Christians would do well to vote for those who actually practice what they preach. While Perry and Paul demand cuts to public programs and health care for the uninsured, President Obama is finding his inner Luke and asking the richest Americans to share their possessions to help lessen the burden of deficit reduction already on the shoulders of working families.If Jesus demanded a socialistic approach to helping the poor, then why are evangelical Christians almost universally against socialized medicine, unemployment insurance and a decent Social Security system?
Because it's bad for religion, that's why.
Nigel Barber did some fascinating research about atheism. He wanted to know why atheism is so strongly correlated with wealth. Along the way, he discovered the fascinating answer: It's security, not wealth, that drives people to religion.
Barber's abstract puts it succinctly:
Findings show that disbelief in God increased with economic development (measured by lower agricultural employment and third-level enrollment). Findings further show that disbelief also increased with income security (low Gini coefficient, high personal taxation tapping the welfare state) and with health security (low pathogen prevalence).In a Psychology Today article, Barber elaborates:
[With] better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.When I read this, I had one of those "Aha!" moments: it answers the question of why Christianity and socialism are enemies in spite of Jesus' teachings.
Religion hates socialism because it's bad for religion.
If you combine Barber's findings with a study of memetic evolution (how ideas evolve and survive as they're passed through society and down through history) the answer is clear. Religions that support socialism make people feel secure, which in turn makes them lose faith. In the "survival of the fittest" world of evolving religions, the branches of Christianity that don't follow Jesus' teachings about helping the poor are the "fittest."
Churches that teach socialistic principles are in competition with the more Calvanistic "God has blessed the rich" or "God helps those who help themselves" philosophies. Sadly, the latter are the ones that keep their memberships. Their adherents are insecure and thus need faith to sustain them. On the other hand, religions that follow the teachings of Jesus and make their adherents feel secure and safe are (ironically) the ones most likely to lose membership.
As Ghandi famously said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." And now the theory of evolution, applied to memes and churches, helps us understand why.