Chri$tian Candidate$

Of course John McCain is rich. So is Barack Obama. So are Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Mitt Romney and just … Continued

Of course John McCain is rich. So is Barack Obama. So are Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Mitt Romney and just about every presidential candidate these days. It doesn’t take one rich family to run a country. It takes an oligarchy.

McCain’s seven houses, Obama’s book deals and even Edwards’s haircuts tell us plenty about the lifestyles of the rich and politically famous. But what does the personal wealth of candidates tell us about their faith, and in particular their Christian beliefs? And why aren’t they being asked those questions?

The gospels are filled with the words of Jesus admonishing the rich to take less and give more, trying to get the rich to see that it’s not what they have but what they do for others with what they have that matters. Can you call yourself a Christian and spend millions on yourself? Sermons rarely go there.

Neither did Rick Warren at last week’s presidential forum at Saddleback Church — missing an opportunity to explore an important part of each candidate’s personal faith.

Pastor Warren asked the candidates to “define rich” rather than to talk about the limits and responsibilities, if any, that their faith places upon their wealth. Warren’s reluctance to get specific is a reflection of the church’s overall discomfort with and confusion about the subject of money.

Most church leaders don’t have any qualms about asking us to tithe — to give 10 percent (tax deductible) of our income to the institutional church. But how many ask us to account for the other 90 percent? If they did, we’d probably tell them to mind their own business. Or we might start asking them the same questions. It’s the church’s version of don’t ask, don’t tell.

If the church is going to measure today’s candidates on such “faith and values” issues as abortion. gay marriage, war and the environment, shouldn’t wealth (theirs and ours) also be part of that discussion?

I’d like to hear McCain’s response to this question: “You are a rich man. You and your wife Cindy own seven homes, which you apparently use just for yourselves and your children. A number of years ago, you adopted a child from an orphanage in Bangladesh. How many more children could you save if you sold five or six of your homes and just used one or two for yourself. As a Christian, do you feel a responsibility to do that?”

I’d like to hear Obama’s response to this question: “You are a rich man. A few years ago, you signed two book deals worth nearly $2.3 million. You and your wife Michelle made more than $4 million last year and you own a home worth more than $1 million. What have you done with that money to help “the least of these.” I don’t mean how many checks have you written to charity. Can you give us specific names of people you have helped?”

What politicians do with their own money says something about their character. It says even more about their faith.

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  • lark

    You’re fudging when you say that McCain and Obama are both rich. There are distinctions, and they matter for economic policy in this country – and that matters to hundreds of millions of people. Will we have health insurance? Good jobs? Functional banks? A politician who is by for and of the rich is going to have a limited perspective, as McCain has showed by his comments (he defines a rich person as someone who has more than 5 million). Some differences:McCain married his money, which is a vast fortune of at least 100 million. Obama made 4 million last year from the sale of his books. From his work, in other words. McCain is so rich the McCain’s spent $270,000 last year – on servants. McCain’s chief economic adviser accused Americans of whining about the economy. This fellow was one of the architects of deregulation and “free market” ideology that has trashed our credit system and spawned the housing bubble. There’s a lot more substance that I can’t list here, but space is not the problem. You need to have a serious commitment to critically evaluating the spin in your journalism.

  • Hippo Kritt

    David Water$$$$$$, how do U make a living?

  • washpost18

    “What politicians do with their own money says something about their character. It says even more about their faith.” — David WatersWhat do you do with your own money, D.Waters? What columnists choose to do with their religious discussion forums says something about their character. It says even more about their partisanship.Why not suggest both candidates answer the same question you wish posed to the Obamas? Might it be because the truthful answer from McCain would be that most of it went to the “John and Cindy McCain Foundation” which, if one looks at their donation record, shows that $500,000USD went to three private schools attended by their children?

  • Obama the Waffler

    Obama made 4 million last year from the sale of his books. From his work, in other words.No, from his words. Empty words. Empty rhetoric.If we judged Jesus by his ability to read a Teleprompter, he would have come in second to Lord Obama.I think McCain’s father in law sold something and earned the money over 50 years. Sounds like a business, not BS.

  • gottabeanon

    Read the NYT article today about the McCain’s wealth and Cindy’s family history. Adultary seems to be a family trait. Hereditary family values.As I see it, McCain is a trophy husband, a kept man.

  • washpost18

    “I think McCain’s father in law sold something and earned the money over 50 years.Sounds like a business, not BS. “That would be beer (something many practitioners of Cindy’s religion frown heavily upon), and that would be the work of Cindy Hensley’s father, not anyone in John McCain’s family.Sounds like the BS comes only from your direction Waffleboy.

  • Earl C

    Obama has made his money honestly and with sound scholarship and thought. The bit about teleprompters is too much. I’ve seen Obama with and without teleprompters, he is equally good. I’ve seen McCain with and without, he is equally bad. Try as you will to hang the teleprompter thing on Obama, but you cannot. Obama has the ability to memorize large quanities of material. McCain can only wish that he had even half of Obama’s intellect. Actually, this all comes back to race. It is very difficult for a bigoted white guy to admit that a black guy can be smarter than he is. The whole Republican thing is to try to cut Obama down to size or, their usual parlor langauge, to put “blacky” back in his place. As a Southern white guy who has met many different types of people during my six years in the military and my many years in education, I have a good idea about how people think. It was never the smart kids who had problems with the idea’s of others. Smart kids can debate and debate without getting belligerent, hostile, or abusive. I have yet to meet a schoolyard bully who was in the top half of his/her class. There is a message here.

  • 4shelby2

    Having money is not a sin. It’s what you do with your money that matters. When wealthy people use their money to help the less fortunate and they don’t tell others about it I think that says a lot about their motives and character. Obama doesn’t do much without cameras present — that says a lot. The fact that the McCain’s have many homes isn’t a poor reflection on them. I haven’t heard them bragging about it. I don’t agree with others that complain about how much money they spent on so-called servants. The fact is having what they have requires upkeep and I seriously doubt the McCain’s would own all of their homes/properties if they couldn’t afford the upkeep. I also doubt they have servants. I know they have in-home help — that’s not the same as having servants. They don’t come across as people who would sit around with their feet up refusing to get themselves a glass of water. What else do they do with their money? My guess is plenty. There’s no doubt they share their wealth with others that truly need it. Jealousy is never a good thing.

  • Eric

    David Waters brings up a good point; however, he should be aware that Mormons are not Christians. Mormons, acting against the commandment in the book of Revelation that nothing should be added or subtracted from the Bible, have created their own “holy” books, making them a separate faith.

  • Hal Itozis

    What about challenging the vast number of Chri$tian Mini$ter$ who earn huge sums of cash? They are profiteers of the pulpit who portray themselves as holier than thou, but who are trapped by greed. Mother Theresa was a saint; Joel Osteen is a businessman. I respect the former, but not the latter.

  • Whathavethedone

    And God said:”What have they done to their Mother Earth? What have they done to my fair sister? They’ve plundered her and ravaged her; they’ve ripped her and raped her and stuck her with fences in the side of the dawn. What have they done to my fair sister?”-JMSomething like that!

  • Erik

    The question posed by the site does not raise the issue of the protestant work ethic. That is, the idea that if you work hard at your God-given vocation, prosperity follows. (See Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism). The issue is raised by Jim, above, as he believes that the notion is present with these people, and that they need chastisement. Taking the issue a step further, and in the more relevant direction, a very difficult issue is how does one translate the answer to the question of what one should do with one’s own wealth into an answer to the question of what we should do with the national wealth. Does Christ call on us to tax the wealthy heavily so that their money can be spent to fulfill a moral imperative, presumably that of the majority, but not all citizens? It is a question that politicians face in a variety of circumstances. It may well be that someone who believes the death penalty to be immoral might still have to oversee a system of laws that imposes exactly that.At what point does it violate the spirit of tolerance advocated by Chapter 14 of Romans? At what point is it an abdication of the calling to the vocation to do God’s work?

