Friday, June 18, 2010

Vision and Values

The following letter was published in my local paper, The News Herald, last week. The author is what many might describe as a representative of the Christian Right. If you google the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College (in PA, by the way), you will quickly get a taste of their perspective and philosophy.

As you can see below, I sometimes get perturbed at people who use religion to justify isolating groups of people from their net of love. If I haven't mentioned this before (I do not touch on it in this letter), I am especially perplexed at the outright hatred (or is it fear) that groups like this demonstrate for the gay community. To me, denying fellow humans the right to marry the person of their choice seems as far out of whack with the spirit of religion as anything else that goes on in this world.

Anyway, here is the letter, feel free to comment.


To the Editor:

Another "enlightening" article by a member of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. In this one, Dr. Paul Kengor tells us that "I don't think we can say the Bible explicitly prohibits all public welfare. Nor would I argue that government has no role addressing the needy". He then states that he would hesitate to define health care as a "right" and that he believes "a moral society/state has a duty to ensure that people aren't denied health coverage if they show up uninsured in an emergency room". Well thanks so much for that bone! I am sure all the millions of people who are, in fact, denied health care coverage because they are "too sick" and are forced to go to an emergency room whether their emergency is a cold or cancer, are grateful for your definition of a moral society's duty.

Admittedly, I do not hold a doctorate degree as Dr. Kengor does. And perhaps I am naive to think that the vast majority of poor people would prefer to be not poor if they could. But to justify the denial of health coverage to any human being because it drains away the profits of a "health" insurance company, to deny a health claim by someone who has paid their premiums and is now stricken with cancer or diabetes because of some fine print in the health care coverage concerning pre-existing conditions, not only seems amoral but if that conduct is not "explicitly prohibited" by the bible then I must be reading a different book than Dr. Kengor.

The real tragedy of this kind of thinking is that during the Reagan and 2nd Bush Administrations, the national deficit was doubled and few in the Christian right seemed to mind because we were fighting those dreaded communists and horrible terrorists/Islamists. Funny how an expensive and destructive war against an "ism" different from yours is OK but the "social justice" movement that promotes better wages, improved health care, less prejudices based on race, religion and sexual orientation is "too expensive" and self destructive.

So, here is the real question. And I ask this, not to Dr. Kengor but to all the readers of these words, the hard-working people of this community who most probably feel that they have lived a good life and will be admitted into heaven when they pass.

Who is most likely to join you in eternal paradise? Those that spent their lives fighting to help the less fortunate gain access to decent housing, those that fought to get health care for the sick, those who spent time with the downtrodden of society, those who read the New Testament and thought that Jesus demonstrated a new way to treat each other and who then lived his life among those very same people that were considered the lepers of his time, or will it be time spent with the powerful and rich of the world who work feverishly to maintain the status quo which coincidentally works well for them.

Do you think the selfish or selfless will be with you? Those that preach love or those that use the words of religion to define who we should love and who we should hate?

The facts speak for themselves. In the last 30 years in America, the rich have become richer, the poor have become poorer and those in the middle are losing ground. What will it take until we wake up and realize that without "social justice" the strong prey on the weak.

Please, let me know what you think. Am I wrong? Did Jesus spend his time on earth to show us that we should ignore the plights of others who need our help or to love thy neighbor as thyself? I know his is a tough example to follow and I am certainly not saying I have spent my life heeding his words. But lately, I am finding it more difficult to stand by while articles like those written by Dr. Kengor pretend it is OK to be cruel to each other as long as you use religion to justify the cruelty.

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