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Christians for a Sustainable Economy’s frivolous critique, ctd.

August 5, 2011, 2:00 pm | Posted by Tara Culp-Ressler

Today, we’ve been highlighting the new conservative coalition Christians for a Sustainable Economy and their misguided critiques of the Circle of Protection’s call to not balance the budget on the backs of the poor. We’re not the only ones finding fault with CASE’s weak arguments. Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, puts it this way:

“The arguments of the Circle and CASE both have merit. But the Circle’s approach is more urgent. Public spending on poverty and global health programs is a sliver of discretionary spending and essentially irrelevant to America’s long-term debt. A political argument giving equal weight to cuts in poverty programs and reductions in entitlement spending is uninformed about the nature of the budget crisis, which is largely a health-entitlement crisis. A simplistic philosophy of ‘shared sacrifice,’ focused mainly on cuts in discretionary spending, requires disproportionate sacrifices of the most vulnerable. If religious people do not make this case, it is difficult to determine what distinctive message they offer.”

It’s encouraging that Gerson sees the logical fallacy in the deep spending cuts that GOP politicians continue to demand. However, Michael Sean Winters pushes Gerson’s point even further in the National Catholic Reporter:

“…There is a different difficulty in comparing the bishops’ ‘Circle of Protection’ and the CASE approach, one that escapes Gerson’s otherwise discerning eye. He allows that ‘the Circle’s approach is more urgent’ but he fails to note that the Circle’s approach is rooted in centuries of social justice teaching applied to the circumstances of today. The CASE approach evidences a different orthodoxy, an economic orthodoxy rooted in the specifically anti-Christian teachings of the Austrian school of economics and its American cheerleaders like Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard. When CASE makes claims about promoting ‘economic freedom and growth,’ they are not appealing to a particular verse of Scripture, are they?”

Good point. Despite the fact that CASE is attempting to draw a parallel with the Circle of Protection by relying on similar values-based language, Rand-inspired economic philosophy is not compatible with Biblical principles. This is not a case of two different perspectives on achieving a faithful budget; rather, it’s a case of religious values contrasted with empty religious rhetoric.

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