  • S. Heriger

    Boyoboy, Dwayne. What history books have you been reading when you say that Christians and Jews have murdered more people than anyone else in history? You’re a perfect example of an uninformed bigot spouting lies you heard somewhere else…lies that can’t be backed up with a shred of evidence. Were Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot in that category you refer to as “Christians and Jews?” They murdered over 100 million people in the 20th century alone. Please let me know which church they belonged to. Yes, people calling themselves Christians have committed a number of atrocities over the years, but in terms of deaths, these atrocities pale in comparison to the number of murders committed by the rogue’s gallery listed above. If anything, the actions of those so-called Christians isn’t an indictment of Christ’s message, but instead a perfect example of what happens when you mix religion with political power. The “faith” part of the equation is always destroyed. And since you appear so uninformed, physical churches and institutions aren’t that important to true Christians, who see everyone, regardless of race, creed or color, as brothers and sisters. The true church isn’t a building or an institution that collects lots of money. The true church is the body of believers who actually live in accordance with the commandments of Christ.

  • Paganplace

    I find it interesting how getting paid for writing books with the intention of improving the country, is equated with just happening to inherit and marry into wealth and seven mansions. Maybe that’s why public piety is so politically-convenient for those who like to claim one of these is practically a ‘Commie’ for *not* serving only the very-rich.

  • Paganplace

    ” Eric:”David Waters brings up a good point; however, he should be aware that Mormons are not Christians. Mormons, acting against the commandment in the book of Revelation that nothing should be added or subtracted from the Bible, have created their own “holy” books, making them a separate faith.”That’s interesting, Eric, since the ‘Book of Revelation’ wasn’t *in* the Bible at the time, since the Bible as compiled later didn’t *exist* yet, and in fact there was some controversy about whether or not to include said book in what you now know as ‘the Bible.’

  • S. Heriger

    As a follow-up to my previous post: Before anyone tries to point out that Hitler was raised a Catholic, all I can say is please, get real. Hitler was no more a Catholic than the Pope is an atheist. Additionally, he never called for the deaths of the Jews on any religious grounds, but as an act of restoring “natural order.” Another fact to consider is that while he held the position as dictator of Germany, he was an occultist.

  • mhr

    To carry the suggestion of your query to its logical conclusion there has been in fact a religion that acted as you imply one should. In the interest of abolishing inequality that religion abolished the right to own private property. The saints of this church were: Saint Marx, Saint Lenin, Saint Stalin, Saint Mao-Tse-Tung, Saint Ho Chi Minh, Saint Fidel Castro, Saint Ciacescu, Saint Hoxha and a variety of others. Since millions of people did not cooperate with their idealistic plan these saints found it necessary to murder 100,000,000 human beings. There are many liberal Democrats who are multi-millionaires, among them Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Edwards, Diane Feinstein, Hussein Obama, Herb Kohl, Jay Rockefeller, Jon Corzine, Jane Harman, Pete Stark and many more. There are many other wealthy liberals in Hollywood and New York and places in between who might very well join to liquidate a goodly portion of their fortunes to assist the poor.

  • Slloyd

    I think it is a joke that we are aguing about the relative morality of two Christians If you help your fellow man and behave yourself because some omnipotent god is holding a metaphysical gun to your head you get no points from me. only someone with no belife in eternal punishment is able to comit a truely altruistic act. Fear of hell or deams of heaven are selfish desires. unfortunately in this secular nation being an Athieist would automaticly disqualify you as a presidential contendor. I would like to see money removed from the polititcal process all together through 100% public finacing and a law banning the use of private funds in any election. then it would not matter howmany houses you had it would all be about your Ideas and qualifications.

  • Paganplace

    “There are many other wealthy liberals in Hollywood and New York and places in between who might very well join to liquidate a goodly portion of their fortunes to assist the poor.”What, so wealthy religious panderers can run unopposed and say, ‘Look what my Righteous Christianity gives you, unlike those commies who have Unchristian ideas like not making sixty percent of our strained health care dollars go to feeding fatcats who do no work at the expense of the poor and suffering…?’Is that what you want?

  • Peggy in TX

    And this is the reason that in their wisdom, our Founding Fathers saw a need for the separation of church and state- I frankly thought that the whole “vetting” by a religious leader under any circumstance of presidential candidates was as unnecessary as it was unconsitutional. If Senator Obama decided to participate even though I think it was a no win situation why doesn’t John McCain have to do something similar, perhaps to a vetting by Richard Trumpka or John Sweeny. I understand that Senator McCain chose not to fill out the questionnaire that the AFL-CIO sends out to candidates and while glancing through the latest AARP magazine, I noticed that he did not respond to theirs on health care as well. I am sure that both the AFL-CIO and the AARP would surround Senator Obama in a cone of silence if that would bring comfort to Senator McCain. Many of us would be as interested in hearing Senator McCain speak to these issues as were the many who were interested in what Senator Obama had to say to Warren.

  • Religion?

    I note that religious people tend towards socialism and absolutely despise it when someone gets ahead. If you get ahead then you’re supposed to feel guilty and give it all up to those who sloughed off and sat in church instead of worked. This is why religion needs to be kept in its place – which is OUT of our lives and kept in the church so that those who want to sit around the campfire and sing and feel sorry for themselves don’t mess with the rest of us.

  • Hypocrisy is Religion

    John Edwards is a Christian. Bill Clinton is a Christian. Packard is a Christian. And all they do is screw around and cheat on those whom they hold most dear. They lie. They cheat. They backstab. And then they sit in the front row of the church pews – probably next to you – singing at the top of their little lungs as they can’t wait to run out the church doors and go get a piece of a$$ before they go home for Sunday dinner. They’re all GOOD Christians. I see Christian as an identity and I think LIAR and HYPOCRITE.

  • David

    How many could the Catholic Church have helped if it didn’t pay $200 million in settlement for pedophile priests?

  • deflag

    The only way to get rich in politics is by marrying up or by being a crook. There’s more benefits to marriage than being a crook. We have too many crooks and not enough good marriages. I guess that is because marriage takes so much hard work and being a crook makes for a fast score. Love is slow, it only appears to be fast. All you can do is stay busy and love the one you are with for as long as you shall both live and then some more because there’s the afterlife to think about beyond this short thrilling voyage. There are colors to change the things you can, so be colorful and if you can’t be colorful be careful. Most of all love life, it’s worth it.

  • Kevin Morgan

    When the evangelicals began paying their ministers 100k+ per year, mercy for the poor began disappearing from the sunday sermon. The new message became that if you were wealthy, it was because God rewarded you for being faithful. If you were poor it is because God is punishing you for your sins. In short, the rich deserve everything they have and the poor are getting what they deserve. Jesus’s message of compassion is so far removed from the evangelical collective message that punishing the poor has taken its place as their policy on poverty. They adopted the mantra of the rich, that all poor people are lazy, drug addicted, dishonest welfare recipients.

  • Kevin Morgan

    When the evangelicals began paying their ministers 100k+ per year, mercy for the poor began disappearing from the sunday sermon. The new message became that if you were wealthy, it was because God rewarded you for being faithful. If you were poor it is because God is punishing you for your sins. In short, the rich deserve everything they have and the poor are getting what they deserve. Jesus’s message of compassion is so far removed from the evangelical collective message that punishing the poor has taken its place as their policy on poverty. They adopted the mantra of the rich, that all poor people are lazy, drug addicted, dishonest welfare recipients.

  • Paganplace

    ” deflag:”The only way to get rich in politics is by marrying up or by being a crook. “It’s more like the only way to get *into* politics is by *being* rich, by hook or by crook.

  • deflag

    I invested a great deal of time in my zinnia flowers. You never know what colors are going to come to life. Variety abounds!I don’t select the color, I go with nature and let the variety happen. It’s more exciting that way. It gives you something good to look forward to. For all the time I spent on these flowers, I could of made a lot of money. The flowers are more important to me. I’ll make money later. Politics is like that, in that you can’t plan. Murphys Law is always at work. Enjoy your flowers while you can, even politics can wait.

