Seriously, though, I’m pretty mad about this.
Here’s the deal, conservative Christians. You’ve got your chance. Is the church going to care for the poor? Is private charity going to step up to the plate? You’ve got 25 states that rejected the Medicaid expansion. Here’s your chance to put up or…
I’m a Christian and I’d like to challenge the thought that the church is not currently working to care for the poor… The church DOES care for the poor. For example, Catholic Charities is #3 in terms of financial size in America according to Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampbarrett/2012/11/08/the-largest-u-s-charities-for-2012/ Actually, the whole list is rather interesting- it looks like a majority of these 100 charities are religiously affiliated.
I’m involved with Feeding America, and we admit that we cannot fix the hunger problem alone. (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151895672727731&set=pb.23875187730.-2207520000.1384035515.&type=3&theater) I think, based on this, it’s unfair to expect the church to fix the problems by itself. My personal opinion is that really solving these problems of hunger, bad health, etc, is up to BOTH the public and private sector.
The reason many people have this belief that “Christians are hypocrites” is because, well… it’s true. We are. But have you ever met anyone who does exactly what they say they believe, regardless of religion?
Nobody is saying that Feeding America or Catholic Charities or any of the hundreds of other church-affiliated non-profits aren’t doing good and important work. Feeding America is throwing its political weight behind what it believes. Why aren’t the Southern megachurches? They have the political weight to get these problems solved. Why sit on the sidelines?
Are the pastors afraid to stand up to their politicians? Are they worried the crowd will turn against them? Deal with it. Shoulder a cross or something. At some point, shouldn’t we at least aspire to live out what we believe? Can we put some of this transformative power into action? Live it out a bit?
"Everybody’s a hypocrite" is a cop-out. Everybody’s weak. Everybody fails. Everybody lets themselves down. We’ve all got regrets. We haven’t lived up to our expectations of ourselves. All this is inevitable. Willful hypocrisy is not. Not every swing is a home run. Strike-out swinging if you have to. But at least step up to the plate.
Either push for the Medicaid expansion or come up with a better plan. Remaining silent on basic medical care for the most vulnerable compromises whatever moral authority the church affects.
Pastors who don’t preach one way or the other on Medicaid expansion aren’t callous or apathetic, says Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. They may be suspicious of a bigger government and skeptical of whether this move will solve the problem.
“The Bible calls on Christians to answer the cries of the poor,” he says. “All Christians must do that. The question of the Medicaid expansion is a question of how we do that. I don’t hear many people arguing that we shouldn’t care about the plight of the poor when it comes to medical care. The question is a genuine debate about the role of the state.”
Look: I hear this. I hear that the role of government genuinely troubles some people. I hear that there is skepticism about whether the government’s intervention in this (huge-scale, nationwide, complex—obviously I’m tipping my hand here, but also, nobody is surprised) problem will really help. I understand that good people genuinely wonder that.
But like Squashed’s last post, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that private charity, through churches or individual donations to non-profits, absolutely cannot and will not fix it. It won’t because it can’t, but more to the point being made above: the huge majority of people making this claim—that the state shouldn’t be doing this and private charities/churches should—will not do a single damned thing about it. They will not donate heavily to charities. They will not organize within their church to do something. They will take a ~principled stance~ against the government doing something big because big government is bad and ineffectual and inefficient, and then they will do nothing.
The sick anger I feel about this, about the sleight of hand that says “we don’t debate caring for the poor, only the role of government therein” that leaves the suffering to their misery, is not because of the protest against government, it’s because of how disingenuous the objection so frequently is. It’s because it is a sleight of hand.
It’s also, if I’m being totally frank, shitty theology. Read the fucking Old Testament (something besides the anti-gay laws), assholes. #aspiring pastor
Link h/t Squashed.
Andy Stanley, mega church pastor. I’ve wondered how such a large number of the Bible-belt pastors can justify standing on the sidelines as their states refuse to extend medical coverage to millions of the most vulnerable. Apparently the answer for Mr. Stanley is that his flock has a really short attention span.
(I don’t mind skepticism of “big government solutions.” But I think rejecting the Medicaid expansion at the expense of those less fortunate than you gives you an obligation to come up with a credible solution of your own.)
Seriously, though, I’m pretty mad about this.
Here’s the deal, conservative Christians. You’ve got your chance. Is the church going to care for the poor? Is private charity going to step up to the plate? You’ve got 25 states that rejected the Medicaid expansion. Here’s your chance to put up or shut up.
Can the church step up an take care of the needs of the poor and uninsured? Or let’s set the bar even lower. Can the private charities in one single state step up to the plate enough that the previous question can be asked without bitter sarcasm?
I’ve seen a couple of posts by claiming that the fiscal cliff deal will reduce charitable giving by reducing the incentive to give. The math on those claims doesn’t add up.1 Here’s what the deal actually did.
If you2 make over $250,000, the total amount of itemized deductions you can claim is reduced by certain amount. In other words, if your previous itemized deductions were x, your itemized deductions are now x - (Your Adjusted Gross Income - 250,000)*.06.
So let’s break out how charitable deductions fair in this. We know that x = State Tax + Other Deductions + Charitable Deductions. Because State Tax and Other Deductions are likely to be fixed, the tax benefits to charitable deductions are only going to get pinched if State Tax and Other Deductions are less than 6% of your income less the $250,000. In most states, income tax alone is going to be more than 6% of the income. If you own any real estate, property taxes will cover the rest on that. In other words, you’d need to have astonishingly few low deductions for there to be any decreased incentive at all for charitable giving. And even then the disincentive is only to the first smidgeon of giving.
In other words, the chance that this change will affect any individual taxpayer’s economic incentives for philanthropy are lighting-strike low.
Somebody is likely to point out that a tax incentive shouldn’t be necessary to get people to make charitable contributions. I get that. For most people it isn’t. But a lot of nonprofits rely on megadonations from a relatively small set of highly-sophisticated uberphilanthropists. The deduction allows a donation of $1,000,000 to have a post-tax effect of $600,000 or less, depending on how it is structured. A hard cap on deductions would probably lead to a pretty dramatic decrease in giving. ↩
To be technical, the maximum cap is 80% of the itemized deductions—but this 80% bit isn’t going to be relevant unless the remaining 20% of the itemized deductions exceed the the standard deduction of $5,950. So you would need to fall into some narrow sliver of people who have incomes above $750,000, and itemized deductions above about $30,000 but below 6% of your AGI - $250,000. ↩
I wrote and deleted about five acerbic responses to this and am just going to leave it here instead.