National Lutheran News

Jack Kemp champions Christianity, capitalism at Thrivent business forum

Former Reagan HUD director says Iraq was has become President Bush’s “tarbaby”

Speaking to a roomful of civic and business leaders at a September 22 seminar at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in Minneapolis, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp said, “Capitalism is not based on greed, it’s based on faith.” He added, “Socialism is greed. It wants to give a person something for nothing.”

Kemp was keynoter at a faith-based forum, “Is There Faith in Business?”, sponsored by Thrivent, Luther Seminary, Business Keys International, and a Twin Cities Lutheran consortium called “Faith in the City.”

Quoting Scripture freely, Kemp said, “Letting your light shine means shining it in the pulpit, the board room, the locker room, Congress — and at Best Buy.”

Best Buy’s CEO, Brad Anderson, an ELCA layman, was on the program earlier.

Kemp, who studied in Hebrew school as a child, quoted the Talmud, saying, “The highest form of charity is helping someone so he doesn’t need charity.”

He said, “The biggest need in the world today, aside from reconciliation, is leading the world out of poverty.” He made it clear he believes capitalism is the way to do that.
In a question session, Kemp said, “Capitalism causes the Arabs to envy us. I’m not a hawk. I’m a heavily-armed dove.”
Asked about the war in Iraq, he replied bluntly, “The president has a tarbaby on his hands. Sympathy for the U.S. has turned almost totally against us. I had reservations about going in [to Iraq]. But, now that we’re there, we should convert this tar-baby into an economic success with a multinational Marshall plan.”

The one-time Buffalo Bills football player said, “I’ve always been an optimist. Could I be a pro-football quarterback and not be? Christians have to be optimists. I’ve read the last chapter [of Scripture], and Christians win!”

Earlier in the day, David Stark, vice president of Business Keys Inter-national, called business leaders to think of themselves as stewards. He said, “There is an ‘acquiring myth’ which argues that business people are in business to become as wealthy as possible. This is at cross purposes with business stewardship.”

Stark said, “Things can be ‘legal’ but [still] not ethical in business. Business leaders need to think about the consequences of stealing and lying.”

He commended the pharmaceutical company, Merck, for agreeing to make a drug when it knew in advance it wouldn’t turn a profit. “Their CEO said, People need it. ‘Make it anyway.’”