John Lofton on C-SPAN: A Transcript
The following is a slightly edited transcript of a discussion that took place on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” December 24, 2005.
C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Program
Guests: John Lofton and James Winkler
M: Our topic for these next forty minutes is “Morality and the Federal Budget,” joining us at the table is John Lofton, co-host of “The American View,” radio program, good morning.
JL: Good morning
M: And we say ‘Good morning’ to James Winkler, who’s on the board of “Church and Society,” for the United Methodist Church. Hi there…
JW: Good morning, Paul
M: I wanted to throw out an article for each of you, first as we get hit with the budget – a lot of stories in the paper, I saw today – this week and this one in the Philadelphia Inquirer says, “Congress Left Some Feeling The Chill.” They’re talking about home heating and the story by Andrew Mega of the AP says “..millions of low income families will face a bleak winter because Congress failed to deliver home heating funds. Northeast law makers have warned – they get into a lot of detail why this happened but, John Lofton, you first, when you see a headline like that “…Left Some Feeling the Chill,” what goes through your mind?
JL: Well, our radio show, “The American View” and our web page “TheAmericanView.com” is a Christian, conservative, Constitutional website, so the first thing that runs through my mind when I look at it is that scripturally speaking the civil government is not to heat people’s homes or give money to poor people to heat their homes. The Constitutional role is limited of the Federal Government, Article 1, Section 8 lists the categories where the government can spend money – the Federal Government, and it’s not the role of the government, either Biblically, or Constitutionally, to feed, house or clothe or heat anybody’s home. So, this is just one more un-Constitutional, un-Biblical program – just shouldn’t be there.
M: James Winkler, of the United Methodist Church, what do you think?
JW: Well, Paul, I think it’s a shame that the Congress did not provide money to feed, or to heat people’s homes and I think that uh, our priorities are out of line with scripture and we’ve been pushing for more money for heating people’s homes and feeding people and taking care of the least, and the last and the lost among us.
JL: Well, I want to ask –
M: Go ahead…
JL: Where in the Scripture, do you see it’s the role of the Federal government to feed, house, or clothe anyone, or do you see in the Constitution, for example, for the Federal Government to spend money – where do you see that authority?
JW: Well, John, I think in the mainline Christian denominations –in fact most denominations in this country we believe that we have the responsibility to take care of one another.
JW: And we do that through our churches and through our institutions and through our – the common treasury that we all contribute to. And uh…we believe
JL: Where do you see the authority?
JW: ..that it is the responsibility of all of us to take care of one another…
JL: Well, I’m asking…
JW: One way we do that is through our tax money, that we – uh – that we contribute together.
JL: Right, right, but you believe that the Federal Government ought to obey the Constitution, don’t you?
JW: I think the Federal Government ought to be helping to take care of the needs of the afflicted, Isaiah 58:10 says “If you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted then your light will rise in the darkness.”
JL: Isaiah was not saying or telling the government it was the role of the government to feed people and you know, when I thought of the United Methodist Church I thought of John Wesley, you know, he was one of your founders. John Wesley had a forty year ministry, rode 250,000 miles, he rode on horseback, 21 miles a day – you know, he never went to the government for handouts. I as a Christian find it embarrassing to see churches coming to Caesar rattling their cup and asking for money – it’s the role of God’s people to help people heat their homes, or to feed them, or house them or clothe them. You still haven’t cited the Constitutional authority for the program you’re defending. Where is it?
JW: The truth is we do an awful lot to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, and clothe the naked in this country – we can do more…
JL: I hope so.
JW: And we also know that uh, no matter how much we do, we can’t do it alone – it’s the role of all of us together and we believe that the government also has that responsibility.
M: John Lofton, what is a moral federal budget, do you think?
JL: Well, I was thinking about the topic “the morality” of these budget cuts, and by the way – I covered Washington for over forty years, and I assure you that when the dust settles there’ll be no budget cuts – there may be slight reductions in the rate of increase, but no program in Washington ever gets cut. Let me tell you what’s immoral. What is immoral is the forty-six trillion dollar debt of the Federal Government. Unfounded Liabilities concerning Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – that’s a figure from David Walker, Head of the Government Accountability Office. It is immoral to run up this debt on all these un-Biblical, un-Constitutional programs and stick our kids and their kids and our grandkids with this debt. That’s what’s immoral.
