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Deep moral issues are at stake in the budget debate

Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe that “a budget is moral document,” according to a recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. In a recent exchange of letters, Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Congressman Paul Ryan both affirmed this basic principle as well. What this means for all those seeking election in 2012 is that when voters listen to the budget debate in Washington D.C., they don’t just hear a tug of war over dollars and cents but a discussion of our national character. Who gets kept in and who gets left out matters more clearly reveals our moral priorities than does any speech or campaign commercial.

Right now, the public doesn’t think very highly of the ethical decision-making around the budget. When it comes to the deficit, 71 percent are concerned that the Democrats’ plan “won’t go far enough to fix the problem”. Almost two-thirds fear that the Republicans’ plan will take away needed protections for the poor and will “protect the rich at the expense of everyone else.” These are valid concerns, and if something doesn’t change in the budget debate both fears could come true. This shows that the American people are almost just as concerned about reducing the deficit as they are about reducing the deficit on the backs of the people who can least afford it.

As a local pastor in Columbus, Ohio, my congregation is committed to helping those in need. While I believe local churches should be at the forefront of helping poor and vulnerable people, and my church does so, the government still has a necessary and essential role to play. In a time when churches like mine are trying to do more with less, it concerns me that so many cuts are being proposed to programs that help low-income people meet their basic needs.

Recently, the heads of over 50 Christian denominations and organizations released a joint statement announcing a “Circle of Protection” around programs for the poor. The breadth and diversity of signers is unprecedented. Christian denominations have split over how much water is appropriate to use for baptism and Churches have been known to split over the color of carpeting in the sanctuary. Getting all of these Christian leaders (who have other significant political and theological disagreements) to unite around the same statement was the religious equivalent of getting a supermajority in the Senate.There are over 2,000 verses in scripture that show God’s concern for the poor and vulnerable, which makes poverty an issue that can unite diverse Christians.

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The Urantia Book, also, has numerous references to economics, the profit motive, service to others, and equality - morality which can greatly assist us in solving these kinds of problems.

156:5.10 Religion is the exclusively spiritual experience of the evolving immortal soul of the God-knowing man, but moral power and spiritual energy are mighty forces which may be utilized in dealing with difficult social situations and in solving intricate economic problems. These moral and spiritual endowments make all levels of human living richer and more meaningful.

Please see also our topical study on Economics

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