The Reverend William Barber touted his social justice rhetoric, this time at the Riverside Church in New York City on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam speech. Rev. Barber’s speech was titled, “Silence is Not an Option”; thus galvanizing the congregation to speak out against the perceived injustice of capitalism. He also accused Americans of racism, sexism, and classism during his sermon.
Barber’s passion for solving poverty has led him to conclude that capitalism is the source of evil shackling individuals to their impoverished state. Barber’s speech was laced with anti-capitalist rhetoric while calling for socialist policies to solve America’s woes. Since he was at Riverside Church, naturally he had to weave theology into his sermon. He referenced two biblical passages: Ezekiel 37 and John 11.
Barber made an analogy between the dry bones imagery in Ezekiel 37 and all the alleged injustices in America. He also said the story about the death of Lazarus represented the result of poverty. He passionately stated, “Dry bones and Lazarus represent people who are poor, who have been told their poverty is their own fault.” Barber boldly proclaimed that Lazarus died because he did not receive the best healthcare. In an apparent allusion to America’s healthcare system, he said, “Could he [Lazarus] have died because in the political economy of that day the 1 percent had the best healthcare and the 99 percent didn’t?”
Barber used Scripture to advocate for a single payer healthcare system by twisting the Gospel to fit his own political agenda. He continued attacking those wanting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his sermon with the typical rhetoric from the Left, calling them racist, inhumane, and even murders. He stated, “People are dying not because God called them home but because governors will not expand Medicaid.”
Barber stated that Jesus believed in free healthcare because he never charged the sick when he healed them. Barber failed to mention this might have been because Jesus is our Savior and his grace does not come with a price.
Experts also debate whether Barber’s progressive economic policies intended to end poverty are actually supported by economic evidence. In fact, recent studies have shown that capitalism has lifted more individuals out of poverty than any other economic system in human history. The American Enterprise Institute reported, “…from 2001 to 2011, nearly 700 million people globally moved out of poverty, meaning $2 a day or less.” Max Roser a fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking found that, “the rate, of international poverty, has dropped from 53 percent in 1981 to 17 percent in 2011 – representing the most rapid reduction in poverty in world history.”
Therefore, Barber may want to revisit the evidence before he continues opposing the free market system. Barber rightly called for a moral revival in our country, but errors by using Scripture to support his own progressive vision of America. He said, “We need a political Pentecost…where we regain our speech and we learn again how to talk in the tongues of justice and love and mercy.”
Americans should not stay silent when dealing with injustices, however there is a difference between staying silent and inciting wrongful accusation. While capitalism has its ills, it also has lifted many people out of poverty and has combated injustices around the world.Google+