  • asoders22

    The candidates shouldn’t have been interrogated – however gently – by any clergy in the first place. Jesus said nothing about sex, abortion or homosexuality. He had a lot to say about being rich, and very little of it were good things. The different churches have conveniently forgotten about that. Hypocrisy.

  • deflag

    You can always get out of politics. I do it in my garden. The deer show up at night and they don’t vote, they just munch plants and move along according to how hungry they are. They are eating in the front yard now, so I need to plant more plants for them. The neighbors are spraying chemicals all over the place to stop the deer. That’s on top of the chemicals for the grass. I just use water. A simple solution.

  • dduck

    “look at their tax returns. the mccains give 25% to charity; obamas barely 1%”hey now-> mmouse..you know obama has been faithful to kickback after he is “in place”:READ THIS !!!”Barack Obama served on the board of directors of Woods Fund of Chicago from 1993 to 2001. During that time, the tax exempt foundation made some interesting grants, including one to Obama’s church, Trinity United Church of Christ, headed by Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the time. Grants were also made to ACORN, a left wing voter registration group and to a partnership for constructing low income housing. The fund also used Northern Trust for financial services, which is the same company that provided Obama his 2005 mortgage.In 2001 the board of directors included Obama, William Ayers, the former Weather Underground radical terrorist, and serving as chairman was Howard J. Stanback who headed New Kenwood LLC, a limited liability company founded by now-convicted felon Tony Rezko and Allison Davis, Obama’s former boss at the law firm of Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland.”

  • Mary

    Yes. What about wealth indeed. Isn’t it true that the McCains gave less to charity last year than they spent on household help? And isn’t it also true that the McCains don’t even live together like so many other wealthy couples involved in marriages of convenience?

  • deflag

    It’s watering time. Have a nice day.

  • Anonymous

    Mary- you are confusing the McCains with John Kerry and his wife, Theresa Heinz.

  • verbatim

    Perhaps it is the use of wealth for one’s indulging,

  • NotSoGreatScot

    Verbatim: – I think the greater sin is believing that they deserve their wealth more than others. As Barry Switzer put it: “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

  • jhbyer

    The real issue isn’t how they spend their own money, it’s how they they plan to spend ours. That’s the elephant in the room. Which candidate favors spending taxes on health care and ways to uplift the poor? Which one funded a needless war that caused hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to become homeless and poor – and would do it all over again?Jesus would never vote for today’s GOP.

  • DS

    Wherever your treasure is, there also is your heart.

  • Dave

    Life in harmony with higher values is based on giving, not getting. Few politicians or anyone else for that matter have much in-depth understanding on the true source of supply.The paradox is you can’t truly be given anything unless you already possess it. You can earn it through the sweat of your brow, but not be given it.People who are wise and engage in wise giving can be rich or poor as far as their bank account is concerned. Doesn’t matter.What they give is coming out of their spirit or their consciousness. Spiritual discrimination or intuition is key in sensing the subtleties of the process. I wonder if one politician or the other has a little better or deeper understanding on this matter.

  • Addison Bradford

    I think it is misguided theology that believes that only the poor or those who struggle are religious. You cannot help poor people by joining them in their poverty. In the Bible quote, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly,” does not put a limit on our wealth. To get wealth by fraud or devious means, disturbs the soul of a person, not because of the wealth but because of the means it was obtained. And if wealth is to be distributed to the poor, then why do we have mega-churches, cathedrals, and temples that cost millions and millions of dollars?

  • GUESS WHO

    “I think that rich is – should be defined by a home, a good job and education and the ability to hand our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one we inherited.”

  • Wesley Comer

    The Christ says that it will be easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven (paraphrased of course). He says a lot about helping the poor. I have done a lot of work with the poor and it always amazes me that many, many of the poor are happier than the rich(I do a lot of work with rich people too). Too many Americans are obsessed with money and the more they have the more they want. And if we don’t have money we want to look like we do.I wonder just how much the candidates give to charity….not actuall dollar amounts…but a percentage of their wealth.Too many churches are concentrating on money today as well which is why I am not attending the church I belonged to for so long.I would rather worship in a muddy field or in my own backyard rather than in some of the sanctuaries I have been in.

  • samson151

    Repeat after me: “Church and State should remain forever separate. Church and State should remain forever separate. Church and State…”A few million times should do it. I hope.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    You say that Obama is rich.As far as wealth goes, Obama is to McCain as a flea is to an elephant. And Obama made his own money, unlike McCain.I’m sick of the media’s prurient and obsessive interest in these sorts of trivia, while the world burns and the U.S. declines.

  • bigger issue

    There is no real choice folks. Two US Senator millionaires. Now we know Obama is running with yet another US Senate millionaire. And this is the same US Senate who put us in the current fix we are in. The difference between Barack and Old John is very very thin. I do not recall Obama taking any really chalenging positions on anything. And McCain has rubber-stamped his way through the last decade. The last time he did anything of note was being part of the Keating 5.As to any absurd questions regarding their “Christian beliefs”, why should any opinion about magical type thinking be relevant. Why not ask their opinion on Astrology or whether they think God could cook a batch of spicy chili so hot that even He could not eat it.Please note Article 6 of the US Constitution. No religious test. (PERIOD)These guys are running for POTUS because they are both egomaniacs with the necessary bizaar lust for power and minimum level of public acceptance necessary to carry off a campaign. The concept of poverty to each of them is pretty foreign. These are rich power mongers and play in an extremely fast league where truth and honesty have long been sold out.No doubt they will say what they need to say to get elected. As long as they keep spouting platitudes and claiming to be “saved” they will satisfy any of the evangelicals’ whitebread religious concerns. The “truthy” part of the campaign is now over. This is the sad and demeaning sprint to the finish.Obama will win because McCain looks like he has been preserved in formaldahyde. Old John has no chance because he is very very O-L-D. Think Bob Dole.

  • Marita

    Addison, I agree that wealth does exclude the possibility of be religious. It is not money that is evil it is the love of money, I believe is the biblical quote. The bible is also full of stories of The Wealthy Man with the Beggar at the gate. The story of the man that has an exceptionally good harvest and rather than distribute some of it to those in need builds a bigger silo to horde it; he is told that very night his life will be required of him. There is the story of the poor woman who gives her one coin in her possession and Jesus declares that her gift is of greater value than the wealthy person who gives more but from his riches, because she gave everything and from a need herself, while he gave just a portion of his wealth.

  • Anonymous

    I meant to say that I did not believe that wealth excluded the possibility of being realigious faithful people!

  • tanaS

    To paraphrase Ambrose Bierce: A Christian: A person who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they don’t interfere with a greedy and selfish life.

  • sam

    Obama was, until he recently and publicly left his church, a very generous contributor–well into five figures just to his church and much more to other charities. He made his tax-forms public, and they did him great credit as a Christian.

  • Bev

    My parents were ministers who gave most of their salary (yes, the churches paid for one minister but got two)to the church and church-related missions. They also gave generously to their children by teaching us the value of money and the value of helping others. They never owned more than one house at a time and we counted ourselves “rich” when we finally could afford a second car. Perhaps Warren failed to ask the questions you’ve raised because pastors of megachurches are least likely to help the least of these their brethren – except to admonish them to buy their new self-help book. Want a purpose-driven life? Then give unto others – the least of these my brethren.

  • Heathen Civics Student

    Since the U.S. constitution forbids a religious litmus test to hold public office, this issue is SOOOOOOOO completely irrelevant as to be absurd and quite disturbing. Whether or not either candidate is a good Christian is not a question that should even be asked in connection with their fitness for public office.

  • pali2500

    There are over 2,000 different Christian sects registered with the IRS.Yet David Waters refers, repeatedly, to “the church”.Just what church is he talking about?Does he have a clue?Similarly, he says, “Can you call yourself a Christian and spend millions on yourself? Sermons rarely go there.”How does he know this? Does he listen to all the sermons from every church?I could go on, but this article is blatantly and pointlessly ridiculous.

