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Friday, June 21, 2013

The Opiate of the Wealthy

Do you think the rich have more problems being Christians than the poor? How? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1255).

Since I am not poor, the question becomes: Do I have more problems being a Christian than the poor? How? It is often charged that religion serves as an escape (an opiate) for the poor. The truth of the matter is that religion is a reliable escape for the well off. For in religion we can find endorsement of the status quo in the distribution of wealth: “The reason I am financially comfortable is that God chose to bless me. He chose not to bless the poor. Praise be to the unsurpassed wisdom of God!” In short, that I am better off than some is due to a high and mighty exercise of God’s will. Thus, I can safely put the suffering of others out of my mind—or throw a crumb to them and feel very self-righteous about it. God’s will becomes not an eternal cry for compassion, but a haughty call to self-righteousness. This demarcation that the wealthy make between themselves and the poor can be quite intentional: “We’ll circle our wagons and have a high old time while the world suffers.” After all, responsibility (dare not call it callousness or sinfulness) begins a home. This perversion of religion into a self-serving escape into gleeful rides of self-indulgence and cruelty becomes the signal temptation of the wealthy.

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