“Becoming a Christian transformed my life,” says Tim Scott. “Our best future will not come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams.”

“No one can serve two masters,” Jesus says in Matthew 6:24. “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

In Luke 12:15, Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Jesus not only urged people to be kind to others in their everyday lives. He was also talking about those in government who ruled over others, including the priests who ruled Judea for Rome and the rulers of the Roman empire.

Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), an American Baptist minister, was a leading Christian socialist. Like Pope Leo, he championed the rights of working people and a more equal distribution of wealth and income, which he believed reflected Jesus’ teachings. In 1891, Bellamy was fired from his Boston pulpit for preaching against the evils of capitalism and describing Jesus as a socialist. But he’s best known as the author of the “Pledge of Allegiance,” which he wrote in 1892 as an antidote to Gilded Age greed, misguided materialism, and hyper-individualism, reflected in those radical words “with liberty and justice for all.” (Ironically, Bellamy did not include the words “under God” in the original Pledge. They were added by Congress in 1953 at the height of the Cold War).

In the early 1900s, socialists led the movements for women’s suffrage, child labor laws, consumer protection laws and the progressive income tax. In 1911, Victor Berger, a socialist congressman from Milwaukee, sponsored the first bill to create “old age pensions.” The bill didn’t get very far, but two decades later, in the midst of the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to enact Social Security. Even then, some critics denounced it as un-American. But today, most Americans, even conservatives, believe that Social Security is a good idea. What had once seemed radical has become common sense.

Martin Luther King believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” In October 1964, he called for a “gigantic Marshall Plan” for the poor — black and white. Later that year, after he he traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, he told friends that the U.S. could learn much from Scandinavian “democratic socialism.” In fact, he told his staff, “There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

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In the Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) urged the country the reject “socialist dreams” following Biden’s calls for new programs such as free community college and child care.

“Our best future won’t come from Washington schemes… . It will come from you, the American people,” Scott said, summing up broad Republican Party opposition to Biden’s agenda.

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