Christians Belong Outside the Tea Party
The tea party movement opens a discussion worth having, but Christians are called to care for the underprivileged.
David P. Gushee | posted 10/27/2010 10:36AM
But the tea party movement also has ugly weaknesses. I saw a new bumper sticker this week. It said, "Take Our Country Back: November 2010." It's hard to deny the evidence available from tea party events that much of the passion driving the movement flows from visceral opposition to President Obama.
"Birthers" (disproportionately represented among tea partiers), the nearly universal tea partier belief that Obama is a socialist and/or communist, and, yes, the occasional racially tinged incidents and comments, all signal disbelief that this country ever could have elected Obama.
President Obama is the Other. The symbolism of "Don't Tread on Me," the emphasis on gun rights, and the tea party's links to America's revolutionary days lend a frightening undertone to the movement, at least on its fringes.
To the extent that the tea party movement is simply a contemporary expression of low taxes, small government, and leave-me-alone libertarianism, it carries all the weaknesses of that libertarianism in terms of Christian social ethics. We Christians are called to care for the underprivileged, not leave them to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
The article above is from Christianity Today – I have posted only the conclusion. Use the link to read it all.
My point here is not to attack or defend the “Tea Party” – which I have to keep reminding people is not a political party, even though the name makes you think it is. My point is to comment on the claptrap that this Gushee fellow puts out in the name of Christianity.
First, why is opposition to President Obama necessarily a bad thing for a Christian. In fact, what consistent Christian could endorse ten percent of what Obama has both done, and tried to do for (to) this nation so far? What about the government owning General Motors – done under Obama – is not socialist? It is this sort of thing that makes many wonder how this country could have elected Obama. A black socialist is no better than a white socialist – both are equally deplorable. (How’s that for “racial equality”?)
Second, as a political principle of sorts, what is wrong with “Don’t Tread on Me.” Does Gushee not realize that, even in its original context it was calling people to defense, not aggression? What is “frightening” about that, especially now when it is clearly being used by most Tea Party people in a political context. What they are “threatening” to do is vote people out of office. What about that necessarily conflicts with the Christian faith?
Third, let’s consider an “emphasis on guns rights.” What about the Christian faith is in any way in conflict with the Second Amendment? The Second Amendment simply describes a right (more accurately, two rights – one collective, and another individual) that shall not be infringed. It does not require that anyone exercise this right. It only requires that no one infringe upon this right. What about that could possibly conflict with the Christian faith?
Finally, and this is probably the most important point here, when will these nitwit “spokesmen” for the Christian faith ever figure out the proper relationship between charity and government? “Leave-me-alone libertarianism” is not a complete ethical system. It is a view of what is appropriate for government. One of the things people are left alone to do under this approach to government is to help those in need.
It approaches idiocy for Christians to say, as they so often do, that if you do not want government to “care for the poor” then you don’t want anyone to care for the poor.
Clearly, this Gushee fellow thinks that government, and only government, can “care for the underprivileged.” But this is much more than just a debate about political systems. It is theological to the core.
If you think only government can care for the “underprivileged” then you have a theologically dangerous view of the place of government. You have put government in the place of God.
I think that is a form of idolatry.