Christian charity vs. socialism

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

IT WAS a “passing glance” I had of an interviewee contending that everything should be free, including immigration. That would be nice populist campaign pitch that will surely cater to the many poor but can be a horrifying thought to the wealthy and those who work for their betterment in life.

The Americans will go to the polls next year but already the political field is heating up towards the earlier process of the primaries to select the candidates of the party. This is a process we do not have in the Philippines where the candidates are chosen by the political leaders through negotiations.

Here in the United States the two leading parties, the Democrats and the Republicans hold antithetical or opposite political theories on how government should act. The Democrats are generally classified as liberals while the latter are conservatives.

There are some socialists however who believe that government should take care of its citizens to the extent that there will be true equality. On the other hand, Christian charity is an act of love for those in need, not only of worldly goods but even the poverty of the spirit. In this respect, there is a conflict between socialism and Christianity.

John Horvat II, wrote in Return to Order last month an article on “How Socialists Will Usher a New Hell on Earth” claiming that the idea of government taking over the function of helping the poor will usher the elimination of private charities especially that of the Catholic Church.

He said that while Americans are a generous people ready to lend a hand to those in need, this charitable spirit is now threatened. There are those who hate this charity and desire to destroy the structures from which these material blessings flow. Indeed, “we may face the coming hell of an America without charity.

“One might ask what kind of heartless person could be against helping the poor. How could such people exert enough power in America to extinguish the light of charity?” There are people who believe that charities should be the function of government to insure true equality.

Horvat quoted Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, who is in the forefront for the political combat next year. He quoted Sanders saying, “I don’t believe in charities…in the fundamental concepts on which charities are based. Government, rather than charity organizations, should take over responsibility for charity programs.”

This statement is an idea projected in that television debate I saw last week. It indicates that socialist idea could be taking hold in the US but to what extent we still do not know. But it is there and probably waiting for its chance to emerge as a dominant principle in the government.

Horvat said that “socialists do not believe in the fundamental concepts on which charities are based. By their toxic ideology, they are the natural enemies of private charity, and above all Christian charity. Thus, we do well to fear the terrible specter of a socialist America without charity.

“Indeed, socialist charity is an oxymoron. Most socialists hold that charity is a capitalist structure used to keep the poor downtrodden. Socialist literature is hostile to charity. Ironically, the greater the charity, the greater is the hostility since they do not want charity to solve social problems. They want the government to take control.”

Last week we passed by a row of two-level houses in New Jersey. Our companion said that these houses are homes of people in welfare who also receive food stamps and other benefits but don’t work. Parked in these houses are high-end vehicles – Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz and sports car.

This seems to be the case of the government “taking care” of people. But is this socialism or a welfare state? Is this misguided charity? Is this the “free everything”, populist ideology?

Socialism is presented as love for the downtrodden but Horvat claims that “socialists hate charity because their egalitarian ideology demands economic equality above all things. To them, all inequality is unjust. Charity will always participate in this injustice since there can be no charity when everyone is equal. When someone aids another, it presupposes that one person has more than another.”

Thus socialists or communists hate capitalists and accuses Catholic charities as perpetrators of inequality being allies or instruments of capitalism, a justification for their anti-Catholic policies.