The Rev. Carl Kline expressed indignation years ago over President Trump denouncing socialism in his 2019 State of the Union speech, while “looking in the direction of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY),” the new darling of left-wing socialist politics (Register 2-16-19).
Trump’s “offending” quote: “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
Kline protested, “Let’s be honest, Mr. president. Let’s be realistic. No one is talking about socialism as state ownership of the means of production. No one is talking about a Venezuela in North America.”
Ocasio-Cortez is a big government socialist and member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which is the largest socialist organization in the U.S. DSA goals are far more consequential than Kline is evidently aware. According to a staff writer at the DSA’s socialist magazine, Jacobin, “In the long run, democratic socialists want to end capitalism,” (Vox, 8-1-18).
Another leading voice of left-wing progressive politics, socialist Aen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), supports expansion of the bureaucratic state, and he has purposefully surrounded himself with high-level staffers who publicly advocate for the very same Venezuela-style advancements of “state ownership” which Kline denies.
According to a Wall Street Journal survey of past speeches and writings by Sandera’ senior advisors, the “redistribution of wealth and property is a major theme among the Bernie brigades.” These are the very people “who would staff his [Sanders’] White House… they don’t merely admire Venezuela. By their own words, they want America to emulate it.” (WSJ, 4-9-19).
Kline’s faith in socialist-progressive government deserves further examination. How well has it worked in those U.S. cities where it has been brought to blossom?
San Francisco is a posterchild of the classical, socialist “Blue Model” urban governance, featuring “high taxes, inane regulations, petty nanny-state authoritarianism, tolerance for rising lawlessness, and disorder on its streets in the name of ‘compassion.’” This ‘progressive’ city is being ‘hollowed out’ with the exodus of middle-class families who can no longer afford, or want, to live there. Crime rates are rising, drug addiction and vagrancy are exploding. Dirty needles and piles of human feces litter hundreds of city blocks within its main business district (Investors Business Daily, 7-6-18).
San Francisco has more drug addicts (24,500) than students enrolled in its Unified School District’s 15 high schools (SF Chronicle, 1-30-19).
The last Republican mayor of San Francisco, George Christopher, served from 1956-1964. Democrats have controlled the office for the past 57 years.
Detroit is another hot spot of urban failure. Once the global center of automobile manufacturing, now “recognized more for its poverty, crime, rot and bankruptcy.”
Detroit is rated the No.1 most dangerous city in America. Last elected Republican mayor: 1957 (“How Decades of Democratic Rule Ruined Some of our Finest Cities,” Investors Business Daily, 3-9-16).
St. Louis, “The Gateway to the West has become the gateway for crime.” Currently the No. 2 most dangerous city in America with some of the highest poverty rates in the country, St. Louis has been governed by Democratic mayors, without interruption, since 1949.
Memphis, Tennesee: No. 3 most dangerous city. This haven of violent crime and poverty sports an unbroken string of Democratic mayors dating all the way back to 1893.
Kline more recently sought to convince readers that expanding government-driven socialist policies is biblically-based, from “the book of Acts… fifth chapter” where the “whole body of believers” sold their property, “everything was held in common” (Register, 9-14-20).
Kline’s 80-word citation did not come from Acts 5, it was a direct quote from Acts 4:32-37. The “body of believers” in this passage references the 120 close followers of Jesus Christ, and the “three thousand souls” who were swept up in the power of the Holy Ghost during Pentecost.
On the 10th day following Christ’s public ascension, the Holy Ghost, third person of the Trinity, manifested himself through “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” and “cloven tongues of fire” to approximately 120 of Christ’s immediate followers (Acts 2:2). A multitude of “devout men, out of every nation under heaven” were drawn together at the news of these astonishing happenings.
The apostle Peter preached unto them the resurrection of Christ, calling upon them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 4:39). They “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 4:42).
Property was sold voluntarily by believers, and for a limited time only, to provide sustenance for the 3,000 during that brief period of divinely-inspired “fellowship.”
This supernatural ‘timebomb’ set human history on a new course 2,000 years ago. The “body of believers” received the Holy Spirit to “guide and empower them in their mission of leading people of all nations to the same life-saving knowledge of God that they had found in Him.” It was a “spectacular event, marked by supernatural signs, a powerful sermon, and an overwhelming response” (ourdailybread.org, “The Birth of the Church”).
None of the internal circumstances peculiar to Pentecost validates, in any way, Kline’s variant interpretation of Acts 4 supporting government-imposed social mandates and coercive “sharing the wealth” laws and regulations.
Acts 4 does, however, validate something far greater. Peter, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” preached boldly in Jerusalem during this time, resolute in this conviction: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).