barely survive until the next harvest, if there were thirty people, ten would die. We can be just only if they are part of a larger community, that has a surplus of food elsewhere, is willing to share, and has the means to get the food where it is needed. (If there were no international shipping, and telecommunications, those people in Somalia would starve to death, period, or become marauders and raid down the Nile valley until they were killed, or took over an area with a food supply).<br><br>Fast forward to health care:<br><br>We get what we pay for. Keeping people under 25 on their parents' policy will be paid for by higher premiums (not free), by government subsidies (we all pay), or lower payments to medical providers (doctors and hospitals take the hit). Now any or all of the above may be gouging, deserve to pay more, or be paid less, but we need to be honest about what we are doing, and how we will pay for it.<br><br>The separate question of why young healthy people should be MANDATED to pay for coverage: again, at what ever point in their life they need expensive care, SOMEONE has to pay for it. Since we are too compassionate a society to kick them to the curb, as the ant did the grasshopper in LaFontaine's fable, we should make sure they pay while they can. Alternatively, perhaps we could offer a waiver saying "I decline health care coverage and agree that I may be denied life saving treatment if it would be expensive and I don't have the money to pay the bill." But again, are we ruthless enough, as a culture, to enforce such a waiver? Could a Christian do such a thing? No? Then they should pay, now, while they can.

SiarlysJenkins
August 19, 2011

The Soviet Union did not become a police state to administer "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." That is a pretty good definition of how a Christian nation, if there were such a thing, would operate.<br><br>The Soviet Union became a police state because:<br>a) at the beginning, there really were hostile foreign nations sending in their secret service operatives to bring it down;<br>b) the resource base didn't exist for distribution of plenty, and in conditions of scarcity, corruption always takes hold -- some might have thought rigid control would stop that, but once someone has power, they make sure what scarce resources there are come to themselves,<br>c) a shortage of trained technicians and administrators caused all kinds of things to break down, engendering paranoia,<br>d) and thus, inner party politics became all about who is in charge, rather than what will best serve the people.<br><br>We haven't yet seen a nation operate by from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. Whether it could run, either under police supervision or on an honor system, has yet to be tested.

SiarlysJenkins
August 19, 2011

Perry denied justice to Cameron Todd Willingham, therefore he is unfit for higher office.

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