Religious Relativism - or - Clyburn’s Orwellian Concept of “Christian Charity”

Democratic House Whip James Clyburn sat down with Dan Gilgoff for an interview in U.S. News. What followed was a Q&A session so full of Biblical misunderstandings and Orwellian doublespeak that anyone with the slightest critical thinking skills and knowledge of Christianity would have to be left scratching their heads. He presented what I like to term “Religious Relativism,” or the notion that the teachings of a religion vary depending upon the beliefs and ideals of the person interpreting them.  Consider it the Christian big government version of radical Islam’s jihad.


Below I look at some of his more egregious statements, along with a rebuttal of each, since Mr. Gilgoff was not so prone to asking follow-up questions.


I feel before beginning this analysis that I should point out that I am in no way a social conservative. I was raised Catholic, spent 12 years in Catholic school and parted ways with the Church about a decade ago. But nonetheless, I cannot rightfully read such misrepresentations without disagreeing and setting the record straight, regardless of my religious affiliation.


Also, for reference, bold text in the block quote indicates the question being asked, while regular text indicates the answer given or statement made.


 When you became chair of the Democrats’ Faith Working Group in 2005, you said, “The Democratic agenda is deeply rooted in faith, but we have been less effective than we could be in communicating how our moral values guide our policies.” That certainly seems to have changed.


Members are becoming much more comfortable with expressing our policies in faith terms. For a long time, constitutional issues were so near and dear to Democratic officials that we were just too guarded with all of that. Anything that even seemed like it would in any way violate constitutional principles we just stayed away from.


It’s worth noting that Rep. Clyburn is essentially stating here that at one time the Democratic Party was deeply concerned with Constitutional questions, but now…not so much. Unless of course the question at hand concerns the funding of facilitators of child prostitution rings such as ACORN. Then and only then can the strictest reading of the Constitution be adhered.


Do you worry that Democratic concerns over abortion coverage can derail healthcare reform?


Oh, no, no. Those concerns will be resolved . . . . We have to just make sure that everybody feels comfortable.


Of course the comfort of our elected representatives is of paramount importance. Heaven forbid they be required to practice what they preach as part of their Faith Working Group. Faith, much like the Constitution, is not meant to be called upon at the slightest inconvenience. Rather, it should only be looked to when asked to make politically inconvenient choices.


Are the concerns of antiabortion advocates about healthcare reform valid? Some Democrats say they’re a smoke screen to derail reform.


Yes, they are very valid concerns. One of the reasons we exist is because the speaker feels there ought to be an entity within our caucus to keep these issues front and center. So Rosa DeLauro knows that there are things of the faith persuasion that are pretty much Catholic centered. She’s the go-to person when it comes to this.


Is Rep. Clyburn also inclined towards asking the Hamburgler to guard his purchases from McDonald’s while he’s in session? If Rosa DeLauro is the best example to be offered up from motley crew of the Faith Working Group, that’s certainly a bad omen. If one were to look at Rep. DeLauro’s voting record as it concerns abortion, she would have to be considered the less-than-ideal candidate to tackle abortion concerns. Faith based, indeed!


What has the group accomplished recently that you’re proud of?


Believe it or not, the faith community was big in [passing] our climate change bill. Something that I’ve always been taught is stewardship. It’s the watchword in most religious teachings, and there’s nothing more evident in stewardship than our responsibilities to the climate, to the Earth. It was a tough bill to get 218 on, and I don’t think we would have been able to get there if there wasn’t the kind of climate that faith groups helped us create.


It’s true that stewardship of the Earth is a significant part of the Christian faith. God created the Earth, not for humanity to squander and pillage. But at the same time much of the concern shown by those trying to protect the planet goes beyond stewardship, to a form of gaia worship. Human beings have a duty to protect the planet because it is one of God’s creations, but also because it provides us with sustenance to the human race. Our actions on this planet affect others, and so we should not ruin the Earth’s bounty because of the negative consequences that others will have to endure. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. But conversely, Christianity is explicitly against acting in such a way that will bring injury to others. All analysis of this cap-and-trade bill that Clyburn pushed shows that it will lead to misery and suffering for a vast majority of Americans. Such is the antithesis of the moral espoused by Christianity.


And they’re very much involved in this healthcare bill. I believe if James were writing his epistle today, he would go beyond clothing [the poor]. He would demand that we take care of the sick and the shut-in as part of expressing our faith. Most religious groups see it that way.


I cannot argue with giving time and energy, donating and volunteering to help those are less fortunate. This is the epitome of Christianity, to build the kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. But it is inconsequential to the health care bill. The key word there is “giving.” This involves individual choice, not a faceless government requiring you, under penalty, to provide to the poor and needy. Human beings have been helping those less fortunate long before welfare existed.


What do you say to religious conservatives who argue that those kind of biblical exhortations are directed at individuals, not the government?


What is the government if it’s not individuals acting collectively on behalf of the common good? That’s what we are. So I would not argue with that point. I would agree.


The problem is that Clyburn, and all liberals, are completely corrupting the notion of what a government is. This statement can only be true if the government could reasonably claim to know what all of the governed want. To forcibly take from one and give to another, under the guise of “helping” is opposed to the core tenets of Christianity. Christianity teaches that humans possess free will, not seen in any other of God’s creatures. It is not charitable, in any way shape or form, to undermine the free will of anyone in order to help another.


A government is a social contract between citizens, in which they give up certain powers and freedoms for the protection of their natural/God-given rights. It is not some entity which exists to lift a few men up by using other men as stepping stones. And this is just as Christianity is not some faith or religion which would encourage us to forego personal responsibility in favor of our government doing charity in our stead.


Representative Clyburn should learn these lessons as part of the Faith Working Group, and cease using his misunderstanding of Christianity to push his version of big government. At the very least, he should be thankful that he decided not to go to seminary, and instead went to law school. At least there no one is interested in the truth.