Thursday, November 18, 2004

I owe my soul to the company store

Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel and Dimed, has an interesting article in The Nation.

Remember in the episode where Kirk and Spock go back in time and end up in Edith Keeler's mission? Some unemployed man makes a comment about having to listen to the sermon to get the food. Well in this article Barbara writes about how the influence of evangelical Christianity lies not only in what they tell people, but what they do for people.

What these churches have to offer, in addition to intangibles like eternal salvation, is concrete, material assistance. They have become an alternative welfare state, whose support rests not only on "faith" but also on the loyalty of the grateful recipients.

A woman I met in Minneapolis gave me her strategy for surviving bouts of destitution: "First, you find a church." A trailer park dweller in Grand Rapids told me that he often turned to his church for help with the rent. Got a drinking problem, a vicious spouse, a wayward child, a bill due? Find a church. The closest analogy to America's bureaucratized evangelical movement is Hamas, which draws in poverty-stricken Palestinians through its own miniature welfare state.

Sure the tycoons are happy to get government out of the helping people business, it costs them money! And to them it makes sense for the Churches to pick up the broken people screwed by the system. And this comes to the heart of the question, "What is government for?"

Interesting article, check it out.

White Poor People in Mississippi, From the book "American Pictures" by Jacob Holdt.


Anonymous said...

dude; you totally deserved the link - are you kidding? :) katie (

3:26 PM  

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