Christian Historian: Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage (Video)

| by Michael Allen
David BartonDavid Barton

Controversial Christian historian David Barton said on Aug. 25 that Jesus opposed the federal minimum wage (video below).

During his Wallbuilders radio show, Barton cited the Bible to support his assertion, noted Right Wing Watch, an organization that Barton lamented was listening to his broadcasts:

Every one of our programs gets listened to by those on the progressive secular left. Right Wing Watch listens to every program we do and they make fun of me because "Barton says that the Bible addresses the minimum wage." It is highly unlikely that they even know what’s in the Bible.

But they’re making fun, "Oh, the Bible doesn’t deal with." Yes, the Bible does deal with that. And the concept of a free market means free from government regulation. A minimum wage is the government telling you what minimum wages you have to pay to someone.

So let me take you to Matthew 20 for just a moment and look how the Bible is specific even on something like freedom of wages, the viability of employer-employee contracts.

While the Bible allows and endorses slavery, it never mentions any federal regulations regarding labor, including minimum wage.

Barton referred to Matthew 20: 1-16 where Jesus is telling a parable about a landowner hiring workers throughout the day and pays them all the same amount of money, which one worker objects to because he put in longer hours than others.

Barton went on to replace the landowner (third person) with Jesus (first person):

Jesus says, "Is not my money to do with as I please? I’m the employer. Don’t I get to decide what I’m going to pay everyone in this thing?" No, no, no, the government has a minimum wage. No it didn’t. Jesus says, "My money is mine to do with as I please and, by the way, you made a contract with me."

And then he tells the guy, "If you didn’t like the contract, you can go down the road to another vineyard and see if they’ll pay you two silver coins for what you did, but you agreed to work for me for that."

So what you have here is Jesus says, "Hey, the government doesn’t tell me how much to spend, I get to choose my own wages. And two, if you choose to work for me for that, you have an agreement, we have a contract. And three is if you’ve got greater skill, you can sell it to somebody else for a higher price, you can go down the road."

As a matter of Biblical record, Jesus never mentions the government, never says he's the employer, never mentions contracts, never mentions greater skills and never mentions selling one's labor for a higher price to another employer.

Christian psychologist and professor Warren Throckmorton noted Barton's comments on his blog, and asked five Bible teachers and pastors if this section of the Bible means that the government cannot set minimum wage; none of them said it did.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told Throckmorton: "The account in Matthew 20 is a parable, in which Jesus is teaching the kingdom of God and how it is entered. It has no more to do with setting economic policies for nations than Matthew 18:33-34 has in setting up debtors’ prisons."

Sources: Warren Throckmorton,, Right Wing Watch / Photo credit: David Barton/Twitter

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