As a renowned teacher, and crusader for social justice, I think Jesus would have a few things to say about how our budget agenda is affecting the least among us. Personally, I have no idea what he would say, but I know what some of his followers are doing. Some of his followers are offering messages of hope and compassion. Some of his other followers are offering messages completely incoherent with his teachings.
Recently, the Conference of Catholic Bishops offered their recommendations for our federal budget. Their recommendations were not kind to the agenda of John Boehner and the other Republicans.
Usually I am loathe to bring Religion into the realm of politics. Both are usually corrupted by it. I believe the biggest threat to our freedom of religion are the people who want to bring their religion of the day into the public square. That being said, my spiritual understanding of Jesus as a teacher and influence in millions of lives makes this discussion appropriate.
Please join me after the break for a discussion on what Religious leaders are doing on a national level and here in Minnesota.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops do not directly address the budget, or specific proposals, but they do give a pretty clear framework that should guide the decisions.
1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.
You see, protecting life goes so far beyond conception, gestation, birth. In fact, contrary to the Republican agenda, life continues even after birth, and then well into child hood and even adulthood!
The United Methodist Church has a take very, very similar to the Catholic Bishops. They also wrote a letter to congress recently.
“None of us can prosper and be secure while some of us live in misery and desperation,” the letter said. “In an interdependent world, the security and prosperity of any nation is inseparable from that of even the most vulnerable both within and beyond their borders.”
The Evangelicals, who seem politically wedded, in perception if not fact, to the country’s conservative right, have a great take as well. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), has joined with other religious coalitions in order to protect poverty programs. Part of the coalitions call was for an increase in taxes on the wealthy, and cuts to military spending. It looks like the conservatives religious base is even against these corporatist budgets. Galen Carey, the NAE director of Government Affairs even went as far as to state the obvious: anti-poverty programs like jobs programs and energizing the economy are inextricably linked.
As promised, there is also a strong uprising of local religious leaders condemning our state budget agenda. Our budget proposals in Minnesota are as devastating to citizens on the margins as the national budget.
The Minnesota religious coalition spells out exactly how the budget will be balanced on the backs of those least responsible for the recession.
Loss of child care assistance, job training, emergency aid, health coverage, mental health and disability services combined with reductions in the renters credit, more regressive property taxes, increased transit fares, and more expensive post-secondary education are very real budget impacts that seem to pile upon the very same families.
Lutheran Bishop Peter Rogness encourages Minnesotans to look through the lens of caring for our neighbors. He also states the obvious, that our government helps all of us in many, many ways.
To see what the local faith community is up to, you should really visit the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (Is Joint and Collation redundant?)
It is pretty clear that Catholics to Lutherans to Methodist to Evangelicals, Christian leaders do not support what our conservative leaders are doing. Our conservative leaders are the ones who claim they have a mandate from God. Some of them even claim to talk to God, or at least hear from him. If you are going to run on your Christian values, it would be nice if you actually had some.
To read much more about the religious movement against immoral budgets, you can visit the Sojourners
This is not an endorsement of that group or even/especially Christianity, but all view points that can help in this cause, our common cause, should be shared.