Exploiting Christianity over Budget Cuts


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This White House religious jamboree recalls a similar visit by the National Council of Churches (NCC) to President Clinton in 1995, when the prelates prayed Clinton would be “strong for the task” of resisting the new Republican Congress. But 16 years ago, groups like the NAE wisely abstained from joining the NCC’s usual Big Government crusade. Oddly, some once-conservative evangelicals now want to follow the same leftward political trajectory that helped sideline once-preeminent Mainline Protestants.

“As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice,” declared the White House religious visitors, without explaining how they would implement “fiscal responsibility,” except for presumably slashing military spending or, even better, raising taxes. “We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.” Seemingly, none ever considered that endlessly expanding government programs might themselves subtract from the dignity of the poor and vulnerable. Instead, they demanded “moral priority” for the welfare state, which is not typically renowned for instilling “dignity.”

In a carefully orchestrated campaign, Wallis and company announced in a press call last week their anticipated White House visit, while also unveiling a pro-Big Government petition by 5000 clergy. Wallis even faithfully repeated the White House talking point about tax write-offs for corporate jets. “The poor cannot afford lobbyists in DC,” a Wallis ally explained, presenting their coalition as the apparent voice of “the poor.”  (My assistant Bart Gingerich’s account of the press call is here.)

Of course, these religious Big Government lobbyists did not during their White House visit actually represent America’s poor, who need and deserve better.  Instead, the professional religionists diligently represented the secular permanent governing class, which asserts as dogma that the federal government has a transcendent moral authority ultimately over all other institutions, including even the churches. Worshipping at the altar of the welfare state seems idolatrous.  But for its denizens, Big Government is apparently the only deity that merits such blind faith.

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  • Mike G

    I hope they can work out a reasonable agreement. Good commentary on the budget and Catholic issues at http://www.catholicurrent.com/#/.

  • StephenD

    “We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.”Can someone please explain how reduced budgets (not eliminations) would undermine lives, dignity and rights?!? I don't get it. If you're poor how does not giving you something take away your rights. I'm not given anything. I have to earn it. You have the same rights as I to life and liberty and to pursue happiness. You don't have a right to demand that I pay for that happiness.Now, we in America are the most compassionate people. We give to those less fortunate. We also take care of our elderly and sick and those incapable of doing for themselves. Does that mean we MUST give unlimited and unquestioningly?I am sick and tired of being told budget cuts will ruin lives. Keeping them on the doll is more ruinous! Teach those that can to do for themselves! Am I to be "guilted" into paying more? As I understand it, 49% of Americans don't pay any taxes. Am I not paying enough to cover them? When is enough…enough?

  • Alice

    SO, what ever happened to the CHURCH taking care of the poor, the elderly, and the ill?
    It is my belief that it is easy to support the government doing this so that each church and, for that matter, Christian can walk away from responsibilities enumerated in the New Testament.
    Get Government out of charity work…get the church, which is so very worried, back in.
    Then we could at least cut those superfluous government entitlements.
    Oh, but that would mean taking personal responsibility–lack of that is partially why we are in the mess we are in.

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