The Compassion Forum

barackhillary.jpgOn April 20th* April 13th (Sunday) at 8:00pm (ET) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will participate in a forum on faith and values at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. It will be broadcast live on CNN. John McCain has been invited as well but has so far declined. The event has been called The Compassion Forum.

The faq page of The Compassion Forum Site lists the following “compassion and social justice issues” for discussion:

  • Global and U.S. Poverty
  • Human Rights
  • Global Aids
  • Climate Change
  • Darfur

What do I think of all this?

  1. I believe that Christians should act with compassion to help those in poverty.
  2. I believe that Christians should be on the front lines of defending human rights
  3. I believe that Christians should be on the front lines of compassion towards those with Aids
  4. I believe that the Human Caused Global Warming “crisis” is a Man Made Myth.
  5. I believe that the crisis in the Sudan is a great tragedy. I don’t know what to do about it and I am very interested in hearing a discussion of what the U.S. government can or should do about it.

I hope that in the category of human rights the forum addresses:

  • The Right to Life and the ending of the Evil and Murderous practice of killing unborn children
  • Religious Freedom in America and around the world
  • The Right and Responsibility of parents as their children’s primary educators

I have to admit that I am skeptical. I get a little bit tired of some claiming that it is only “compassion” if you believe that the government should tax people more and spend more money on the problem. I am convinced that individuals, churches, and private organizations getting involved hands-on with their own money and their lives is the key to most “compassion” issues. I do believe that the government has a responsibility to defend the Rights to Life and Liberty. I believe that the best thing the government can do to combat poverty is to get out of the way and let the people love their neighbors.

I hope I will be able to watch it. I am not sure if I will be able to at this point.

If you watch it, come back here and tell me what you thought about it!

It will be very interesting to see if John McCain shows up. Even Mike Huckabee is supporting the event.

We’ll see what happens!

*A comment below revealed that I had entered the wrong date for the CNN broadcast of the event. April 13th is the correct date.

18 Replies to “The Compassion Forum”

  1. A glance at the article on the forum did not show any participants representing a conservative view. If it’s just limited to presidential candidates, then it serves little purpose.

    The website says the forum will ask the candidates how they will confront today’s issues…I can tell you now that their prescriptions will be more government intervention and more tax dollars spent.

    If there is not going to be a voice of conservatism and personal responsibility participating (and neither McCain nor Huckabee count), then I’m not really interested.

  2. Hey Jon – nobody is stopping you from loving your neighbor. If you and your church supplant welfare and food stamp programs (as you continually swear you will – though this has never happened in all of human history) then nobody will come to the welfare office for help, the programs will run huge cash surpluses, get scaled back or shut down, and you’ll get your precious tax cut.

    Sounds to me like this conference is addressing 5 issues, and you have a generally positive point of view on 4 of them. So what are you fussing about? I don’t agree with 80% of any groups’ policy or agenda,,,

  3. I think that since it is government politicians debating at the forum we can only expect to hear government solutions. Host a forum with private organizations, individuals and churches as the speakers and you will hear more grassroots solutions.
    In response to the previous comment: Would having ‘conservatives’ in the discussion really change the outcome of the discussion? They all are working within the same government- they all can only offer so much. And if you look at each parties history with ‘compassion’ issues (weather you agree with them or not) the left side has usually had their fingers in more pies.

  4. casper~ … ouch … and what are you talking about, ‘all of human history’ ? There have been several points in time periods and places where the church has been the ONLY social service to a community.
    In fact, even today there are many places where Christians are offering the only organized help to poor and neglected communities. Some governments do more than others- I’m not against that at all. But it doesn’t need to be the ‘end all’ or the only way we care for the world around us. It should be a lifestyle of the people and not only a policy of the state.

  5. Casper – if churches and families took better care of each other than they are now, our governments would not need to intervene so much and hence tax us so heavily. Neither would we have so many homeless people. It bothers me terribly to see especially young people on the street, not really having a place to spend the night because their parents “forced them into responsibilities…” So be it if food stamp programs and welfare agencies cease to exist for lack of customers – our governments might stop putting their noses in our private affairs…
    Conference sound interesting although I have not acquired so far any affinity for either Sen. Clinton or Obama because of their stands on important issues such as abortion, gay mariages and stem cell research.

