I wrote earlier in this place that the election of Obama would be a holy cow moment for American Christians. And thus far, so has it proven to be. Because of the monkeyshines of Bush-era “capitalists,” falsely so-called, the first place that Obama’s incompetence have been given a place to shine is in the realm of economics. The second place has been foreign policy, only it is not exactly incompetence there. The third place will be where his wickedness comes into play, on issues like the conscience exception for medical workers who do not want to participate in abortions, for example.
Let me say something briefly about the second and third, respectively, and then return to the question of money. It has been striking that Obama has kept Gates on as defense secretary, that he has dispatched 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and that his plan for withdrawing troops from Iraq is acceptable to the neo-cons. To all those Europeans who thought that the election of Obama would mean a scaling back of American empire, a cynical person might say something like: “Ha, ha. Gotcha!” As one who opposes secularist empire regardless of who is in the driver’s seat, I will just continue on in my opposition with a clean conscience and a merry heart. But I do find it really gratifying that Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and Brian McLaren are all imperial apologists now. Heh.
On the abortion issue, this first move in the battle shows that societies cannot be schizophrenic in any long term way. A society must either insist that everyone respect life, or it must insist that everyone not respect it. This opening move by Obama’s administration shows that we are moving out of the realm of opinions, letters to the editor, and voting. At some point in the near future, it appears that direct action will be necessary. The Church must be prepared to support those nurses, doctors, and other personnel who are preparing themselves to say no. And that support needs to be practical.
But that brings us to the first point. The screaming issue, the one that has everybody’s attention right now, is the economy. And this is not just a matter of your private retirement, although that probably has your attention as well. Evildoers can’t do evil without paying their troops, and we can’t resist them without paying ours. Churches have budgets, and have a payroll to meet, and the same thing goes for pro-life organizations, publishing houses, colleges, not to mention organizations dedicated to the preservation of the second amendment.
Obama knows that his approval rating will never be higher than it is right now. He knows that if he wants to get lunatic legislation through Congress, which he does, a bunch of it, then he has to do it now. And because he has a couple of truckloads of that legislation, he is going to try to get all of it through now. He will probably succeed with most of it, and no, this is not a rallying cry to “write your Congressman.” If your Congressman could read, he would probably have read a book by now, and that would mean his voting record would have to have been a little bit different.
I have said that Christians need to learn economics, and right now they should be taking a crash course in it — and not so that you can persuade Congress not to bury us under a rock pile of economic disincentives. They will not be persuaded.
But you need to know what is going to be happening a year and a half from now as a result of, say, dropping 30 bucksabillion clams into the clam market. You need to know so that you can continue to provide for your family, so that you can support those who have been thrown out of work — whether it is the nurse who won’t do abortions or the factory worker who had the misfortune to be employed by greedmonkeys regulated by powermonkeys. You need to know so that you can continue to tithe to your church, so that you can continue to support worthy organizations. Whatever the other issues are, and there will be plenty of them, we will all need resources in order to be equipped to do the right thing. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: But the simple pass on, and are punished” (Prov. 22:3).