I haven't had much time to look around different forums these days, and had given up on having a political discussion with other Christians - i'm sorry I've missed this for so long!
I don't have time to read the whole thread right now, but I just wanted to comment on the idea that the government shouldn't be meeting economic needs, but that individuals/churches should be doing that instead.
Nice idea - but it wouldn't ever work. Someone would always be left out. Either because they didn't fit the 'criteria' established by a particular religious group (i.e., they were gay, it was a single mom with kids by different fathers, etc - in other words, certain people aren't going to 'live up to' other peoples' ideas of morality, and these people are likely to be left out of the 'helping'.
But aside from that (huge) point - you NEED a central body coordinating the help. Sure the government isn't perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better than 1,000 different churches in a given state helping here and there, but no one knowing who had been/hadn't been helped and by how much. Such a charitable system would be open to both blatant abuse (i.e., individuals being 'helped' by 10 different churches) and many, many people falling through the cracks and being helped by no one at all.
People who say that all welfare should be through charitable donations and the government should have no role haven't thought things through.