Bill Freeman (Sentinel, Feb. 26) invokes Scripture to call for changes in Michigan’s tax code to reduce the burden on the poor. This proposal is objectionable to Alan Helvig (March 2), who declares that, according to Jesus, caring for the poor is strictly the responsibility of the church, not the government. Helvig’s position is both non-biblical and nonsensical.
Thus, Helvig’s claim is not grounded in the Bible.
I firmly believe that responsibility to the poor extends to everyone, including the government. Compassion, solidarity and justice are fundamental to the life of Jesus and hence to his followers. These values are cherished by most of our non-Christian brothers and sisters also. Since our government was established to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we must insist that our government embody these core values.
We live in a society where many people are unemployed or underemployed, where many have difficulty gaining access to a good education, decent housing and adequate health care. These problems are huge, and they are at least partially caused by or made worse by government policies.
Churches alone do not have the authority to correct structural problems, nor do they have the resources to adequately help all those in need. For example, a recent Bread for the World analysis concluded that the food provided by food banks and other private charities in our nation totals only about 6 percent of the food provided by federal food programs.
Jesus exhorted us to seek first the kingdom of God. What if we sought to apply kingdom values on the state and national levels? I believe that Jesus was giving us very important advice for attaining security, prosperity and peace in this life, not just the next.