Finally, some of those who represent Christ have stood up to the GOP and Paul Ryan’s budget plan.
A group called “Faith in Public Life” held a press conference to speak out against Republican’s budget plan that provides more tax cuts for millionaires while cutting social programs for the most vulnerable in our society; the poor. They released this statement:
“The sky is falling on poor people in this country. The sky is falling. This time it really is. In the past, when we’ve done deficit reduction – and we’ve done it before – we’ve done poverty reduction at the same time. You can do both together. And every previous attempt there has been a bipartisan agreement to a given, a principle, that poor and low-income people are not the ones to make hurt more when you’re making tough decisions. … They don’t bear the brunt of our fiscal irresponsibility because they didn’t cause it. We did not get into fiscal trouble because of poor people. … The poor didn’t cause this. Let’s not make them pay for it.
What we’re saying in the faith community, across the spectrum, is that a nation is judged – our Bible says – by how we treat the poorest and most vulnerable. Period. That’s what God says to us. That’s God’s instruction to us. To be faithful to God, we have to protect poor people.”
Republicans would have us to believe that it’s social programs that provide a safety net to protect the poor from hunger and poverty for the reason behind our fiscal problems. In reality it’s because of the greed of the wealthy that we face the difficult decisions now to fix Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, not because of these programs themselves.
The GOP has long held that they’re the ones who represent Christian values but yet this consistent policy of working to protect tax cuts for the wealthy while at the same time cutting programs for the poor, is not Christian at all. Let’s call it for what it is; immoral. It’s not just UN-Christ like but it is in fact the opposite of Christ.
Christ’s teaching was clear about having compassion for the poor.
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:41 – 45
The group represented by Rev. Jennifer Butler, Jim Wallis, Rev. Derrick Harkins, and Father Clete Kiley, made it clear that the Republican’s budget plan were clearly not in line with the tenants of the Christian faith.
A majority of evangelicals who make up the religious right in this country, have solidly supported the Republican Party for decades, mostly because of the GOP’s stand against abortion and gay rights. But these religious leaders indicated a sharp contrast with Christian values concerning Republican efforts to change or destroy social programs for the poor while at the same time seeking even more tax cuts for the wealthy, starting with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s (WI) budget plan.
What’s not clear at this point is if the religious group’s stand will change the GOP’s mind. I doubt that’s going to happen as Republicans are in deep with the interests of those who fill their pockets – the wealthy.
Paul Ryan is Catholic and has tried justifying his budget by claiming it lines up with Catholic teachings. A principle called “subsidiarity” which in simple terms is an understanding that the best social services comes from family and community, not the federal government. That’s a wonderful principle, just about as wonderful as socialism but in practice, it must work.
If families and communities could meet the growing need of the poor, then there would be no need for federal programs. Federal social programs were started because of a need for them, meaning a lack of assistance for people in need. What Paul Ryan and the rest of his Republican colleagues really want us to do is forget about the poor and those who fall beneath the cracks. Instead, blame those same people for our financial crisis and reward the wealthy so that they can create more wealth – for themselves.
Republicans can stand up for whatever and whomever they want; it’s their prerogative to do so. But, we don’t have to allow them to associate what they’re doing with Christian values because it is anything but that.