Will Christian leaders follow example of new pope?
by Kevin Foley
December 06, 2013 12:02 AM | 1437 views | 11 11 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pope Francis recently issued an apostolic exhortation in which he condemned the “idolatry of money,” calling on politicians to guarantee their citizens “dignified work, education and health care.”

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” the pope wrote.

The pontiff’s teaching is timely here in Georgia. Our local Christian community is so immense that if its collective voices joined together, they could convince Gov. Nathan Deal to set his worldly politics aside and expand Medicaid, providing preventative and critical care to more than 650,000 poor Georgians.

Imagine helping this desperate multitude with just some emails and phone calls.

I recently asked why local Christian leaders remain silent when they and their congregations have this unprecedented opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of Georgians in need.

That particular column garnered more than 1,700 views and 40 Facebook “likes” at the Marietta Daily Journal’s online edition and several letters in the print edition, suggesting it resonated with readers.

“Almost without being aware of it,” Pope Francis continues, “we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor … as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

While Pope Francis speaks out, the continuing silence of local Christian leaders is deeply troubling. Why won’t they add their voices to the pope’s?

A clue comes from the only local minister to respond to my request for a comment. He told me Jesus Christ didn’t mean governments should help the destitute. This sounds exactly like something you’d hear from conservative media types, not a disciple of Christ.

Jesus is apolitical. He places no conditions on how we should to care for the poor and sick. He just wants it done.

Cobb County’s ministers and pastors can take all the followers they want on missions to the Dominican Republic, but until they help the least of these in their own back yard, they aren’t really doing the Lord’s work.

Hard times have lately been made worse if you’re poor. Did our Christian leaders look on in sorrow as Republicans in the House of Representatives applauded their bill cutting $40 billion from the food stamp program?

If Republicans really wanted to reduce spending by $40 billion they could cut the defense budget or big oil subsidies and nobody would feel so much as a pin prick.

Instead, they shamefully went out of their way to injure the poor, the elderly, the disabled, little children, and even unemployed veterans. The outraged voices of Christian leaders could overturn this monstrous travesty tomorrow.

Why aren’t we hearing them?

It begs the question: Why did these men and women enter the ministry if not to stand with Christ on all things? Is it only to preach before adoring congregations or appear in television ads asking others how committed they are to their Christian faith?

Rev. Martin Luther King demanded justice and it cost him his life. This is their chance to step up, and they bear nothing like the risks Dr. King took. Let us pray Cobb County’s Christian leaders won’t miss it because they fear offending or angering a few resentful, misguided folks citing in their pews.

“In all places and circumstances, Christians, with the help of their pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor,” Pope Francis reminds us.

In this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it falls to the leaders of all Christian denominations to follow Pope Francis’ example and instruct their congregations on what Jesus commanded us to do.

Kevin Foley owns a PR company in Kennesaw.
Comments
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just sayin
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December 08, 2013
Matthew 6:24

No one can serve two masters, either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other, you cannot

serve both God and money.
Byron Harvey
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December 07, 2013
Nettie, you NAILED it! Very well-said. It always slays me when those who, by their own admission such as Kevin's, don't themselves take seriously the claims of Christ, yet want to selectively take to task Christians according to their own often-mistaken ideas of Christ's teachings. The flaws in his thinking aren't particularly difficult to discern, but unfortunately, folks like Foley don't particularly want to be confused with the facts.

Now, if Kevin wants to make an argument for the efficacy of his particular pet government programs, that's a different story, and we can have a respectful discussion thereupon. But the general liberal slant on things measures things like the amount of money given to--or taken away from--programs like food stamps, and it never gets any deeper than that. Nevermind if a particular government program is effective. Nevermind if it duplicates services, or does more harm than good by deepening dependence upon government. No. What matters is whether or not government programs are increased or cut. Increase: good. Cut: bad. End of story.
Papermill gal
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December 07, 2013
Central African Republic. Foley, Muslims are slaughtering Christians there. It's complete and total anarchy. Acknowledge please. Because you know doggone well you are an apologist for this religion.
wonderin
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December 07, 2013
Who said, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven"? "Sell all your worldly possessions, give them to the poor and follow me," and the rich man went away crying for he had many possessions. If you guessed Mitt Romney, you're wrong.
Question?
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December 06, 2013
Foley:

Do you support a church with a financial pledge? What percentage of your income do you give to help the poor in or out of a church? Do you go out in the community and work with the needy?
Bob S
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December 06, 2013
Sure wish Foley would EVER get his facts straight vs. his dogma. The church I attend in Marietta supports nearly 20 local charities - taking care of the needy in our community - and we certainly outspend locally as opposed to other mission interests. Many of our members personally go into the community and work with those in need.

Additionally - the military - which Foley implies should be further gutted - is near the lowest percentage of federal budget spending EVER! In 2011, it was 19% of the federal budget - as opposed to over 70% in the late 50's when we were not fighting anywhere. In contrast - BEFORE you get to food stamps and other aid to the poor, 45% of the budget (highest ever) is being spent on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and similar programs designed to help the poor. I say "designed" because as most of us know, the growth of welfare programs begets more poverty and doesn't solve it. That's particularly true when government is so big it can't control rampant fraud.

I sure wish he had better intellectual arguments...
Nettie Helen Stemm
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December 06, 2013
Kevin, this is hypocritical in so many ways. First, that you, who has gamed the “capitalist system” to the point of amassing an enviable personal worth would dare to repeat the Pope’s uninformed condemnation of the “idolatry of money” is hypocritical enough in itself.

But to drag in the tired old rhetoric that endorsing Obama care and its contingent programs is, somehow, following Jesus’s commands is inexcusable.

Then to go on to lay out your interpretations of Christ’s commands and what he meant by them is laughable, inasmuch as you have already admitted that you have not darkened the doors of the church in years, and therefore have no idea about that of which you speak. I suspect that it has been an equal number of years since you have opened a Bible and actually studied what Christ did and taught.

Are you aware that, if Christians followed ALL the teaching of the Catholic church, Obama would still be a community organizer, we would have overturned Roe vs Wade years ago and abortion would be illegal in ALL cases, homosexuals and gays would still be underground and the church’s coffers would be overflowing with tithes and good will offerings?

You want to cherry pick which of the Pope’s teachings Christians obey, based on how they fit with your liberal agenda. How about we obey them all? Would that make you happy? I seriously doubt it.

What a sad
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December 06, 2013
country we have become when 40 facebook likes is our proof of validation.
Lib in Cobb
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December 06, 2013
Thank you Kevin.
Samuel Adams
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December 07, 2013
Yes, thank you Kevin, for baiting Cobb's Christian readers into trying to respond to you, so you and the atheist activists who post here can try to trash them in their holy season. Such a complete and total minion of the state and YOUR savior, Barack Obama, fake leader, secret ant-American. Repulsive agenda and terrible logic. Cannot believe I bother to comment.
Merry Xmas
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December 16, 2013
Gee Samuel Adams for a Christian you sure have a lot of anger/hate issues this holiday season. What ever happened to "Peace on Earth good will toward Men", or does that only apply to right wing nuts. I can't believe you bothered to respond either, but you did.
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