Obviously, the Catholic Church and various Christian charities have done wonderful work in helping the poor, weak, and downtrodden, as they should. However, the communist and socialist tendency puts the administration of that care into the hands of an all-powerful state bureaucracy, which is not beholden to any higher set of principles or to God. It replaces the priest or the nun with a wage earner at a cubicle desk who is just trying to get through a 40-hour week so he or she can catch the game on Sunday morning rather than crying into a confessional.
Giving into this temptation marks a confusion in Christian heritage between society and the state. The two are not synonymous. Society exists wherever an aggregate of humanity interacts in commerce, culture, shared values, and social interaction. Society is created out of human want and need, and is where individuals pursue those ends in a common arena.
The state, however, is power that exerts itself over the pursuit of those ends. Thomas Paine drew the distinction as such in “Common Sense”: “Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is patron, the last a punisher.” By Paine’s description, Christians take the forbidden fruit the wicked offer when they empower the state.
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