  • Rick

    sam:Obama was, until he recently and publicly left his church, a very generous contributor–well into five figures just to his church and much more to other charities. He made his tax-forms public, and they did him great credit as a Christian.*********************************************Facts bust the myth. Obama tax returns

  • Earl C

    Contrary to an earlier post, Biden may not be another Senate millionaire. Perhaps those who post such information would be kind enough to post the attribution.

  • Simon

    These are very thougthful comments by:I did watch the pastor interview the two candidates. I thought the performances were inauthentic and unimpressive all round. I think that this was more of a publicity gimmick to increase the attendance and the coffers of the particular church. Quite frankly the pastor was unbelievable and the church looked more like a Hollywood set than a place of worship; the lighting was frankly quite astonishing. I failed to see any connection between the event and the gospel teachings of Christ. Of course the questions were based “loosely” on Christian morals. One thing is eminently clear that this form of worship (as a performance) is corporate, slick, and rooted in money. Money is sadly and inextricably tied in with everything, and people are gullible enough that they would rather see this action than closely read the Gosplels and try to understand the message.

  • Anonymous

    In countries where political corruption is the rule politicians are known to amass personal wealth from lobbyists and by using the government money that is available to them due to their power.It is enough if politicians are not greedy and corrupt, selling their souls for money when they have the power to amass it in all sorts of ways.

  • Anonymous

    The question about money should be addressed to pastors of mega-churches who live like millionaires on the tithes they collect and that too without doing any good works, except recruit more members to their churches.Rev Rick Warren made his money with his book, and gives away 90% of his income. No pastor can top that.

  • Anonymous

    If you are in the middle class and never want the opportunity to be rich Vote Republican. It’s as simple as that. If you have money they will make sure you keep it. If you don’t. Oh well. More millionaires were created under the Clinton Administration than in any other time in American History. More people have filed for foreclosure under George Bush than at any time in American History. Vote your wallet. What good is it if a pregnant teenager can’t get an abortion if you don’t have a job.

  • MotherLodeBeth

    Without the rich would we ever have had hospitals, great universities, missionaries to poor countries or safe communities? I couldn’t care less that Cindy McCain being a Proverbs 31 type woman, has invested her money in properties. After all this is what people have been encouraged to do over the centuries, rather than ‘gamble’ which many do when playing the stock market. And they also give a lot to local charities and to their children’s schools. I am nonetheless curious as to where was the media when Senator Kerry and his wife with all their personal homes across the land were running in ’04? And its nice to see where McCain would like all of us to have more money so we can help others as we choose, whereas Obama wants to take more of my money and give it to causes he likes. No thanks. I can make my own choices.

  • Anonymous

    Both candidates should be assessed based on the merit of their policies.What portion of the people does it help?Does it help the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?Does it provide basic needs of the least?THAT is most important aspect of Christian values they bring to politics.It would seem that Senator Obama’s vision in comparison to Senator McCain’s is to help the needy.

  • Queen Bee

    “christian” white evangelicals are not really christians – they are hypocrites.How can they overlook McCain’s gluttony and his adultury and racism to proclaim him more of a man of God and suitable than Mr. Obama to be president? IT’s wrong to use God and Religion to justify double standards, bigotry and oppresssionwhy is the issue of abortion more important that McCain’s gluttony and adultury?

  • lark

    McCain is supported by a wealthy wife. Just like John Kerry. Kerry was assaulted by the right for this and smeared with “gigolo”.Now that it is McCain who is the gigolo, the right is silent. What hypocrites.

  • MarkinNY

    The hell with wealth – what do the candidates think about Bush being the torture president and how do all those religious people feel who voted for Bush when they found out that his administration pulverized the leg of an innocent Afhani taxi driver before killing him or about hoe they took pictures of naked prisoners forced to masturbate while taunted by dogs. Who the hell cares about the opinions of the religious right anyway? By supporting the completely and utterly immoral presidency of George Bush they DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO AMY OPINION OR VOTE. By supporting torture by not mentioning torture they are morally despicable. That is right the religious right is morally despicable only worthy of contempt/ This column should cease to exist until these religious and moral pygmies learn what real compassion and morality is.

  • rmorrow

    G:Like all liberals you enjoy questionin others morality but get offended when the same questions are asked of the questioner.Do you have to be a hypocrite to be a liberal? Sure seems that way.

  • NotSoGreatScot

    Good questions that I would like to see answered as well.

  • Joe

    What is unclear about this?????? Matthew 19:23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you with certainty, it will be hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God.”19

  • Charles

    “Can you call yourself a Christian and spend millions on yourself? Sermons rarely go there.”Maybe at your church. That sort of thing – using your money, resources, talents, etc. wisely and selflessly – comes up *all the time* at most of the churches I’ve ever attended.Way to stereotype, Waters.

  • James

    Christianity has become so corrupt in this country that many preachers openly equate wealth with spiritual success — which, from the standpoint of the gospels, is frankly disgusting. So it’s no wonder that the questions don’t get asked.

  • Silent

    well, I’ll have my staff get back to you. Signed, Moses

  • JIM

    As a seminarian (pastor in training), I would like to see the Gospel of Prosperity (used to be the Gospel of Wealth when people were a bit more blatantly, if not brutally, honest) brought under more scurtunity. It goes back to the Deutronomistic mindset that God rewards the good and just and punishes the wicked and corrupt. This theology looks great on paper, but in reality, many evil people do quite well and many good people languish in misery. In other words (to paraphrase Ecclesiates), the race does not always go to the swift, but fate and chance happens to us all. So a Gospel of Prosperity gets the affluent off the theological hook of jubilees and overall debt forgiveness, what might be entitled distributive justice. God admonishes affleunt people in the Bible often not because they are rich per se, but because their wealth often comes at the expense of the poor whom they exploit (see Amos and Micah, esp.). The Torah commands people of faith to be fair in business to their neighbors, not to charge interest on a loan, to forgive debts and free debt-slaves. Clearly, God in scripture, through the profits, and in the mission of Jesus tought us to be kind to the poor, not to delight in our relative wealth. However, Saddleback and other congregations, particularly fundamentalist churches in affleunt suburbs conveniently forget to help their neighbors or hold a restrictive moral sword of Damocles over the recipients head before aiding the afflicted, the weak, the spurned, the diseased, and the downcast. What little help is given is more often a celebration of just how kind the givers are as opposed to a serious conversation about what contributions are we people of faith making that exacerbates the other’s miserable condition. I want to see a faith-based agenda based on aiding those God has commanded us to help, including universal healthcare, safe work conditions, fair wages, protection from preditory advertising and lending practices, and safety nets for the truly destitute. Peace and blessings

  • Jerry

    The person we elect to lead the nation is supposed to affirm that he or she will defend the Constitution of the United States. I don’t care what religious precepts that individual personally follows as long as that person understands and abides by that Constitution.What Mr. Waters is saying sounds like religious voyeurism to me. I want none of it.

  • rusty 3

    As I always say: Read those TWO old classics:

  • returntocommonsense

    Face it- we will never get an answer for that question. Religion – especially Evangelical Christianity and its fundamentalist counterparts in other religions – are only concerned with controlling what you think and how you live.If pastors like Rick Warren continue to use their churches as political areas, then they need to have their tax-free status stripped from them.

  • RAG

    I believe that you can’t truly match the wealth of McCain to Obama. The truth is a $1 million, although not common, isn’t a far stretch for real estate in a major urban setting. Seven homes is a display of wealth – especially when it is safe to say that collectively they are equal to over $2 million. Obama’s book deal is wealthy but how much did the company who is paying him make? How many books did he sell?

  • John J

    What on earth does Jesus have to do with modern American Christianity? He was a flaming lib. Telling people to give their money to people who wouldn’t pull themselves up by their boot straps. Yeah, right. Didn’t even utter a word against gays. Said nothing about abortion. How unAmerican!

