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Why the Poor are Just Plain Lazy: Newt Gingrich and the Calvinist Roots of the American Work Ethic

Why the Poor are Just Plain Lazy: Newt Gingrich and the Calvinist Roots of the American Work Ethic

By James Dennis LoRusso, Emory University…..
Undoubtedly, most people in this country understand hard work to be a virtue, but in Newt’s statement resides a subtle assumption: Being poor is a sign of moral failure on the part of the individual and the poor community. The mass appeal of this belief, that poverty itself is a sign of moral deficiency, results from the particular way the so-called “Protestant work ethic” is situated in American culture. The root of this ethic comes out of the strict Calvinist tendencies of colonial New England. The Dissenting Puritans that settled Massachusetts in the seventeenth century held a view that hard work signified virtue. Earlier thinkers of the Reformation like Martin Luther and John Calvin turned Catholic notions of work as penance for sin on their head and painted every individual’s “vocation” or “calling” as a contribution to God’s creation.

Religion Does Its Worst

Religion Does Its Worst

By Roger Cohen, New York Times….
So Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who organized a Koran burning on March 20, wanted “to stir the pot.” Mission accomplished. Perhaps he’d care to explain himself to the family of Joakim Dungel, a 33-year-old Swede slaughtered at the U.N. mission in Mazar-i-Sharif by Afghans whipped into frenzy through Jones’s folly. On reflection, no, there’s nothing Jones can explain to Dungel’s family, or the other U.N. staffers murdered. Jones is not in the explanation business. He’s a zealot. How else to describe a Christian who interprets his faith not as grounded in love and compassion but as a mission to incite hatred toward Islam?

The Inanity of the current "Islam" Debate

The Inanity of the current “Islam” Debate

One of the reasons why the debate is so skewed is that Americans suffer from an intense form of religious illiteracy, and that is dangerous. As Prothero demonstrates in his earlier book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn’t , is that most Americans don’t even know the tenets of their own faith. And if we’re going to put an end to the misinformation, it’s going to take those of us who are Christians to step up and say no to it. I think that Prothero’s presentation on CNN is something that needs to be heard.