Protestant bishops call GOP budget 'morally indefensible'
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
May 26th, 2011
12:14 PM ET

Protestant bishops call GOP budget 'morally indefensible'

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

What would Jesus think of the GOP budget now before the Senate? Not much, says a consortium of Protestant bishops.

In what is becoming something of a pig pile on the GOP from the Christian Left, more than two dozen bishops from mainline Protestant denominations sent a letter to Congress today denouncing proposed Republican budget cuts as "morally indefensible."

Following on missives from Catholics to House Speaker John Boehner, from Catholics and evangelicals to Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to Congress as a whole, Protestant leaders such as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, are advancing the argument that the GOP budget is an immoral document.

Insisting that the term values has relevance beyond such issues as abortion and homosexuality, bishops from the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church call in their letter on members of Congress to “come together across partisan lines to shape a budget that defends human dignity and basic economic security for all Americans.”

“If the moral measure of a just society is found in how we treat the most vulnerable,” the bishops continue, “the budget proposal passed by the House of Representatives, which the Senate will vote on this week, fails the basic tests of justice, compassion and a commitment to the common good.”

As the GOP's budget heads toward a Senate vote, a variety of other groups on the Christian Left are appealing to the Christian consciences of America's lawmakers, urging them to listen more to the words of Jesus and less to the libertarian novels of Ayn Rand, whom Ryan lauded in 2005 as “the reason I got involved in public service.”

The American Values Network, for instance, is telling Ryan's supporters on Capitol Hill that they have to choose between Ryan’s budget, which they say is inspired by the libertarian Rand, and a more Christ-like approach.

A Faith in Public Life blog is calling Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand “an unholy alliance” while the American Values Network's website says, “The choice is simple: Ayn Rand or Jesus Christ. We must choose one and forsake the other.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Economy • Ethics • Politics • Poverty • United States

soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Marie Kidman


    June 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  2. Peter Wolfe

    The U.S.A is a very very greedy materialistic and anti-christian nation and always has been. There are many things said in the Bible about paying what is Ceasers to pay to th romans. The authority of the land shoul be upheld like tax havens or tax subsedization should be pad in full fromall corporatis whether that is GE or any with off shore accouns, deductions, tax breaks, exemptions, etc. It is morally indefensable of th U.S Government claiming ultmate morality oerseas, yet cannot take care of theiron people. Put up r shut up is my moto.

    We as anaton are heading to a pinnacle juncture of picking the wealthy over the welfare of the majority. If we pass this point in such a desperate times real lives will be impacted. I already see alarming rates of flash mobs in U.S cities. How much more pain must people endure for the new car, home, etc? Personally when I finish up college in 10 months or so that I'll give money to philantherapy. Look at Christian today the only groups that donate the most are elderly women and thoe mormons not catholic or anything. Our nation doesn't come close to dropping a penny in the rusted bucet. Before everyone goes nuts on me, I've been aroumd millionaires in a mansion and talked to these a–holes that actually hold us to ultimate contempt. As it says in the Bible "It is easier for a camel to go through an eye of an needl than the rich man to go to Heaven" the laugh is on them and thier allies the pharisees and sacrasees n our mydst. Ha, ha, we will have th final laugh that is for sure.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  3. zeliemartinez

    "Protestant" Bishops" Isn't that an oxymoron?

    June 2, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  4. Steve

    What a joke. These are all mainline liberal denominations. Look at what they stand for these days. Besides, Jesus said care for the poor, he didn't say the government should care for the poor. Open your Bibles and read for yourselves instead of listening to sound bites from liberal preachers and "bishops".

    May 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Haime52

      The problem isn't with the government taking care, it's with the values they espouse to garner votes and the actions they take, all the wghile touting that they are the keepers of the Christian flame in D.C. If they wish to play it, just as you say, then they should keep quiet about Roe v. Wade and anything else with religious overtones. They don't do that though. It seems that they want it both ways, or whatever way they want it, at the moment.
      I think that I am more conservative, in some ways, than most people, but I tend to fall on the compassionate side of some social issues. These conserative party people tout one thing but often practice another. Some say religious and philanthropic organizations aught to help the poor and take up the slack that government leaves, do not give that much to help these organizations. If you look at charitable giving you will find that those more in need of help give the larger amount, by percentage of income, than the wealthy. That is a fact of life. So when people see the wealthy getting tax breaks and legislation cutting the programs to help the poor, you got to wonder where their hearts really are.

      May 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  5. Ronald Treadawaytre

    The lord is my shepard and I shall not want the Paul Ryan budget.

    May 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  6. gerald

    What is morally indefensible is running Trillion dollar deficits yearly to practice "charity" by taking money out of people's pockets. In the end this will not serve the poor well and we are ending up with more of them rather than fewer.

    May 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  7. John Richardson

    Sorry, folks. But this is only the beginning of the belt tightening, Europe is already furious at the US for playing around while they put in place some serious austerity measures with significant social fallout.

    May 29, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  8. BK

    Even though I myself hate the Republican version of the budget (somewhat slightly more than I hate the other sides' excuse for a budget), I am certainly not going to base my opinion on what Catholics say. They lost all credibility at the point that they started officially defending child molesters.

