In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared tries to break some of the myths that that Christians cannot be socialists (and maybe even break the myth that Americans cannot either). You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1 WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple here.
The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.
This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith.
As President Biden and Congress continually work in budget negotiations and other legislative qustions, there is a word that keeps cropping up, one that is used pretty regularly to smear and dismiss political policies that are actually widely popular with our citizens. That word is “socialism.”
I think that one of the most unfortunate developments in American political and religious thought in the twentieth-century was the conversion of the word “socialism” into something that is somehow un-American. And so, this week I’d like to break the myth that Christians cannot be socialists (and maybe even break the myth that Americans cannot either).
The scare concepts linking democratic socialism to communism are unfortunate, albeit rather expected. The most salient difference between the two is that democratic socialists believe in precisely that—a democracy. Communist forms of government are not democratic because the people do not get to vote those who represent them. In communist systems, the state controls everything and a small group of people control the state.
In communism, there is no such thing as private property—everything is held by the state and individuals are given their basic needs from the state. Contemporary Democratic Socialists (and I would include myself in this camp) do not advocate for a wholesale government take-over of all means of production (which would be classical socialism), but instead is argue for the government to take over those systems best handled by the government.
We already do this in America, believing it makes most sense for the government to provide for a military, for a safety-net for the poor to exist through Social Security and Medicare, and to have a hand in ensuring there is adequate public housing. The Democratic Socialist argument, for example, when it comes to the current insurance-based system is that it is an inherently inefficient and unjust way of paying for healthcare in our country. Medicare for All would more effectively accomplish this work. Given the fact that our healthcare costs are far above any other developed country (all of whom have some form of government-provided care) and that our healthcare outcomes are far below other countries, I find this argument persuasive.
And knowing what percentage of a church’s budget winds up going to pay for private insurance, I think there is a strong stewardship argument to be made that a church’s dollars could be spent elsewhere if the government would provide effective healthcare.
Regardless, Christians should not be scared by language of socialism. One of the most significant reasons is because Christian Socialism is a real, valid, and authentic tradition. It continues to be a significant part of the history of my own tradition of Anglican Christianity. This movement,