Matthew Cohen, MSW

Matthew Cohen, MSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Social Justice and The Church

Social workers are trained to delineate between economic freedom and humanitarian freedom. Economic freedom is conceptualized as a persons ability to express their will in the market place. By these selections  fortunes rise and fall;  beliefs are expressed as they financially support the institutions that help regulate lives. Humanitarian freedom is more concerned with the fundamental rights that all beings are entitled to based on sentience. These rights supersede the market place and can give rise to legislation that curbs the marketplace’s ability to compromise an individual’s natural rights. Social justice can take either form, but is generally reserved for the latter.

Give this, I was reading an article by whose premise is educating churches on the need for the expression of economic freedom. The article is entitled ‘Changing “Social Justice” Hearts to “Economic Justice” Minds’. Here is a short sample:

The focus of this networking will be “economic justice”, to replace the feel good platitudes and redistributionist outcomes of “social justice” dogma….Mark Meckler, noted national Tea Party spokesperson and founder of Citizens for Self Governance, recently attended a dinner at the Acton Institute.  The Acton Institute works to promote a free and civil society” characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.”  A great deal of their efforts are directed at highlighting the benefits of free market to clergy.

The concept of economic freedom has always struck me as a Trojan horse used to derail the civil rights of minorities groups. Hidden inside the concept is the Puritanical ideal that blames the poor for their own poverty using arbitrary moral judgments as the foundation. I am not quite sure how economics have become so intricately tied to religion and spirituality in the Christian tradition. This is especially true in light of the following:

Luke 6:20-21. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh

James 2:5. Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

I could go on, but these quotes are sufficient. There does not seem any question about the stance the church should be taking when it comes to economic liberty. The above quotes make it clear that we are all each others keepers; that it is all of our responsibility to look out for the worst off of us. The idea that the church should  “replace the feel good platitudes and redistributionist outcomes of “social justice” dogma” is absurd if one is going to actually follow the tenets of the bible. In fact the exact opposite.

On a side note, isn’t it interesting how someone can take something like social justice, turn it on it’s head, and make it sound weak and undesirable.  Yup, economic freedom is perfect, the rich never take advantage of the poor, and they would NEVER create a race war to mask a class war. In case you are wondering, that last bit was sarcasm. In any sense, the religious and secular alike should be aware of how their basic human rights can be affected by something as simple as they way in which a word is interpreted. If the concept of social justice can be questioned, we are in a lot of trouble; if the Church turns away from social justice, there might not be any hope for humanity.

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  1. zombidon December 28, 2012

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