M: Mr. Winkler?
JW: I agree. I think that the debt that has been wrought through the tax cuts to the rich, through spending money needlessly on military programs and such rather than on our priorities of meeting human needs has been immoral.
JL: Wait a minute, wait a minute, what causes debt is not when you let Americans keep more of their own money – what causes debt is when the people here in Washington appropriate money for un-Constitutional programs and they run up the debt. Spending by the government causes debt – not tax cuts – my goodness.
JW: Well, when you’re a – just take for example this recent round we’ve cut – the Congress is proposing thirty-seven billion dollars of cuts in social programs and in return is going to put in place even more than that in tax cuts for the rich, so talk about deficits – there you go.
M: Let me get those calls going, Midland Ohio, you are up first with James Winkler and John Lofton – morality in the Federal Budget – go ahead Midland.
C: I believe is Miland, Ohio, this reminds me of the House on the floor here – everybody arguing about everything. The way I see it there is no morality in government whatsoever. I mean I see both of these gentlemen’s points of view but, ah – we were lied into everything – I mean ah, way it appears all these numbers that are being floated around about everybody doin so well is nothing but smoke and mirrors. I believe that uh, after 2006 we the American people will be waking up and we will have to make a change – I think we’re going to have to get off our lazy butts and do it. Thanks.
M: John Lofton, you still describe yourself as a “Recovering Republican”
JL: A “Recovering Republican”
M: What does that mean?
JL: It’s a day by day thing – I tell people we don’t have our own telethon, but we do have some support groups around the country. Look – I used to work for the Republican Party – The National Committee – 1970-73. I was the chief propagandist for the Republican Party – I worked for Bob Dole and George Bush No. 1, and one of the big things we talked about as Republicans was that the Democrats were the big spenders – we used to single out individuals – members of Congress – and put up flyers saying “Big Spender of the week,” the Republicans are the biggest spenders in the history of the universe. There are no differences – of substance, anymore. That’s why I’m a member of the Constitution Party.
M: Mr. Winkler?
JW: I do hope you’ll see a change after 2006 and I hope folks will wake up. You know Isaiah, the 10th chapter, the first and second verse talks about “Whoa to you legislators of infamous laws, who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob their orphan.” We do have our priorities out of line in this nation and I hope that the American people will address that.
M: Let’s see what Williamsburg Ohio has to say this morning. Hi there.
C: Good morning. You know this is still – I must remind everybody that this is still America and we have the right to be poor, you’ve got the right to be rich, you’ve got the right to be sick, you’ve got the right to be healthy, you’ve got the right to freeze, and the right to be warm – it depends on how aggressive you are and being responsible for yourself – the government never took care of anybody a hundred years ago, and why should they do it now? I mean don’t mix morality and government.
M: Thanks, James Winkler – United Methodist Church, any thoughts there?
JW: Well, we have a country here where you have 36 million people living below the poverty line – we have 45 million of us without health insurance – we have the resources in this nation to insure that nobody goes sick – that nobody is without health care – it’s a matter of priorities – our priorities are out of line.
JL: Well, I mean we don’t have the resources – the Federal Government, as I said, according to David Walker, the Government Accountability Office is 46 trillion dollars in debt – there’s no money here in Washington – the people that are for programs like Jim are for – I wonder if they can even add. Do they know that Washington has no money? I’ll tell you what the problem is – the problem is that the churches are not doing their job – as that caller indicated right up until Franklin Roosevelt in the “New Deal” to our country all the health, education and welfare was handled privately – if every person in America who says he was a Christian tithed you would have more money than is now being spent by the Federal Government on health, education and welfare.
M: Let me throw another entity in there, John Lofton, a lot of stories lately about the states doing well again – the budgets are doing well again based on their own tightening and what not.
M: Do state governments have the right to heat a person’s home?