  • rmorrow

    How would David Waters answer this question:”Clearly, as a successful journalist and author, you make a nice living. How much more of your money could you have given to charity if you had old used cars and a 1 bedroom condo for your family, and ate macaroni and cheese all the time? Why don’t you apply your tired liberal world view on yourself?”Of course, all liberals think that anyone who makes more than them is “rich” and doesn’t deserve to have any more than them. These same liberal, many of whom are far wealthier than the average America, never ask themselves if they need the relative luxuries that they enjoy.In short, liberal like David Waters are hypocrites.

  • ed kittle

    and does the year of jubilee have any relevance? LOL

  • G

    RMORROW:How do you know how Mr. Waters does or does not live? And more importantly, why do you feel the need to make a personal attack? He’s asking both candidates the question, so I don’t see how he’s being especially partisan. It really isn’t so much a “liberal world view” that those who have help those who have not. I’d say it is a pretty Christian world view. Please reference the following:Deut. 15:7And read Luke 16:19-25 for what happens to those that disdain those in need.Mr. Waters isn’t suggesting that you, or Misters McCain and Obama give up everything they have. What he is doing is challenging them to explain their beliefs, and there is nothing wrong with doing it.

  • mmouse

    look at their tax returns. the mccains give 25% to charity; obamas barely 1%

  • DWayne

    Churches are corporations who’s only purpose is making a profit and gaining power. Christians & Jews have NOTHING to do with God. The only thing they pray for is wealth & power. These criminals have murdered more humans than the rest of the world combined. Only a really, really stupid idiot would think these murderers have anything to do with God.

  • liz

    It’s easy really. Just put your fai6th in the prosperity gospel and other beliefs that indicate wealth as a blessing from God and poverty as his punishment. Ergo, if you are wealthy, then you are blessed by God and therefor a good person.

  • Jacquiem

    If the candidates answered these questions, then people would find a way to find something wrong with the answers. The people helped werent’ enough in number, or there were maybe some more needy people folks thought could have been helped, or people would wonder why just individual children were adopted, why weren’t whole new orphanages built and better-equipped for all the chilren that weren’t adopted. As a Christian, as much as the prosperity gospel that’s so prevalent and successful bothers me, the finger-pointing and demand for answers to please the masses annoy me just as much. If you’re standing outside of any particular faith or belief or practice, there is no justification or answer the faithful can give the non-faithful that will ever make the non-faithful comfortable with what they’re already deeply suspicious of. In the end, the faithful have only one entitiy to answer to, and He’s not any of us. Our job as Christians is to represent Christ honestly, faithfully, and with love while never denyng our faith and belief. We are also supposed to hold each other accountable, and admittedly, we’re not very good at that, again, for a host of reasons. To be realistic, rich is relative. To some in the part of the city I live in, I’m rich, and I’m single w/ no kids and make $60K. To me, someone making $250K is rich. To that person, the millionaire is rich. Being rich isn’t a problem, to most people or even to God. Working solely to become rich and loving your money above anything else are practices and ideals admoinished by God, though. Just because these two candidates have a rack of dough – one markedly more than the other, but both way more than the average American citizen – I’m not sure that I can comfortably say that either candidate owes me or anybody else any explanation about their wealth. I’d rather know what each of them would do to make it esasier for everybody in this country to get a little of their own.

  • tanaS

    Anyone have a prayer cloth that was consecrated on the Golden Altar of the Church of the Golden Altar in Los Angeles for sale?

  • ron Grandma

    Of course, they will not preach against wealth. They might have to become accountable to their flock. We have seen from the past that many religious leaders and TV evangelists have guite the affluate lifestyle. This goes against the teachings of Christ.

  • bill

    what is just as absurd as john mccain having 7 houses is why candidates feel they have to pander to conservative christians. if obama was in fact a confirmed muslim, buddhist, or hindu, all the pandering to the Christians would be for nothing, becuase they obviously wouldn’t vote for a non-christian for president.after all, bush claims to be a christian and look at the wonderful job he’s done – invading a country under false information, sleeping with big oil, stocking his adminsitration with lecherous scumbags. yep, one-way ticket to heaven, that guy.

  • sierra

    Why can’t we seem to get religion out of government and government out of religion. I cannot abide by government violating my Constitutional rights by telling me how to practice my religion and my religious views have no place in government.Why are people taking tax deductions for giving money to charity? Christians were commanded to render unto Ceasar what was Ceasar. We still must render unto the Federal Government what is owed to it. Giving to charity does not exclude us from that. You will reap 10 times what you sow. Cheat and you will be cheated 10 times more.If Christians would open their minds and stop electing people to congress that foolishly spend their money all because they are anti-abortion and/or anti-gay, we might find there is help for the poor, that the right to health care will become a reality in this country, and we find that we are back in 1st World status instead of this 2nd-3rd World status we find ourselves in.

  • Anonymous 2

    What does “Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar” really mean? What exactly belongs to Ceasar (and not to God) and according to whom? When and from whom did Ceasar acquire rights to it? Who had the rights to sell it? Etc.Accordingly, nothing belongs to Ceasar so he’s a crook if he demands anything.Then, one might even wonder, who does raw material and human resources belong to? To God, who has entrusted it to all of us equally. So if one has more than one’s absolutely basic needs and others have less, one has a problem with these others and with God.,,whether one believes it or not…even if one has ‘worked’ for it or the system has ‘worked’ for one.

  • Anonymous

    MotherLodeBeth:Without the rich would we ever have had hospitals, great universities, missionaries to poor countries or safe communities? I couldn’t care less that Cindy McCain being a Proverbs 31 type woman, has invested her money in properties. After all this is what people have been encouraged to do over the centuries, rather than ‘gamble’ which many do when playing the stock market. And they also give a lot to local charities and to their children’s schools. I am nonetheless curious as to where was the media when Senator Kerry and his wife with all their personal homes across the land were running in ’04? And its nice to see where McCain would like all of us to have more money so we can help others as we choose, whereas Obama wants to take more of my money and give it to causes he likes. No thanks. I can make my own choices.August 24, 2008 9:24 PM^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^If there is one thing we know about human nature from time immemorial is that the rich are the most UNGENEROUS with their wealth in helping the needy. Even poor people when they become rich tend to forget their days of poverty instantly and become ungenerous. That is why Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven.So public policies that are aimed at making the rich richer and keeping the poor struggling to make their ends meet, when three jobs are not sufficient to meet their basic needs…isn’t about Christianity in action. HOPING that the rich would somehow by a miracle then build hospitals the poor can’t afford to visit anyway…is wishful thinking of the extreme kind.Let the rich be charitable as they can. But the richest country in the world should not have poor that depends on the whim of the rich to have their basic needs met. Take Western European countries as an example. The rich aren’t suffering terribly because they have to pay more taxes than Americans, but the poor have their basic needs met. The rich may not be happy, but at least it makes it easier for them to enter heaven. Are the poor getting “spoiled” by having their basic needs for food, shelter and medical care met? Not if you are living in a country where meeting your basic needs is the highest anybody can achieve.So take a good look at Senator Obama’s policies, the policies of the Democratic party. Does it reflect Christian values? Read the Book of Acts to find out how first generation Christians understood Christianity and lived it. It is not necessary to sell all of one’s belongings and give to the community. But it doesn’t hurt to give a little more from the overflowing excess (which in many cases is only possible because the poor are paid so little for their work) so that the least may have their basic needs met. It is better for the poor to have the government do a little more for them than for them to have to depend entirely on the whims of the rich, which is notoriously unreliable.

  • Anonymous

    Correction of “Are the poor getting “spoiled” by having their basic needs for food, shelter and medical care met? Not if you are living in a country where meeting your basic needs is the highest anybody can achieve.”It should be: “Are the poor getting “spoiled” by having their basic needs for food, shelter and medical care met? Not if you are living in a country where meeting your basic needs is NOT the highest anybody can achieve.”In other words nobody who lives in first world countries would consider having their basic needs met the ultimate luxury that they would not try to break out of it and do more for themselves. In the US, they would try to realize the American dream a little more when the constant panic of meeting their basic needs does not leave them paralyzed.

