Addressing the National Religious Broadcasters Convention this weekend, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) echoed the religious right’s recent decision to declare the budget deficit a pressing moral issue. Politics Daily reports:
“We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face. That means working together to cut spending and rein in government,” Boehner said in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters’ annual convention in Nashville. The $14.1 trillion debt that burdens the nation is “a mortal threat to our country. It is also immoral. It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt. It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China. No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily.”
This brought to mind my post earlier this month about conservative Christian groups’ newfound morally framed deficit hawkishness:
While it’s easy to point to verses such as Proverbs 13:22 (‘a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children’) as evidence of the Biblical imperative to balance the government’s books, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with verses that call for pursuing this goal by, say, taking away people’s access to healthcare – as the House GOP’s continuing resolution does.
Also, it’d be easier to believe religious right leaders’ professed moral concern that the debt will ruin our children’s future if they didn’t advocate making drastic cuts to programs that ensure children have adequate nutrition, health care, education and housing in the present. It might help their standing within the conservative coalition, but as a moral argument it rings hollow.
The same certainly goes for Boehner. Furthermore, Boehner’s recent actions speak much louder than his deficit rhetoric and suggest that he cares more about delivering for his favored interests than he does about protecting our children from deficits and debt. Recall that despite his purported commitment to fiscal responsibility he recently fought to protect a $450 million earmark for a military jet engine the Pentagon doesn’t want, and during the lame duck session he held unemployment insurance for hard-hit families hostage in exchange for massive tax cuts for the richest Americans that add over $100 billion to the deficit.
Running up the debt and then invoking grave concern about its effect on our children’s future in an effort to destroy programs that meet our children’s needs is contemptible. Boehner is using compassionate rhetoric in service of a cruel agenda.
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Gerald Beyer, a professor of Christian social ethics at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, gets my award for the most clever framing on the Wisconsin showdown. His comparison of Gov. Scott Walker’s tactics to those used by Polish communist bosses who fought the Solidarity movement in the 1980s is sure to irk conservatives. Here’s Beyer stirring the pot over at Politics Daily:
Mentioning the campaign against unions by a Republican governor in 2011 in the same breath as the anti-labor repression by Communist authorities in Poland in 1980 is sure to raise eyebrows. Yet as Mark Twain supposedly said, if history doesn’t repeat itself, it sometimes rhymes. And there are some striking similarities between that Communist-era episode and the ongoing standoff between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s public employees. For one thing, both Walker and the Communist leaders targeted unions. And in both cases, we see the Roman Catholic Church supporting organized labor. Led by the gutsy electrician Lech Walesa, workers of the Solidarity trade union movement went on strike in August 1980 to regain their freedom and their rights. Over 18 days, they negotiated with Communist party officials, who were actually more willing to make concessions than Walker has been to this point.
Prominent Catholic politicos like Newt Gingrich (who has made a documentary about Pope John Paul II’s role in sweeping the Soviet Union into the dustbin of history) should keep this legacy in mind as they cheerlead for Governor Walker’s assault on workers’ rights.
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Dan’s post on Wednesday highlighted how Fox News’s flawed portrayal of Islam has led 35% of their viewers to believe that “American Muslims want to establish Shari’a law as law of the land in the United States.”
We’ve already seen the real-world application of this dangerous misinformation, with over a dozen states having introduced or attempted to introduce “anti-Shariah” legislation or ballot measures.
But two State Senators in Tennessee have taken this extremism even further. Bob Smietana from the Tennessean reports:
A proposed Tennessee law would make following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.
State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, introduced the same bill in the Senate and House last week. It calls Shariah law a danger to homeland security and gives the attorney general authority to investigate complaints and decide who’s practicing it.
It exempts peaceful practice of Islam but labels any adherence to Shariah law — which includes religious practices such as feet washing and prayers — as treasonous. It claims Shariah adherents want to replace the Constitution with their religious law.
While such a discriminatory bill wouldn’t stand a chance in court even if the legislature passed it, it’s a troubling sign that any elected officials support such extreme, delusional, bigoted legislation. Even when unsuccessful, extreme measures like these only justify the underlying lie that Islam is dangerous and make less extreme but still harmful proposals seem moderate in comparison.
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Facing sharp criticism for remarks likening Reform Judaism to radicalized Islam, Glenn Beck apologized today. Admitting that his show is “very unprofessional at times” and that his research is often based on conversations with friends, Beck said “People have to know that when you make a mistake, for honor’s sake, you correct it and you don’t hide it.” Good for him.
So for honor’s sake, we’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of groups and people who are still waiting on their apology from Beck.
The Glenn Beck Apology Rundown:
- The entire Jewish community
- Jewish Funds for Justice
- George Soros
- Social Justice Christians
- President Obama
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just to name a few…
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The showdown between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and public employee unions, the first salvo in what will be a nationwide struggle, raises the important question: where do faith groups stand? Interfaith Worker Justice, which engages the faith community with the labor movement, compiled statements from diverse faith groups. A consensus immediately emerges — the faith community overwhelmingly supports the right to organize and negotiate for fair wages. A few examples:
Roman Catholic Church: “The important role of union organizations must be admitted: their object is the representation of the various categories of workers, their lawful collaboration in the economic advance of society, and the development of the sense of their responsibility for the realization for the common good.” – Pope Paul VI
The Episcopal Church: “We decry the growing wave of anti-unionism mounting in the nation today which asks people to forget the struggles that led to this form of negotiation as a just way to settle differences. We urge church people and others not to judge this issue on the basis of a particular case but rather on the basis of the fundamental principles involved.”
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): “Justice demands that social institutions guarantee all persons the opportunity to participate actively in economic decisionmaking that affects them.”
United Methodist Church: “We support the right of public and private (including farm, government, institutional, and domestic) employees and employers to organize for collective bargaining into unions and other groups of their own choosing.”
Central Conference of American Rabbis: “Jewish leaders, along with our Catholic and Protestant counterparts have always supported the labor movement and the rights of employees to form unions for the purpose of engaging in collective bargaining and attaining fairness in the workplace.”
The Union for Reform Judaism: “Calls upon employers to allow their employees to choose freely whether to unionize or not, without intimidation or coercion”
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): “We believe in the right of laboring men to organize for protection against unjust conditions and to secure a more adequate share of the fruits of their toil.”
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