A favorite political tactic of the Left is to shout "hypocrisy" every time someone from the Religious Right expresses an opinion regarding welfare that is not in keeping with liberal orthodoxy that endorses cradle to grave dependency on the government.
The adhominem attack has been so successful that Christians have been cowered and rendered virtually mute on this and many other social issues.
No one wants to be seen as hypocritical, especially those of faith, as being labeled such strikes at the very heart of what makes a Christian a Christian. We believe in the Golden Rule. "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12 NKJV) We believe in the lesson of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37) Helping others is a commandment of our God. So it would seem that the attacks from the Left are well-founded, for if we are against blanket all-encompassing welfare, how can we claim we are helping those in need as God commands?
But labels are dangerous and often exploited. Shouting hypocrisy during every debate regarding the "nanny state" is a quintessential example of the point.
One of the last things the Left wants to do is actually debate the welfare issue, because if they do they invariably lose. Knowing this, they’ve taken to name calling instead of meaningful debate. Hence, if the Religious Right argues against welfare they are hypocrites. The trouble is, the Left purposely misuse definitions hoping no one will notice. In this case they have manipulated the word charity to morph into the word welfare. Two different words with different meanings.
Welfare is defined as "relating to, or concerned with the welfare and esp. with the improvement of the welfare of disadvantaged social groups." The welfare state, the result of never-ending welfare, is defined as "a social system based on the assumption by a political state of primary responsibility for the individual and the social welfare of its citizens."
Charity on the other hand is described as "a gift for public benefit purposes." And "benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity."
Clearly, the words are not interchangeable unless someone is trying to cloud an issue to their advantage.
Welfare is a government program used and abused for political purposes. Charity is a private decision to do good. Welfare is a program that has run amuck with no accountability. Charity can be directed as a charitable person deems correct and in keeping with their faith. Welfare is funded by taxes taken from people, mostly against their will. Charity is money freely given. Welfare is directed by Washington D.C. Charity is commanded by the Word of God. Welfare has at its core using other people’s money to buy votes for re-election of politicians. Charity has as its foundation helping those who need help with no thought of personal gain. Welfare administration eats up a substantial percentage of the money in the system, thereby denying much of what could be offered to those truly in need. Charity can be as direct as buying groceries for your neighbor - there need not be the expensive middle-man welfare demands.
Charity is and always will be preferable to welfare.
But more to the point, is it hypocritical for a religious person to be against government welfare?
The "War on Poverty" that has spent trillions of dollars without any tangible results, and has basically ensured that generations of those in the welfare class will always be the welfare class; i.e., to ensure continuing checks one must make sure they don’t have income that would take them off the welfare rolls. So there is little incentive to work. In fact, just the opposite. Further, to increase one’s monthly welfare check, people are monetarily encouraged to, for example, have more children they cannot afford and/or raise as they should be raised. The Bible says in Luke 17:2, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." Welfare harms children and should be held accountable.
Lastly, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." So the issue is not whether a person is poor, but why they are poor. Welfare fails because it employs no such discernment.
Conversely, Christian charity offers help to those who are truly in need - and tough love to those who can and should be working. "And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)