JL: No, Biblically speaking, and Jim has not yet addressed this question – he’s just told us repeatedly what he believes the government ought to do – but hasn’t shown Scriptural authority or Constitutional authority, but Biblically, no, the civil government’s role is severely limited to justice – it is not to feed, house, clothe or educate anybody – that’s our job, Jim, as the church – as Christians – that’s our job, not to pass the buck to Caesar.
JW: You know, I see why John has an attack radio program because he learned his propaganda abilities well at the Republican National Committee, and he’s come on here with his aggressive attack posture – and I’m just not going to do it…
JL: By quoting the Bible?
JW: We stand, and the churches stand for the poor, we stand for welfare for our children, for hospitality to the stranger, assistance to the disadvantaged, and we do that among ourselves and we do that as citizens together – ah, where we all put our money into the tax pool – we believe that money should be prioritized to protect people from sickness and hardship. We should be investing in jobs and in housing and other services the family needs, and we’re not going to apologize for it.
JL: Jim, the Federal Government should prioritize spending according to the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 enumerates the categories where the government can spend money and if it’s not in there, Jim – it can’t spend it. Why can’t I get your support that the Federal Government’s spending should be Constitutional?
JW: John, that’s your view, I appreciate it.
M: Let’s go to Baltimore – hello Baltimore!
C: Happy holiday, C-Span, and happy holiday to your guest, Mr. Lofton, but to you Mr. Winkler, and to your church family – I hope that you will not take it to an offense, and happy holiday, because as a spiritual person who has gone beyond Jesus in the hypocrisy of your panelist there – I need to have you understand that I am disappointed in the corruption of Christmas, but the morality of this budget – to Mr. Lofton, Sir, the Constitution – the preamble, of your Constitution, states, in part, to promote the general welfare – now, now – wait a minute – that is the calling of the public at large, not the rich, racist, corporatists, but to the public.
JL: Yes, yes…and I would say to the caller promote the general welfare, not PROVIDE it, there’s a difference between promoting it and providing it – Jim, I got to tell you – your view of the Federal Government, the Federal Treasury, is a kind of a private piggybank of the people in Washington to sort of dole out the money according to whatever we think it ought to be spent on, is not a Biblical nor a Constitutional view, and I don’t understand why you oppose my idea. Let me put it another way, do you deny that the Bible, God’s Word, sets limits on the civil government?
JW: John, I’m going to refer to the caller, and I want to say, “Merry Christmas,” thank you for your comments, ah, throughout this year with the leaders of various denominations have referred to the budget as a moral document. Back in March we held a press conference at the National Press Club, and had a surprising turn out and we often don’t get much of a turn out for press conferences. Afterwards we went over and we attempted to meet with Senator Frist and he wasn’t available that day – we did meet with Senator Reid. It was interesting, as we sat with him leaders of the Episcopal and Presbyterian, Church of Christ, the Lutheran, Methodist Church, Senator Reed said, “You know I appreciate what you have said, I have to say that I always thought of the budget as a budget. But, you’re right – it’s a moral document, it’s a statement of who we are, and what we’re about and what we value, and your input as church leaders is very, very important, and we’re going to be working throughout the year to try to achieve a moral document that takes care of those who are in need in our society and a number of Republicans have been part of this effort. I appreciate their effort, what they’ve been doing as well, and I hope that in January when the final vote is taken that we’ll see a budget that does not cut heating oil for the poor, student loans, and other human needs programs.
JL: None of those programs are Constitutional, and none of them are sanctioned by Scripture and I don’t understand why a representative of the United Methodist Church here won’t answer the question of whether or not you think the Bible, the Word of God, I assume you believe it’s God’s Word, sets the limits for what civil government can do. Why won’t you address that question? It seems to be a fair question.
JW: John, now I know why the Constitution Party got about 155,000 votes in the last election. I mean you all have a very extreme, narrow view, of the Constitution, I appreciate that – I think it’s
JL: So the Bible does not put limits to civil government?
JW: I think it’s pretty clear that most people in this society believe that Scripture calls on both Christians…
JL: US, Christians – absolutely – private individuals – absolutely
JW: And we believe – we believe that the government also has a responsibility to provide and help the poor.
JL: Where’s that in scripture? Where’s that listed?
JW: John, that’s our values.
