3 reasons why Bill O’Reilly doesn’t get Jesus and the poor

Bill O’Reilly released his book, Killing Jesus which attempts to trace the historical events and movements leading up to Jesus’ earthly life. However, it seems that O’Reilly could have read and study the Gospels more closely when it comes to Jesus and the poor.

On O’Reilly’s program, a video of Rep. Jim McDermott played with McDermott addressing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). O’Reilly went on to say:

The problem I have, as I stated is that you’re helping one group by hurting another group and a bigger group, and so I don’t know if Jesus is going to be down with that…Ok but would he [Jesus]  impose a system that hurts one group to help another group? …Some of the people who don’t have enough to eat, it’s their fault they don’t have enough to eat…If you are an alcoholic or a heroin addict or a drug addict and you can’t hold a job and you can’t support your children and that’s the circumstance of millions and millions of people not most but a lot a substantial minority ok.

Here are 3 reasons why Bill O’Reilly just doesn’t understand Jesus and the poor:

Jesus spoke sustainability about personal charity, but O’Reilly thinks Christian responsibility ends there. In O’Reilly’s worldthe richest nation in the world could never help the “least of these”. As a part of the moral responsibility we have as a beloved country “under God”, is to create a culture where there is a safety net. O’Reilly doesn’t want taxes to go the poor. Romans 12 teaches:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing…

Part of authorities being  “servants devoted to governing” is to make sure those being governed are not ignored. The quality of our country should be measured in how we treat the poor, the oppressed, and needy. Matthew 25:37-40

Jesus spoke harshly against those who gave lip service to being faithful to God in word, but not in deed (Luke 11:37-54.) O’Reilly often proclaims America as a “Christian Nation”. If we are, then we should govern with Christian principles. Obviously, Jesus didn’t walk around proclaiming democracy,  social safety nets, or welfare. However, if we are truly a Christian nation, then O’Reilly should apply that philosophy in addressing social issues too. O’Reilly cannot claim that we a Christian nation in thought, word, and founding but then turn around and not apply that same thinking to our deeds. He doesn’t understand Jesus came to fight such hypocrisy among leaders. 

Jesus never asked us to treat the poor with such contempt. O’Reilly often groups the poor into a class of lazy dependents, drug addicts and alcoholics. Case in point:

If you’re an alcoholic or heroin addict or a drug addict and you can’t hold a job, alright, and you can’t support your children — and that’s a circumstance of millions and millions of people, not most, but a lot, a substantial minority — then it’s your fault, you’re bringing the havoc, that you’re asking people who may be struggling themselves to put food on the table to give their tax money to you. And then you’re not even going to buy food with it, you’re going to buy booze and drugs with it.”

A 2012 report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that, 9 out of 10 Americans on public assistance were elderly, seriously disabled, or members of a working household. To O’Reilly, a “large minority” of government dependent are undeserving of benefits.  This isn’t the first time he’s used a poor broad brush to describe the poor. O’Reilly seems to think many (most) don’t work and are lazy, therefore, they don’t deserve anything. Clearly, a compassion Christian Nation at work here.

I don’t question O’Reilly’s faith in Jesus, God, or Christianity, but I do question: “How can someone be a Christian in every way possible, except when it comes to how our government as a  “Christian Nation” treats the least of these? Most of those who would criticize my 3 points would paint me as someone who just wants to give our tax dollars away blindly. That is false. Surely, good stewardship requires us to have standards, accountability, and evaluations when it comes to government public assistance.

Some television personalities publicly decry abortion or gay marriage as “unGodly”, immoral, or anti-Christian. Folks look to the Bible for those hot button issues, but what about looking to Jesus or the Bible when we think about private or public charity?

“How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?”
(1 John 2:17)

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education. http://alanrudnick.org

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