Pratt: Welfare is ‘Unbiblical’


Larry Pratt, director of the insanely far right Gun Owners of America, shows off his cafeteria Christianity by declaring that welfare is “unbiblical.” Why does anyone think this is a rational argument against something? Religious freedom is also unbiblical, but we still have it.

The Bible talks about individual responsibility. There is no place in the Bible whatsoever that talks about the government taking over for my family or for my church, which is where the Bible says charity – welfare, if you will – is to be operated. Not the civil authorities, whose really only responsibility is to kill bad guys and scare the rest of them to death.

It’s crucial for the cause of freedom if we continue to allow the government to glow a class of dependents, then you know what’s going to happen. Dependents don’t believe in, don’t want to bother, at a minimum, providing for themselves, really, in any which way. And it is they who will vote against freedom and against the right to keep and bear arms, among many other of our freedoms. So the gun owner has a dog in this fight. We had better come alongside of those economic conservatives that are making the arguments that Austin Hill is making in ‘The Virtues of Capitalism,’ and make sure we return to a capitalistic system.

So much absurdity in such a short space. First of all, the Bible has dozens and dozens of verses about the importance of taking care of the poor, and no there is no such distinction between the church and the state, which were for all practical purposes the same thing in the Bible. Secondly, we don’t have to return to a capitalistic system, we already have one. We have private ownership of the means of production, which is capitalism.

Comments

  1. CaitieCat says

    Does the Bible actually say anything about churches? The only bits I remember from when i read it (wow, was THAT tedious) mention some Jewish temples, and pagan temples/shrines, if I remember, but nothing about Christian churches. Didn’t all the churchy stuff come hundreds of years after he was dead?

    I wasn’t raised Christian, so most of this I don’t know, but I don’t recall reading much about Christian churches in that book.

  2. Synfandel says

    And it is they [the dependent class] who will vote against freedom and against the right to keep and bear arms…

    So, the crux of his argument is summed up in a single claim for which he gives no evidence whatsoever. Those on welfare will vote against gun ownership rights, because…well…because he said so.

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    If memory serves Jesus also hung around with tax collectors and prostitutes and argued for charity and helping the poor plus “render unto Caesar what is Caesars” and was kind of down on the rich. Go figure.

  4. John Pieret says

    A while back a Freakonomics program about whether your name is your destiny was being promoted by NPR. Put this guy in the “yes” category.

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ Synfandel : Maybe he figures if they’re on welfare they’re not going to be able to afford guns and bullets and thus will oppose those that have that extra advantage on them?

    There’s almost some logic to that although not really very much nor is it likely to be completely true in every and all cases.

    Not that I think teh aptly named Pratt is correct in his stance here I hasten to add.

  6. says

    @4:
    Like with the flood. God looked at each person individually and decided to send a small flood to each person. Or when he killed handful of people in Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, rather than nuke the site from orbit (which is really the only way to be sure).

  7. says

    If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.

    Deuteronomy 15:7-8

    Wash yourselves;
    make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes;
    cease to do evil, learn to do good;
    seek justice, correct oppression;
    defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.

    Isaiah 1:16-17

    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
    when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

    Isaiah 58:6-7

    Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed.

    Jeremiah 22:3a

    Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them, when I saw it.

    Ezekiel 16:49-50

    Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

    Matthew 19:21

    But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.

    1 John 3:17-18

    And these are just the one’s off the top of my head (yes, I have a lot of social justice passages memorized.) Too long to quote, I also recommend Matthew 25:31-46 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

  8. psweet says

    @CaitieCat — Actually, most of the New Testament is about stuff that happened long after Christ was dead. In fact, many of the NT books are letters from Paul to various Christian Churches around the Mediterranean.

    But I’m not sure how to take Ed’s statement that the Church and the State were the same thing back then. For some of the bible, that’s certainly true — but for much of the time the NT was covering, I would think that the State would have been rather anti-Christianity. (The Roman Empire finally officially tolerated Christianity, I gather, in 313 AD.)

  9. cptdoom says

    You know what else is unbiblical – the internet, air travel and the interstate highway system. None of them mentioned in the Bible, not once. And all of them are infected by socialism – all either created by (internet, highway system) or administered by (ATC system) the government. Good to know that Mr. Pratt wrote his concerns on papyrus while travelling by donkey along unpaved roads.

  10. says

    The Bible talks about individual responsibility

    Bullshit. If there was one thing Yahweh was into, it was collective punishment. Do you think the first born sons of Egypt had any say in whether or not Pharoah would let the Israelites go? Yahweh wiped out one poor schmuck’s entire family just to win a bar bet with Satan. Abraham had to talk him into giving Lot a chance to get his family out before he dropped fire from the sky onto Sodom.

    In fact, isn’t this the whole argument against gay rights? If gays are allowed to get married in New Jersey, Yahweh will drop the smitey hammer on Nebraska?

  11. says

    Religious freedom is also unbiblical, but we still have it.

    The wingnuts are working on tearing that down, too.

    Secondly, we don’t have to return to a capitalistic system, we already have one. We have private ownership of the means of production, which is capitalism.