  • Anonymous

    As to charities, let it be known that it is commonly known there are many businessmen who earn money in unscrupulous ways and then make public display of giving away money in charity to cover up the unethical ways they make money in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    If Roe vs Wade were a mandate for abortions, then there would be serious cause for worry about Senator Obama’s and Senator Biden’s support of it.But since legal abortions merely prevent abortions done by quacks that endanger the life of women who would opt for abortions in anyway possible, there is little cause for concern.Only the propaganda concerning promotion of abortion as a “right” by pro-abortionists need to be revised. But politicians don’t create the propaganda, neither do they make decisions for the women.Science based sex education in schools including the real nature of children growing in the womb, abortion procedures etc are necessary to reduce abortions.

  • deflag

    Deadheaded Queen Bee,

  • Anonymous

    By far the greatest strength of Senator Obama is that he learns quickly. He is able to receive input from as many persons as possible, without feeling threatened by people who hold different opinions, and integrate the information for the best possible outcome.That is the mark of a true leader.His choice of Senator Biden is a mark of that special strength. Senator Biden complements him, offering strength where Senator Obama is weak. Senator Obama is not threatened by Senator Biden’s strength. Senator Obama did not seek a yes-man.President George Bush and VP Dick Cheney similarly represent two different strengths that worked together.

  • david James

    Well, someone once said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It must not have been too popular a thought back then because jealous old time preachers schemed to have him executed. Apparently he was a very religious Jew and a Rabbi well loved by the poor, but the other preachers had exellent political connections and good organizational skills – thus they succeeded in having him killed.I suspect the term wealthy preacher is one of heaven’s favorite oxymorons ranking right up there with moniker Christian candidate.

  • Paganplace

    You know, if anyone reads this thread and still thinks trying to indirectly govern by electing people who can best advertise as ‘faithful’ is somehow simpler and better than …actually expecting people to government competently based on verifiable facts and plausible projections of the actual human effects of proposed actions….Well. Look at this. Is this helping?

  • Charles

    Jake: If you think Jesus “would have stayed out of politics”, you must be wholly unfamiliar with the Bible. He may not have participated in the politics with which we’re familiar, but his positions on the Jewish theocracy (such as it was, under the Romans) as well as what it means to live under the Roman government were anything if apolitical. Don’t tell us what Jesus wouldn’t do when there are plenty of Biblical references to the contrary. You should stick to topics with which you have at least some relevant familiarity.

  • Charles

    Sorry, that should read “anything *but* apolitical”

  • FLTNVA

    What is Christian about cheating on your wife, and throwing her aside for a young RICH bimbo? What about the sanctity of marriage? Have I mentioned he spent 5 long years in the Hanoi Hilton? Maybe that is why he is an adulterer.

  • elizabeth6

    This dialogue is hardly complete without the mention of the enormous wealth of the Vatican, the power of the Pope, the hypocrisy of religion, and the centuries of poverty,fear, and world wide persecution suffered by it’s people under the yoke of religious tyranny.

  • Hank

    As a conservative Christian I would like to know exactly where and how much Sen. John McCain and the current Mrs. McCain have donated to charities that Christians care about? The fact that they own somewhere between 9 and 12* VERY expensive homes, and that Sen McCain wears shoes that sell for over $1,000 a pair does not cut it for me. At their age they should be divesting themselves of some of these ‘trappings’ and using those tremendous resources for the good of those less fortunate.Just how much is enough John – Cindy? Hank* Perhaps Sen. McCain’s staff will someday clear up this puzzle.

  • jhbyer

    Anonymous is correct is stating that abortion was legalized to prevent maternal deaths woefully common prior to legalization.Contrary to what many who oppose safe abortion believe and promote, most legal abortions are performed on low-income working, married moms, who don’t have the luxury of paid maternity leave and are responsible for earning enough to feed and cloth the children they have. As long as voters who seek to criminalize abortion continue to support the Republican party, which stands firmly opposed to maternity assistance for working moms as well as universal prenatal and postnatal health care, they’re proving they care nothing for real babies.Shockingly, some want abortion criminalized on the specious theory that the result will be a pool of cheap labor. Their ungrounded claim** is we have illegals, because we aren’t birthing enough “worker ants” who’ll grow up forced by an excess population to take work for less than a living wage, i.e. a wage that won’t let you live like an American but will oblige you to squeeze four families into an apartment. The key is to prosecute those criminals who hire illegals, not women and doctors. History show criminalizing abortion doesn’t increase the labor market only the number of dead young moms and motherless young children.**The Missouri Legislature last year proposed a resolution stating this theory as a cause belli for criminalizing abortion.

  • Anonymous

    For those who feel a compulsion to criticize the wealth and power of the Roman Catholic church. It helps to go back and read the history of Europe.The Roman Catholic church is two thousand years old and for seventeen centuries, from the time of Emperor Constantine, has been the official religion of Europe. Many rich and powerful Europeans, including royalty and rulers were part of the Church and it contributed to the wealth of the Church. Since religious were always celibate any private wealth they had went to the religious order which they joined. They did NOT have private ownership of their wealth. Since Catholic priests have been mandated to remain celibate for over a thousand years, similarly their private wealth came under the common ownership of the church. The priests and religious could therefore not use their own private wealth or the property of the church for their private use. None of their relatives could inherit it. Thus it is a communal accumulation of wealth for two thousand years, which could not be given away to private parties.Priests, monks and nuns lived extremely simple lives and everything they did or earned was held as common property of the order or church, just like, or even more stringently than FIRST GENERATION CHRISTIANS.The clergy who work in the Vatican City or elsewhere do NOT own church property, not even the Pope. The Catholic clergy cannot use the church property for their personal needs.So whatever wealth the Catholic church has is common church property accumulated over two thousand years, with the contribution and lifelong work of thousands and thousands of clergy who dedicated their whole lives to living for Christ alone and serving man selflessly.The worldly power that they gained access to in the process was misused by some during different periods in the two thousand history of the church. But there is also the work and contribution of thousands and thousands who did NOT abuse power and dedicated themselves to doing good for others to response to the command of Jesus to love and glorify God with good works.

  • Dwight

    Many who followed Jesus were wealthy and while the bar is higher for them to enter heaven, it is possible. seems reverands like sharpton and jackson and others use religion to get money, thats the crime, having money is not…

  • Dwight

    Many who followed Jesus were wealthy and while the bar is higher for them to enter heaven, it is possible. seems reverands like sharpton and jackson and others use religion to get money, thats the crime, having money is not…

  • Anonymous

    The Pope can no more sell the Vatican City and donate the money to the poor around the world than the President of the United States can sell the US to help the poor.

  • LogicDude

    I am amazed at how some Christians don’t want to see other Christians succeed. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible to NOT be a success, which is where they get the money to start with. The Bible asks that you give 10% as a tithe to the church AND other offerings as you feel moved to further God’s work. That doesn’t mean you have to spend the other 90% on Christian works or give it all to charity. It takes money to make money. NO ONE should be asked to account for how they spend their total income – I guarantee you that most Preachers and Pastors wouldn’t want to do that themselves.I’m reading comments here that are both equating wealth with evil and wealth as a reward from God. I believe both have some truth to them. God rewards the faithful in different ways to enable them to be a blessing others. Evil men (and women) are also sometimes provided with money – this helps to entice others to love money over God and allows evildoers to do the Devil’s work, so can you guess where they got their money from? Hitler didn’t take out a home equity loan to start WW2!Money is the root of all evil if it is what controls you and governs your actions. It is also the enabling force for churches being built, missionaries, medical supplies, food for the hungry, etc.

