The Religious Left does not like budget proposals from Congressman Paul Ryan because they don’t raise taxes or eliminate the U.S. Defense Department. One activist even denounces his plan as “moral cowardice.”
“Not only does his budget fail to meet the basic teachings of Ryan’s religious tradition [i.e. Roman Catholic], the plan shows moral cowardice,” recently explained Lisa Sharon Harper, who directs “mobilizing” for Jim Wallis’ Sojourners_. “_I don’t know any world in which a “tough choice” is piling benefits on the already rich and powerful while asking people who are already struggling to pay for it.”
Ostensibly Ryan is a bad Catholic because true Christian faith, as the Religious Left defines it, mandates massive, coercive redistributions of wealth by the federal government, according to political calculations, no matter their overall impact on the national economy. As evidence for her charge that Ryan’s plan violates Catholic teaching, Harper quoted the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, which in early March urged federal budget choice that “protect” human life and “promote the common good.” For the Religious Left, the “common good” means chiefly more Big Government.
No matter how many decades illustrate the failures of the Welfare State to ameliorate poverty, and its propensity to create dependency and family disintegration, the Religious Left mindlessly worships at its jealous altar, unwilling ever to admit that Big Government is a failed and cruel deity. Sanctimoniously, the Sojourners mobilizer bewailed that the “vulnerable” may lack super PACs and “gangs of lobbyists,” but they do have “people of faith,” whom God has summoned to fight Ryan’s “immoral budget.” She didn’t mention that most active church goers in America routinely vote against the Religious Left’s priorities. And the Welfare State she invests with such divine majesty is in fact not without political counsel or influence. Government unions and wealthy left-wing lobbies faithfully expend many millions in defense of the “vulnerable,” i.e. Big Government.
A federal budget vision doubtlessly far more to Sojourners’ liking was unveiled on Capitol Hill on March 22 on the lawn of the historic United Methodist Building. It was unveiled by the Islamic Society of North America, United Methodist and Presbyterian Church (USA) lobbyists, and a leftist nun, with backing from the wider Religious Left, as part of its “Faithful Budget Campaign.”
“We believe that God assesses the value of a nation by the way in which it cares for the marginal – for those people who cannot care for themselves,” implored a United Methodist bishop at the press conference, which my colleague Jeff Walton attended. “Our task is not simply to address the world of today, it is to see to it that those who come after us in this world will be advantaged by the abundance of this wonderful planet on which God has placed us.” But how can there be “advantage” for future generations if the U.S. federal government is straddled with tens of trillions in unredeemable debt, crippling taxes, bankrupting entitlement programs, an enervating Welfare State, and crippling regulations? The Religious Left’s faithful budget prophets do not explain.
Traditional Christianity envisions a world of balance in which all persons are called to contribute towards the common good with their own God-given talents. Traditional Christianity sees all persons as moral agents responsible for their own decisions. And traditional Christianity sees all persons as sinners who often need rewards, punishments and incentives as well as ongoing challenge and accountability. But in the Religious Left’s surreal universe, all persons are intrinsically good but victimized by oppressive social systems, for which they are entitled to endless redress by a mammoth, centralized state, controlled of course by the enlightened Left.
In their 50 page budget vision, the Faithful Budget Campaign calls for “substantial” increased federal spending on public education, “affordable” housing, homelessness, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families , global and domestic hunger, AIDS, Global Warming, “renewable energy,” home energy assistance, and “environmental justice,” along with the United Nations and the U.S. Institute on Peace. How to pay for all these additional expenses? Cut nuclear weapons, submarines and aircraft, along with prisons, and immigration law enforcement.
In other words, the U.S. government should stop defending the American people from terror, aggression and crime. Instead, it should spend even more on discredited fantasies of the last 50 years that assumed federal checks could solve poverty, eliminate the need for fossil fuels, and establish global peace based exclusively on good will. Additionally, productivity should be punished by higher tax rates. And inactivity should be rewarded with permanent subsidies.
Christianity is a very earthy, no nonsense faith embodied in St. Paul’s admonition, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” The early church fathers and sensible churchmen ever since have believed that governments are ordained mainly to defend their people with armies and police, to punish the criminally wicked, and to sustain public order so that honest people can exercise their virtues freely to the glory of God.
But the Religious Left chooses to see Big Government almost as a replacement for God, the church, the family, and virtually all other human institutions. They ascribe to the federal Welfare and Regulatory State powers and mysteries that even the most zealous of ancient pagans never ascribed to their favorite golden idols. Most sensible people, even in Congress, will recognize that the Faithful Budget Campaign’s dreams do not merit attention or faith.
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