    I was under the impression that Communism is biblical. There was something about people who chose not to give all of the money they got from selling their homes to the church for the common good. They kept a little to themselves just in case selling everything they owned and giving the money to the church turned sour. When they were confronted about it and denied it, they just suddenly dropped dead. As if struck by an unseen, nay, supernatural force.

  12. CaitieCat says

    psweet – thanks, I really didn’t know that about the Christian Testament (I like to avoid “Old” and “New”, as I find it focuses on Christian beliefs I don’t have) or church. I always thought he was just writing to the Christian people in each of those places, rather than their church as such.

    I may well have gotten bored and not picked up on the references. It’s a long, long, LONG anthology, and the writing is…uneven. I think the editor wasn’t very good. Anyway, thanks for the info. :)

  13. dshetty says

    Religious freedom is also unbiblical, but we still have it.
    Not if the nuts have their way.

  14. dogmeat says

    But I’m not sure how to take Ed’s statement that the Church and the State were the same thing back then. For some of the bible, that’s certainly true — but for much of the time the NT was covering, I would think that the State would have been rather anti-Christianity

    psweet,

    I think Ed’s point is still quite valid, while during the Roman period the Christian church wasn’t the state, instead a minority religion, the church and the state were still closely tied with non-Christian religious beliefs being the “state” beliefs. De jure and de facto ties between state and religion don’t really decline until the enlightenment.

  15. hunter says

    Pratt’s point is that the government shouldn’t be doling out charity — that’s up to the churches and individuals. So I’d like to ask him: “Mr. Pratt, how many poor children are you feeding this month?”

  16. Abby Normal says

    King Solomon, renowned for his wisdom, built great grain storage facilities throughout his kingdom to supply his people in times of need. He instituted high taxes and used the revenue to fund massive public works programs. But I guess wise King Solomon he was no Larry Pratt.

  17. busterggi says

    “Not the civil authorities, whose really only responsibility is to kill bad guys and scare the rest of them to death.”

    Hence the right-wing extremist terror over the federal government – it scares them to death even though they aren’t the “bad guys”.

  18. John Hinkle says

    …by declaring that welfare is “unbiblical.”

    This meme has been going around conservative Christian circles for a few years now… I’m guessing since McCain/Palin lost the election. CCs love cooking the books to fit their narrative.

    theschwa@7:

    rather than nuke the site from orbit (which is really the only way to be sure).

    Cite provided: Ripley

  19. psweet says

    dogmeat — while you’re right that for most of the Roman period, there would have been a good deal of overlap between religion and state, I’m not sure that Larry Pratt would consider that to be the government taking over for the church, since I suspect in his view if it’s not a Christian church, it doesn’t count.

    It’s tough trying to keep 3 or 4 different viewpoints in play at the same time, isn’t it?

  20. eric says

    Psweet @9:

    many of the NT books are letters from Paul to various Christian Churches around the Mediterranean.

    Exactly. Like Philemon, in which Paul sends a slave back to his slaveowner with a letter telling the slaveowner to treat this slave better than his other slaves, because this one is now Christian. Isn’t the morality uplifting?

    Taz @20:

    This guy thinks the only function of government is to kill and frighten people?

    Yes…he supports theocracy.

    (I jest, but seriously – do you notice how the people complaining that the government should not force them to obey biblical commandments to be charitable tend to be the same people who think government should force poeple to obey biblical commandments on other things?)

  21. says

    Gregory in Seattle #8

    Hush! Republican Christians don’t read those! Besides, they’re all metaphorical, don’t you know?

    /snark

  22. scienceavenger says

    There is no place in the Bible whatsoever that talks about the government taking over for my family or for my church, which is where the Bible says charity – welfare, if you will – is to be operated.

    It always cracks me up when Biblewhackers talk like this. Even taking for granted the truth of his premises, the government of the time was the Roman Empire, hardly known for its democratic welfare initiatives. Democratic government as we know it didn’t exist then, so saying Jesus never said to have government welfare is analogous to saying we shouldn’t drive cars because Jesus only mentioned horses.

    I defy anyone to find something Jesus said in the Bible that implies he thinks there’s something wrong with a society voting to contribute a little of each persons wages to help the poor. To hear people like Pratt talk, the government is STILL an imperial external entity forced upon us, instead of somehing we collectively choose.

  23. Michael Heath says

    hunter writes:

    So I’d like to ask him: “Mr. Pratt, how many poor children are you feeding this month?”

    Wrong question; precisely because many of them do contribute to charities (Red Cross) or quasi-charities (their church’s missions) where at least part of the funds go towards either feeding people or better enabling them to avoid malnutrition. The better question is to ask him what’s been empirically validated as the optimal method to take care of the, “least among us”, especially children and widows, and whether they demonstrably support that approach.

    The point is many of conservative Christians go through the motions of contributing to those in need. But their behavior as a whole demonstrates that optimally reducing suffering is not a primary motivator; to the point they predominately stand opposed to those approaches that optimize the reduction of human suffering, including that of the, “least among us”. In the U.S. they’re be the predominant voting base which obstructs such approaches.

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