  • Auslander

    I thought this was a very good article, and I’m surprised at those who are labeling the author “hypocritical,” or “liberal.” The definition of “hypocritical” always requires that the accuser is two-faced—i.e. claiming not to be guilty of the fault he is accusing others of. In this case, the author clearly includes himself among the “guilty,” and so cannot be hypocritical. For example the author says, “If the church is going to measure today’s candidates on such “faith and values” issues as abortion. gay marriage, war and the environment, shouldn’t wealth (theirs and ours) also be part of that discussion?” And in his discussion on tithing he clearly is including himself when he says, “How many (pastors) ask us to account for the other 90 percent (of our income)? “Also, the writer is equally challenging both the Democratic as well as the Republican candidates, so I don’t see any “liberal” bias unless the folks who are criticizing this article really believe that being unbiased is a uniquely liberal trait! I am wondering whether those criticizing the article on those grounds have actually read it in its entirety.Anyway, I think the article asks some legitimate and challenging questions—of the candidates as well as of us.

  • hartman_john

    This entire discussion presumes an awful lot of things as being factual when there is really little proof that any of it is even real.These are just a few of the “facts” that cast serious doubt on any and all religious belief systems. To have an accurate understanding of historical figures and historical movements, one must first have a clear picture of what the history actually is. For christianity, as with all of the world’s major and minor belief systems, that clarity is largely absent.

  • Gareth Harris

    When are you rich? The TV preacher avoided the answer. But we all know what the answer is: When you have more than you need – not more than you want – more than you need. The associated answer is also scary and simple: Churches don’t criticize the wealthy because they want the scraps that fall from their table. Their lips are firmly locked on the butt of anyone with a dollar.In America today we are caught by the monkey trap of our own greed. We sold ourselves to the big corporations, the wealthy and the war mongers – Constructed an empire with our boot on the neck of the poor of the world – including here. What did we get for it? Was it not such a good bargain?Jesus asked the real question: “For does it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”Even I, an atheist, can ask like Jesus: What did we get for selling our children?

  • Gtrpicker

    I agree generally with what the Bible says about the rich not getting to Heaven, but suppose you have a fellow who makes billions of dollars and spends a couple of million on himself while giving the rest of his profits away. Can you say he’s not being generous enough? Do you really know his motivations? Good works can’t get us into heaven, so could you possibly say that this rich man cannot get into heaven?Back when the Bible was written, we didn’t have the many charities we have today. These days, many give to charities for the tax writeoff. Is that generosity in the truest sense? My point is that it’s not a person’s money, but his/her motivations for making money and what (s)he does with it which tell us what kind of person (s)he is.Rick Warren’s defenders claim he’s so generous in that he gives his salary back to the church. Not much of an accomplishment when he OWNS the church!!Joel Osteen has become a rich man PLACATING people. He doesn’t lead people to a saving relationship with Jesus. He doesn’t mention sin because he’s afraid he’ll offend somebody. If a person doesn’t know (s)he’s a sinner, how can (s)he know (s)he needs a Savior at all? Osteen’s not a real gospel minister; he’s just a man who makes people feel comfortable in their sins! He’s an entertainer.Today’s mega churches are built on that very premise-placating people. People don’t want to hear the truth-that they are sinners and need help; they’d rather doing goo deeds will sget them to Heaven. According to MY Bible, Works cannot possibly get you into heaven. Truly good works are a result of a working relationship with God. Otherwise, they’re just vanity. I wonder why somebody would want to get into Heaven and be in God’s presence when they won’t acknowledge Him now…???It’s the rich PREACHERS I’d tend to question…not politicians. Being a politician is not the same as being a true public servant. Remember when Slick Willy was shown leaving a church service? …and about the same time as the “Monica incident”? He wasn’t fooling anybody but the Democrats which put faith in him because of his party affiliations.Obama abandoned his church and his pastor, who he had admired so much because one of Wright’s statements was aired publicly. This was a statement made long before this presidential campaign got rolling. It wasn’t until the public got wind of Wright’s awful cursing that Obama showed any concern about it…and only because it threatened his political future. I DO question THIS man’s motivations! A Christian doesn’t abandon friends for the sake of convenience or ambition!!Somebody in this post (JH) mentioned the supposed “facts” of Christianity. There’s no way to prove these things happened except in the changed lived of those committed to God and serving Him. I’m living proof that God lives and lives in us…but I can’t prove that to you. I can only recognize that the God I cried out to changed my life drastically…and continues to improve it. I’ve seen so many miracles I almost can’t keep up hem…things that too many of us would call “coincidences.” This is why Satan loves the mega-churches. They don’t teach transformation in the lives of their members. Therefore, they act in just the same sinful ways they always have. Unfortunately, that’s generally all ever you see of “Christianity.”

  • Ina

    Since America’s founding, we have had this problem. There are the “City on a Hill” Purtitan settlers and then there’s the Jamestown crowd. One worshiped God, the other group worshiped money. And now, somehow, we love the ideals of God: charity, faith, etc. but at the same time we believe in the ideals of captitalism, namely, every man for himself, and if one is wealthy, one shouldn’t be forced to give a penny of it up to any lazy poverty-stricken person. That is the great contradiction in our beliefs. It is necessary to question this, and especially question how whether or not we should continue to hold both in the same high regard.

  • QuestionAuthority

    It seems to me that Jesus was one of the world’s great ascetics. Recall that He said that it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter Paradise? Given that unambigous statement, it appears that Jesus expected the rich to do exactly as He told them to do if they wanted to reach Heaven; Give ALL their riches to the poor and to follow Him.And, no, I’m not a believer. Not anymore. For I compared the actions of the “saved” to their words and found them no differnt than anyone else.

  • Tyr

    Of course with elections coming up people want to ask these questions of the candidates; but what about the companies that support the candidates and put money in their pockets? I’m more concerned with the behavior of the companies and their “practices” of contaminating the publics’ resources and their inability to take responsibility for what they have done. How would it look if Dow was supporting Obama or McCain- contributing millions for campaigning- while they still haven’t taken control of the contamination in India that is linked to causing blindness, crippling diseases and other issues.As a U.S. citizen I’m embarrassed that a U.S. company is allowed to do these things. Even if they don’t consider it a responsibility to others- what about a responsibility to themselves? They are hurting themselves in the long run with these toxins in the water, the fumes in the air. They are writing their own prescription for death by cancer. I’m not an environmentalist. I drive a car. I eat at McDonald’s. And I am probably contributing to this disaster known as planet earth. But I try to do my part. I recycle. I use the same lunch bag everyday. But I would expect a corporation to have the wherewithall to do something about this since I am jobless and they rake in billions every year. They have the money to take on these problems. They just choose not to do it. And I have to wonder if the lack of ‘call to action’ has to do with newspapers, legislators and others of dealing with the old adage of “biting the hand that feeds you.” Now who is truly the generous one?

  • edlaw

    This is a great article: All Democrats want to save the world with other peoples money. They want to suggest that a family where each spouse makes just over 125k/ year is rich. They pit this group against working families that make less than that. Then they go off to one of their mansions and feel good about themselves. Most in government are very very rich. They have their fortunes and security already in the bank. The Republicans are a bit more honest about it. Giving to the poor should be a voluntary.

  • Anonymous

    The question that needs to be asked over and over again is:What do religious leaders, be they Christians of any denomination – priests, pastors, theologians, Bible scholars…, or from other religions – Rabbis, Imams, gurus etc, do with their money? How much good do they really do? How do they use/misuse their power? How many needy people do they really help? What charities and good works are they involved in?How many religious leaders are out to grab/manipulate political power for self-promoting /selfish ends in the guise of religion?Politicians need to be just and fair towards all the citizens, help the needy with their policies, not be greedy and corrupt… Politicians are not expected to be saints, living ascetic lives.

  • Walter

    Very good article. Christians have the responsability to to follow all teachings of Jesus Christ, don’t forgetting about generosity. Helping poors is a common attitude for commited Christians.

