Initially, it is important to say that I do not reprimand people’s right to protest, indispensable to democracy. However, undeniably, there were some absurd signs in the last august protests against the Brazilian government (like those who asked for the return of the wicked military regime). Also good to clarify that I do not commit the injustice of reducing all protesters to those with such hideous thoughts.
After those necessary remarks, I would like to talk about one particular sign, the one that illustrates this post. A father did the “crime” of allowing his son to walk around carrying the following message:
“A country without corruption is a country where rich people rule, because a rich man does not need to steal.”
Many arguments are not needed to refute the stupidity of that quote. Certainly, the rich are in power, or have huge influence on those who rule, all over the world, including in the most corrupt countries.
Nonetheless, the purpose of this post is to criticize that sign under a Christian view; to show how it is incompatible with Christianism.
Let us remember Christ’s teaching: “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). As well explained by the excellent Brazilian journalist Reinaldo José Lopes, it is hard to claim that criticism on richness is strange to Christianity.
The question remains: are the rich more trustworthy than the poor? The great English-Catholic writer, G.K Chesterton answered in his book “Orthodoxy”, referring to that gospel passage above, categorically that no.
“I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle. I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel. But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest—if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this—that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy”.
It is heard a lot of times, in several places (like the boy’s sign), the misleading argument that a rich man cannot be bribed. Well, paraphrasing Chesterton, one may claim that, in fact, many rich (not all of them, of course) have been bribed already, that is why they are rich. The brilliant British writer wanted to clarify that this absolute exemption of the rich is against Christianity, because “it is a part of Christian dogma that any man in any rank may take bribes”.
Thus, Chesterton concludes: “it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor”.