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The Daily Dish brought my attention to a column by Bill O’Reilly entitled “Keep Christ in Unemployment.” O’Reilly highlights a comment by Congressman Jim McDermott in which he states: “This is Christmastime. We talk about Good Samaritans, the poor, the little baby Jesus in the cradle and all this stuff. And then we say to the unemployed we won’t give you a check to feed your family. That’s simply wrong.”

Set aside for a moment that any reference to “the little baby Jesus” makes me think of Will Ferrell’s prayer in “Talladega Nights,” this seems like a fairly reasonable statement. Unemployment is awful; my family experienced the pain and stress it causes when I was growing up.

But, completely devoid of compassion, O’Reilly responds to this by saying, “the liberal agenda in America is expanding and now includes demands for guaranteed jobs at good wages for all who want to work.” This sounds like some kind of wonderful Christmas miracle, though not to O’Reilly. He immediately drops some figures regarding our national debt before actually asking an excellent question: “What does a moral society owe to the have-nots?”

Not surprisingly, I have a different answer than O’Reilly, and O’Reilly’s view is so well known that, it seems, he doesn’t even feel the need to offer it. Instead, he launches into a bit of classic conservative fear-mongering, culminating in this gem: “But if our currency collapses under unpaid debts, so will personal assets.” And, “There comes a time when compassion can cause disaster.”


Actually, this could be true, and if O’Reilly is speaking solely as a fiscal conservative, I can’t argue with him if he chooses not to show compassion for fear of disaster. The only thing is, O’Reilly is speaking as a Christian. In fact, he says, “But being a Christian, I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive.”

This is where his argument really crashes and burns.

First of all, and all joking aside, Jesus is most famous for being self-destructive. Remember that bit in Philippians that says, “he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” And lest there be any doubt that this self-destructive principle apply only to Jesus, one time he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” So, sorry Bill, self-destruction comes with the territory.

Back at the Dish, Andrew Sullivan takes O’Reilly to task on the unconditional nature of God’s mercy, proving that though humans may offer charity and compassion to others on certain grounds, God does not.

O’Reilly closes with the old saying, “The Lord helps those who help themselves,” which he passes off as scripture. But—it should be noted—it’s definitely not.

About The Author

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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0 Responses to This Jesus Will Self-Destruct

  1. Joshua Keel says:

    It’s with situations like this one that I find my Christianity and my politics at odds. Ideally, I’d like a government that gave no handouts. Everyone fends for themselves and relies on family, friends and charities. But when I have the power to extend unemployment benefits through my vote, I find my conscience doesn’t care too much about my political idealism.

  2. Alisa Harris says:

    This column made me the most outraged I’ve been in a long time. And I am easily outraged.

  3. Emitch2187 says:

    Extension of unemployment is welfare. Where do we draw the line? I have a brother-in-law that got a job but decided not to take it because unemployment would pay him another year to sit at home. Sad…

  4. Don says:

    “The Lord helps those who help themselves” is from Aesop, not Jesus; a pagan, not a Christian. What DOES Mr. O’Reilly believe?

  5. John Jbarry22 says:

    The crazy thing is I think I actually understand what O’Reilly was going for. In the case of Jesus, he died on the cross to save humanity. He was self-destructive in the sense that he died, but his MISSION wasn’t self-destructive. His goal was to save humanity, and he didn’t compromise that goal by doing something else, like skipping the whole “die on the cross” thing to keep going town to town healing the sick and preaching God’s Word. O’Reilly’s stance is that a government that bails everyone out in the name of compassion has righteous motivations, but is self-defeating in the sense that their efforts to help the people will actually end up hurting the people more and destroy the ultimate goal. The belief that Jesus’s death was “self-destructive” is taking O’Reilly’s comment too literally. It’s not what he meant.

  6. Nix says:

    6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
    11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

    14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

    • JD says:

      A typical progressive/liberal response to this kind of Scriptural argument is either:

      a) Well you know the Bible better than me.
      b) Yeah but the Bible uses the word “justice” like a 1000 times.
      c) Shut up you bigot.

  7. Greg says:

    It appears that every time someone with a more liberal/progressive slant attempts to box in “conservative thinking” they do so by either propping up someone like Bill O’Reilly/Glenn Beck or by completely misunderstanding the conservative point of view to begin with. It’s so odd to hear time and time again that conservative thought is too simplistic when articles like the one above blatantly overlook the realities of the situation while hiding behind the guise of being the more caring person. Emitch2187 has a great point above and I wonder how much of that type of practice is going on. I myself could list multiple people I know that are taking advantage of the system, as I’m sure many of us could. Does the concept of enabling evade liberal thinkers? Is the thought that this corruption of a primarily well intended program having a drastically negative impact too lofty of an idea for one to grasp? Do they really think it’s as cut and dry as they make it. I find it extremely odd that liberals can claim such a monopoly on social justice and care while over-looking the obvious elephants that fill the room.

  8. Philip Wade says:

    Many will benefit from reading the book _When Helping Hurts_. The authors makes strong arguments for building up people, looking for their resources or their communities resources, and avoiding a hand-out mentality.

  9. Dougwho says:

    Fitzgerald, like many pundits, only offers criticism and opinion. Go do something for the needy Mr. Fitzgerald. And by the way Mr. Fitzgerald, Jesus was self-sacrificing not self-destructive.

    • Mark P says:

      I take it you know Mr. Fitzgerald’s and his lack of charity? Otherwise that would be a pretty uncharitable generalization and a pretty ignorant assumption.

  10. Mark P says:

    Great post.

    Whether or not you agree with O’Reilly’s ideas on fiscal policy, the idea that Jesus somehow prefers securing “personal assets” to helping others is, of course, ludicrous. Property rights are not found in Scripture, people.

    [Don’t get me wrong: forcing Jesus into some kind of government welfare crusader is equally loony. Jim Wallis and company are equally shameless in putting the Son of God to work as a campaign endorser.]

  11. Hope says:

    I don’t dislike O’Reilly’s show – I tend to watch it most nights actually. At the same time, I’ve noticed how ignorant he is about Christianity and the Bible, all while claiming to be a religious Catholic. I have to say, in his debate on religion with Bill Maher, I found myself agreeing with Maher more often than not even though I’m not an atheist.

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