It had to happen eventually.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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78 Responses

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    It’s still a really ugly piece. It has the Limbaugh-ish touch of abominating the enemy at all times (the conservatives he disagrees with were acting like “a leftist police state”), the assertion that, because of the way The Others act Armageddon is right around the corner, and the weird statement that “there’ll be many more through the pearly gates than I want, but a whole lot less than I expect.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but apparently he’s afraid God will be more forgiving that he is.Report

    • I was struck by Erickson’s claim to be a Christian first, and a conservative second — so that means he’d give a teddy bear (importantly, paid for with private funds) to a child fleeing poverty and violence, before he’d deport them.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Well, you know what those people are like.

      I can’t speak to the first two you mention but, in Christian circles, the last one isn’t *THAT* out of place. There are a lot of people who identify with the elder son in the parable of the Prodigal while, at the same time, keeping very much the whole “I never knew you” warning in the front of their mind.

      This translates to people making it to heaven that “shouldn’t” with a lot of people not making it that “should”.

      Anyway, when I was still Babtist, we told a joke about new entrants getting a tour of heaven with this part being the Catholic section, this part being the Presbyterian ghetto, that part being the Methodist suburb and, everybody get really quiet and crouch down. Wind through the park and forest and find a clearing with a small group of cabins. “Why are we crouched down and whispering?” “Those are the Babtists. They think they’re the only ones here.”Report

  2. KatherineMW says:

    He didn’t say anything about same-sex marriage, so I don’t know why you’re drawing conclusions on his views on the issue, or even bringing it up in the post.

    He’s not changing his mind on any policy positions. He’s saying that he’s troubled by the vitriol expressed by many conservatives online, the outright opposition and hostility towards the very idea of compassion. He’s saying that policy positions shouldn’t preclude having some level of basic human decency. Now, I personally may not see the policy position that children should be deported back to something that resembles a war zone as being in any way decent or compassionate, but regardless of that, he’s bothering to confront his fellow conservatives enough to say that frothing hatred against people who try to provide some comfort to those children while they’re in US custody is disturbing and unChristian.

    It’s a simple but true statement, regardless of your thoughts on his eschatology.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW says:

      I wasn’t coming to conclusions about his views of SSM but noticing that the dynamic that I thought (and still think) would show up over there has happened to show up over here.

      This makes me think that things just might have a shot at getting better, if the Socons are willing to notice that the order of their priorities is God, Duty, Honor, Country instead of Party, the next four, whatever order they come in.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to KatherineMW says:

      What he seems to be saying is “Dudes! Be conservative, but don’t be such assholes about it!”Report

  3. I wrote a boatload along those same lines at around that time myself (albeit in different terms), Jay. So great minds and all of that.

    My explanation at the time, and really for the last several years, was that the coalition of interest groups that came to define the GOP base had outlived its political usefulness – there was no longer any kind of affirmative agenda that united the coalition, so the only way to keep the coalition together was by scaring the bejesus out of everyone in the coalition, which in turn entailed coming across as gigantic assholes to every interest group not part of the core coalition. After all, it rarely offends anyone in your coalition to just be against everything that the other coalition puts forward, so long as you make every group perceived to be part of the other coalition seem sufficiently scary and horrible.

    But eventually people start to realize that they’re not actually accomplishing anything for their personal or subgroup interests, that one or more of the other parts of the coalition are actively undermining those interests, that the coalition is worthless to them if their interests aren’t being served, and that while being dickish can win elections, having dickishness as an agenda after winning those elections kind of defeats the point of trying to win elections in the first place.

    Erickson’s still directing vitriol in this post at “the Left,” but that’s a vague term that roughly translates as “people who will never be interested in joining my group no matter what I say.” It’s a contentless jab at no one specific that has no purpose or effect other than signalling to his audience.

    What’s more important is that he’s acknowledging that dickishness towards other specific groups outside of the conservative coalition has become part of conservative dogma, and that this dickishness is standing in the way of him supporting the type of stuff that actually matters to him as a member of one of the primary conservative interest groups (namely as a Christian conservative).

