Fr. John Whiteford Responds to Dr. David Dunn
In a Huffington Post article, David Dunn has pointed out what he sees as hypocrisy on the part of Christian conservatives:
It is the view that Christians should vote their values, and this means we should legislate moral evils into oblivion. Thus if we believe life begins at conception, we should vote against abortion! If we believe marriage is between one woman and one man, we should vote against gay marriage! And if we believe in caring for the sick and the poor, we should vote against “Obamacare!” …Wait a minute! Do you see the political hypocrisy? The Christian Right votes for candidates who are anti-abortion and anti-gay (at least on paper) because it believes we must pass laws to protect marriage and protect life (at least embryonic life), but it is unwilling to apply the same principle to “Obamacare.” Infants in the womb have a right to life, but apparently adults do not have a right to life-saving medical care.
There are several problems with the logic here. For one, you could simply flip this question and ask why the Christian Left thinks a baby has a right to free medicaid after it is born, but doesn’t think we should prevent that baby from having a doctor induce a partial delivery, stick a pair of scissors in the back of its neck, and then suck out its brains with a suction machine.
Another problem is a failure to recognize where the government’s powers can rightly be used, and where it cannot. Does anyone have a right to medical care? Everyone should certainly have a right to purchase it, but if you say that you have the right to medical care, you are saying you have a right to someone else’s labor. Last time I checked, that was slavery. I don’t have the right to go to a doctor, hold a gun to his head, and make him treat me or my family members.
On the other hand, does a baby have a right not to have a doctor insert scissors into the back of its head and suck its brains out? Yes. Regardless of what the Supreme Court may say, every human being has a right to life, liberty, and property that comes from God, not the government. The government cannot grant those rights, they can only respect and protect them, or allow them to be violated.
Now do the Scriptures say that we should give to the poor? Yes. The Scriptures do not say that we should lobby the government and force our fellow citizens to give to the poor. The Scriptures say that we should give to the poor.
The Scriptures certainly do not forbid a government from providing charity with tax money, but whether or not that is a good thing, and how that should best be handled is not a matter that the Church has a definite teaching on. Christians can disagree.
I have spent 20 years now, in my secular job, working in social services, which have included Medicaid, Food Stamps, TANF (formerly AFDC), and Child Support. I think some of these programs have some good aspects and should continue, but there is also a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse connected with these programs, and there are also problems with the way the government delivers them that encourage dysfunctional behavior.
Further, while all Christians agree that helping the poor is a Christian responsibility, it is not a self evident truth that the best way to accomplish that is more government welfare, or universal health coverage. I certainly would not suggest that those Christians who disagree with my take on that are not Christians because they don’t see it my way, but they should return the favor, since the Church has no clear teachings on how government should handle public charity. For more on my opinions on welfare, see: podcast.
However, when it comes to baby killing or gay marriage, these are questions that the Church does have a clear teaching on. If you think it is OK for the government to not only allow for babies to be murdered, but have no problem when the government wishes to make Christians pay to kill those babies, then you are not only a hypocrite, you have departed from the Christian Tradition.