Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jim Wallis on the Tea Party...

I received a column by Jim Wallis by email today, but it can also be found on the Sojourners website. I think Jim raises some good questions about the Tea Party. His last point about racism is interesting and worth asking but I wonder if it will do more harm to his witness than good. Nonetheless this column is a good starting point for reflection.

Here is an excerpt:
Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds individual rights as its supreme value and considers government the major obstacle. It tends to be liberal on cultural and moral issues and conservative on fiscal, economic, and foreign policy. This “just leave me alone and don’t spend my money” option is growing quickly in American life, as we have seen in the Tea Party movement. Libertarianism has been an undercurrent in the Republican Party for some time, and has been in the news lately due to the primary election win of Rand Paul as the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Kentucky. Paul has spoken like a true Libertarian, as evidenced by some of his comments since that election last week.

He cited the Civil Rights Act as an example of government interference with the rights of private business. Paul told an interviewer that he would have tried to change the provision in the 1964 Civil Rights Act that made it illegal for private businesses to discriminate on the basis of race. He answered a specific question about desegregating lunch counters by countering, “Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?”

A few days later, he spoke about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Referring to the Obama administration’s criticisms of BP, Paul said, “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

Is such a philosophy Christian? In several major aspects of biblical ethics, I would suggest that Libertarianism falls short.

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