    The duct tape that’s been holding the ;proverbial “three-legged stool” together for the last seven or eight years is finally coming off. Actually, I think it’s been coming off for about the last two years, but now it’s starting to come off at the center of the stool, if that analogy makes sense. The 2018 primaries are going to be very interesting – one of those legs is, I think, finally going to get ripped off and they’re going to have to start building a new leg.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      The Republican Coalition effectively started to crumble when the Berlin Wall came down.

      The GOP needs socialism!Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      H. Ross Perot was the first example of the three-legged stool coming apart that I can think of. The common enemy Clinton held them kinda together until the vitriol of the 2000 nomination process… and we’d have seen the stool explode were it not for 9/11.

      We’re now far enough away from 9/11 now that “isolationist” is no longer a bad word, the PATRIOT act is no longer something that conservative politicians can run on, and the TSA has turned flying from something pretty fun to something to be avoided at all costs, unless you absolutely have to for work (or, maybe, for Vegas).

      And that’s without getting into the militarization of the police.

      Yeah, I, too, keep wondering which of the 3 legs will go away. “We’re better than the other guys” will only last for so long before people start wondering if it’s true…Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah, that sounds about right to me. I’d add only that the other thing that kept it all together during the Clinton era was the Contract With America business combined with co-opting at least some of Perot’s agenda. Those were like short-term band-aids, but without them, I don’t think anti-Clintonism would have been a remotely effective binding agent since Clinton was doing everything he could think of to rip a leg off.Report

  4. I’m glad to see someone like EE reflecting on these issues and running them through his faith. His second, example, however, struck me as… interesting:

    The second was bringing Dr. Brantly and his co-worker back to the United States. The number of angry calls into my radio program from well meaning conservatives, comments across social media, opinion columns, agreement thereto, etc. really boggled my mind. Here are two Americans risking their lives to help others and we are supposed to turn our back on them, leave them there, or criticize their decision to go in the first place?

    Y’know, let’s not worry about the Africans who are dying, let’s just bring back the Americans to save. “Cause they’re Americans!

    That’s not a Christianity I’ll sign up for.Report

    • I have never once in my life said this, but I have to say I think that’s pretty unfair to Erickson. The context for his remark is that Ann Coulter wrote a column that was appalling even by her standards in which she insisted that Brantly and others were narcissistic (and indeed un-Christian) for having gone to help care for the sick and dying in Africa in the first place when there are problems to deal with in the United States, implied that they deserved to die for doing so, and that it was offensive for their organization (not even the government) to pay for their care or fly them back. Amongst other things. A not small number of conservatives (though still, I think, a definite minority) supported this, apparently going so far as to insist that the two doctors should have been banned from returning to the US for treatment.

      Erickson’s saying to this: “Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people.”

      Keep in mind that the doctors’ treatment was AFAIK paid for by their employing charity.

      If your claim is that it’s offensive for the employing charity to pay to bring the two doctors back but not bring any sick Africans to the US for treatment, I don’t think that’s fair either. We’re talking about a charity with limited resources that relies on what are essentially volunteer doctors to be willing to travel to the other side of the world in order to care fo rthe sick and dying in countries where medical services are poor to non-existent. Failing to go above and beyond to care for its doctors when they get sick – even if that means they get significantly better care than they’re able to provide to the poor they serve – would be a good way to deter other doctors from volunteering in the future, which means even less help to the poor in Africa.

      In any event, I don’t think it’s at all fair to interpret Erickson’s words as suggesting that we not worry about the Africans who are dying. Frankly, he’s saying the opposite – he’s saying that we owed the two doctors the right to be treated at home precisely because it is important that we make it easier for Americans to help dying and sick Africans and precisely because it’s important that we not turn our backs on people who need help.Report

      • greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        True enough Mark, but its hard for me not to think of the phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Then again any progress is better than none.Report

      • Strikes me more like pouring over what was said in search for reasons to denigrate the speaker. Report

      • He’s the one who chose to present his faith through the lens of nationalism, not me. It’s good that he supports helping these two people (and, sure, no one can help everyone), but it’s all wrapped up in the flag. He’s framed it in terms of American-ness. That doesn’t jibe with me, faith-wise.

        Will, if you think I poured over that post, you are seriously mistaken.Report

      • He didn’t say not to help the Africans. You did. He says to take care of these men in part because they are taking care of the Africans and for goodness sake don’t say “to hell with them” because they are helping Africans. To criticize home for being utterly indifferent to Africans on the basis that he was responding to specific points made rather than proposing things outside the scope of his piece comes across to me as spoiling for a fight.Report

      • Fair critique, @will-truman .