  6. on the q&a site, the forum is said to be on the 13th of April at Messiah College and broadcasted live by CNN (who has the exclusivity) from 8:00 – 9:30. The 20th of April is for the CCN (Church Communication Network) to rediffuse it to 1000 congregations nationwide.

  7. Hi Cara,

    Yes, I agree with you that many times the churches have been the only places that provided any civil services. Our eponymous blogger ThirstyJon calls for the return of those times and the dismantle of any portion of the government that does something besides protect property and invade other countries – especially welfare and food stamp offices. He claims that if only taxes were low enough, the churches could provide all of the social services that are needed. My counter to that is that never in history have the churches provided all that was needed – and the times when there were no other sources of help for the needy have been marked with starvation and disease. Ever read a Dickens novel? Churches did all they could in 19th century England, and yet London was overrun with “Street Urchins”. Yes, religious charities do great works and I support them – but I do not believe that they could provide all the help that’s needed no matter how low taxes are.

    Hi Lyne G.

    Wow, we agree on something! I wish food stamp and welfare programs could go away – and if churches and families could fill the need then the programs wouldn’t be needed, and taxes could be lowered. But the churches never have,,,

    Jon, about the “man made myth” of global warming, tell me this. What happens if we do it your way, and you’re wrong? Well according to that Al Gore movie it’ll be a catastrophe of biblical proportions. Now, what happens if we do it our way, and it turns out we were wrong? Well I guess we’ll be driving cars that get 100 miles to a gallon of corn oil, and we could have just stuck to the gasoline – but basically no harm no foul.

    So which is the more prudent course?

    It’ll be interesting to see what this conference comes up with.

  8. Hello Everybody!

    There is great danger in a government that is trying to “socially engineer” our nation into a place with no poverty or suffering – this is what “welfare” tries to do. It is all upside down and is based on a world view that believes people are changed primarily by their external reality. (Living conditions, “education”, etc.)

    The people are to make the government, not the other way around. As long as we look to government to save us, we will be servants to government. If we work to “save” ourselves and our neighbors we can eventually end up with a government that serves us.

    If we turn over the financial well-being of our neighbor to the government, we will end up being slaves to the government as the government tells us how to help our neighbor. If we tell the government to butt out, we will be able to keep our national government doing what it is meant to do instead of trying to “socially engineer” us:

    …establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…

    Many in our nation have embraced a world view that sees people as helpless victims of their upbringing. I recognize the reality of how one’s upbringing can have a very real effect on one’s life. However, if we create systems that see people that way, we will not> free them. We will build systems that make them dependent.

    🙂

    ThirstyJon

    P.S. If all of the time, money and energy that was spent trying to “socialize” America was instead spent on individual, organizational, and church programs to bring help to those in need, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  9. I totally agree concerning social welfare benefits. Our government provides regardless of the ability of each recipient to work or in some way contribute to society. The more they receive, the harder it is to get out of it. I’d rather see work/improvement programs instituted as a condition to receiving benefits over a certain period of time.

    Like you say, the less care we take of our families, neighbours or anyone in need, the more our government will control us. I believe in the principle of “no strings attached” when it comes to this. The more entangled one gets with government’s benefits, the tighter the rope gets!

    The US Constitution mentions “PROMOTE the general welfare”. Could it be that our forefathers had in mind to INCITE people to take better care of eachother instead of chewing the worm for them…We need to get back to the principle of …”don’t ask what your country can do for you but rather what YOU can do for your country”.

    “Many in our nation have embraced a world view that sees people as helpless victims of their upbringing.” Having grown up with parents (my dad in particular) who came from a more or less middle class, I have a problem with the principle that they fell victim of their own background. With hard work and persistence, they made it very well, without any kind of subvention from the government whatsoever. I think the less available those are, the more creative one gets in finding resources to survive. I wonder how this present generation will do with everything that is available.

