“Corporate Evangelical (noun): A devoted “Christian” who conveniently forgets any Biblical verses that might undermine the pursuit, acquisition or maintenance of wealth.”
We see it every day, and we hear about it in the news. But what exactly brought the rich and religious together in the first place? This interview from the Christian Post gives us a little insight on the common ground between religion and corporatism, and how the unholy Corporate Evangelical came to be.
Quick, what’s your knee-jerk reaction to this quote from Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council?
“I think through empowering others and creating self-sufficiency […] there within lies the path to sense of worthiness,” Blackwell told CP. “When I was growing up, there was fundamental belief that there were times in people’s life when they needed a hand up […] there were temporariness to those programs, where they were structured so that they didn’t breed so that they didn’t breed dependency.“
And this one, from the same Christian Post interview:
“Blackwell also suggested that there was “nothing more Christian” than “not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government.”
If you’re like most of the other Non-Teabagger/Non-Trolls on this site, your first reaction to that might have been a sarcastic “All Hail Supply-Side Jesus!” That’s the usual (and totally appropriate) response when someone seems to build his entire life philosophy around this out-of-context quote from Thessalonians II, 3:10:
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
And if you’re Biblically inclined, you might have thought of any of Jesus’ many quotes about feeding the poor, including this one from Matthew:
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.“
Those are both valid responses. Most of us have a hard time wrapping our minds around how a religion that outwardly favored the poor could have been hijacked and perverted into the corporate tool that it is today. Blackwell’s quote is detestable, much like the many similar quotes from like-minded corporate sociopaths. It’s just brain-melting. What twisted path of logic leads you from a man who fed the poor to an obsession with cutting food stamps?
Turns out this one is all about context. Just like Thessalonians, context, and well-intended delusion.
These Evangelical SNAP-cutters usually fall back on the argument that churches and charities will take care of people if we cut all government benefits. In their minds, people can just show up at the local church, in sackcloth and ashes, and they will be provided for. From the CS interview:
“What churches do in terms of the kind of generous giving to poor, hungry people is amazing,” said Cook. “But their work is worth $4 billion dollars annually, which is essentially equal to the annual cut Congress is proposing in food stamps.”
So, faulty math aside, these people TRULY believe that churches as social institutions will provide. But…HOW? We logical people know that this isn’t the case…in spite of the great deal of money that does get donated every year, the cash flow just isn’t there. So, we’re back to the basic question: What the hell makes these people believe that relying on the church and charity would work? Well, because it would, and all we have to do is…
…go back 3,000 years, establish Christianity as the State religion, pay the Church 10% of our income and return to a Bronze Age agricultural social structure and economy. Blackwell, from the CP interview, gives us some insight into the thought pattern here:
“In the whole kind of Biblical frame, God made three provisions for hungry people,” said Cook. “One was the tithe, which was literally a tax, because the government was the same as the religious order, and allowed widows and orphans to eat.”
“The second provision was that there would always be Sabbath and jubilee, where every seven years and 50 years, there was land redistribution. This provision was to prevent a class of people that were currently hungry,”
The last, Cook said, was gleaning — where corners of the field were deliberately not harvested so poorer members of the community could gather the remainder and use it to feed themselves. Here, hungry people have access to food as a matter of right, not as a matter of charity,”
Even the hardest core, most atheistic members of our community have to admit…that IS a pretty good system. It must have been…it worked for thousands of years. The poor have the right to crops through gleaning, land gets redistributed every so often to reduce income inequality, and the church tax covers the gap.
In that sense, you can almost see why these people have the perspective on things that they do. On a lot of issues. Social welfare, America as a “Christian nation,” etc. Hypothetically, a return to the ancient Jewish tradition would work out fairly well. But there’s one little problem with that: As Thomas Wolfe once said, “You can’t go home again.” If you were ever there to begin with.
1) The United States of America is not, and never has been a “Christian nation.” It was framed from the outset to reflect secular humanism. That’s why we have separation of church and state.
2) In order for this system to work, Christianity would have to become the mandatory state religion. Which is still unconstitutional.
3) How many corporations to you know who leave anything out for “gleaning” by the poor? Golden Coral Buffet throws out hundreds of pounds of edible food a night into locking dumpsters. Just to keep “the poors” from eating it, getting sick and suing the company.
4) Most companies harvest every inch of every field as a duty to the stockholders, and would rather burn the excess as an insurance write-off than give it away. Giving anything away would “devalue” the merchandise on the marketplace.
5) “Redistribution of land and wealth every 50 years?” Yeah…ask the Koch Brothers about that one. See where it gets you. Commie.
At the end of the day, this corporate evangelism might be well-intended, well-founded in history, even. But it’s also a prime example of a mutually self-serving symbiosis between the rich and the religious. In the end, it’s about power. Power because you’re rich, or power because your religion rules the nation. One side uses the other, and everybody loses but them. There’s no point in stopping before that happens, because only total dominion will equally serve both interests.
And that’s how Corporate Evangelicals were born.