        My beef wasn’t with his not focusing on African patients (so I shouldn’t have written it the way I did); it was his framing this in terms of Americans. “Here are two Americans risking their lives…” – why, from a Christian perspective, does it matter that these are two Americans? What is the purpose or reason he decided to call them “Americans” rather than “people” (or “aid workers” or whatever else that didn’t stress their citizenship)?

        His post was not, primarily, a political post. He was writing, primarily, about faith, but this particular argument of his has a total nationalist/patriotic bent. And this sort of intertwining of faith and nationalism runs strong in a number of churches and faith groups. This sort of thing is exactly what EE’s post should be railing against.

        Again, it’s good that he’s doing this kind of introspection, but he probably needs to do a little more.Report

      • @jonathan-mcleod The thing is that there are actually a lot of good reasons for him to frame it that way. First, he was specifically responding to a claim that the doctors were narcissistic (and we should turn our backs on them) because, in helping Africa, they were refusing to help America, which, suggested Coulter et al, would have been way more Christian because America is Christianity’s only hope. Or something to that effect. Point being that by keeping the same framing he was showing how inconsistent this claim was and is.

        Second, I don’t see how there’s anything un-Christian with recognizing that there is a special moral duty to members of your community above and beyond your moral duties to strangers. That doesn’t mean that you lack a moral duty to strangers, just that there is an even greater moral duty to your community.

        I mean, what if Erickson was instead arguing with a family member as to whether to do everything possible to help out one of their brothers or sisters who had come down with Ebola while helping out in Africa? Would it be un-Christian for him to say, “Here is an Erickson risking her life to help others, and we are supposed to turn our back on her?”

        What if, instead of a brother, it were an argument between neighbors over whether to help another neighbor? Would it be un-Christian to say “Here is a neighbor risking his life to help others…”

        Etc., etc.

        I take the reference to “here are two Americans” to be little more than a way of saying “they’re our neighbors, the people of our neighborhood are in the best position to help them, they’re asking for our neighborhood’s help, and it is an especially egregious sin to actively seek to prevent them from receiving the assistance of other neighbors.”

        Ultimately, I just don’t see how there’s anything un-Christian about, in essence, saying “we have a duty to help others, especially those with whom we have closer relationships.”Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Second, I don’t see how there’s anything un-Christian with recognizing that there is a special moral duty to members of your community above and beyond your moral duties to strangers.

        I’m pretty certain Jesus told a parable *explicitly* about the idea that you should place your members of your community above strangers.

        It was called the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

        I don’t think it supports the conclusion you think it does.Report

      • @davidtc Yes, I’m quite familiar with it, and it really doesn’t refute my point. No one is denying that there’s a really strong moral duty to strangers. But are we really going to say that Christianity prohibits people from thinking that turning your back on people who you have a closer relationship to and who you are thus best situated to help is even worse than turning your back on people with whom you are less well-situated to help and have less of a relationship?

        Are we really going to say that it’s un-Christian to say that a parent who fails to care for her own child is no worse than a parent who fails to ensure that every single child with whom she comes into contact is properly cared for? I’m not saying that there is no responsibility to a stranger, or even that responsibilities to strangers are limited, only that it seems unremarkable to suggest that doing wrong to strangers is really bad, and doing wrong to people with whom you have a closer relationship is even worse.

        And we’re going to say that this sentiment is not only theologically flawed, but it’s also outrageous?Report

      • Mark, he wasn’t responding to Coulter. He was responding to angry callers.

        But his whole post was about the divide between the current conservative movement and Christianity. I don’t see how he was arguing on their terms to prove a point. That is completely inconsistent with the rest of the post, and it contravenes his very thesis.

        Again, this isn’t actually about whom we help (and whom we can help), it’s about writing a post about how some political movements don’t align with Christianity, but doing so with a decided nationalist bent.

        I mean, if he wants to be all “Yay, America!”, that’s cool. He can even do that and still be “Yay, Christ”, but putting the two together diminishes the latter.Report

      • @mark-thompson , thinking on this a bit more, I’m reminded of a post Elizabeth wrote a while back, talking about how the Christian left could find common ground with the non-Christian left (for which she got a lot of weird pushback). It was a call to find ways to unite and work together, despite a fairly significant disagreement.

