This Week in God

First up from the God Machine this week is a striking reminder that the religious right movement often takes a unique view of the parts of the Bible treating “the least of these.”
 
In particular, Right Wing Watch reported this week on the latest from the Family Research Council, one of the movement’s largest and most powerful organizations, which doesn’t see a need for public sector to aid struggling families.
Last month, the Family Research Council’s Kenneth Blackwell hailed House Republicans for passing a massive cut in food aid for low-income families, arguing that there is “nothing more Christian” than kicking millions off the food stamp program.
 
FRC head Tony Perkins had a similar take during an interview yesterday with Janet Mefferd, who askin him about Jonathan Merritt’s recent article: Government Shutdown May Drive More Young Christians from GOP. Perkins told Mefferd that while Christians should be active in political affairs because government reflects the values of society, they should leave issues like helping the less fortunate out of it.
 
Even though “as Christians we will be held responsible for the policies adopted by this government because it’s us,” Perkins said Christians shouldn’t see the government as a way to help the poor: “The government has a responsibility to care for the poor? That’s not what Scripture says.”
Perkins want to on to express concern that progressive Christians are “treating the government as if it had divine instructions from God to be a form of theocracy.”
 
First, using public resources to help the poor, whether religiously motivated or not, is hardly theocratic. Second, the irony of a religious right leader expressing concern about theocracy was, apparently, lost on Perkins.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
 
* Germany’s so-called “Luxury Bishop,” Catholic Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, has generated controversy among German Catholics “due to spending and huge cost overruns related to his residence at a time when Pope Francis is stressing humility and serving the poor.” All told, the bishop has reportedly spent $42 million on his personal accommodations, leading to calls for his ouster (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
 
* I don’t even know where to start with this one: “Rick Scarborough invited Peter LaBarbera to address his Tea Party Unity group today, and the two anti-gay activists discussed ways to somehow file a ‘class action lawsuit’ against homosexuality just like when attorneys general of many states filed a lawsuit against tobacco companies.”
 
* While religio-political issues like abortion and gay rights have been staples of the so-called culture war for decades, last week’s Value Voters Summit made clear the right is taking the fight over contraception access very seriously.
 

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This Week in God