LINK: Joe has an amazing post up on poverty in America, and Christian responses to it, which I encourage you all to read. One quibble:
"The fact that the government has to have a “safety net” to catch those who would slip between the cracks of our economic system is evidence that Christians fail to do God’s work. The government cannot take the place of Christian charity. A loving embrace isn’t given with food stamps. The care of a community isn’t provided with government housing. The face of our Creator can’t be seen on a welfare voucher. What the poor need is not another government program but Christians who are willing to honor their savior."
Not that I'm arguing with the thesis here, but we take it as true that there are many ways in which God can reach the person he wants in the church, that there are many ways a Christian can do good works; why can it not also be that government-supported assistance fits into a Christian conception of charity? Casting out demons is casting out demons, after all, and it seems like the government is in a position to do comparatively more than even a large number of individual people can do.
But, again, as I say, not to disagree with the main point.