        EE could pen just such a post in regards to treating the two Americans. He could write about how the desires of Christians (to help people in need) dovetail with the desires of patriots (to help Americans in need…I don’t mean that to sound as crass as it does, but we’re talking about EE’s words here which focused on helping two Americans). That’s a valid thesis to put forth (in fact, I’m a big fan of posts and essays which work to find the common ground between two opposing groups).

        However, that’s not the point of EE’s post. Where as Elizabeth was writing to help bridge the divide, EE was writing to highlight the divide. Switching, for one paragraph only, to start closing the divide is the exact opposite of his thesis.Report

      • Wardsmith in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @mark-thompson The reason there is a doctors without Borders in the first place is because it is actually illegal for American doctors to work on American patients for free IF those doctors have a Single patient who is paid for by Medicaid or Medicare. If we want American doctors providing free care to Americans lots of rules and regs need to be changedReport

      • @ward I need a reliable cite for that, as hospitals provide free services to American patients quite frequently as in understand. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders’ actual name is Medecins Sans Frontieres- it’s originally a French organization.Report

      • Wardsmith in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @mark-thompson The law says that government gets the best price, period. A doctor who bills Medicare/Medicaid for service but gives it free to someone else is breaking the law. I’ve had doctors explain it to me, don’t take my word for it, ask Saunders.

        Hospitals don’t give anything away, they bill for it fully knowing they’ll never be paid, not quite the same thing. If an indigent patient wins the lottery the hospital will be there hands extended.Report

  5. Tod Kelly says:

    Overall, I really liked the piece — almost as much as I liked his one on Ferguson from last week.

    Still, I have to confess that this line — which seems to bother no one else — really depresses me:

    “I view the ends times more pessimistically. I think there’ll be many more through the pearly gates than I want, but a whole lot less than I expect.”

    There may not be a more honest and candid expression of the destructive things the “Us/Them” dynamic of religion can do to a person’s soul than Erickson’s admission that he personally is wanting God to eternally punish more people unlike him to Hell than God himself will probably see as just.Report

    • That jumped out to me, too, Tod, but I think (hope) he’s trying to admit his personal failings…that he’s judging people he shouldn’t, and that he will err in a number of his assessments. I think (hope) it’s an attempt at humility, which would totally be in line with him writing this from a perspective of faith.

      Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I hope I’m not.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      which seems to bother no one else

      We discussed it above, complete with Borscht Belt jokes.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      If Erickson perceives a tension between his Christianity and his conservatism, that’s indicative of his inability to admit that, his pretensions to the converse notwithstanding, Erickson is a conservative first and a Christian second. His essay demonstrates this loud and clear.

      The single most Christian thing I ever heard of was a church in suburban Memphis, Tennessee responding to hassles by local governmental officials, coincidentally their co-religionists, given to Muslims who wanted to build a mosque. The pastor of this church asked his congregation, “What would Jesus do if a bunch of Muslims moved in to his neighborhood and tried to set up a mosque?” and the answer was “He’d welcome his new neighbors with open arms and love,” and the church offered the use of their community building to the Muslim congregation until such time as the mosque could be built, with the only condition being that their kids were to play little league baseball and similar sports together. The story continues to choke me up, years after the event.

      Erickson’s essay — with all of his talk of securing of the border and enforcement of the law (meaning deportation) of children whose need for comfort and nurturing he acknowledges — does not strike me as proof that he has yet arrived to that point where the potential compassion and generosity available in Christianity, which that Tennessee church demonstrated so powerfully, has reached flower in Erickson’s conscience. Deportation might be the least bad thing to do with these children (of this I am uncertain), but he ought not claim that he is being generous of spirit when he, however softly, advocates that action.

      Erickson is parsimonious about the benefits of life in America: those immigrant children shall partake of our material wealth only to the extent that Americans voluntarily choose to dispense charity unto them.

      Erickson is parsimonious about who gets to offer moral judgments and set political priorities: only those who have attained the appropriate balance between Christian morality and conservative ideology, like himself. Those who suggest that other moral imperatives may be at play are leftists and statists, the wrongfulness of being either offered as a self-evident proposition.

