Tuesday, February 16, 2010

David Barton's tiny camels

I'm well aware of the bizarre argument circulating among conservative evangelicals that the New Testament somehow preaches the merits of a free market economy. I continually fail to wrap my head around the double-think that allows people to think that an utter commie pinko like the Biblical Jesus was railing against socialism -- he tells people to sell everything they own and donate it to a centralized pool, for chissakes! But in the New York Times magazine's piece on Christian revisionism in history textbooks, David Barton takes this craziness to a whole new level:

[Barton] is a controversial figure who has argued that the U.S. income tax and the capital-gains tax should be abolished because they violate Scripture (for the Bible says, in Barton’s reading, “the more profit you make the more you are rewarded”)...

What the fuck?!?!? Where exactly does it say that? I'm just flabbergasted... The Bible actually says exactly the opposite, that the more profit you make then the harder it is to get the eternal carrot they are always promising.

I know some liberal Christians who believe that the Bible tells them to be charitable, that it condemns greed and profit-seeking, and use this as a basis to justify their political and moral stance. While this still requires a bit of double-think to ignore the despicable parts of the Bible, this position is at least consistent with most of the things the Biblical Jesus said in the New Testament. (I recognize it is not difficult to find the Big J saying some pretty horrible things too, but it is undeniable that the New Testament is pretty consistent on the "be nice to the poor" theme) I think these folks already have a pretty good sense of right and wrong, and their faith is superfluous at best... but I at least can understand how someone could think the way they do.

Folks like Barton... I just don't get it. Blows my freakin' mind.


  1. He's *probably* basing it on the one parable where one servant hides the coin givens him by the master (and therefore has the same amount to give back to the master) while other servants invest the coins and are therefore able to return double the original amount ....

    I always thought it was a lousy parable, because it doesn't address what would have happened if the investors had lost money.

    And while the "bad servant" is kicked out into the darkness, each of the investors doubles the investment - There's no element of "he who earns more is treated better".

  2. Ah, that makes sense... I forgot about that one. I had always been taught that parable was about productivity and work ethic, not about investment per se... and this was from a pretty socially conservative pro-free market church! (Mormonism)

  3. This reminds me of the conservative bible project. All them liberal distortions need to be stamped out. Remember, these are not just christians, no. These are Real True Christians, and they know what the bible meant when it accidentally deviates from modern american evangelical and/or fundamentalist right wing politics.

    Ever seen NonStampCollector's Jesus and the Interpreter? RTC's aren't going to let a silly thing like the bible contradict their literal interpretation of what they think the bible is supposed to mean.