Perkins: Christians Who Want Welfare are Theocrats


This could easily be a Bryan Fischer award. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council went on Janet Mefferd’s radio show and said that Christians who support government aid to the poor are “treating the government as if it had divine instructions from God to be a form of theocracy.” But of course, wanting the government to put gay people in jail because the Bible says so, that’s totally not a form of theocracy.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Where does the babble say to put gay people in jail?

    Isn’t it all about the stones?

    Like a good commenter should, I opened a file of the KJV bible and did some searching: the word “jail” appears only once, describing a jailor (nope, no “gaol” at all); and “gay” shows up only in James 2:3:

    And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing…

    Retro metro!

  2. kantalope says

    So I’m guessing that Perkins is gonna jump in and take over helping the poor? But I’m guessing he won’t as that would require a salary cut when his church coughs up the 6.8 billion just to replace WIC.

  3. Who Knows? says

    On one hand, he has a point. If someone wishes the government to provide for the poor because they believe their religion requires it that might be an example of theocracy. However, the way we have implemented it in the United States is secular. At least, I am not aware of any religious tests to qualify or even asking recipients to take religious pamphlets, or listen to a sermon.

    People can want our government to help the poor simply out of human compassion and empathy. Without any religious purpose. People like Tony Perkins or Janet Mefferd just don’t seem to understand that idea. Without explicit instructions from their God, they have no human feelings or emotion. They only have compassion for the poor because their God had mentioned it. But there are conditions, and compassion is withheld for those poor who do not share their beliefs. Those people, are in the position they are in because they have somehow run afoul from their God and are suffering because of it.

  4. matty1 says

    Maybe we should clarify things a bit. It is not theocractic to say “my religion causes me to support policy X” whether X is welfare or bigotry. It is theocratic to say “God wants policy X and the government must obey”.
    The fact that your religion happens to coincide with a given policy position is not the problem, the problem is when you think your beliefs are sufficient reason for that policy to be followed.

    OK the content of the policies Perkins adovcates is a bigger problem but it would be the same regardless of his motivations. The fact that he thinks God demands people and governments agree with him though is specifically a problem of his religion.

  5. raven says

    This is just gibberish.

    Most of the people in the USA getting government aid AKA “welfare” are xians. This is just simple math, inasmuch as 68% of the population is…xian.

    In fact, it is likely that fundies are overrepresented on welfare inasmuch as they tend to have lower socioeconomic status.

  6. lorn says

    The outrage Tony Perkins feels might have something to do with him objecting, as so many good conservatives do, with gifts and punishments being given out without relation to a persons value to the existing power, and in this case, religious/power structures. Government doesn’t make niggling differentiations between deserving, and undeserving, poor. It does not attach any great moral failure to simply being poor.

    Which contradicts the conservative/ hyper capitalist code that there is but one true sin, lacking money. That poverty is clear and obvious evidence of moral defect. But, once found defective, it becomes a question of a willingness to gain the favor, and forgiveness, of your betters by prostrating yourself to their desires to win their forgiveness. The poor must approach their betters on bended knee with the understanding that they are undeserving. That nothing given is deserved, a right, an entitlement.

    This must not be a transaction between two equals, one of which is suffering presently, while the other is likely to suffer at some later unfortunate day. For that would change the context. Turning patient and heroic giver doing an undeserved favor for a lesser into a much less heroic human fulfilling his moral obligation to help a fellow human being.

    For Tony Perkins it is the sneering condescension and feeling of moral superiority, and the opportunity to give or withhold for arbitrary reason, to manipulate and torture, that matters. Government welfare, administered by bureaucrats who treat all the poor more or less the same, forms an alternative ‘theocracy’, power center, which does not decide who gets what based upon how you became poor, or any demand the receivers perform tricks. Objectionable on that basis alone, it also It takes all the fun out.

    Tony wants the relationship between giver and receiver to more resemble the soup kitchen where the meal comes with lavish servings of self-righteous condemnation, reminders of the givers virtue, religious proselytization‎, and heaping helpings of verbosity on just how undeserving those about to receive the miniscule offerings really are. No, it doesn’t have to be that way. And that relationship is destructive to both sides. But, to Tony Perkins, and his ilk, it just feels soooo right.

