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Abrogating our Responsibility

July 21, 2011

I try to make This Pilgrim’s Progress an apolitical place on the web. I follow politics for both personal and professional interest and, frankly, I’ve found that discussing it online or anywhere else does little to elevate the soul or spirit. More often, discussion of our current political situation leads to anger, frustration and malaise.

However, as we head deeper and deeper into the election season (does it ever really end) in anticipation of next year’s Presidential primaries and general election, it is already clear that this election cycle will have one predominant theme: class warfare.

The rhetoric sounds something like this:

Republicans: “We’re spending too much money on programs we can’t afford and we need to cut back.”

Democrats: “Republicans hate poor people and want to take away the programs that real Americans rely on.”

Republicans: “Too many people aren’t paying anything in taxes and are leaching off the system.”

Democrats: “Fat cat rich people need to pay more of their fair share.”

Sound familiar?

Tired of it?

Me to.

I write this post, not to focus on what’s wrong with politics and politicians. We’re their enablers. Politicians are just playing a game by the rules we’ve created.

Rather, I want to step further back and ask more essential questions:

Why has the body of Christ abrogated so much of its responsibility to politicians and government?

In other words, when did the Church hand over its responsibility to care for the poor, the widowed and the sick to the government?

Today, July 21, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops put out a press release citing their meeting with President Obama and Congressional leaders to “urge protection of the poor” in ongoing negotiation of a deal in increase the debt ceiling and cut the federal budget.

The release cited a document that was signed by the Bishops, along with “more than 60 heads of Christian denominations and religious organizations,” who call upon the President and Congress “ put the needs of the poor first in allocating scarce resources.”

It’s not that I object with the efforts of the Bishops and other Christian leaders to take care of the poor of our nation. I applaud them for those efforts and hope they are successful. However, the very basis of the press release made me wonder when the balance of this responsibility got so askew.

I think Jesus called his followers to care for the poor, not create governmental entities to do it for them. So, I have to ask the question, does government have to step in because you and I, as follower of Jesus have failed to meet our responsibilities?

I like to imagine a nation in which the President and Congressional leaders don’t get to use class warfare and the plight of the poor as a political weapon because the body of Christ is doing such a good job caring for the poor them.

Maybe I’m naïve or idealistic or maybe I just expect more. Either way, perhaps we need to reboot this conversation and start looking towards what’s expected from you and me when it comes to the “least of these” who live among us.

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