One of the most erroneous and harmful ideas of our time is the notion that free-enterprise capitalism and the society upon which it is based are incompatible with the moral standards of Christianity. Indeed, one of the main drivers of the Occupy Wall Street movement is its condemnation of “corporate greed.” And before the Occupy Wall Street crowd got going, Michael Moore was condemning free-enterprise capitalism in his spurious 2009 documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. In one scene, Moore, one of those so-called limousine liberals who have profited very handsomely in our free-enterprise economy, asked a couple of religious leaders about capitalism. They both agreed that capitalism is “evil,” without explaining exactly why. Presumably, we are supposed to understand that Moore provides the explanation throughout the film. (One cannot help but wonder how many religious personages Moore had to interview, in order to get the responses he used.)
In fact, the very opposite of this popular belief is true: Free-enterprise capitalism and Christianity are not incompatible, because the strongest reasons to defend economic freedom and the market economy are related to Christian morality. It is economic freedom and the market economy that the moral standards of Christianity require, not the opposite economic system, commonly referred to as socialism, the welfare state, or some other name for collectivism. At the same time, economic freedom and the market economy require Christian moral standards in order to function properly.
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines capitalism as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision rather than by state control, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” It should be noted that all economies require capital, that is, the means of production. The question is who controls the capital, namely, the private sector (free-enterprise capitalism) or the state (monopolistic capitalism).