I was hungry and you told me to get a job, I was thirsty and you said to quit looking for a handout, I was a stranger and you deported me, I was naked and you arrested me for indecent exposure, I was sick and you said "too bad," I was in prison and you threw away the key.
When it comes to separating the goats from the sheep — as in Matthew 25 — we may be in trouble here in the South.
For a people who fear that political defeat has expedited Judgment Day upon our nation, we show a curious disregard for the "least of these brothers and sisters."
One would think an impending day of judgment would make us more compassionate, less angry, selfish and mean.
What does it say about us when the politics of the blue states more resemble the benevolence of Christ than the red states of the Bible Belt?
What does it say about us when we care more about guarding against freeloaders than about feeding the hungry, housing the poor, caring for the sick and providing justice to all?
To borrow from the evangelical language of the region, a fertile mission ground awaits people of the South. Here in Alabama, 35 percent of working families are poor, according to www.workingpoorfamilies.org. About 36 percent of low-income working families have no health insurance. About 52 percent of these families pay one-third or more of their income for rent, leaving little for food, clothes, child care, health care and transportation.
Yet we assess poor folks a disproportionate amount of state taxes, including levies on groceries.
Rather than heeding the great teacher whom the majority of Southerners profess to follow, we demonize efforts to help the poor. We despise those in poverty and question whether they are worthy of our help. We talk in code words that categorize them as lazy and worthless.
It may be a mistake to use amateur theology on the opinion pages of a secular newspaper, but it is impossible to examine anything in the South without including religion.
Religion is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. It permeates everything we do, from Friday night football to Tuesday morning elections.
Southern culture fiercely defends the notion that our nation was founded on biblical principles, but ignores any of those principles that prove inconvenient or costly.
If political choices have hastened the day of judgment — as some seem to believe — then the task of separating the goats from the sheep is at hand. It may be as simple as separating culture from faith.
Scott Morris, executive editor of the TimesDaily in Florence, can be reached at 256-740-5721 or email@example.com.
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