      And his parsimony concerning who shall or shall not “pass through that narrow gate” to salvation (in Erickson’s eschatology, for no such gate shall ever actually exist) is further demonstration of an inability to transcend tribalism and embrace the real nobility of spirit that Christianity has inspired in others.

      Parsimony of spirit strikes me as fundamentally contradictory to Christianity, but an attribute which is fundamentally harmonious with the very strain of contemporary conservatism for which Erickson avows distaste. One word for the opposite of generosity, and a synonym for parsimony, is “meanness.” Erickson suggests that conservatives are perhaps too mean, but seems afraid to condemn meanness with full throat.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’ — Mahatma GandhiReport

      • DavidTC in reply to Burt Likko says:

        If Erickson perceives a tension between his Christianity and his conservatism, that’s indicative of his inability to admit that, his pretensions to the converse notwithstanding, Erickson is a conservative first and a Christian second. His essay demonstrates this loud and clear.

        It is theoretically possible to be someone who strives to emulate Christ’s behavior (I hesitate to use the word ‘Christian’ there.), *and* think like a conservative on how we should treat the poor, at the same time. Maybe.

        It is possible that a hypothetical person came up with some hard and fast line between government and private charity based on…well…gibberish, because the Bible doesn’t make any such distinctions. But I suppose it’s possible to *honestly* think that government charitable action is literally harmful somehow.

        It’s pretty damn rare, though. Usually, when conservatives claim charity should come from private giving, they actually just *don’t like charity*.

        Or, instead, they want to be in charge of *who gets charity*, making sure only the ‘right people’ get it. Which they pretend means ‘people who deserve it’, but actually means ‘people like us that have fallen on hard times’.

        As demonstrated here, where they literally are criticizing private charity! Towards children!

        Usually, when someone on the right *honestly* has empathy for the poor, they’ll break from their party on that issue. I had a long talk once with Fairtax near-libertarian Christians who were helping house some homeless people, and, to my complete surprise, agreed with me when I pointed out that the government could just, you know, literally build dormitories for homeless people to stay in, and it would be a good deal easier than all the nonsense we’re doing. Give them somewhere to live, to take a shower and wash clothes, to store their possessions, and tada. (Although I suspect they were paradoxically still against ‘welfare’, as they have been taught to hate that by rote.)

        Of course, usually, to get a conservative to do this, *someone they know* has to need charity and be rejected by the system. Or see someone get clearly mistreated by the system, which is why we’re seeing this sort of weird pushback against the horrible conservative behavior towards these kids…even people just barely rational can go ‘Wait a second, these are kids fleeing from death squads, let’s all calm down a little’.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        For what it’s worth, I think it’s trivially easy to reconcile Christianity with Libertarianism. “Treat others as you yourself would be treated.”

        So, you know, treat them like adults. Like moral agents responsible for themselves. Treat them like human beings who have their own relationship and responsibilities towards God.

        If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

        Sure, help the most needy who need the most. But, at the end of the day, the important questions come into how *YOU* treat others rather than how you tell Caesar how to treat others.Report

      • LWA in reply to Burt Likko says:

        OK, that’s a good start.

        But leaving it at “do unto others” leaves both moral structures poorly constructed, unable to actually solve things or inform our decision making.

        The view of humanity that is contained within Christianity is that we are one body, that is, there is a powerful directive towards solidarity- a moral duty that libertarians term “positive rights”. These ideas are already present in the other Abrahamic faiths, but the Gospel writers explicitly expanded “we” to mean the entire human race.

        Second, the human person itself is a sacred thing- there is literally, a piece of God in all of us. This is where we derive the idea that all persons are equal, and that all persons must be treated with respect and dignity.

        In this view, helping the needy isn’t merely something that’s nice to do.
        The moral foundation for it is so strong as to be compelling, and justifies state intervention if necessary to accomplish. Notice how Paul Ryan and other social conservatives couch their free market logic in accomplishing the ends of the social welfare state, but merely changing the methods.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Matthew 19:20-22.
        Luke 12:48.
        Luke 20:25.
        Acts 2:44-45.Report

      • greginak in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Bible verses, that can only mean one thing. It’s almost football season.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:


        You should read Jacques Ellul.Report

      • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Thanks for the lead- He does look interesting.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:


        He is.

