Former Ohio governor misquotes Bible, criticizes Romney

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has come under fire at the Democratic National Convention for investing abroad. Yesterday, Ted Strickland, the former governor of my home state of Ohio used the Bible in his criticism of Romney.

Strickland said:

Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps. In Matthew, chapter 6, verse 21, the scriptures teach us that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. My friends, any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America. … Barack Obama is betting on the American worker. Mitt Romney is betting on a Bermuda shell corporation. Barack Obama saved the American auto industry. Mitt Romney saved on his taxes. Barack Obama is an economic patriot. Mitt Romney is an outsourcing pioneer.

To be fair, Matthew 6:21 does quote Jesus saying, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
But Strickland is taking the Bible out of context to attack Romney. When Jesus says your heart is where your treasure is, he’s not making a statement about geography!

Let’s look at the verse in context:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:19-21

The point of what Jesus is saying in that passage is that we should not be concerned with gaining material things which will ultimately fade away and which are part of the world. It’s that we need to be living by faith and that our focus ought to be on more significant, Spiritual, and heavenly matters. Jesus isn’t saying, “If an American has money in a Swiss bank account, he really cares more about Switzerland than America.”

When we look into our hearts being where our treasures are, the point is that our heart is either inclined to worldly things or heavenly things. Whatever we ultimately care about is where our heart really is, in a Spiritual sense.

Maybe an astute reader will look at my previous statement: “The point of what Jesus is saying in that passage is that we should not be concerned with gaining material things which will ultimately fade away” and argue, “See. Mitt Romney is still a hypocrite because he’s rich so he’s still not even living by that.”

(a) That’s irrelevant because it has nothing to do with Strickland’s criticism and (b) That interpretation is also reading something into the text that’s not there. Jesus is saying that you shouldn’t live for the sole purpose of pursuing wealth. Someone can have faith and still be rich. Wealth does not necessarily preclude faith. In itself, money is not good or evil. The heart of the matter is that it’s the heart that matters.

Strickland’s interpretation is completely absurd. Did he know that he was quoting Jesus out of context? If not, shame on him. If so, where’s his integrity? Strickland served as an ordained Methodist minister. Where is his respect for the Bible? I’m not caught up that he was using the Bible for politics. I’m perturbed that he was MISUSING the Bible for politics. He was making Jesus’ word imply something that they’re not meant to imply.

Lastly, considering that Mitt Romney is a free citizen, I think that he has a right to do what he wishes with his money and that there’s nothing immoral about a person placing some of their holdings overseas. We have much bigger issues in this country than what Mitt Romney does with his personal assets. How is that even relevant to anything? What is that actually suggesting about how he would govern?

jrb

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