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After apparently reading a recent WND commentary, the most popular leftist talk-show host in the nation has taken to the airwaves to declare that Jesus Christ supported taxpayer-funded welfare.
Talk-show host Thom Hartmann declared on Russia Today that the writings of Pope Francis support his idea that one cannot be a Catholic and a Republican, and Jesus endorsed government taxes for welfare payments.
He cited a a recent WND guest commentary on the idea that Jesus actually endorsed capitalism as he argued for the benefits of taxes and welfare.
In the pope's recent writings, he castigated unfettered capitalism as an ideology that worships "the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation" to produce "a new tyranny."
The pope said the earnings of the already rich are "growing exponentially" while the poor suffer an income gap, "separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by the happy few."
Hartmann explained, "The pope has repeatedly spoken out against the greed and tyranny of capitalism, and urged his followers to care more for the most vulnerable human beings, and work for a more equal and just society. Catholicism has always preached [to] love your neighbor, help those who are less fortunate. Pope Francis is just following this tradition."
And Hartmann argued that the New Testament story of a man asking Jesus whether he should pay his taxes is a reason to believe Jesus supported the idea of government welfare programs. In Mark 12:17, Jesus responded,
The New Testament notes that when asked about paying taxes, Jesus told the inquirer, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17).
The result is the question, Hartmann said, "How can someone be a Catholic and a Republican?"
Caleb Howe at The Right Scoop posted a video online of Hartmann's program, where he cited a WND guest commentary written by Jonathan Moseley, a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney, who also is a co-host with the "Conservative Commandos" radio show.
Moseley argued in the Sunday piece that the warnings from Jesus about hoarding wealth should not be interpreted to say the government should be socialist.
"One truth shines out from the Bible: Jesus spoke to the individual, never to the government or government policy," he wrote. "Jesus was a capitalist, preaching personal responsibility, not a socialist."
He cited Pope Francis' recent statements condemning capitalism, explaining, "Francis argues for dependence upon government to redistribute wealth. And con artists in the U.S. are seizing on the opportunity to spread the misery of socialism. Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin this week called Pope Francis on his mangling of economics."
Howe continued, "Hartmann trots out the old canard that Jesus really was a hippie and that people who oppose Democrat welfare policies are really, therefore, ANTI-JESUS!! … OK, not in so many words. But his argument is the same we've heard a million times. It's the stand-by straw man of every liberal who wishes to appear oh-so-clever. That it is possible to believe in charity and good works without believing in compulsory behavior enforced by the state is something that never crosses this 'rumbler's' mind. Not even when his guests rightly point it out."
Francis criticized capitalism and urged Christians to reject what he characterizes as "the new idolatry of money." He said he believes income redistribution is essential to a moral theory of economics.
"I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: 'Not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs,'" he wrote.
He charges that capitalists and free-market advocates "end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own."
Hartmann argued that Jesus told people to pay their taxes to the Roman Empire to fund its social programs.
However, Hartmann's guest, Kris Ullman, cited Winston Churchill in saying the free-market system isn't perfect, but it's the best that's available out of "a lot of really crappy systems."
"It's an individual's responsibility to help their neighbor," she said.
Hartmann then claimed Jesus' "most important message" was "It's going to be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven."
But Ullman and fellow guest Horace Cooper both corrected Hartmann – that Jesus himself identified his most important command as to love God with your whole heart, mind and soul, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.
Hartmann, when asked, also identified what he considered a capitalist haven – Somalia.