    May 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  9. Haime52

    Any legislation that GUTS programs for the poor and rewards the wealthy with tax cuts is not defensible, in any sense, let alone a Christian sense and the conservatives tout their Christainity. HYPOCRITES!!!!
    To cut Education spending is totally stupid, at a time when scores are falling and the US is falling behind the world in education. Yep, that will help us get ahead of the rest of the delevoped countries, for sure. It will help create a bigger class difference and perhaps that is the goal, for some. An uneducated, ignorant underclass that will work for nothing, virtual slavery!
    I'm not a liberal, far from it, but I have eyes to see and ears to hear and I can see that the rupublican and tea party are not friends of or patriots to America, at large. Only for themselves and the wealthy. Pharisees, all!!!

    May 28, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Any legislation that GUTS programs for the poor and rewards the wealthy with tax cuts is not defensible, in any sense, let alone a Christian sense and the conservatives tout their Christianity. HYPOCRITES!!!!.......

      I totally agree! .....So goes for anyone who joins them!

      May 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  10. SouthernStar

    I like my religion and politics separate. Religions, need to care for souls and help the downtrodden; I don't like my religion offering a political opinion in a specific religion's name. If a religious has an opinion, let him/her offer in own name. I don't offer religious opinions for my workplace.

    May 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Try being a Black Republican during the last election when Obama was running. Our Pastor did a good job holding back the political chatter during his sermons but the Obama fanatics were out in force. I did have fun each time one of them asked if I was registered to vote and I would then show them my Republican voters card. 🙂

      May 28, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Mark from Middle River,
      There are more like you, than you know! As they learn the Truth there will be even more!

      May 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Al a Texan

      OK !! Southern Star,you keep looking up while the Republicans keep taking advantage of the poor and un- imformed down here.

      May 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Haime52

      I agree completely, however, people have taken religious issues and politicized them. Shame! I fear this will only worsen, as time progresses. If things get really, really bad, they'll all start looking for someone to blame, woe for that group of people.

      May 30, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  11. Egad

    > the Christian consciences of America's lawmakers

    You're kidding, right? Christ will turn His face from this bunch, the Republicans because they've turned against Him and the Democrats because they're neither hot nor cold.

    May 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      ....the Christian consciences of America's lawmakers.....

      American lawmakers, and their bedfellows, the Corporate Fat Cats HAVE NO CONSCIENCE!

      May 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  12. J.Johnson

    Forget your opinions about churches. Again, some of you are missing the forest for the trees. I consider myself mainstream so please explain to me how the GOP finds no problem with nuturing the needs of the wealthy, while calling for sacrifice from the en masses, whose only safety net from welfare and states' charity is SSN and Medicare, is a formula for reducing our nation's debt? I think Mr. Ryan is a honest but misguided congressman who means well. But this GOP budget is a turd, and Congressman Ryan has become 'Lord of The Turd: The Return of GOP Insanity".

    May 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Sorry dude, but the longer I live the more I notice that inside of the Washington DC beltway they are all crazy, insane and only out for the rich.

      Come on, the Patriot Act..... the hated on the left and hated on the extreme right.... the Act that the ACLU and the Teaparty find common ground...

      ... was just re-approved and then signed by Obama .... just like GW Bush. Where is the change, where is the differences in the parties?

      May 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  13. Reality

    Once again, religions are morally indefensible. Shut them down and sue them for making false claims. Then sell their assets as part of the penalty phase of the court action. Said money will be used to pay down the national debt. A win-win situation for the US citizen/ taxpayer.

    May 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I recomend the Hangman by Maurice Ogden

      May 27, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Zeb

      Reality, that is a great idea!
      Never mind Mark, I think he is in shock that you didn't cut and paste your comment this time...

      May 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  14. annasmum

    These churches need to worry more about taking care of the people and less of what the government is doing. These organizations are EXACTLY who Christ was calling hypocrites and broods of vipers. The whole purpose of the church is to take care of the people. Ther purpose of the government is to govern. Period. End of story.

    May 27, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      I wholehearted agree. I look where these "bishops" are from. Some of the most elaborate, large, expensive church buildings are from these denominations! Not just that, but these are the same denominations that are ordaning g-a-y preachers. Not all but some! I will disagree with you on one point. The government is responsible to all of us. They have a right to know what is going on as much as anyone else. In saying that, their primary duty is to take care of the things of God BUT they are falling away from te truth. Again, not all but quite a few from these denominations.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • michael perry

      I th;ink that you should investigate further and you how much these protestant churches are contributing to humanitarian efforts in this country and around the world. They are trying to live up to the teachiings of Christ, more than I can say for most of the members of congress at this time. They keep wanting to put more money back in the pockets of the wealthy.

      May 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • annasmum

      I am sure they do contribute to humanitarian efforts. And I am also sure most of them do not get their hands dirty doing it. Sending a check is really easy. I also know not all of them are bad. I work with the number one provider of 211 (emergency needs) calls in the SE WI area. Most of our calls come from people who have been turned away from the churches in the area because they are not a member or they haven't given money on a regular basis. We hear stories like this all the time from all over. I can't imagine Jesus Christ would turn away someone who needs formula or milk for their baby for these reasons.

      May 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • LBob

      The churches are taking care of the people by calling out the government which is hurting them. Christ stood against social injustice wherever it was. We need to do the same- whether we are Christian or not.

      May 28, 2011 at 10:44 am |
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