President Barack Obama has gotten a lot of mileage out of his appeals to people of faith. He portrays himself as one of them, a convert who found Jesus and a new purpose for living through community organizing in Chicago.
His attempts to portray the audacity of hope, however, have been stymied by the manner in which he has responded to the nation's economic crisis.
He may call it "investment," but his stimulus package represents old-fashioned government spending. Our children will be left with the legacy of his spendthrift ways.
However, to hear Obama tell it, you would think that he was saving our nation's poor by running up deficits. Don't worry about the final bill, he's telling us—let's live for today.
He may even try to wrap his spending package in the guise of Christian charity.
I would suggest that the President would benefit by reading the writings of a true Christian leader, Dr. Adrian Rogers. Rogers, who died in 2005, has been called one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century. A pastor for 32 years at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, Rogers saw his congregation grow to more than 29,000 members.
Interestingly enough, Rogers personally prayed with five Presidents. Before his death, he spent time with President George W. Bush at the White House on the day known as National Day of Prayer. He was also known for his leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, the world's largest Protestant denomination.
In fact, Bush's father, former President George H. W. Bush, once said, "There are many who presume to speak for the evangelical movements, but surely Dr. Rogers was one of the handfuls who truly represented them. He was a great man with a lot of influence and a lot of wisdom."
Evidence of that wisdom is a Rogers's quote that has been circulating through cyberspace. Apparently, he said it in 1984. On January 14, 2009, Representative Steve King of Iowa posted the quote to the Congressional Record. I think the quote speaks for itself:
"Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. And what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving it. The government can't give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody.
"And when half of the people get the idea they don't have to work because the other half's going to take care of them, and when the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody's going to get what I work for. That, dear friend, is about the end of any nation."
I hope President Obama is listening.