Having placed 50 percent of America's economy under government control, the Obama administration tightened its grip on the financial sector by pushing a massive bank overhaul bill through the Senate last week.
The operative word is "fairness," which is shorthand for Obama's famous campaign promise to "spread the wealth around."
When critics said that this remark to Joe the Plumber displayed his socialist leanings, Obama justified it by citing Scripture:
"My Bible tells me there is nothing wrong with helping other people," said then-Sen. Obama. "That we want to treat others like we want to be treated. That I am my brother's keeper, and I am my sister's keeper. I believe that."
But Obama, who once dismissed the Bible's relevance to politics, saying, "People haven't been reading their Bibles lately," may need to go reread his Engels. Co-author with Karl Marx of The Communist Manifesto, Friedrich Engels knew better than Obama about collectivism's clash with Christianity, stating, "… if some few passages of the Bible may be favourable to Communism, the general spirit of its doctrines is, nevertheless, totally opposed to it ..."
Despite Engels and Marx (who dismissed religion as the "opium of the people") Obama and many others still manage to see socialism in the Bible. They point to the early church which, at first glance, seems like a model socialist community. The New Testament reports that these first believers "had all things in common" (Acts 4:32) and "all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need" (Acts 4:34-35).
But unlike socialism, the sharing was voluntary, not coerced, and the money was given not to the state, but the church. As Southern Baptist leader Richard Land puts it on the new Coral Ridge Ministries documentary, Socialism: A Clear and Present Danger, "It's one thing for you to give out of compassion to someone who's less fortunate. It's an entirely different thing for the government to confiscate your property and give it to someone else."
While the Bible asserts property rights and the rights of inheritance, socialism assaults them. Marx and Engels put the "abolition of property" first in a 10-step program for implementing communism. That's not exactly a Christian thing to do. The eighth commandment, "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15) applies every bit as much to the men and women who hold the reins of political power as it does to everyone else.
So does the 10th commandment, "You shall not covet" (Exodus 20:17). Coveting, or envy, is a powerful driver of socialism, which is in a perpetual snit that some people have more than others. So when President Obama castigates "fat cats" on Wall Street, decries "economic inequality," and warns, as he did in his 2009 budget statement that a "disproportionate share of the nation's wealth has been accumulated by the very wealthy," he stokes a destructive impulse that is condemned by Scripture.
Socialism also runs afoul of the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). Socialist governments seek to play God — to take His place as the ultimate sovereign. Consider the veneration that Russians once gave to the embalmed remains of Lenin and Stalin, the Nazi prescribed prayer to Hitler ("Thy Reich [kingdom] comes, thy will alone is law upon the earth"), and the personality cult surrounding North Korea's "Dear Leader," Kim Jong-il.
The sixth commandment, "You shall not murder," is also widely ignored by Marxist regimes. Marx and Engels proclaimed that their aims could be "attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions." Their disciples, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other communist henchmen, killed 100 million people, a "tragedy of planetary dimensions," as the French publisher of The Black Book of Communism put it.
Barack Obama may say that the Bible tells him to be his brother's keeper (his youngest half-brother reportedly lived in a shack in Kenya on $1 a day at the time he said this) but he ought to go back and reread what God's Word actually says. Engels was right. Socialism has nothing in common with Scripture.
John Aman is sirector of communications at Coral Ridge Ministries and a co-author of the new book Ten Truths About Socialism.