M: John Lofton, let me get you back to something you said earlier about the Constitution doesn’t provide the general welfare, but promote it – how should the government be promoting the general welfare?
JL: Well, the idea in the preamble, by the way the caller sitting the preamble doesn’t have anything to do with the categories the Congress is allowed to spend money. The Constitution severely limits the role of the Federal Government, and that’s what Jim and the caller didn’t seem to understand – the general welfare – the promotion of the general welfare had to do with engaging in activities within those eighteen activities which benefited the entire nation – in other words the founders were against the idea of something like aid to Katrina, where one area of the country would get Federal tax dollars, that were used for internal improvements – that’s something the founding fathers were against. That is not the role of the national government, if the states want to do it – fine, it’s not the role of the national government to rebuild the Gulf coast – that’s ridiculous.
M: Let’s go over to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for our guests – James Winkler and John Lofton, hello there.
C: Good morning – I think Mr. John Lofton should run for President – this man (laughter in background) as far as Biblical criteria, Constitutional criteria, Mr. Winkler is obviously has no use for that, but he’s certainly of the vintage of Hillary Clinton, which is pure communism – (more laughter) let the Federal Government do everything for all of us – and this is what is going to take us down the tubes. Countries that we usually think of as being behind like China – India – are going to surpass us and so, the number one thing is going to be through the taxation system, number two is to eliminate government schools and go back to neighborhood schools, because now we are not teaching anybody anything important – except about guns, pregnancy and drugs, but you talk about respect to older people, to parents things that are of real substance in education – it is totally lacking in that system.
M: Thank you. James Winkler, let me get a response from you to –
JW: I’m just not going to respond to that stuff.
JL: Let me say something quick. Affiliated with our site, TheAmericanView.com is Institute on the Constitution, it’s IOTConline.com. For those people who do care about the Constitution, which limits our government – which by the way, to violate the Constitution with Federal spending is a crime – it is illegal.
M: Mr. Winkler, we’ve been talking a lot about spending, but what about taxing, what is a moral, and an appropriate and a fair, just, whatever word you want to call it – that we should tax people of this country?
JW: Well, we have ah, what I think is moral and just is that we demand of those who have more, what they can provide and we, what it really comes down to is what Luke, in the 12th chapter 48th verse and that is for those who have more we will demand much and I think that that’s what we need to be doing. And, you know, some of the things that we ought to be doing in this country is we ought to be making sure that a minimum wage is a livable wage. In fact, we have a campaign called “Let Justice Roll” in the National Council of Churches in which we’re working for that. We believe that healthcare is a right – not a privilege – we think that schools should be financed equally. We are working on a restorative, rather than a punitive justice for substance abusers – I think payday loans should be addressed. There’s the need for adequate childcare for two income families. The right priorities are protecting people from sickness and hardship and that’s what we stand for as people of faith, and frankly, I think that’s what most American’s stand for as well.
JL: People of faith, well your faith seems to be in the government to do everything from cradle to grave. Now I want to express some degree of solidarity with you – many of these areas that you list are important areas – we have all kinds of Biblical commandments from God to care for the poor and the less fortunate, etc. but it does not say that it is the government’s –that it is Caesar that should take care of all these needs. It is God’s people through private donations and through private charity which is provided for most of the history of our country to take care of this, as it’s role of government. That’s why we have this huge debt, which you conceded earlier was immoral – I don’t understand that.
M: John, be specific on the tax issue, though. How should taxes be levied fairly, justly in this country and to who exactly – how, I should say.
JL: Well, again, as a Christian, I believe you start with God’s Word, and in the Bible there are head taxes, on heads of families in the Bible. Under a Biblical form of government you have a much more limited government, it would be a lot cheaper than with the government we have now. But I’m as interested, or more interested in how tax monies are to be spent – nobody can deny – liberal or conservative – that the Federal Government is in a mess. And I think it’s in a mess because it’s funding a lot of programs that are un-Godly and un-Constitutional.
M: Green Valley, Arizona – Good morning.
C: Good morning…
M: Go ahead sir.