  10. i don’t believe there is a ‘one size fits all’ solution to this problem- and i have a hard time with lynns comment that, “I think the less available those are, the more creative one gets in finding resources to survive.”
    when we de-humanize the problem it can be a lot easier to offer cookie cutter solutions. Some of our social services are keeping people alive- or safe- or housed. There is never any shortage of need or poor- and if the Church isn’t stepping up now in those areas, what makes us think that if the government cuts back that we will jump at the chance to step up? This problem is not contingent on what the government continues to do or not do- or what services they will dream up next. This is a question for the Church- what are we going to do?
    Stop pointing fingers at the government- it’s not like there isn’t enough need to go around.

    casper- i never said the church ‘should’ be the one offering help. i am saying that plenty of times they have been. And no matter what solutions are found- there will never be a utopian society– but don’t blame the ‘church’ for the starvation and disease in your dickens novels of 19th century england- there’s a much bigger picture going on. hats off to those who attempt and fail- and some who succeed, how about zinzendorf? i’d rather be on the lookout for hope.

  11. I do not think there is a “one size fits all” solution to the problem of poverty, homelessness, and so on either. When I talk about making less available government aid for people in need, I am not talking about eliminating it completely for there are those who cannot do otherwise. What I am saying, is that you always have those who “suck up” to the government because, while they would be able to work, they have become so encased in their habits of receiving that they won’t even make an effort to try again. The rate of homelessness today is high amongst a younger generation (18-25). There is no reason for that.
    If our governments can control driving permits renewal by testing the elderly to make sure they can still drive, I don’t see why they couldn’t do the same with the recipients of welfare benefits. Many churches have services such as food bank, clothes exchanges. If yours does not have it, maybe it’s time for the congregation to act upon it.
    Lastly, who else should we point the finger at? Our governments have sort of removed the responsibility from families to take care of each other by supplying undiscriminately to the demands of the less fortunates. Now, they’re stuck with the problem.

  12. point the finger at ourselves! it is no ones fault but our own – what we have allowed our culture to come to. we are a government ‘of the people’ (mostly). it isn’t ‘us vs. them’ … this is us- this is what we have allowed.
    and there are Many reasons for the rise in homelessness among my younger generation- maybe some of it has to do with our cultural mindset and what our society says about value, belonging, function- or lack of it. i don’t think it has anything to do with laziness – that is like the tip of the iceberg of problems that have been building for years. it is a product– that has become an issue. again, it is a message of nothingness that has been fed to our generation. i heard an english pastor say, ‘don’t blame the dark for being dark- blame the light for not shining there’. i love that- put the ball back in our court- we’re not the victims here.
    your last paragraph really just rubs me the wrong way- no one has ‘removed’ anything from us, like i said before- this is us, and we have handed it over. we wanted our government to take care of us. and we should never say ‘well that is your problem’ to something like poverty. it is a human problem that we all share in.

  13. sorry lynn- i reread your comment and i think there is a lot we agree on- i think i just am looking at this from another perspective. i don’t think that the church has ever said, ‘that is your problem’ to the government regarding poverty- and i don’t think that is what you were saying either- sorry.
    the church has never stopped being the hands of christ- i agree with jon on taking it a few steps further, sticking our fingers in those things we may have left up to the government to fix.

    i’m just not anti-gov. not yet anyways.

    on the flip, i’m also not completely pro-church.
    and don’t attend.

    we all have lots of room to grow.

  14. Cara,

    Anti-gov. Hmmm. I am not anti-gov either. I am just anti-government doing things that do my harm than good.

    And that is why we must discuss and debate, do decide which things are doing more good than harm, and which things are doing more harm than good.

    Well, that is one reason anyway.

    🙂 (passive aggressive?)

    ThirstyJon

  15. Hmmmmmm – bummer! I totally forgot about the Compassion Forum…Our hosehold was totally taken by the game Montreal/Boston. Would the forum have been more exciting than that? 🙂

  16. The five points raised by Compassion sound just like they were taken out of a book entitled Personal Faith and Public Policy by Harry R. Jackson, Jr. and Tony Perkins which raised the same five points plus two additional ones. Things that make you go Um!

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