Are government welfare programs Satanic?
by Christian Y. Cardall
Drawing upon uniquely Mormon resources provided in Alma and the Book of Moses, J. Nelson-Seawright (a.k.a. RoastedTomatoes) has cobbled together a nifty liberation-theology-style argument about poverty being Satanic that Catholics could only dream of. I’m no fan of poverty, and I am definitely a fan of JNS/RT’s fine blog; but I wonder, could similar logic be used to arrive at a result expressly repugnant to what I would guess this Latter-day Left-winger’s political predilections might be?
Within Mormon theology, the concept of being compelled to make a spiritually desirable choice — and therefore losing agency and blessings with respect to that choice — is associated with Satan. Indeed, some program or other built around these ideas is typically presented as having been Satan’s plan in the preexistence. This discussion has argued that poverty plays a partially coercive role in people’s moral and spiritual lives to the extent that, as Alma says, it compels humility and acceptance of the gospel. Hence, there is some reason to believe that poverty is, in Mormon theological categories, a Satanic force in our world.So here’s my question: If coercion is the key diagnostic of Satanic forces, are government welfare programs—in which a spiritually desirable choice (helping the poor) is enforced by involuntary contributions in the form of taxes—also Satanic?
I suppose it might be argued that taxes are levied by democratically elected officials, and are therefore voluntary in some corporate sense; but in terms of morality and spirituality, it is individual motives that matter, and any individual who chooses not to pay taxes for any length of time will soon find out how voluntary they really are.
[Note: I didn’t take the time to read the comments on JNS/RT’s post. I hope someone already didn’t come up with this question, or I will look really foolish.]