Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently said America should be guided by "the Christian values that this country was based upon." Even though Article 11 of the John Adams-endorsed Treaty of Tripoli states "the Government of the United States of America, is not in any sense, founded on the Christian religion," I'm sure it warmed the hearts of Christian voters in the room. However, Rick Perry is the absolute worst model of a Christian leader.
The Scriptures are clear about the necessity of helping the sick and the poor. Proverbs 3:27 instructs those to not withhold good from the deserving when it's in their power to do so. Jesus defined the Christian's role of aiding the needy in Matthew 25:35-41, adding that those who deny the needy the help they need do it to him also. Jesus also warns against religious hypocrites in Matthew 23. And the idea of wealth redistribution isn't new -- Luke the Apostle actually advocated for it in Acts 4, in a passage called "Believers Share Their Possessions."
Yet, Rick Perry instead chose to deny public health care to tens of thousands of his fellow Texans with reckless cuts to Medicaid. Four and a half million Texans are living in poverty, with a poverty rate three percentage points higher than the national average. After Gov. Perry cut millions from volunteer firefighter and forest service budgets, Texas' wildfires are raging to this day.
Instead of redistributing wealth, Perry's friends in the capitol denied help to struggling people in his state in the midst of a $27 billion revenue shortfall, and chose to reward owners of $250,000 yachts with a generous tax break. Perry, who constantly criticizes federal entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare as "
unconstitutional," apparently feels entitled to $600,000 in taxpayer money to spruce up his rented mansion.
Not to be outdone, Ron Paul recently hinted in the CNN Tea Party debate that allowing the uninsured to die was "what freedom is all about," before finally relenting and saying churches and charity could likely pay for life-saving healthcare for a hypothetical uninsured patient in intensive care.
This is a pretty callous statement coming from Paul, considering his 2008 campaign manager Kent Snyder lacked health insurance and died of pneumonia two weeks after Paul's campaign concession. Snyder's mother is unable to pay the $400,000 cost of her son's medical bills, despite helping from churches, charities and a website set up by his friends.
Even conservative Christian students at the university where Rick Perry made his remarks about leading by a Christian example agree that it's "un-Christian" to deny life-saving medical care to the uninsured. And plenty of Christian leaders are still calling for an end to brutal budget cuts that kill jobs and force more working families into poverty.
If America is to truly be guided by Christian values, Christians would do well to vote for those who actually practice what they preach. While Perry and Paul demand cuts to public programs and health care for the uninsured, President Obama is finding his inner Luke and asking the richest Americans to share their possessions to help lessen the burden of deficit reduction already on the shoulders of working families. The tea party's favorite candidates should take a cue from the President and truly embrace the Christian values they speak about.