Location: United States

Monday, February 06, 2006

Words, Actions, and Impacts

If you want to know what a man believes, watch him, and ignore everything that comes out of his mouth that doesn't agree with his actions. It's awfully hard to argue for a "Christian nation" when you start from that perspective.

I'm not alone in this observation.:

"Up to now, the application of religious principles in political debate has been mainly applied to social mores, such as abortion rights, same-sex marriage, intelligent design vs. Darwinism and other similar social issues," Ratliff pointed out in a speech several weeks ago to the Austin Project, a group dedicated to helping at-risk youth.


"But all too often," he added, "those Christians who take strong stands on such issues based on moral or biblical teachings do not then continue the application of such teachings to other issues."


"When considering how much to reduce funding for indigent health care, Medicaid for nursing homes, child abuse protective services or special education for handicapped children, there seems to be little recognition of Christ's teaching that, 'In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me also.' "

The column that is linked deals with the details of Bill Ratcliff's speech and how they fit into the politics of Texas. I believe it's of much greater interest outside of Texas, though. President Bush, after all, recently submitted his budget to Congress. It reads like a hit-list against the poor.

Medicare - already underfunded - is going to take a heavy hit:

Saving $65 billion in government benefit programs over five years, including $36 billion from Medicare. Much of the Medicare savings would come from cutting reimbursement rates to hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies.

Meanwhile, the death business is booming:

In other budget news, The New York Times reports that the Pentagon is tripling its spending this year to nearly $3.5 billion in an effort to combat the use of increasingly powerful and sophisticated homemade bombs that are the #1 killer of American troops in Iraq. The spending bump is an acknowledgement that despite the yearly rise in deaths from the devices, the military's response has not been focused or coordinated enough at the highest levels.

Yet, as Clay Robison notes, the screaming hypocrasy of such moves is not likely to be seen by those on the Religious Right (and many, many others) who clamor about "moral values".

It is counterproductive — and wrong — to punish needy children for being born, which is essentially what state officials are doing when they preach tax relief at the expense of health care.

Some parents are irresponsible, and others are simply unfortunate.

The Bible is absolutely silent on the issue of abortion. It doesn't advocate a strong economy, job growth, or even lower taxes. It teaches social justice and responsibility. It teaches personal responsibility for the things we can control and mercy for the things we cannot.

Texas has lots of churches, synagogues, mosques and charitable people, but it also has 5.5 million residents, including 1.3 million children, who don't have health insurance, the highest percentage of uninsured population of any state.

How much do the religious conservatives and their elected leaders in Austin care? Ask them.

We should ask them in Washington, as well.

"You're part of the problem, or part of the solution," I was taught. I don't see any indication of a Republican majority making things better for children or old people. To my sorrow, I see scant evidence of Democrats fighting the good fight on their behalf.

We'd do well to remember these words:

Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.


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