This weekend, a friend of my wife’s was gushing about how her church had just started a program to help the poor in Uganda: they take unwanted clothes from Ugandans, ship them over to the US so her church-members can sew them back together using Christian-themed patches, sell the clothes to people in the US, and then send most of the proceeds back to poor Ugandans.
“Why not help the Ugandans setup a factory to do the clothes repair in Uganda, so they can sell the clothes to other Ugandans (or ship them themselves) for a profit?” I asked.
She looked at me like such a thought had never entered her mind. Why wasn’t I proud that her church was helping the poor, helpless Ugandans?
Because they’re not helpless. Because teaching someone to fish is always superior to giving them a fish. Because what her church is doing is not helping anything other than their own sense of self-righteousness.
Christians in the 19th century were a progressive force: they pushed for the abolition of slavery, they setup workshops for the poor, they endowed schools and universities teaching up-to-date science and technology.
The current crop of Christian evangelicals could not be more different from those charitable pioneers: they want to take rights away from homosexual couples, cheer when Muslims are discriminated against, and want science muzzled.
So here’s my challenge to any evangelical, fundamentalist Christian: What are you doing to make the world more free, to add to the body of human knowledge, to increase the prosperity of your fellow man?