How shall we fashion to us friends from mammon, if we love it so much as not to put up with its loss? We shall perish together with the lost mammon. ...To exhibit impatience at all losses is the Gentiles' business, who give money the precedence perhaps over their soul... But (Christians), according to the diversity by which we are distinguished from (Gentiles), it becomes to lay down not our soul for money, but money for our soul, whether spontaneously in bestowing or patiently in losing.
-Early church father, Tertullian
For years, Arthur C. Brooks made his living playing the horn (yes, French). His most prestigious gig was with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. Now he's a scholar, currently serving as Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University.
Brooks just released a blockbuster book that torches a liberal conceit that conservatives oppose tax increases and government programs because they're Scrooges. This smear has been around for ages, but it's just that--a smear. The truth is religious conservatives are hugely more generous than non-religious secularists, in every way. They donate more of their time, more of their money, and even more of their blood. Brooks puts it this way...
Brooks puts it this way...
(H)ouseholds headed by a conservative donate, on average, 30 percent more dollars than households headed by a liberal. And this isn't because conservatives earn more: On the contrary, liberal families earn an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families give more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich. These differences go beyond money as well. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals.
So now, stop and take a couple minutes to read this interview of Brooks by Marvin Olasky. Then save the interview as a PDF for future reference. Better yet, buy the book: Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism (Basic, 2006).
This all came to mind this morning while reading a short article passed on by my dear friend, Chris Atkins, Staff Attorney in DC at the Tax Foundation. The article was about a new advocacy group calling themselves the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition just formed in New Hampshire to advocate for higher taxes. Who's behind this coalition?
Liberal denominations holding membership in the New Hampshire Council of Churches.
What's their justification for higher taxes?
Liberal churchwomen specialize in high dudgeon and self-righteousness:
We believe in a New Hampshire that is just and fair. ...We have arrived at a common understanding (that) the roots of inequality and injustice in New Hampshire can be traced to our troubled tax system.
Our Lord warned us against the hypocrisy of those who blow horns to call attention to their almsgiving:
(Jesus said) Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4).
For too long our nation's chattering class has used its advocacy of the redistribution of wealth through taxes to claim the high moral ground. The man who issues a press release saying he's in favor of raising taxes to help the poor bears no resemblance to the man who, from charity, quietly and personally gives money to the poor. It's high time Christians face down liberals who trumpet their so-called morality on yard signs and bumper stickers.
If they could, liberal secularists would outlaw personal compassion replacing it with an impersonal government bureaucracy that enforces what they call "social justice."
And please understand that I don't write this because I'm an anti-tax, rich Republican. Given my income level and dependents, the only significant tax I pay each April 15th is the fifteen percent pastors owe the Social Security Administration. Further, I don't prostitute my vote to my wallet. I'm a single-issue voter who won't cast a ballot for a county dogcatcher unless he's pro-life. My goal isn't to engage in tax policy arguments.
Rather, I believe Christians should cite the work of Brooks and others as an apologetic for Christian faith. This would be similar to the apologetic work of the Early Church fathers who defended our Lord's reputation by pointing out the massive contributions believers made to the public welfare of the otherwise decadent Roman Empire:
(W)e who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need...
- Early church father, Justin Martyr, in The First Apology
Repeating this apologetic in our own time may be used by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our liberal neighbors and relatives to bear the fruit of self-doubt, and even humility. Nothing could be a better preparation for the evangelistic proclamation of the Cross of Jesus Christ.