Bernie Sanders’ campaign seems to be picking up momentum.
Before I go on, let me say that Bernie isn’t my first choice among the Democrats, but I’m not scared of him like a lot of people are. Sanders is certainly a polarizing figure, even among Democrats and especially among Christians.
Sanders’ biggest support base seems to be the younger voters. I think it’s great that he has captured the imaginations of a generation of young adults who otherwise tend to be fairly understated when it comes to politics.
What I don’t think is so great is the fact that Sanders tends to divide Democrats. We saw the same thing happen in 2016 and that division — which kept a lot of Sanders’ supporters from voting in the general election because of the bad blood with Hillary Clinton — likely handed the presidency to Donald Trump. If we aren’t extremely careful, the same thing could happen this year, God forbid.
Obviously, the thing that scares so many people off the Bernie train is that controversial word associated with him: Socialism. Many people see that word and are immediately frightened off because they don’t understand that there is a difference between the Socialism they are thinking about from their history books and the Democratic Socialism that Bernie Sanders represents. They fail to understand that our nation is already built, to a large degree, on socialist-like programs without which we’d be in desperate trouble.
I am particularly distressed with the fact that many of the people I see warning about Bernie Sanders and Socialism are Christians – yes, many of them are even Progressive Christians. It makes me wonder if they are forgetting what the Bible has to say about this controversial topic that probably shouldn’t be so controversial. Perhaps Christians would do well to consider how much socialistic ideas are rooted in their faith, whether they are cognizant of it or not.
If we study the teachings of Jesus, we shouldn’t be afraid of the concept of Democratic Socialism at all. Jesus didn’t spend His time harping on the law like the traditional religious leaders of His time. Quite the contrary, He called those leaders out for focusing on the wrong things. If there was any topic Jesus did tend to harp on more than any other, it was income inequality. Jesus spent far more time and energy standing up for the marginalized and poor of His time than anything else.
While He was at it, He taught often about the dangers of greed. Jesus plainly warned of the pitfalls of accumulating wealth. He didn’t say wealth was a sin, but He did say that loving money to the point where greed seeps in is a direct path to destruction.
What would Jesus say about modern American society where our three richest individuals control more wealth than the poorest half of the country – more than 160 million Americans? What would Jesus say about the student loan debt that many people work half a lifetime or more to pay off? What would He say about the exorbitant costs of healthcare and prescription medicine that cause untold numbers of unnecessary deaths each year?
If we study the very first version of the Christian Church in the Book of Acts, we will see that it started out with a small band of Christ-followers who lived for each other. They were told to sell off their their possessions and follow. They were to minister, as Jesus had, to the sick, elderly, and poor. None of them accumulated great wealth, and many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice for their faith.
And what of Heaven? Isn’t that the ultimate goal for Christians? My understanding of Heaven paints a picture of a “socialist” society. Everyone gets a mansion; everyone gets their healthcare taken care of because there is no more sickness there; nobody has any more or any less than anyone else; everyone’s needs are covered. It doesn’t matter where you were born, what color your skin is, how hard you worked, or how talented you were; everyone will be taken care of.
Isn’t that what you are looking forward to, Christian friends? I assume your answer is yes.
So my next question is this: Why do those ideas scare you so much here on Earth?
Just something to think about.