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December 14, 2005

Oh Come All Yee Hypocrites

Given the latest Christian Right crusade against "Happy Holidays," you might think they'd also be in the forefront of fighting for an issue near and dear to Jesus' heart: how we treat the poor. You'd be wrong.

As the House gears up to cut food stamps, raise Medicaid fees, etc while passing yet another tax cut for the rich, some religous leaders are stepping up:

Leaders of five denominations -- the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA and United Church of Christ -- issued a joint statement last week calling on Congress to go back to the drawing board and come up with a budget that brings "good news to the poor."

Around 300 religious activists have vowed to kneel in prayer this morning at the Cannon House Office Building and remain there until they are arrested. Wallis said that as they are led off, they will chant a phrase from Isaiah: "Woe to you legislators of infamous laws . . . who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan."

In between threatening Macy's and Bloomingdale's with a boycott, will Concerned Women for America be joining the protest?
Janice Crouse, a senior fellow at the Christian group Concerned Women for America, said religious conservatives "know that the government is not really capable of love."

"You look to the government for justice, and you look to the church and individuals for mercy. I think Hurricane Katrina is a good example of that. FEMA just failed, and the church and the Salvation Army and corporations stepped in and met the need," she said.

How about the Family Research Council? Now that they've successfully pressured Boston to call their "holiday tree" a Christmas tree, are they going to take on Republican poor-bashing?
Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said the government's role should be to encourage charitable giving, perhaps through tax cuts.

"There is a [biblical] mandate to take care of the poor. There is no dispute of that fact," he said. "But it does not say government should do it. That's a shifting of responsibility."

The Family Research Council is involved in efforts to stop the bloodshed in the Darfur region of Sudan as well as sex trafficking and slavery abroad. But Perkins said those issues are far different from the budget cuts now under protest. "The difference there is enforcing laws to keep people from being enslaved, to be sold as sex slaves," he said. "We're talking here about massive welfare programs."

Fighting to ensure we call our green vestige of sun god worship -- what the Pilgrim's second governor, William Bradford, denounced as a sign of "pagan mockery" -- a Christmas tree, or fighting to ensure that poor people in the richest nation on earth don't go without food and are treated when they're sick? What Would Jesus Do?

Posted by RalphTaylor at December 14, 2005 06:33 AM