In Jesus’s day, publicans were often tax collectors, and Scripture lumps them in with sinners as in Mark 2: 16: “When the teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors [publicans]… ” They were despised and looked down upon as corrupt and greedy.
Jesus tells The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Today it is no longer Thank God I am not like that Publican, but Thank God I am not like that Republican. In “Bleeding Hearts But Tight Fists,” columnist George F. Will exposes the harsh truth behind liberal rhetoric. It turns out that, according to Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, “liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives.” Here are some of the data:
• Although liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).
• Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.
• Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.
• In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.
• People who reject the idea that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.
Will concludes that “using public office to give other people’s money to government programs,” is “charitable, as liberals increasingly, and conveniently, understand that word.” Indeed, this is the new Pharisaism, the belief that an ideology of spending is the same as loving one’s neighbors, giving lots of alms publicly so that you can get on your high horse and proclaim how wonderful, kind and giving you are, saying I thank You that I am not like the Republican.
“The single biggest predictor of someone’s altruism is religion,” and those who are familiar with Jesus’s model of giving in Matthew 6 know that giving that honors God is done in secret. Looks like the secret is out.
Of course, some will say much of that “charitable” giving is to the church instead of directly to the poor, but so what? Most churches have excellent outreach programs and service projects, not to mention poor people go to church and churches minister to their members. Charities have overhead, just like churches: buildings, staff and utilities, among others.
The sad truth is that the media characterize Republicans as greedy and heartless and Democratics as saints. If you were bit by a snake who’d you want to help, the one who talked about taking you to the doctor or the one who picked you up and took you?
Apparently conservatives are putting their money where the liberals’ mouths are.