Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Faith and the economy II

Eric Sapp, a leader in the progressive faith movement and a consultant to the Perriello campaign, provides a nine part series discussing Christian theology and the budget. The underlying purpose of this series is to provide a theological rationale to Democrats for their priorities during the upcoming budget debates:
One aspect of the Democratic response to the upcoming Republican budget attacks must be a willingness by "faithful Democrats" to discuss budget and tax policies from a moral perspective and to challenge Republicans to apply the same moral codes to kitchen table issues that they so eagerly embrace on bedroom issues...because we all know that as soon as we start talking about budget and taxes, the Republicans will put away their Bibles and turn to Darwinian social and economic theories to support their policy positions.
Over the next eight posts, Sapp provides theological arguments, via full scriptural citation and explanation, for Demoratic budgetary priorities. (Importantly, I have rearranged the order of Sapp's posts to provide for, in my mind, a better logical progression, but not to take away from his good work.) First, God has a preferential option for the poor - they are especially blessed in God's eyes - and we as Christians are required to help the poor. Ushering in the Kingdom of God requires us to not only help the poor and downtrodden but also to combat the systemic injustice present in the world that imprison many children of God. As both Testaments clearly state, there should be "direct actions by government leaders on behalf of the least of these;" there should be a strong budgetary emphasis on the poor. On the other hand, there is a clear biblical pronouncement against "materialism and seeking material gain at the expense of the poor." Condemnation is reserved for those in power who use their positions of authority for personal gain and not in service to God, to help the last and the lost. Unfortunately, there is a tendency of leaders in the Religious Right and the Republican party to follow the letter of the law without following its true purpose. Political leaders who use Christian scripture to legislate morality should be scripturally compelled to rail against notion of the "ownership society" and that taxes are "your money," as we are merely stewards of God's blessings. With these points in mind Sapp finally concludes:
If certain elected officials and Christian interest groups seeking to influence elections and government claim that they cannot check their faith at the door when it comes to their so-called "family values" issues, then this same faith must also inform their positions during tax and budget debates along with all the debates on the "compassion issues." Although "family values" issues are mentioned only peripherally in the Bible, Jesus and the prophets are quite explicit about the clear responsibilities those with power and wealth have to the "least of these"...not to mention that policy decisions in these arenas have an enormous effect on families!
If you find any of these claims provocative or agitating, please click on and read Sapp's work, as my brief synopsis might have slighted his intentions.



James said...

It is important for Democrats to not be pigeon holed again. We have every right to speak of our religious beliefs in the forum of politics and national policy. For too long the Republicans have made it seem they are the only voice for God and the only interpreters of scripture. Part of the grand sweep of the Democratic Party last November is bringing change to our politics. One such change is being able to take our voices back, without Republican noise blocking them out.

Drew said...