Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Unethical Hypocrisy: Religion

For this discussion, I will be focusing my attention on a few hypocritical issues within Christianity. That is not to say that there are not hypocrisies to be found in other major religions. However, since Christianity is the predominant faith in the United States, where I happen to live, it is simply the easiest for me to draw from and, I would suspect, the easiest for readers to understand.

Obviously, the low hanging fruit of Christian hypocrisy is the church's stance on homosexuality. I will not go into detail about why religious hypocrisy on homosexuality is bad for society, since it has been discussed more fully elsewhere by many people who are more skilled or knowledgeable than myself. I will merely reiterate that if you truly believe homosexuality to be an abomination as presented in Leviticus, then I challenge you to fulfill all the other 600+ commandments laid out in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In other words, do not get tattoos, do not perform any work on the Sabbath (whether you choose to accept the Sabbath as Saturday or Sunday is up to you), do not eat certain foods (such as shrimp, lobster, oysters, pork, or any foods which combine meat and dairy products), do not wear clothing of multiple fabric types, and do not sit on a chair or sleep in a bed that has been used by a menstruating woman!

Instead, I am concerned with the Christian hypocrisy toward helping the sick and the poor. I have often heard American Christians, who tend to ally themselves with Conservative (though not entirely Republican) thought, suggest that charitable giving is something which should be left to religions not to government. That seems like a fine position to take, and one which I would be willing to support, considering that Jesus Christ focused most of his ministry on caring for the sick and the poor. It would seem a logical extension for Christians, who claim to live lives in the shadow of Christ, to give a considerable amount of their wealth to the sick and the poor. Unfortunately, they seem to fall short very often. Currently, there are approximately 225 million Americans who consider themselves to be Christians. Assuming a median individual income of $24,000 (and that is a low estimate, since I have found median individual income numbers as high as $29,000), and a suggested "tithe" of 10%, American Christians would contribute at least $540 billion annually to aid the sick and the poor. By contrast, actual individual giving only comes to $230 billion, or less than half of what would be expected.

Also, it seems problematic to me that Christians in America claim that this country is a "Christian nation" (perhaps pointing to the 76% of people claiming to be Christians in the US) but are angered when the American government promotes programs and initiatives which are actually in line with Biblical tenets. During the recent health care reform debacle in this country, I rarely saw Christians holding rallies in support of universal health care. Instead, I saw Christians aligning themselves with Tea Party protesters arguing that Americans are "taxed enough already" and that helping the sick with public money is somehow in league with the actions of the Nazis. If Christians want to be let off the hook for this blatant hypocrisy, then I suggest they start doubling their charitable giving to make up for the difference between their actual giving and their expected 10%. In fact, if Christians did give their full 10% to providing health care for the sick and aid to the poor, they would actually pay more than what a single payer health care system would actually cost to set up in the US. The additional $190 billion each year would contribute greatly to ending poverty in this country, and perhaps elsewhere.

And lest you think that hypocrisy among Christians is okay, and that Jesus will simply forgive you for your sins of ignoring the poor and the sick while simultaneously denouncing the so-called sins of others, I direct you to the words of Christ from Matthew 7:15-23:
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
When even Jesus tells hypocrites to go fuck themselves, you know you're screwed!

I will return with the final part of this series over the weekend when I will discuss hypocrisy in relationships. I hope you enjoy it, and as always feel free to leave comments and I will try to address them at a later date.

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