08 November 2013

The Evangelical Resistance to Obamacare in a Nutshell

I've seen some new debate in the blogosphere on whether or not the evangelical resistance to Obamacare is legitimate or not, prompted mostly by a quote from 'out there' theologian N. T. Wright.

Wright got some immediate pushback, and rightly so. But even then, those pushing back got pushed themselves, and the debate seemed to get muddier. What is missing is a concise explanation of why evangelicals must oppose Obamacare, single-payer healthcare, and any other related scheme the left (or the right) might come up with that puts the government in charge of healthcare.

Pay attention here...this is going to be quick, and I don't want you to miss this-

Nationalized health care and freedom of religion, speech, etc., CANNOT both exist at the same time and in the same relationship.

Why not? Think about it in simple, logical terms rather than convoluted social arguments. Health care is directly related to health, and health is a direct consequence (among some other things) of behavior.  Religion is directly related to religious beliefs, and religious beliefs have the direct consequence of influencing behavior.

In a theocracy, there is no religious freedom because behavior (outward expression of religious belief) is restricted to the religion that is in charge. In a democracy, religious freedom can exist as long as the government is tolerant of various expressions of religious belief via behavior (what people say, do, etc.). But when the democracy adopts nationalized health care, it assumes authority over certain behaviors, and when these behaviors conflict with the best interests of the government, they are subdued or prohibited. These might include religious speech, such as opposition to certain medical procedures; they might include domestic behaviors such as keeping and bearing arms; or they might include social behaviors, such as disapproval of certain lifestyle behaviors (like for example, not wanting to photograph a wedding).

Some will make all kinds of logical-acrobatic arguments about these things, but they all boil down to the simple fact that when a government becomes the arbiter of behaviors associated with health care, they necessarily become the established religious authority in the nation. No loop-holing will change that fact.

07 November 2013

The Rub of the False Mega-Church Pastor

Recently, there's been a dust-up over a mega-church pastor in Charlotte and his new mansion. The reporting has been kinder than one might expect, which says a few things I won't go into here.

Being a mega-church pastor, aside from the spiritual implications, is not a bad gig. You can make a ton of money and you don't have to work very hard. Granted: there are spiritual implications, but from a completely secular, pragmatic point of view, its a nice way to earn a living.

But there's a problem that I haven't seen discussed yet. It is not simply that one can choose to be a mega-church pastor, and go open a mega-church. You see, almost all of these folks have built their church from the ground up. In other words, not just any Tom, Dick, or Steven can be a mega-church pastor. One needs to be gifted. (I didn't say talented. More on that shortly.)

So what's the problem? Aren't NFL athletes gifted, and that's why they make a bunch of money? Well, yes. But don't forget about all the hard work they have to do to take advantage of that gift and the additional hard work to stay at the top of their game. And I suppose you could argue that some of these mega-church pastors work hard too, as performers, as stand-up comedians, and so on. But let's get back to the gifted part. Where do you suppose that gift comes from?

Do you think there are any additional spiritual implications for those who are gifted at that level and choose to take advantage of the gift in a secular (that is, financial) way? Joyce Meyer is a gifted speaker. Creflo Dollar is a charismatic personality (no pun intended...really). Kenneth Hagin was a convincing preacher. All these have used their gifts for personal financial gain well beyond just about anyone's definition of 'paying the worker their wages'. There's even a new TV series about a certain group of these folks. (Disclaimer: I haven't watched an episode, and likely won't.)

Kinda makes me nervous. Shouldn't it?