  7. says

    “But of course, wanting the government to put gay people in jail because the Bible says so, that’s totally not a form of theocracy.”

    Of course it isn’t. It’s just common sense. Besides, it can’t be theocratic if all religions agree, and all the people I know agree with me. Some of them are even Lutheran, and one’s a Pentecostal! I know!

  8. ck says

    Amazing. A schoolyard “I know you are, but what am I?” elevated to serious political discourse.

  9. Sastra says

    lorn #8 wrote:

    This must not be a transaction between two equals, one of which is suffering presently, while the other is likely to suffer at some later unfortunate day. For that would change the context. Turning patient and heroic giver doing an undeserved favor for a lesser into a much less heroic human fulfilling his moral obligation to help a fellow human being.

    That’s an excellent point. It may be rooted in the Christian view of God’s authority.

    Ask them: if we have duties and obligations to God, does that then entail that God has duties and obligations to us? And watch their heads asplode as they try to explain why no, it doesn’t.

  10. says

    Right wingers can often be quoted saying that although Christian giving is a good thing it is not the government’s job. But I would argue that the USA is a government of the people which is very unlike ancient Rome. Thus making their argument moot.

    Personally, I think the argument that government should help the needy due to Christian principle as a bad one anyway.

    I think giving to the needy as an investment that when you look at history tends to pay off. The only way you want the middle class to grow is from the poorer classes to become middle class. And the best way to make the middle class stronger is to invest in the middle class.

    But prior to FDR and since Reagan, our focus as a nation has been on investing in the rich. And because of that we have had as a nation 19th century growth rates. But from circa 1933 to circa 1980, when this nation was run by liberal ideology, the American middle class exploded in size, wealth, life expectancy, education etc etc.

    So you don’t need to invest in the poor because of Jesus, you need to invest in the poor because it pays off big time for everyone.

  11. D. C. Sessions says

    They only have compassion for the poor because their God had mentioned it.

    Exactly. For the same reason that they don’t murder, steal, rape, etc. They certainly would, but for the threat of eternal punishment. Except, of course, that they have a Get Out of Hell Free card. So keep an eye on you wallet.

  12. says

    Let me get this out of the way, first. Tony Perkins is a fucking asshole and the world will be a better place the day he dies.

    Several NFP’s in the community I live in run a fund raiser, “Stone soup”, once a year, to raise money and awareness for feeding programs for the poor and elderly.

    I’ve volunteered for several of them, doing scut work for a local restaurant as their staff prepares delicious soups for the event. I’ve also gone to the event and paid a measly $5 to eat those wonderful soups. I don’t really get a feeling of charityness for “donating” as there is no way I could buy the soups (a single bowl of any of them) with bread, coffee or another beverage and some sort of sweet after the soup for anything like $5.

    I think it would be really fun to re-structure the event and have people donate their $5 and then give their ticket to somebody who can’t AFFORD $5 for lunch or dinner or their whole damned day’s food. Conversely, I’d like to hand each person in the line a portion cup with a lid and tell them I need a urine sample before allowing them to eat and, oh, btw? the charge for the urinalysis is $ 29.95, due immediately.

  13. barry21 says

    I tried to write a comment that tracked to each example of Perkins’s hypocrisy, cynicism, factual ignorance, and grotesque logic, but I thought better of wading into his worldview.

    I’ve always thought of Kent Hovind as a cheap used car salesman like the “family truckster” guy from Vacation.

    Perkins sells the same shit, but trust him because he wears nicer suits.

  14. hunter says

    barry21 @15:

    Perkins, I think, took as his role model the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland — granted, that’s a characteristic of the “religious” right, but he’s developed it into a high art.

    Watching him is really an amazing thing — it’s just one lie, misrepresentation and distortion after another, delivered smoothly and without hesitation. And if anyone challenges him on anything, he changes the subject.

  15. Friendly says

    I’m reminded of Jack London’s muckraking book “People of the Abyss,” in which Jack, in the guise of an itinerant worker in his namesake city, has to beg to be allowed to leave a mission before the Sunday services are over and the (terrible) meal is served so he can go hunting work for the day before his chance to actually *earn* enough to *pay* for food is shot.

  16. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Read your own book Perkins. God supposedly wipes out people who don’t help the poor.

Leave a Reply