The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Gary Bauer is Wrong about the Bible

In a recent column for USA Today, Gary Bauer (former GOP presidential candidate and President of a conservative political organization called American Values) makes a big biblical blunder. He addresses the issue of the role of faith in politics and uses Jim Wallis as an example of a Christian with whom he shares religious heritage but not political conviction.

Sojourners Editor Jim Wallis and I are both evangelical Christians. But we come to radically different conclusions about government's role in addressing poverty. Wallis thinks Republican tax cuts are unbiblical, and that more government spending and taxes are the main antidote. But nowhere in the Bible are we told that government should take one man's money by force of law and give it to another man. Jesus' admonition was a personal command to share, not a command for Caesar to "spread the wealth around."

First, Bauer mischaracterizes Wallis’ position. Sojourners and the entire Circle of Protection have called for a balanced approach to deficit reduction. This means that taxes should be on the table. But, the Circle acknowledges that there does need to be spending reductions and explicitly states that some of those reductions will need to come from entitlements.

Now, on to the biblical problem.

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1,000 Photos of the 99 Percent

When you hear the phrase “the 99 percent,” many different images and ideas come to mind. Much of the mainstream media has depicted the Occupy Movement in a negative light and its participants as "dirty hippies," radicals, stoners or losers.

That’s why Brooklyn photographer Vanessa Bahmani decided to let the 99 percent portray themselves.

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New Report: "The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Laws in 2011"

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization) released a report Tuesday on anti-immigration legislation passed or considered by states. The 41-page report focuses primarily on Arizona’s SB 1070, and similar laws, and the effects these had on issues other than immigration.

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The Top 10 Stories of January 11, 2012

Quote of the day.
"The wheels start moving. It starts picking up speed. It gets bumpy. You have nothing to hold on. But the hunger that you have to get to the United States just to be with your family, that's all that's in your head. I'm going to make it." - Luis Luna, 20, brought to the U.S. as a toddler, describing his attempt to return to the U.S. on the undercarriage of a boxcar after being deported.
(Los Angeles Times)

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Viral: "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus"

Are you a Christian who spends a lot of time online? Then perhaps you've heard of Jeff Bethke. Bethke, aka bball1989, is a spoken word poet whose rhymes and videos are capturing the attention of thousands of Christians across the web.

His latest video is going viral among online Christian communities. Provocatively titled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” the poem is a unique fusion of prophetic criticism, personal testimony, and a call to action.

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Justin Bieber's Ecce Homo

You might not have a clue who Bieber is. Or, if you are aware of the existence of the crown prince of Stratford, Ontario, you might not give two hoots about him. But I’m guessing that there is a young person in your life who does.

So, for the sake of the children, please hear me out....

He is, in a sense, laying the groundwork for an awareness of the social gospel for a generation that will, sooner than we realize, become leaders in our society and our world.

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Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: January 10, 2012

A zombie version of the Oregon Trial, what it would look like if Batman had been created by Dr. Suess, and could an App a day keep the doctor away? Plus, videos of wackadoo political candidates, what happens in a book store at night when no one's around, how to get discovered on YouTube by Russell Crowe (without even trying), and ... Aunt Carol grooving to Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna.”

See video

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Afternoon News Bytes: Jan. 10, 2012

Romney Engages Occupiers In N.H.; Ron Paul: Charities Should Provide Health Care To The Uninsured; Has Obama Waged A War On Religion?; Poor, But Feeding The Rich; Ron Paul 2012: Why Evangelicals Could Get Him Nominated; Tea Party, Evangelical Voters Not A Factor In N.H. Primary; Rick Santorum Says Welfare Reform Deserves Credit For Reductions In African-American Child Poverty; Pity American Atheists, As Reviled As British Christians; Republican Voters Unenthusiastic About Their 2012 Field; Hollywood Out Of Touch, Or Are Christians Expecting Too Much?; Biblical Economic Justice: Supply And Demand Isn't Enough.

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Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination

When a friend told me about this book late last year, I thought that all my Christmas had come early.

A theological treatise on Bruce Cockburn has been very necessary for years, but surely he was such a cult artist that no publisher would ever see a book on him as profitable. So fair play to Brazos Press for the courage and vision. And the author might have swayed the deal.

Walsh does a good few things in Kicking At The Darkness; Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination. He confirms all your thoughts on your favorite Cockburn lyrics. (They were as theologically potent as you always thought!) He also reminds you how many great lines Cockburn has written, causing you to scuttle back to re-listen to every album right back to the first.

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Cee Lo, Tebow and American Fundamentalisms

Cee Lo Green got himself in some pop-culture hot water on New Years Eve when he changed the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine." You would think he was changing the Bible or something, but no, it was much worse. He changed the lyrics to a John Lennon song. "No religions" became "all religions" and all hell broke loose....

Suffice it to say that people were put out. They defended Lennon's unchangeable artistic canon. Green's supporters suggested that all art can be reinterpreted...even John Lennon's. Personally, I didn't find it offensive at all. Instead, I thought it was a thoughtful (if momentary) update to the iconic pop song. Given the religious strife in the world, expressing a love for humanity through all the world's religion was generous and very appropriate for a New Year celebration.

Alas, no. We're beset by fundamentalisms of all kinds (Lennonists?) and on all sides in this nation of ours. We're sufficiently afraid of religiosity that we've turned anti-religiosity into a religion and musicians become gods and their three minute songs become scripture...unchangeable holy writ.

We're afraid and that fear strips us of our compassion.

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