  • Rich

    Protestantism was founded by upper-middle class Europeans who chafed at the idea of paying up any of their personal wealth in taxes to the Church in order to support institutions of the common good such as orphanages, schools, hospitals, universities, etc. Protestant theology is an elaborate construct designed to excuse the reluctance of the privileged to follow Christ’s example of communalism, charity, and devotion to the needs of others. (“Evanglicalism”–the protestant theological buzzword of our time in which one proclaims a desire to pursue a “personal” relationship with Jesus Christ is the flip side of saying one wants to be a Christian but doesn’t want to be bothered with guilt about not having commitment to the collective and the social). So bottom line is, don’t expect wealth to bother the conservative Christian conscience…

  • elizabeth6

    Yes, Ina, you are right about the Puritan Bible thumping hypocrites and the Jamestown lot. The Puritans took cruel pleasure in persecuting the intractable Quakers, and when they had enough of this sport eventually isolated the group on Rhode Island, where they throve and in blessed revenge eventually created the backbone of this country’s early colleges and education.

  • Anonymous

    JH wrote:The “fact” about what the bible means when it is well known to have been rewritten a number of time to suit the contemporary political periods.The “fact” of the new testament, most of which was a strictly oral tradition for nearly 400 years after Jesus somehow mysteriously ascended into heaven, and so no one has any way of knowing how much was or was not transposed, changed or even made-up in the 400 years.**************************************************You sound very ignorant when you claim as *fact* that the Bible is “known to have been rewritten”. I’m not sure what you mean. It sounds like you belong to the crowd that says “Greek has so many meanings, that no one can claim the New Testament means anything”. To see how this sounds, just substitute English for Greek and Constitution for New Testament, and you’ll have a sense of how absurd that proposition is.Secondly, regarding the New Testament text, we have papyral evidence that people were keeping scraps of paper with favorite New Testament verses going back to the end of the 1st century AD, and of course thereafter. And, guess what, the text agrees with what we find preserved in early manuscripts (the ones from the 400s AD). We have complete texts of whole books of the New Testament going back to the second and third centuries. Again, these texts are virtually the same as the ones we have preserved. Thus the evidence supports continuity of the text back to within one generation of its composition. That’s pretty strong evidence. And it doesn’t say that prior copies did not exist, just that we don’t have them available – maybe they were burned, lost, destroyed, or just withered away. If the only copy of the Constitution were from a 19th century textbook, but there was also an oral tradition that supported the veracity of that text, would you doubt it?And if you want to complain that the manuscripts are different, that is true. But the differences are very minor – usually a difference in verb tense or noun plurality, etc. Very rarely are there differences that affect interpretation – though there are a few.So don’t say what you can’t support.

  • Anonymous 2

    Edlaw writes: “Democrats want to save the world with other peoples money.”Why does that surprise him/her? Isn’t the whole US plutocracy premised on the building of wealth by depriving someone else of it? By getting humanity’s resources (including human labor) freely or cheaply, but surely not fairly for all parties? Like Manhattan for $24?He says: “Giving to the poor should be a voluntary.” I would add “unless it’s to take back what they are infrastructurally deprived of since birth (read capitalism, racism).He ends by writing: “I was at the Vatican last year. I wonder how many children could be saved if they sold that place?”I’m no Vatican lover but it’s sheer hipocricy to try to shift the blame there. If they sold the Vatican state for $100 billion, each of the world’s 2 billion (and growing) poor would get $50.

  • Athena

    Giving money is one thing. It’s easy to write a check. Barack and Michelle Obama devoted their lives to public service and helping others, when they could have gotten high-paying jobs at law firms. Cindy McCain, for all that I joke about her, has done a lot of good with her work on banning land mines, not to mention the girl she brought back from Cambodia. I think that judging people on how much money they donate is not even half of the story of their lives.

  • Anonymous

    As someone who gives away 13% of my income (most of which is tax deductible, but that’s not the motive – I’d keep more money if I gave away nothing), I take objection to the posters who say that conservative Christians don’t give a hoot about the world around them.If the government taxed my money to give to the poor, then much of that money would be lost to inefficiency, and I wouldn’t have chosen to give it. So the poor would lose benefits to support a huge governmental bureaucracy, and I would have to give away what remained of my income after the gov’t stole it from me.What is disgusting and hypocritical are the socialists who say we should help the poor but that only give away 1-2% of their money (e.g. Obama before 2004). Their smug condemnation of us Christian who actually do give away much of our money is supposedly because we just don’t want to help the poor. Get a grip. When the gov’t forcibly takes my money to give it to whoever it deems suitable, that is robbery, not charity. And I am no hypocrite – I’d give away more if I had more to give.

  • Jake

    Separation of church and state. Religion has no place in government. What would Jesus do? He would stay out of politics. You can be religious and be in government, but it should not be the over riding issue. Rick Warren’s “show” has no place in a presidential election. If I believe a person is the best qualified to lead our country, I will vote for that person. He can be a follower of whatever religion is best for him or he can believe in no religion. It’s funny how leaders in government always turn to the founding fafthers and our constitution knew best when they helped define our government. But look the other way when separation of church and state is constantly abused. I know religion is important, but not in goverment.

  • Lee Taylor

    If racism has already been used this week, try class envy. If both of those themes have been used, hope Russia invades someone else. If Russia is still reloading, do a story on what Brett Favre used to eat for lunch at his high school in Kiln. That will be a perfect lead-in to next week’s top story on rampant racism in the high school cafeteria in Kiln, MS, . . . in the mid 80’s, followed by a story about how rich, white people in Mississippi drove to church in Cadillacs while African-Choctaw Americans drove in Pontiacs. The Washington Pravda–smoke and mirrors since 1877.

  • chopin224

    Let’s turn the tables.

  • william kraal

    RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES, STAY AWAY FROM THAT HOKUS/POKUS SCAM AND YOU BE A BETTER PERSON!

  • Pragmatist

    The focus on gay marriage, abortion, war and so forth is easy to understand. Some religions are pushing issues as to which their members can take strong moral positions that do not actually cost them anything – do no change their lives. Much of visible religion these days is focused on changing the lives of others, not altering our own behavior. The flock then feels that they have engaged an important moral issue, taken a clear and strong stance, have values, but can go on living their lives unchanged . This is like funding huge deficits through borrowing. We can have our wars and our pet projects but someone else will have to pay the bill. It is a free lunch approach to life and the segments of the evangelical world and Republican world that are behind it are ruining our nation.

  • chopin224

    To Rich;Interesting stuff about Protestants. I suspect you are Roman Catholic. No matter. You are all the same to me. As a youngster in social studies class, in photos taken in Europe I recall the contrast between

  • MJ

    Get off your high horse! Not all charity comes with a tax deduction! I can’t deduct all the expenses I have supporting my elderly parents or my disabled brother but I sure as hell consider it charity. It doesn’t come off my income tax like some people who spend a fortune going to “charity” events that are lavish parties. I give until it hurts—now I need you to vet how charitable a person is? WWJD???? You pharisee!

  • Kevin Morgan

    It is amazing to me how quickly the evangelical movement did a complete about face. When it began they were focused on ministries to the poor. They were the church that accepted the outcasts and those who lost faith in traditional churches. Their churches were set up in dilapidated storefronts and hosted in peoples houses.

  • Alan Lockett

    To Simon:You can say that this was a publicity stunt to “bring money into the coffers of the church”. But you’d be missing one important and very relevant fact about Rick Warren. Rick Warren has sold millions of books in the last few years. When this happened, he kept his old middle-class house. He paid his salary back to the church he founded going back to the very beginning – every dollar he ever earned. He has given away something like 90% of the money he made. So you can be cynical about Obama and McCain’s charitable sentiments. But it really doesn’t gel with the facts to accuse Rick Warren of being a servant of money.

  • Anonymous

    Senator Obama’s policies are beginning to be referred to that of a West European socialist. It is not Communism. West Europeans have done pretty well under European democratic version of socialism.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t be fooled Athena: not everybody finds it easy to write checks. Most people don’t. Most rich people would spend more on a single dinner out than they give to charity.