C: Well, I originally called to ask people, in the previous segment, about the Republican philosophy of starving the beast, and now I see this Mr. Lofton as one of the most immoral men I have ever witnessed in public comment. I just, I just can’t understand anyone who comes on who has a belief in God, and a belief in the Bible could come up with a philosophy like he has. Primarily, I’m interested in the comments about the Republican philosophy of starve the beast.
JL: How am I immoral?
C: Well, anybody that can believe in the Bible and think it’s God’s Word and can come up with a philosophy that you have –
JL: But be specific – be specific – that’s a pretty tough charge to call in and say I’m the most immoral guy you ever saw – how so? How so?
C: You aren’t humanitarian – at all.
JL: No, no, you’re missing the point. I said it is our role as Christians to feed, house and clothe people. I just said it’s not the role of the government, which in case you haven’t noticed, doesn’t do a very good job in these areas.
C: I don’t agree with your religion at all. I think it’s bad. I think your restricting them unduly.
JL: The government? – that’s right!
C: You’re interdicting the church and the government.
JL: No, I’m saying the church is supposed to do all those things, not the government. That’s my position.
M: Anything else caller?
C: Go ahead.
M: No, no – anything else caller
JL: Any other insults?
M: Mr. Lofton, you said you’re a Christian. Do you belong to a church?
JL: I’m an Orthodox Presbyterian, that’s right.
M: Mr. James Winkler, how big is the United Methodist Church, in terms of its members?
JW: The United Methodist Church is the third largest denomination, in terms of its members – in the United States with 8.2 million members – with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Hillary Clinton are all United Methodists – I think one of the great things about our denomination is that there’s a wide variety of views in which John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement in the eighteenth century in England – said and I believe is that there isn’t any holiness that isn’t social holiness – he believed that we ought to get right with God – we have to have personal holiness, but that as a society we also have to have holiness there too.
M: A little bit more than 10 minutes left with our guests…
M: Go ahead, sir.
JL: Wesley never went to the government for one penny.
M: Moving on here. Bloomington, Indiana, welcome to the program –
C: If people will read the 13th chapter of Romans they will discover that it’s the government that is supposed to make sure that evil is not promoted – it would be the government that would go to war, not the individual – and it is the individual that is responsible to give to the poor, and the difference is that if you give your tithe to the church, and the church in turn helps the people that are poor they also do it one on one – they don’t just give them the money and then they go out and spend it on liquor or whatever got you into this problem.
M: Thank you. Mr. Winkler?
JW: I think she’s right that the government ought to address evil and I think when you have a situation like you have in a nation as wealthy as ours, that there are so many poor, so many without health insurance, so many in need, that’s a form of evil. You know in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter, the 45 and 46th verses Jesus refers to that if you take care of the poor, if you take care of the hungry, if you take care of the sick you’ve done it to me. But if you look at the first verses in that passage He’s talking to the nations of the world. He’s not addressing just individuals – He’s addressing nations and the overwhelming majority of Protestants and Christians and people of other faiths in this country believe that we all have a collective responsibility to care for each other. We do that through our houses of faith – and we do that through our government.
JL: Well, no. We are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s, and it is not Caesar’s role to house, clothe and feed anybody. It is an embarrassment to the Christian church and to Christian organizations and this is a modern development. Come to Washington begging for money – hand outs, grants. And this lady is absolutely correct. Christian charity is private – it’s personal, it’s real. To say that the government should do it is to say that somebody else ought to do something. It’s impersonal, it’s beurocratic, and in case you haven’t noticed, Washington doesn’t do a very good job here. They’re kind of messed up.
JW: You know, it’s interesting, if you really look at what Jesus was saying when He was talking about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesars – what he was saying was – No, nothing belongs to Caesar – everything belongs to God. A common mistake by many Christians.
JL: No, actually, that thirteenth chapter of Romans that the lady was talking about says that Caesar has the right to bear the sword – that’s the context of what evil was spoken about – not giving sawdust to people to heat their homes. But that the government’s role is to punish evil doers and to reward good people, and to bear the sword, that’s what St. Paul said. There’s a role for government, but it’s very limited to justice, or as Luther said, “God’s Hangmen.”
M: Our guests are John Lofton, Co-host of the radio program called The American View. How many cities and stations?
