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The Religious Left is displeased over the debt deal between President Obama and Congress for unforgivably omitting tax increases. They are also peeved over limits, if not outright cuts, to the growth of their beloved welfare, regulatory and entitlement state, which for the Religious Left is the virtual Kingdom of God on Earth.
Some religious leftists were more incendiary than others. Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren, champion of religious postmodernism, typically rejects moral absolutes — except when denouncing conservatives. “A zealot faction in our own US Congress threatens to damage our economy in ways that terrorists never could, reinforcing the old adage that ‘we have found the enemy and he is us,’” he bewailed, falling just short of comparing Tea Partiers to al-Qaeda.
In his angst over the budget deal, McLaren bemoaned all the Left’s favorite bugaboos in a long litany that surely left him breathless:
[T]he unsustainability…of our extractive, fossil-fuel-based, corporatist-militarist economy, or our indefensible, irresponsible, nearly unbelievable failure to address energy policy and climate change, or the absurd scapegoating of Muslim folks and gay folks while reality makes clear how our own political elite can bring us to the brink of default without any outside help, like a slow-motion car crash in full view of the whole world.
More temperate was an official of the Presbyterian Church (USA) lobby office, who admitted to fellow leftist religious activists: “The failures of this bill outweigh the successes.” She was addressing a seminar of the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs (DHN) on August 3. (Read my associate Jeff Walton’s report.)
A poll of the 61 seminar participants showed 48 negative toward the debt deal, while a few were positive. Looking for hope, they speculated that tax increases might yet materialize. And naturally they were pleased over military spending cuts. They faulted deficit spending on Bush-era tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Expansive, often double-digit annual growth by entitlement programs that comprise most of the federal budget evidently doesn’t count towards the debt, in the minds of the Religious Left.
“The balanced budget amendment is a very dangerous thing for the programs we care about,” warned an analyst from Bread for the World, a liberal lobby group that provides bread directly to nobody and instead pushes for greater federal spending.
Understandably, a balanced budget amendment is frightening for religionists who revere government growth in the same way that South Pacific cargo cults prayed for cans of Spam to fall from the sky. “Advocates need to be on our toes and ready for the next three rounds,” the Presbyterian official readily agreed.
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