Nov. 22, 2011
Adding his voice to FRC’s own Rob Schwarzwalder, Joseph Sunde has a great response over at valuesandcapitalism.com to Rich Cizik’s recent take-down of conservative Christians. Where Cizik is contented to battle straw men, Sunde challenges him with actual ideas held by conservative evangelicals:
Its not that we think supply side economics create strong economies and benefit everyone across the economic spectrum (including, ahem, the poor). Its not that we think free exchange and accurate prices create opportunities for real, sustainable growth and economy recovery. Its not that we think the modern public education system hurts the poor and minimum wage laws lead to poverty traps. And its most certainly not that we think most progressive social programs lead to dehumanization, dependency and economic slavery.
No. Its because we have a fetish for fat cats and were brainwashed by clever marketing. Obviously
Then the money quote:
If Cizik is truly interested in a constructive conversation, he should recognize that it gets him nowhere to sideline our concerns about his pro-poor policies and elevate his progressive approach as the obvious fulfillment of the Sermon on the Mount. If he is really interested in persuading us toward his supposedly Christian outlook, he should start by explaining why and how these programs are, in fact, pro-poor, and how a proper Christian anthropology starts with coercion and manipulation. Instead of claiming our reasons to be purely political, he should explain how exactly his blatant desire to increase political power is somehow less so.
Lastly, because Cizik goes to great lengths to criticize FRC’s Values Voter Summit, I’ve got to add in this caveat from Sunde. It’s just golden:
(CAUTION: Having tuned in to many of the speeches at this years Values Voters summit, I myself am most certainly compromised by the events insincere, diabolical messaging. I am now nothing more than a pawn of big business and the Republican leadership, shamelessly cloaking my love for power and pet political causes in strategic Christian-y language. If you dare continue reading, do so with whatever discretion those wily conservative operatives have allowed you to keep.)
(Thank you Joseph for being part of our diabolical scheme. For those of you who want in, you’ll have to learn the secret handshake using the decoder ring in your box of breakfast cereal.)
What I find particularly troubling is the assumption, a priori, guiding Cizik’s critique. Specifically, that bad motives, political ambition or pure cynicism are guiding conservative Christians in the public square. In his own words:
“The Family Research Council…and Christian conservative operatives advance a political agenda by suggesting that the priorities of corporations and the GOP fit snugly with the teachings of Jesus.”
“Social conservative leaders have shrewdly recalibrated for an election in which the economy is the top concern for voters. ”
“This might be good politics, but its bad theology.”
I don’t find Cizik’s criticism particularly helpful, because it doesn’t grapple with the real views of those with whom he’s at pains to disagree. But beyond that, I think it’s a represents the sad case of a man willing to besmirch his own legacy by assuming the worst of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
I disagree with Cizik, but I believe him sincere. Not evil. Not calculating. Just sincerely wrong. Would that he could extend to us the same charity. As Lincoln would say:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all.”