Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Methodist Social Creed and the Catholic Social Teaching

The choice of Tim Kaine to be Hillary Clinton's vice-president joins two active proponents of two of mainstream Christendom's most active social uplift doctrines.

The Methodist Church has always been active against social evils, from the days of John and Charles Wesley's opposition to slavery.  A core principle of the current United Methodist Social Creed is

We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.

Catholic Social Teaching is an even more developed theory and practice of the just order of society, organized around a "preferential option for the poor."

Using the power of government to lift up "the least of these" is what Methodist and Catholic politicians have been doing for all of American history.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Ban on Non-Profits Endorsing Candidates is Good for the Church

Donald Trump says that "an amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocated their political views."

Trump's claim is mostly false - religious institutions often advocate their political views.  What they can't do is advocate voting for specific candidates. Moreover, the law that Johnson pushed was not aimed at religious institutions, but rather at red-baiting McCarthyite organizations.  Since the law covered all tax-exempt non-profits, it also covered religious institutions. 

I think this law is actually very good for the churches.  I expect my church and pastor to promote decency and justice, which sometimes mean taking a side in a political argument.  However, that is different from endorsing or opposing specific candidates.  Candidates are people with a mix of vices and virtues - some of which will only be revealed in the future.  The potential for corruption in the short run, and embarrassment in the long run, of allying the church with specific candidates, is very great.  

The current law, which was not made for or about religious institutions, has worked to our advantage.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Diseases of Aging Are Declining - Not Sure Why, But We'll Take It

I often lift up improvements in the world which are the result of deliberate efforts at betterment.

But there are also things that are improving for unclear reasons.  Several of the diseases of aging - colon cancer, broken hips, dementia - are all down.  Researchers don't really know why.

They conclude that it is probably the result of everything - deliberate effort, unintended consequences, cause X.

I will believe that we should keep doing the right thing, and we will probably be helped by Providence, too.