Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Capture of the Protestant Right by Capitalism

10/16/2008--It is no secret that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church wants pro-life candidates to win elections. But that is not entirely partisan—there are pro-life Democrats—and it is driven by an undeniably religious commitment.

But what is one to make of the pro-capitalism position of the conservative Protestant movement? I just read the October 18-25 issue of World Magazine, which is a news magazine from the Christian perspective. The issue emphasized the financial crisis.

From just reading the magazine, you would have thought our major ecoomic problem was Barnie Frank pushing Fannie Mae to help poor people get into houses they could not afford. There is nothing that I read about the deregulation philosophy of the Republican Party in general or the particular decision to exempt mortgage derivatives from the jurisdiction of the SEC. Here is a report about that action that I found on the Internet: “McCain's former economic adviser is ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. On Dec. 15, 2000, hours before Congress was to leave for Christmas recess, Gramm had a 262-page amendment slipped into the appropriations bill. It forbade federal agencies to regulate the financial derivatives that greased the skids for passing along risky mortgage-backed securities to investors.”

This is not just a question of difference of opinion about politics. Why does World Magazine, and why do many conservative Christians, assume that low taxes and small government are an expression of the Gospel? These may be good policy or bad, but they are not Jesus’ policy. As Bill McKibben has pointed out, Jesus never said, “God helps those who help themselves.” It was Benjamin Franklin.

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