Martin Bashir -- he who slammed Ann Romney as "two-faced," gratuitously ripped fellow Christian Rick Santorum by comparing him to Stalin, and cravenly suggested Santorum's less of a genuine Christian than Barack Obama judged by the amount of money the men gave to charity respectively -- mounted his moral high horse yet again to thunder hellfire and brimstone upon a conservative Republican.
The target of MSNBC's demon deacon today was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), whom Bashir was calling to account for his plans to vote for a bill that would spare the Pentagon of budget cuts by trimming social welfare spending elsewhere in the federal budget.
Bashir wasted no time getting straight to his biased, loaded questions:
We want to recognize your support for Meals on Wheels and your service to the community, but, are you, as Rep. Gwen Moore said on this broadcast yesterday, are you really going to vote with your colleagues in the House to cut food deliveries for the elderly, school lunch subsidies for 280,000 poor children, and vote for 300,000 poor children to lose their health insurance. Are you going to vote for that?
Barton responded that he was committed to voting to "honor our commitment that we made last summer to begin to reduce the gigantic federal deficit." Barton added that he and his wife personally financially support the Meals on Wheels program, and that his wife regularly volunteers for the program.
Bashir, of course, wasn't satisfied with Barton's exercise of personal charity and sought to use the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and later the Bible, as cudgels to accuse Barton, who is United Methodist, of being a bad Christian.
"You will know that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed some very real criticism of this targeting of the poor and the refusal to raise taxes on the super-rich," Bashir complained before turning to attack Barton by ripping a psalm out of context:
How do you square your approach to the words of Psalm 146, where the psalmist writes this:
"He gives food to the hungry, the Lord protects the foreigners, he defends orphans and widows."
Isn't this the exact opposite of the cuts that are being proposed by Republicans in Congress?
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But alas, the VERY psalm that Bashir is quoting warns the reader to not put one's trust in government but in God (emphasis mine):
Put not your trust in princes,in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
(Psalm 146:3-4 ESV)
The psalmist continues by ascribing glory to God and announcing blessing upon those who trust in the Lord, the God of Jacob (Israel):
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 146:5-10 ESV)
It is the Lord who will reign forever, not human princes who return in death to the earth and whose plans perish with them. Bashir's use of Psalm 146 would only makes sense if one views the federal government as acting as God.
True, Christians are called to imitate God's character (Eph. 5:1; I Cor. 11:1; I Cor. 1:6) and to "do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10).
And yes, Christians aren't simply to pray for the welfare of the afflicted but to personally do what they can to help them out of their own financial means (James 2:15-16). But As Bashir himself admits, Barton does his part personally to help those in need.
Bashir, however, seems to believe the hallmark of Christian charity is not simply doing good personally but using government to fund charitable enterprises, an issue on which the Bible is, quite simply silent, and about which Christians can charitably debate and disagree on civilly.
Alas, civil debate in a spirit of brotherly love seems to be the furthest thing from Brother Bashir's mind in episodes like this.