JL: Well, my Co-host is Michael Anthony Peroutka, he was the Constitution Party candidate for president and I think we’re in I’d say maybe 20 cities in maybe 20 states, on Sunday and you can also get the program on our website, TheAmericanView.com.
M: How often are you on?
JL: Weekly, one hour.
M: James Winkler is a Board of Church Society of United Methodist Church. Your father, brother, uncle, great grandfather had served or are serving in the church.
JW: That’s right. They are – I come from a family of preachers – I’m not one myself, but I’ve been a short-term missionary for the United Methodist Church in the South Pacific, and I’ve been working here on Capital Hill for the UMC for a number of years, and again we advocate on Capital Hill unashamedly, as do other denominations and faith groups for moral budgets and for moral foreign policies and for an effort to see our government do right by all of us.
M: There is your website, let me give you the address: www.umc-gdcs.org and we’ll leave that on the screen for just a second, and Owensboro, Kentucky, you’re up now. Good morning.
C: Good morning. Yes, I’m calling as a non-Christian, but to my surprise I have to say that I agree with a lot of what Mr. Lofton says. It really makes a lot of sense and when we started this whole thing out talking about the government didn’t provide heat – well, if the government wasn’t asking for so many tax dollars for so many ridiculous things people would have more money to provide things like heat and food and clothes. We have too many stupid programs, as Mr. Lofton said – it even came out by one of the committees that we spent so much money on dog armor – I mean ridiculous things like that – we need a common sense bill – all these people come out and talk about where all this money’s been wasted – and the money disappeared and now they’re asking for more money. I mean to me – I don’t work for any kind of morality government.
M: Winkler, you want to take that one?
JW: Uh, we’re going to continue to work over this next month – to get members to try to defeat the reconciliation bill as it is presently written. We’ve had some victories already –we won on food stamps the effort from the House side was to cut food stamps that would have resulted in about 220,000 people losing them. We won in drilling again, in Enwuar and we want to win on student aids-student loads, and we want to win on Medicaid, which right now the cuts would force low income people to forego healthcare and medicine and 114 Christians were arrested in front of the Cannon House Office Building in protest of the cuts. We have really transformed the debate on the budget in the past nine months and we’re gonna continue to do that.
JL: Well, I mean what can I say? Not one of those programs that he named is sanctioned by the civil government according to Scripture – and read the Constitution and let me add – lest it be misunderstood – I’m for moral government, I’m for a government that does moral and does right is a government that obeys God’s Word and the Constitution, and it sad for me to say – the Constitution is a dead letter.
M: Having said that, John Lofton, and having you both here, how about Iraq, and the war there – what’s your stand?
JL: It’s an un-Godly, un-Constitutional war and it’s awful and it is arguably and impeachable offense.
M: Mr. Winkler.
JW: We have opposed the war since before it started. We think it is counter-productive, it’s bred more terrorists and that we argued from the start that we think the inspectors ought to have been given a chance to find any weapons of mass destruction and were not there and which we know were not there and that the war was fought on false pretenses and in fact, in January church leaders are going to be meeting here in Washington to plan a season of peacemaking to rally people in this country to bring an end to this terrible dreadful war.
M: Wichita Kansas, good morning.
C: Good morning, to everybody – to all your panelists and again thanks for C-SPAN. I couldn’t believe that the Republican Party was about helping people and it has been a role of our government to help those that are less fortunate than ourselves. Mr. Lofton continues to talk about the government as if it’s just brick and mortar, but the government is “We the people” and as we the people, we are called to help the less fortunate than ourselves. When you become a Christian I don’t think you just – you stop – you don’t put your Christian beliefs aside but they come into your legislation while you take care of the people of this country. Um, we have always – this country has started out with a program – I think it was forty acres and a mule – to help people along. And when you talk about the Bible didn’t Paul want to go to Rome so he could convince the Roman Government to become Christian, and isn’t that what happened when the Roman Emperor was converted? That he then became a Christian and Christianity went worldwide? And so it is about the government taking care of its people – would He change the thoughts of those in charge, that’s when you change the thoughts and habits of the people that you rule?
M: Do I get a response?
