A Christian group calling themselves the Circle of Protection recently met with President Obama, saying that they spoke for “Christians” and urging him to “protect programs for the poor” from budget cuts.
An analysis of the group’s Web site shows that they “claim that biblical mandates preclude limits to federal programs for low-income people.”
Claims by this group, which includes the politically liberally president of Sojourners, Jim Wallis, among others, do not represent all Christians. Nor do I believe that they accurately represent the tenets of Scripture on this topic. That is why I have joined a number of prominent Christian scholars and leaders in signing a letter from Christians for a Sustainable Economy (CASE) to President Obama explaining the moral failure of continuing to spend the American people into further debt.
As the CASE letter explains:
We believe the poor of this generation and generations to come are best served by policies that promote economic freedom and growth, that encourage productivity and creativity in every able person, and that wisely steward our common resources for generations to come. All Americans – especially the poor – are best served by sustainable economic policies for a free and flourishing society.
While we believe that it is imperative that we show compassion for “the least of these,” that commandment is best fulfilled through Christian charity and spiritual counseling, not government programs. “To suggest that Matthew 25 – or any commandment concerning Christian charity – can be met through wealth redistribution is to obscure these truths. . . . Just as we should not balance the budget ‘on the backs of the poor,’ so we should not balance the budget on the backs of our children and grandchildren.”
The letter goes on to urge a three-step solution. First, “correctly identify the problem,” namely, recklessly spending our nation into further debt. Second, “put narrow political interests aside” – every federal program, including entitlements, must be examined. Third, “lead for the long term” by making tough decisions.
“Budgets are moral documents insofar as they reflect values and decisions for which we are morally culpable, long-term budget plans are morally meaningful promises we make to later generations. Right now we are morally failing our children and grandchildren by selling their future flourishing for our present comfort.”
The CASE letter says it best, “Contrary to [Circle of Protection’s] founding ‘Statement,’ we do not need to ‘protect programs for the poor.’ We need to protect the poor themselves.”