I figured out how they manage to look at themselves in the mirror. I’m talking about the Republican legislators up in Tallahassee who adjourned without extending health care to a million or so of Florida’s poor.
You have to assume that a large proportion (maybe all) of these people are good church-going Christians. If they weren’t before they entered public life, they are now, because their constituents expect them to be.
So, unless they’re sitting in their pews fiddling with their smart phones and texting with lobbyists and campaign contributors during the sermon, they’re bound to hear something or other about Jesus’ concern for the poor, and “as you do for the least of these, you do for me.”
Whatever. There’s something in the Bible to support just about any position you might wish to take. For example, there’s this cryptic comment by Jesus from Mark 14:7: “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”
That’s it, by golly! Before that warm, churchy, self-righteous feeling even wears off on the way to the parking lot, any legislator with a Republican agenda is interpreting that line as a divine release from responsibility, as in: “There isn’t much you can do about the poor. You can help them now, you can help them later, but they’ll always be poor. So you might as well help them later, if ever.”
It isn’t much of a stretch, then, to conclude that what He really meant was, “They wouldn’t even be poor if they didn’t want to be poor. In fact, because of their shiftlessness and lack of initiative, they deserve to be poor. Giving them a handout merely reinforces bad behavior.”
So there you have it: the perfect rationalization for turning your back on your fellow man because he doesn’t have the political power to stop you, or even to buttonhole you in the Capitol lobby for five minutes to whisper sweet nothings in your ear.
And we aren’t even talking about legislators spending their own money. It’s federal money, for crying out loud. All they had to do was say, “Aye.” Forget about being a good Christian. Is it that hard simply to be a human being?