Peter Hitchens distinguishes the deserving and undeserving poor

An article by Christopher Hitchens’ brother Peter in the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Scrubone)


Here beginneth the first lesson: In St Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, Chapter 5, we read: ‘If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’

And in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, St Paul rubs it in, in that way he has: ‘This we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.’

This seems pretty clear to me, and a dozen generations before my own knew these words by heart and lived according to them. They gave to charity and supported the helpless and needy with all their might.

But they scorned those who sought to live off others when they had no need to.

[…]I don’t mind bishops intervening in our national life. That’s what they are for. I like having them in the House of Lords to remind us of the foundations on which our country stands. But they are not there to act as reinforcements for the Liberal Democrats. They are there to remind us that we are at heart a Christian nation and people.

They should stand up for lifelong marriage, denounce the lax treatment of wrongdoers and the neglect of their victims, condemn public drunkenness, defend unborn babies against those who wish to kill them, stand in the way of stupid and unjust wars, and of selfish cruelty of all kinds. But they really have to get out of their heads the idea that the Welfare State must be unconditionally defended.

For it is the hard-working poor who pay for it, and who see their near neighbours living lives of shameless idleness on their money. And they also watch criminals profiting by their crimes, and getting away with it.

If the parsons, pastors, priests and bishops of this country took the side of the poor against these parasites, instead of acting as their spokesmen, they might find their churches filling up again.

But as long as they talk like the TUC, they will stay at the fringe of our national life.

He’s actually replying to the lame apostate Archbishop Rowan Williams. If you want a real Archbishop, try His Grace Archbishop Cranmer.

Here’s a related lecture that Jay Richards did for the Family Research Council, on the topic of Christianity and Economics. It’s a very good lecture that discusses some basic economic principles and some common economics myths. You can also listen to the MP3 file, but it’s 60 megabytes.

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2 thoughts on “Peter Hitchens distinguishes the deserving and undeserving poor”

  1. Sometimes it takes a convert to tell it like it is. He’s absolutely right, church clerics needs to stop meddling in politics. They don’t pay taxes and they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. The social gospel that they are trying to push on society is not the gospel. Their preferential option for the poor is incompatible with Jesus’s command to love our neighbour as ourself and puts the poor as a class that exists outside of the church as an object of our almsgiving. Christianity cannot be a classist religion. They want to champion basic human rights but they cannot even identify properly what they are. Instead they fight for welfare and food security.
    Thomas Sowell writes: “For society as a whole, nothing comes as a ‘right’ to which we are ‘entitled’. Even bare subsistence has to be produced…. The only way anyone can have a right to something that has to be produced is to force someone else to produce it… The more things are provided as rights, the less the recipients have to work and the more the providers have to carry the load.”
    Do these clerics not understand that there cannot be preferenced lower class without enslaving the and infringing upon the rights of the remaining individuals? Nobles Oblige. By force. They want taxes raised. If they want to tell Christians how to behave why are they speaking with World Leaders and not teaching the faithful how to live in a way that improves the lot of their neighbour? If the government will love the poor for me, what is my obligation? If the government obligates me to help the poor, where is the love? Clerics have turned Charity into justice and thus have eliminated true charity from the church. If you define God as love, then you have your answer as to why the Churches (especially in Europe and Canada) are a holy mess!


  2. “He’s absolutely right, church clerics needs to stop meddling in politics.”

    I don’t see that he’s making that point at all. I’m not sure if clerics pay taxes or not. I only know for sure that churches don’t. In any case, their role in responding to the world in which we live was never intended to be affected by the exemption of them from taxation.

    The problem is not clerics “meddling” in politics, but in their understanding of the faith and the faith’s place in politics and living in general. If a cleric has a poor understanding of the connection between faith and economics, for example, there’s nothing stopping anyone in the pews from correcting him at some point, or at least making the firm connection between Scripture and his opinion.

    Whether they pay taxes or not, clerics, if they are citizens of this country, have a right to vote. They have every right to allow their faith to guide their vote and world view, just as you and I do. I have no doubt that there exists those preachers who have a good conservative understanding of the connection between Christianity and economics, politics, social issues, etc. and can preach well on these subjects if their tax situation is not threatened. That they were denied the right to speak politically from the pulpit was a most unAmerican policy and a denial of their rights as Americans.


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