TALKING POINTS MEMO
"Pope Francis ignited controversy recently by speaking out against unfettered capitalism and 'the idolatry of money.' The Pope is correct in portraying greed and exploitation as wicked, but the far left is distorting his words to impose 'economic justice,' which is really socialism. Pope Francis opposes that form of tyranny as much as Pope John Paul II did, but the Democratic Party is ready to launch a huge 'social justice' campaign to try and keep power. The far-left Nation magazine recently said 'there can be no doubt that equality of opportunity is explicit in the core Christian doctrine.' Equality of opportunity is a noble goal that will never be reality. That's because the human condition dictates that some people will not do what is necessary to succeed in this world - work hard, be honest, stay sober, and get educated. Some people will not do that and their children will suffer deprivation, no matter how much money the government hands out. Jesus understood that when he said, 'The poor we will always have with us.' The United States provides more opportunity to more people than any other nation that has ever existed, which is why millions of folks want to come here. We have done that by developing a free market system, and even poor people here have material things that most of the world can only dream of. Yet the left wants to tear down the capitalistic structure that has provided vast opportunity. The left doesn't care about the facts, it's all about hating America. To those of us who are sane, the USA is a noble country that provides massive opportunity to those who will work for it."
Following the above Talking Points Memo in January, The Factor explored theology and economics with religious leaders Jim Wallis and Raymond Arroyo. "The pope is not calling us to an ideology," Wallis said, "he is calling us to the way of Jesus. The gospel of Matthew says that how we treat the least of these - the hungry, the naked, the sick, the stranger, those who are locked up in jail - is how we treat Christ himself. The pope is asking all the priests around the world to get out of their comfort zones and serve the poor. He's also saying that the wealthy have a particular responsibility to help and serve the poor." Arroyo contended that Pope Francis's message is consistent with individual responsibility and capitalism. "For all the coverage we've been hearing about the pope being a socialist, he also warns about a welfare mentality that sets in if the government becomes the means of charity. He wants you and me to be the charitable givers, not the government. But all popes have warned against unregulated capitalism that focuses only on profit." The Factor reiterated that the best way to help the poor is by having a vibrant economy: "My contention is that capitalism does the most good for the poor because it provides opportunity for poor people who will seize it. I don't think it's the obligation of a Christian or anyone else to give their money or resources to people who are self-destructive."
ATHEISM ON THE RISE
Charles Krauthammer joined The Factor back in December to examine the rise in atheism in America and the tendency of some atheist groups to confront believers. "The United States is by far the most religious country in the West," Dr. K observed, "and I don't see any eruption of atheism upon the land. The militants who want to put a finger in your eye are a small group of extremists, but there are a lot of minority groups in the country that have their extreme elements. I would bet that the vast majority of atheists are silent, they don't wear it on their sleeves, and they leave other people alone." The Factor agreed, but added that non-believers wield significant cultural power: "They are such a small number but they have an inordinate amount of influence with groups like the ACLU who take up their causes all the time."
In November, The Factor asked Democrat Kirsten Powers and Republican Kate Obenshain whether the Obama administration is doing enough to promote self-reliance. "I don't think any president in recent history has promoted self-reliance," Powers said, "and this isn't about government. I just don't think it's the role of the government to promote self-reliance. I was always working, and I agree that's an important thing, but I don't think it has anything to do with the government." Obenshain contended that President Obama and his team have actually discouraged independence. "This administration is doing the exact opposite, there is a decreased emphasis on growth and economic opportunity in the private sector. We've seen a massive expansion of the public sector and a massive expansion of dependency. President Obama is embracing a mindset that the government can take care of you."
CAN CHRISTIANITY MAKE A COMEBACK?
When the much-anticipated movie "Son of God" was about to be released in February, The Factor spoke with the film's producer Mark Burnett. "We are the noisiest Christians in Hollywood," Burnett said, referring to himself and his wife Roma Downey. "There is no way we won't say what is true, that Jesus is God, and we are hoping people will find Jesus through our movie. The last time there was a movie on the life of Jesus was in 1965." Burnett said that he and Downey are treated respectfully in Hollywood. "We've been so welcomed, we're very authentic with our faith, and we get along with everybody. We socialize with a lot of people." The film "Son of God" was released at the end of February and has thus far grossed more than $60-million.
PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE BIBLE
Earlier this year The Factor welcomed Pastor Robert Jeffress, who claims that President Obama's policies are in synch with biblical prophecies. "There is going to be a future world dictator before Christ returns," Jeffress predicted, "and my thesis is that people will become conditioned long before the anti-Christ comes to accept governmental overreach. That' what you're seeing with President Obama. I want to be clear that I am not saying that President Obama is the anti-Christ, but I believe he is conditioning people to accept governmental overreach. He is the first president to go after people of faith and he is the most pro-abortion president in history. The good news is that Christ is coming back. The short term forecast for the world is turbulent, but the long term forecast is good."
POWERFUL NEW FILM
Another Christian actor, Kevin Sorbo, entered the No Spin Zone in March to discuss his movie "God's Not Dead." "In this movie," he said, "you get the scientific view from an atheist, but you also get the scientific view from Christians. The story is a professor's battle with a freshman student who wants to prove that God exists." Sorbo added that, as a man of faith, he is an outsider in Hollywood. "I'm a believer and my manager has told me many times that there's a backlash for me standing up for my political views and coming on shows like yours. Have I heard hatred and anger directed at me for having a different point of view in a city that claims tolerance? Yes, it's definitely come back to bite me." The Factor identified with Sorbo's ostracism, saying, "There are certain people in Hollywood who don't want to do business with me because their cocktail invitations decline."
The Factor concluded the "What We Believe" Good Friday special by re-airing a segment in which Fox Business host John Stossel gave advice on finding the right charities. "All the people who work with the homeless," Stossel reported, "say we should not give them money. They are almost all scams and you're just helping a guy with a drug or an alcohol problem buy more intoxicants. There are groups such as Charity Navigator that vet charities, and I give to groups that I can personally keep an eye on." The Factor advised viewers to give to local organizations whenever possible: "Studies show that we are a very charitable people, and that the bottom earners give proportionately more than the top earners. I want people in their home towns to donate locally rather than through these big funds."