JL: Well, I would agree that the Republican Party has always been the party of limited government. It started with Abraham Lincoln another evil tyrant who precipitated another ungodly, un-Constitutional war – against the south. But, you know this “we the people – we the people” mentality – the we the people can do anything that people say. We the people met in Philadelphia and gave us a document that severely limits – the Constitution – the Constitution severely limits the government. You can’t just use government money for anything Jim wants or I wants, or dare I say it even what you want.
M: Mr. Lofton, real quick, do you favor the ending of entitlement programs? Social Security? Medicare? Farm Subsidies? Corporate Welfare? One emailer says there is nothing in the Constitution to support this.
JL: That is absolutely correct and originally Republicans fought against all those programs and used to argue that they were un-Constitutional, but now the Republicans and the Democrats are all two big peas in a pod. No difference between them in any regard that really matters.
M: James, would you like to add anything to this?
JW: Well, I think that Mr. Lofton has really revealed his true colors, when he talks about Lincoln as an evil tyrant, well, I think most Americans are grateful that Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States, and helped bring an end to slavery. I thank God for that.
JL: Lincoln didn’t end slavery – that’s nonsense.
JW: I think that – I think that one thing that maybe Mr. Lofton has failed to understand is that over 2000 years Christian thinking has actually evolved and furthermore, over 200 plus years, American thinking has evolved – and we’ve come to realize that we’re all in this together. There’s kind of two different views of life; one is that you’re only in it for yourself, you can’t count on anyone else, kind of a Hobb-sian view – life is brutal and short and get what you can and the other view, a Christian view is that we are in this together we must care for one another – both through houses of faith and through our collective government and uh—
JL: Well, Christian thinking may have changed, but the Word of God doesn’t change and indeed you keep talking about we’re all in this together. Well, by “we” I don’t mean the government, I don’t think the government is to take care of people, I believe “we” private people, God’s people, are to house, clothe and feed people, not say it’s somebody else’s job through the government. It’s ridiculous….
M: Let’s get in one more call, thanks for you call, we’re running short of time. From Duluth, Minnesota. Go ahead.
C: Thank you very much. I’m very concerned, I’m a nurse and I work with the poor and I’ve listened to this discussion this morning and you’ve yet to define who are the poor? The churches, like Mr. Winkler, need to start speaking the truth. Get out of the political realm and get back to the pulpits and preach the truth and strengthen the American family because that’s where the problems are.
JW: Well, we do two things, frankly, you can go into one of the 36,000 United Methodist Churches tonight for Christmas Eve. Service or for tomorrow on Christmas morning and you’ll see families, you’ll see offerings taken up to benefit the poor and church programs to support the poor, and at the same time, we’re going across the street, we offer no campaign contributions to members of Congress, we threaten no members of Congress, to be turned out of office if they don’t vote the United Methodist way, we pray for no death or illness of Supreme Court Justices. We are there to speak truth in the Halls of power and someone’s got to do it, and in fact – you know, members of Congress actually say to us, “Thank you for being here,” because we came here to do good. Many of us wound up doing well. Capital Hill is an arena for deal making, for big corporations and other special interest groups to get what they can at the expense often times of the poorest among us who have no voice. In fact we are the voice of the poor in this nation.
M: John Lofton, do you have any final thoughts on the subject?
JL: Well, John Wesley, the founder of modern Methodism, said the greatest mercy to the poor, and the greatest thing you could do for the poor was to preach the Gospel. And I would say it’s not to come to Washington to lobby and ask Caesar for more money. That to me is an embarrassment. For a churchman to come here asking the state to give them money or to increase with some un-Biblical, un-Constitutional program.
JW: And we don’t come here asking them to give us money.
JL: Sure you do.
JW: No we don’t.
JL: Sure you do. Faith Based…
M: Our guests –
JW: that’s not our program, John. Get your facts right.
JL: Well, good. You’re against that. Well, good.
M: We’re out of time. Again, guests, John Lofton, Co-Host of the American View radio program, thank you for joining us and
JL: Well, thank you.
M: and James Winkler, from the Board of Church and Society, the United Methodist Church we appreciate your time as well.
JW: Paul, I hope C-Span can do a better job in choosing its guest to do with mainline denominations next time.
M: Appreciate you coming in, both of you.