From both the left and the right, the American public conversation has seen growing criticism of capitalism, sometimes based on an appeal to religion. Most recently, anti-capitalists have contended that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the failures of the free market. Charles Mizrahi argues that such claims are rooted in a misreading of key biblical sources as well as the American political tradition:
Dating all the way back to Abraham, wealth and prosperity were signs of blessings from God. That theme continued throughout the Bible with Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon all achieving wealth that was considered a clear indicator of divine favor. As Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to get wealth, in fulfillment of the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers, as is still the case.”
But that wealth was not meant to be hoarded or to be used only for self-gratification and advancement. There was an expectation from God concerning wealth and divinely ordained responsibility to be generous. According to the prophet Ezekiel, one of the grievances that God had against Sodom was that the people had wealth and abundance but did not share it with those in need.
Government welfare interferes with man’s responsibility to his God and his direct interaction with his community. . . . The founders of our country understood this. George Washington, on more than one occasion, quoted the prophet Micah when speaking of peace and prosperity. [Moreover], the responsibility of generosity was deeply interwoven into our Founding Fathers’ vision for this nation. And that thread has continued to this day, as America has held the mantle of the most generous and giving people in the world for the last decade.
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More about: American founding, Capitalism, Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible