Monday, June 22, 2009

The Kind of Religious Hypocrisy That Is Entirely Fair Game

And why the New Atheists might really want to dump the rehabilitation of Herbert Spencer

ynthia Davis, chair of the Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families is proof that the putrid ideas of Herbert Spencer and the Social Darwinists are not only alive, their true believers have political power.

Her recent legislative newsletter contains a detailed critique of a summer food program for children who receive subsidized meals during the school year. As full of double-talk as it does the a callous view of hungry children, Davis is a clear example of the reason Spencer shouldn’t be rehabilitated in an ill thought out defense of Charles Darwin.

In her own words, here are some low lights

- Is school the only place a child can get a nutritious meal? Parents have good reason to dispute the idea that their children will not receive a nutritious meal if they are not in a government institution. Who should be the one to pass judgment on what defines a nutritious meal?

- They are using a "crisis" to create an expansion of a government program. [Note: a fifth of Missouri children are believed to be in danger of hunger according to a federal report, apparently that’s not enough of a “crisis” for Cynthia Davis and the Republicans of Missouri who put her in this post.]

- This is not a discussion of how to handle the public orphanage. These are children who have parents already providing meals for their children. This program could have an unintended consequence of diminishing parental involvement. Why have meals at home with your loved ones if you can go to the government soup kitchen and get one for free? This could have the effect of breaking apart more families.

- Who's buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted. That is what they did when Louisiana had a hurricane. [I am assuming everyone capable of reading this realizes this is a whopper of a lie, considering what happened to those the government didn’t get help to after Katrina. Churches have never been able to make up for what only government can do. Churches have always been among the strongest supporters these kinds of government programs.]

- This is also an entitlement program with no cap on how much can be spent. In the early 1900's the average family paid about $20.00 per person per year for taxes. That left a great deal for our citizens to engage in acts of charity and helping poor neighbors who needed a meal.

- When churches offer a meal, they can serve the individual with a sense of love and caring for those less fortunate. Government cannot match that. Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another.

- While nobody is disputing the benefits of nutritious food, why the presumption that parents are not providing nutritious food for their children? Even if they are not, who created a new rule that says government must make up for any lack at home? The problem of childhood obesity has been cited as one of the most rapidly growing health problems in America. People who are struggling with lack of food usually do not have an obesity problem.

- Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can't they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals?
Tip: If you work for McDonald's, they will feed you for free during your break.

From the mind of Charles Dickens to chairing an important committee in a large American State. I’ll bet she watches A Christmas Carol with her children every year. Though on Easter she apparently lets them wander alone on dangerous highways in Missouri.

From what I’ve read about her preparing this post, you won’t be surprised to find out that Cynthia Davis constantly portrays herself as a “Christian” as she does what she does to the least among us. The phenomenon of “christians” who say and do the direct opposite of what Jesus, the older Jewish prophets and the earliest Christians did and taught, is an entirely legitimate target for the most severe criticism of religion. Criticizing Davis and those who put her in power on those grounds isn’t bigotry, it’s a moral duty. And some of those doing so are doing that on the basis of her religious hypocrisy.

Herbert Spencer was always popular with the callous rich. In the version of “christianity” as practiced by some, his teachings clearly are substituted for those they say are, literally, the word of God. This is odd, considering Spencer was agnostic, if not an atheist. Since Davis brought up the tax rates of the early 1900s, during that period, John D. Rockefeller famously delivered lesson on the necessity of pruning away the inferior blooms in order to produce the American Beauty Rose in line with Social Darwinism. Considering his own cultivated aroma of sanctity and his own religious pretensions, Rockefeller’s lesson was obviously and entirely removed from anything Jesus or his disciples are recorded to have said. About the best that can be said, was that he was speaking of businesses, on that occasion, at least.

Reading an attempt to resurrect Herbert Spenser and the other Social Darwinists by ill informed new atheists was ironic in so many ways, foremost among those was the fact that Spencer has always lived on in the ideas and programs of conservatives with political power, that ethical vampire never died. As ironic is that some of the most ardent movers of Social Darwinism in all too real life, are as ardent creationists, insisting on Genesis replacing science in biology classrooms. I’m sure they would be just as surprised as the new atheists to find their forgotten, if not quite missing, link.

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