A Gallup survey has found very strong correlations between belief in a God who has a plan for individuals and the belief that hard work is sufficient for success.
The survey was conducted for Baylor University by Gallup in 2010 and they have a margin of +/- 4%. When asked how they felt about the statement “God Has a Plan for Me,” people responded:
Strongly Agree 40.9%
Strongly Disagree 14.6%
Those who strongly agreed with the statement “God has a plan for me” responded to the statement “Anything Is Possible For Those Who Work Hard” thus:
Strongly Agree 53.7%
Strongly Disagree 21.5%
If you believe that God does have an individual plan for your life, then of course God will provide you with whatever you need to accomplish whatever it is that God intends for you. God wouldn’t have a plan for you then not supply you with the abilities needed to work the plan. It’s up to you, though, to execute God’s plan. It’s not necessary for the government to help you; in fact, it would demonstrate a lack of faith to rely on the government instead of on God. What’s more, it would be immoral to not make the most of what God has given you. Therefore, you have an obligation to God to work as hard as possible and when you do so, God will ensure that you will be just as successful as God intends for you to be. This leads, of course, to: if you aren’t successful, it must be because you haven’t worked hard enough. (My guess is that Pizza Man Herman Cain who ran for President was an Evangelical.)
Therefore, if you aren’t successful, it must be because that you are lazy or maybe shiftless (but only if you are Black) or you’ve been seduced into accepting government assistance. Either way, government assistance must be cut or eliminated in order to end temptation and punish those who refuse to work hard.
It is clear that this is a message provided by those in power. Religion and the state have always been protagonists, finally culminating in the standoff in the U.S. in the form of “you mind your business and I’ll mind mine,” also known as “separation of church and state.” Look around the world and you will not see similar chummy relations. In Islamic countries and countries which have large Islamic populations, the church is trying to get in the driver’s seat of the wagon of state, if it isn’t there already. In Israel, the religious ultraconservatives are constantly at odds with the state. There are dozens more examples.
“Apparently it can’t be part of God’s Plan for you to be out of work.
But what if it were part of God’s plan and he is testing us to see if we are
sufficiently charitable to provide nontrivial assistance . . .
something like unemployment compensation, maybe?”
Of course, institutions of power, like Christian churches, are not apolitical, they make sure that their acolytes are primed to think the right way, especially about power. (My partner grew up as a Baptist and she always wondered why every danged one of them voted Republican. Chance would yield a 50:50 mix, not 99:1.) Institutions of power want you to shut up, work hard, expect a reward later (preferably after we are dead), and make as much money for the masters as you can; either for your corporate masters or the masters to whom you tithe. And if you can disadvantage one of the other institutions of power along the way, more the better.
Think about it. One could look at unemployment compensation, which is a form of insurance mind you, but we could look at it as charity. But evangelical Christians look at it as unnecessary government support, interfering with God’s plan for you. God wants your children to be hungry, wants you to lose your home, and wants you to work somewhere flipping burgers instead of the high paying machinist work or copyediting work you’ve done for most of your life. It is part of His Plan! (These are the same folks who answer almost any tough question about their religion with “No one can know the mind of God” . . . except them when it comes to God’s plan for you.)
Does their Bible really recommend this? Actually not, unless you go back to the Pentateuch of the Jews . . . , also called the Old Testament, which Evangelicals say has been superseded by the New Testament and Jesus, but well, anything to back up a good conservative message, right?
Christian charity means: it is okay to give other people money but only if we can do it through church charities where we have the opportunity to shame people for being out of work. (This was a significant barrier to getting relief distributed during the Great Depression. New Deal officials had to explain to their workers that they could speed up the distribution of relief funds a great deal if they didn’t spend so much time shaming people for being out of work or poor!)
Apparently it can’t be part of God’s Plan for you to be out of work. (They do know the mind of God!) But what if it were part of God’s plan and he is testing us to see if we are sufficiently charitable to provide nontrivial assistance . . . something like unemployment compensation, maybe?
Apparently those people don’t think like that.