Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin’s wisdom not biblical; it’s counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor.
Sigh. There are plenty of problems with the church, for example only half of Prostestant pastors have a biblical worldview. But, let's move on.
In 2004, as a share of our economy, we ranked second to last, after Italy, among developed countries in government foreign aid. Per capita we each provide fifteen cents a day in official development assistance to poor countries. And it’s not because we were giving to private charities for relief work instead. Such funding increases our average daily donation by just six pennies, to twenty-one cents. It’s also not because Americans were too busy taking care of their own; nearly 18 percent of American children lived in poverty (compared with, say, 8 percent in Sweden). In fact, by pretty much any measure of caring for the least among us you want to propose—childhood nutrition, infant mortality, access to preschool—we come in nearly last among the rich nations, and often by a wide margin.
This is just wrong. I don't know where he got his statistics, or how he parsed them, but the Giving USA Foundation estimated charitable giving in the USA in 2004 at $248.52 billion dollars. Please note, that doesn't include government aid. The CIA World Factbook estimates the population of America at 295,734,134, which would calculate to $840.34 per man, woman, and child in this country - a huge discrepancy from 21 cents a day, ($76.65 annually), including foreign aid, wouldn't you say?
His next line makes his motives a little suspect:
The point is not just that (as everyone already knows) the American nation trails badly in all these categories; it’s that the overwhelmingly Christian American nation trails badly in all these categories, categories to which Jesus paid particular attention.
As everyone already knows? Not only do I not know that America is cheap when it comes to giving, I've just proven him wrong, What kind of assumptions did Mr. McKibben start this article with? He goes on to the murder rate, prison populations, capital punishment, and divorce.
While I agree that our nation has problems and the church has problems, this particular commentary has as much to do with his own political philosophy as it does with Christianity.