        I agree with you that Christianity is inherently communal (and if that’s not quite your phrasing, understand I don’t mean that in a critical sense). I just disagree that it necessarily requires involvement with government to pursue its care for others, and strongly believe that Acton’s statement that power tends to corrupt* is not one iota less true for Christians than for any others, and that the worst of Christianity–of all religions–occurs when it/they get entangled in government.

        One of Ellul’s arguments is that when Satan take Jesus to the mountain and says he will give him dominion over all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus does not contest that Satan has the power to do so. While the British royals may have believed that their authority was given to them by God, another perspective is that temporal power is within the domain of Satan.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Burt, the main point that I’d make about those verses is that Jesus’s attitude is “Do this thing or go to Hell” rather than “Do this thing or go to prison.”

        He was really big in the whole telling the person the truth and then letting them decide whether they wanted to be good or not.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Sure, help the most needy who need the most. But, at the end of the day, the important questions come into how *YOU* treat others rather than how you tell Caesar how to treat others.

        Why would that be true? That’s something that’s easy to say, but doesn’t exactly seem to hold up to logic.

        I mean, if you see a car accident, is the important question how *you* help the person, or if you contact the people most suited to helping the person (the hospital) and ask *them* to come help the person?

        And the use of the word ‘Caesar’ is implying that we are not part of the government, that we do not make decisions for the government. But we do, collectively. If you are on the board of a charity that helps people, is the argument that you shouldn’t ask ‘them’ to help in some new area…you should just try to help yourself? That’s clearly nonsense.

        The important question isn’t if *you* help people or ask a group you’re part of to help people…it’s whether or not your actions, whatever they were, *actually resulted in that person getting help*. (And, yes, whether or not others were harmed.)

        If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

        I think you’ve rather lost the plot somewhere. We’re not talking about people who treat *you* poorly, we’re talking about people who treat *the needy* poorly.

        I just disagree that it necessarily requires involvement with government to pursue its care for others, and strongly believe that Acton’s statement that power tends to corrupt* is not one iota less true for Christians than for any others, and that the worst of Christianity–of all religions–occurs when it/they get entangled in government.

        Except that handing over the responsibility to care of others to religions, without government involvement, is *also* handing over power to religions. The power to help, or not help people. Something that, sometimes, literally is the power of life or death.

        So, ironically, that’s one of the reasons I think the government should be doing it, and not churches. Handing the charity purse (Whether raised through taxes or voluntary giving) to ‘Christians’ all too often results in…very very non-Christian things.

        I think if you put charity in the hands of Christians, there’s all sort of social pressure that would show up, from the most obvious (I better be a member of a well-funded church in case I ever need help.) to other, more complicated things. There have been modern societies structured in such a way that churches were in charge of charity distribution, and every single one of them has a story lurking somewhere in their history with prejudice keeping ‘unworthy’ people away from charity, deliberately choosing not to help certain people. (And I’m not even talking about *actual* abusive practices, like Ireland’s Magdalen laundries.)

        This is not to say that governments can’t abuse their power over charity (Let’s make sure that poor people who got any sort of drug infraction can’t afford colleges.), but those at least are problems encased in law and hence visible. Or they’re illegal and will eventually be dealt with. (The FHA’s decades of discrimination.)

        And, just as relevantly, Sunday morning is, as someone once said that I don’t want to look up, the most segregated time of the week. Churches are often divided by race and class lines, and putting charity in their hands is sorta akin to expecting all schools to operate solely off local property tax…poor communities have no money to start with.

        The power to decide who gets help exists, period. It will exist in the hands of someone. It will either be an individual who can do almost nothing themselves and have no real ability to make a difference, it will exist in the hands of a charity that individual has given that power to, who have very little restraints and oversight, or it will exist in the hands of the government.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      It bothered me deeply. I kept re-reading it hoping I was the one messing up the phrasing. Brother Likko is right about them being conservative first and Christian second. There is in fact a good reason for Christians to try to be in this world but not of it; temporal affairs are corrupting to the spirit. As a kid I used to hear those sermons, but they were always directed at liberals. Later I came to recognize that while liberals/the left will pervert the gospel, too (hello liberation theology), the conservative church with the American flag in the front of the sanctuary that was teaching me this message was every bit as much or more spiritually corrupted by politics.Report

    • I missed that line the first time through, but I agree that it’s depressing. Honestly, though, I don’t think the issue is religion per se but rather the confluence of politics and religion that he says he’s now trying to fight against. “Wanting” people to be kept out of heaven makes no sense in the context of religion alone – heaven is utopia, so whoever gets into heaven is inherently necessary to creating perfection. “Wanting” someone excluded, in the context of religion alone, amounts to hoping that utopia is not utopia.

