American Christianity teaches that the poor have no one to blame but themselves. They are poor either because they make bad choices or because they are just lazy and looking for a handout, and that in either case they shouldn’t expect any help from us. If they are in prison we owe them nothing. They deserve what they get. If you do the crime, you do the time.
In any case, we should end all social programs including Welfare, Food Stamps and Medicaid, because even a dollar of my money going to assist the poor is a crime — a violation of my constitutional rights. God expects me to enjoy my own prosperity.
Furthermore, we should seal our borders and not allow poor immigrants in (the wealthy guys from China, Japan, Europe, and Arabia are OK though). Those who do get in should be deported or imprisoned, and any that remain should under no circumstances be able to get any assistance including medical care. We don’t care that you are trying to make a better life for your family, we don’t want you here and we aren’t going to help you.
Now, in contrast, a long long time ago there was a man named Jesus. Most people have heard of him, but very few know anything about him. He was the guy who started this whole thing called Christianity. The way he taught it went something like this:
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
Just as a side note worth mentioning, the word “stranger” here is what we today call an immigrant — a foreigner — a stranger in the land.
At any rate, isn’t it amazing how things can change over time?