“No person can serve two masters. They will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (You cannot serve the true God while worshiping at the altar of a false god). Matthew 6:24
When I was young we would often go to Sunday dinners at the homes of my Dad’d relatives. They were a family who all held very strong opinions on just about everything. From them, I often heard the phrase: ‘Politics and religion do not mix.’ I took that to be a truth that had equal value with ‘the Sun always rises in the East.’ In my journey over the past 40 years I have come, with the aid of Scripture and several wise people, to a very different truth. When we separate our religious beliefs from our political ideology it is recipe for serious injustice. God, in Jesus, calls us to constant service of those in need (‘when I was hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison’) and preaches a clear option for the poor. This history of those who govern us has, in the main, been about acquiring powe and material wealth, and only accidentally serving the poor and downtrodden.
Allow me to share some powerful and sobering information: …it was heartening that on Feb. 15 more than 300 Catholic Leaders carried letters to Congress from two committees of the U.S Conference of Bishops and from Catholic Relief Services, reminding them that “it is morally unacceptable for our nation to balance its budget on the backs of the poor at home and abroad.” Both letters praised limitations on funds for abortions; but Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany anbd the president of Catholic Relief Services, Ken Hackett, stressed that the proposed continuing resolution calls for 26 percent cuts in povery-focused foreign aid; affects those with AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as well as victims of floods, famines, disaster and civil wars; and would cost innocent lives. Congress must “find resources elsewhere” than in the programs that serve the poorest persons and communities, they wrote. In a world where one-fifth of the population survives on less than $1 a day and 20 countries are involved in armed conflict, the bishops wrote, our nation must join others and address the “problems that provide fertile ground in which terrorism can thrive.” America Magazine-Mar. 7, 2011 (There has been almost no coverage of this position of the U.S. Catholic Bishops)
In a recent report, economists at Goldman Sachs estimated that the House cuts would reduce economic growth by 1.5 percentage points to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of 2011. That would devastate employment. As a rule of thumb, each percentage point drop in growth means a loss of 1.2 million jobs. Education will be cut by $6 billion. Transportation (rail, highways, public transit) cut by $8.1 billion. Pell grants for college would be cut by nearly $6 billion. The Small Business Administration cut by $84 million – Homeowners facing foreclosure would be hurt by cutting $70 million in legal aid. NY Times-2/27/11 (Does any of this really affect the affluent? How do many of the poor get anywhere except by public transit? Will any of the financial institutions experience job losses at their highest level?)
Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, and one of the great evangelical preachers of the U.S.: “There is no doubt that excessive deficits are a moral issue and could leave our children and grandchildren with crushing debt. But what the pundits and politicians have to acknowledge is that how you reduce the budget is also a moral issue. A budget is a moral document. For a family, church, city, state or nation, a budget reveals what our fundamental priorities are: who is important and who is not; what is important and what is not? The U.S. House of Representatives are not cutting spending where the real money is: military spending, corporate tax cuts and loop-holes, long term health care costs. Instead, the cuts are aimed at the poorest people at home and abroad. If a budget is a moral document, these priorities are to protect the richest Americans and abandon the poorest – and this is an ideological and moral choice. To prioritize endless military spending over critical, life-saving programs for the poor is to reverse the biblical instruction to beat our swords into plowshares. The proposed budget cuts would beat plowshares into swords. Let’s be clear. When politicians attack the poor, it is not simply partisanship to challenge them; it is a Christian responsibility. What is happening is wrong, is vile and this must not stand.” Sojourners/Sojomail-2/24/11
I presume it is clear where I stand. Politics, without religion and morality to strongly monitor it, can allow it to worship at the altar of a false god. “It is easier for a camel…