      The issue is politics mixed with religion. It allows people to play God and force their interpretation of religion on others. It allows you to want people to be excluded from heaven, which would give your political arguments moral authority.

      So, yeah, this is him being a conservative first and a Christian second. But it’s also (I hope) him acknowledging that this is something he needs to start pushing back on and getting better about because what his politics tell him to want is ultimately irrelevant.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Tod – re: “I view the ends times more pessimistically. I think there’ll be many more through the pearly gates than I want, but a whole lot less than I expect.”

      That was very awkward phrasing on his part, but I don’t think he meant it the way you’re reading it. Think of the pearly gates not in terms of Heaven but in terms of death. Thus in context, he’s saying that he doesn’t have as rosy a view of the end times as people did a few hundred years ago; he thinks there will be a lot more carnage at the end than he’d like (but maybe less than he expects). Read it that way and it makes sense.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Pinky says:

        @pinky I very much hope you’re right. In fact, I think I’m just going to go ahead and assume you are, because I like living in the universe where you are right better than the one where you aren’t.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

        I loooove living in a world where I’m right.

        That wasn’t my first or second interpretation of those sentences. After the second one I gave up for a while, then came back and came up with that. Erickson’s a weird one, seemingly splitting his time evenly between the reasonable and the inflammatory, but I don’t think a Christian could have meant for your initial reading.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

        I still don’t see how there could be a difference between what he “thinks” and “expects”, but I think (and expect) that that’s down to sloppy writing.Report

  6. veronica d says:

    I’m pretty sure he still thinks I am subhuman dirt. So, yeah. Whatevs.Report

  7. NobAkimoto says:

    On the whole the entire piece just came off as more righteous pharisee-ism, where someone clutches their pearls and commends their own righteousness and piety than actually you know, reflects on what it is that fundamentally is in conflict with the core tenets of their religion.

    But hey, Erick Erickson said something mean about non-religious conservatives, so that’s good, right?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to NobAkimoto says:

      I’m one of those atheists who has ceased expecting the Holy Spirit to manifest itself in people.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to NobAkimoto says:

      Using “pharisee” that way buys into New Testament propaganda about Jews. We need to have a conversation about antisemitism.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I get the joke, but is there a serious core to that I should learn about?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Pharisees were enthusiastic laymen in the religious community (as opposed to the priestly officials (Sadducees)).

        If anything, they were the “sorry I’m late, I had to do some real work” Jewish enthusiasts who devoted time to religious thought, philosophy, morals, ethics, and basically yelling that the priests were wrong.

        Were *SOME* of them hypocrites? Well, yeah, probably. In probably equal numbers to any group of people who devote time to religious thought, philosophy, morals, ethics, and basically yelling that the priests were wrong.

        Using the term as co-extensive with “preening religious hypocrite” is inaccurate, though. Shammai and Hillel were Pharisees, after all.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        The pharisees were in a way, the Protestants of their day, valuing religious study and the Bible over the Temple, the priesthood and the hierarchy. And since that’s all that was left after the destruction of the Second Temple, they’re the direct ancestors of what Judaism has been over the past two millennia. Dismissing them as narrow-minded hypocrites is as inaccurate as it is widespread, but it’s what happens when everything that’s in common currency about a group was written by its enemies.Report

      • NobAkimoto in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I had hoped using the qualifier “righteous” to make sure I was using the specific turn of phrase “righteous pharisee” would put it more into the biblical context, but I apologize for the antisemitic connotation therein.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Thanks, both.

        Michael, is that enough conversation, or do we have to have more? I mean, I’m really down with the suffering of your people and all, ya know whut I mean?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Don’t worry about it, Nob. I was mostly joking.Report