What God says about the poor


The lesser known version of the last supper has Jesus breaking bread, drinking wine, telling his disciples to remember him, and ending with a wink, and the advice to “always leave yourself an out.”

When the Romans came for him, the centurion said, “I’m looking for the guy who led the procession into Jerusalem the other day.” Jesus, knowing Peter had the reins of the donkey and was walking in front of him, pointed at Peter and said, “There’s your man.” Technically Peter led the procession, so he was taken for crucifixion, and that’s why today we worship God the father, God the ghost, and God the Holy Peter.

Cal Beverly in his clucking flurry of outrage tells us that the call from the Christ to help the poor is individual. As a matter of fact it’s so individual that people need to proscribe their governments from using public funds to help the poor. Cal is lawyering up on God.

So let’s pretend Cal and his equally prepared fellow evangelicals are standing in front of their maker. God says to him: “Cal, you’re a good guy. I gave you wonderful gifts of intelligence, success, and respect within your community. You on the other hand made it your business to see that government funds did not reach my neediest. You went out of your way to NOT succor the poor. As a consequence so many of my lambs were left in agony, when human intervention could have eased their suffering and made their frail existence bearable. Why would you deny the help when you have the means?”

“Well,” says Cal, “as you know, you were only talking to individuals. You said we can’t MAKE people help the poor.”

“I don’t recall saying that,” says God. “I recall my son telling you to help people where you can; to show mercy and generosity and love. Do you think I really care the mechanism by which that occurred? Do you think I restricted human activity to individuals when relieving the poor, when you could do so much more? Did I not punish Sodom and Gomorrah as a group? Are you not all your brother’s keeper?”

“And the rest of you,” says God. “I gave you brains and individuality, and you all decided to participate in a group think involving your petty politics? You’re all starting to really piss me off.”

“And,” says God, “one more thing I want you all to think about before I send your pettifogging rear ends wherever it is you’re going. I find it a little hard to swallow that you as a group, actively opposed helping your own poor with public funds forcibly extracted from individuals, but you were all happy as clams to use whatever public funds your leaders demanded, in order to buy the capability to kill your fellow man. If this doesn’t strike you as a bit unbalanced, I’m unsure of the purpose for which you have been applying the brains I gave you.”

This scene could go on a while, and undoubtedly Cal is constructing his own. I tore into what I view as the hypocrisy and the apparent group think of a preponderance of white American Evangelicals. (Yes, I know, the original column was not written by a white evangelical.)

Eight out of 10 white evangelicals just voted to make President a man who bragged about cheating on his wife, and about unlawfully grabbing women by their genitals. The 16 percent who did not have been far from vocal in their denunciations of their fellow, obviously compromised, evangelicals. They hand out a few backpacks to the poor and vote to ensure the least among us continue to hang by a thread.

Well, I have to tell you, that we intend to prevail. There is no reason why this country cannot provide healthcare for all. There is no reason we must continue to add to the bloated coffers of the military while people perish from the lack of treatment they cannot afford. You can call it an enjoinder from God. You can call it basic human decency, but it’s going to happen because we aren’t stopping.

And if you are an Evangelical out there somewhere who sees the injustice perpetrated in the name of your faith, start speaking up. Somebody is noticing.

Timothy J. Parker
Peachtree City, Ga.