Is This Christian?

Obviously there is a difference between questions of personal faith and questions of public politics. But politics do touch on the rest of the Christian value system : if not in its speeches, certainly in its budget. Here politics and morals become one and public.

Recently we saw "compassionate conservatism," all that concern we're told this government has for moral values and Christian identity, show its real face. Now that the election is over, abortion and school prayer have suddenly disappeared from this administration's agenda; but the release of the Bush White House budget makes the administration's values clear. Furthermore, because the budget impinges on every citizen in this society, the values cannot be dismissed on grounds of personal moral commitment.

A nation's budget is a nation's theology walking. In an era in which we call poverty "low income" and hunger "lack of food security," the number of poor, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is increasing and the number of hungry in the richest country in the world has been rising steadily for four years. To pay for a war we should never have fought : at least not for the reasons they gave us : this budget is slashing domestic programs.

The budget of this "Christian" president cuts food stamps. It reduces support for subsidized housing. It suggests pillaging Social Security. It reduces environmental enforcement programs and scientific research in a scientific age. It even reduces veterans' health benefits. Clearly the country is in danger of going the way of all oligarchies. Power and wealth are sucked to the top while those on the bottom bleed. We watch more food lines forming, more homeless on the street, more environmental degradation and more elderly living destitute lives.

More than that, according to the budget analysis of Bread for the World (www.bread.org), while we honor our tax breaks to the rich in this country, we are not keeping our promise to fight HIV/AIDS around the world or to support the Third World development programs that might really make us secure in the future. From where I stand, it seems that the poor who will be most affected by these budget cuts have no political voice with which to protest them, and the rich can hardly be expected to object since they are the beneficiaries.

That leaves only the Christians -- the pastors and bishops and the religious right who worked so hard to put this administration in office : to require that the rest of the Christian agenda finally be faced. Otherwise, forget the prayers in school, the definition of marriage or the fight against abortion. We lost the Christianity of this Christian nation a long time ago.

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