December 15, 2005

Yesterday Reverend Jim Wallis of Sojourners and others were arrested while protesting budget cuts at the U.S Capital. Welcome to Ethics! Wallis said:

"There is a Christmas scandal in this nation ... but it has nothing to do with shopping malls saying 'Happy holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas. The Christmas scandal is the immoral budget coming out of this Congress."

It is good to see at least some religious leaders spending this Christmas season fighting for the poor, which is probably what Jesus would care more about than what stores say.

However, some religious leaders do not seem to understand. A Religious Protest Largely From the Left

Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, stated: "It's not a question of the poor not being important or that meeting their needs is not important. ... But whether or not a baby is killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, that is less important than help for the poor? We would respectfully disagree with that."

Wallis is also pro-life and is not arguing that we should not work on that issue as well. The question here is why can't we do both? One can be against abortion and for the poor. Hetrick claims they believe the poor are important, but by doing nothing they communicate a completely different message. Talk is cheap; give us some action!

And Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said, "There is a [biblical] mandate to take care of the poor. There is no dispute of that fact. ... But it does not say government should do it. That's a shifting of responsibility."

This type of argument is fine except clearly the Church is not doing a very good job. Since we are not doing it shouldn't somebody?

Thankfully, Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics challenged the logic of Perkins:

"When Tony Perkins claims, as he did in today's Washington Post, that the biblical mandate to care for the poor does not apply to the government, he makes an artificial division and a false assertion about the Bible. He would do well to read the Bible before he misstates the Bible in support of a political budget that cuts anti-poverty programs and rewards the rich. A moral budget prioritizes care for the poor over the enriching of the rich."

Hopefully Christians overall will be seen as caring for the poor through words and deeds. If we abandon "the least of these," not only we will have to answer to God, but we will have almost no hope of then being able to share with them the love of Jesus.