As I receive comments from the public and from private communications, I am making some modifications to the essay. Most of these relate to more clearly getting across a particular point I am trying make. Some relate to answering arguments made by readers.
1. 6/3/03: Added "(And Liberals May Not Be Far Behind)" to the title, to more accurately reflect the later parts of the essay
2. 6/4/03: Added some material to the section entitled "Oh c'mon, this passage from Matthew only applies to acts of individual charity" to make clearer that Matthew 25 responsibility for our political choices is in addition to, not instead of, our Matthew 25 responsibility for individual one-on-one acts of charity. The main change is the addition of this paragraph:
In sum: yes, you are individually held to account under Matthew 25 for your individual one-on-one acts of charity or the lack thereof, but you are also individually held to account under Matthew 25 for how the actions you take influence your society in its treatment of the "least of these" – the "social, political and economic" choices to which the Pope refers.
3. 6/4/03 Added an "Overview" section under the essay title, to give readers an idea of where the essay is heading.
4. 6/8/03 Added "Essential Keywords" section under "Overview."
5. 6/8/03 Added question/answer entitled "If a law forces people to give something they truly in their hearts don't want to give in the first place, that type of giving is simply a dead work which God hates."
6. 6/9/03 Modified Matthew 25:31-46 was not meant to call upon the government to force people to give. by adding phrase "for example, if necessary to make " to make social, political and economic structures more just."
7. 6/10/03 Added question If you don't work you don't eat. That's what it says. to "Overview"
8. 7/12/03 Made various revisions and added "Introduction"
9. 7/29/03 Corrected dead link at text related to footnotes 49 and 133 and updated data.
2/8/04 Added the following to footnote 97: "A
recent study estimated
that 18,000 people die in the