Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Fasting for a Better Budget

There have been more times that I can count since this year started (and we’re only in the fourth month for goodness sakes) that I have literally been brought to tears with the gravity of the ridiculousness that has become our collective budget discussions. The “winners” in the last election seem hell bent on cutting anything that even remotely helps the poor. The idea that deficit reduction is now more important than feeding children (25% of which in our country are already food insecure)…or poor adults…or seniors… Bringing it up here brings tears to my eyes again and threatens to make me ever the less charitable to the Christians from my past.

What’s the big deal? To quote Mark Bittman at the New York Times (emphasis mine):

This is a moral issue; the budget is a moral document. We can take care of the deficit and rebuild our infrastructure and strengthen our safety net by reducing military spending and eliminating corporate subsidies and tax loopholes for the rich. Or we can sink further into debt and amoral individualism by demonizing and starving the poor. Which side are you on?

I hate to put the situation in such stark terms. I’m the type that wants to find a way for all of us to find common ground. Bipartisanship, with all due respect to my state’s Governor, is ALWAYS the best route. Still, when the other side’s answer to all of our problems is to shift the risk further and further down to those who can least afford it…what are you left with?

Justin Ruben with MoveOn.org has picked it up as has David Beckmann at Bread for the World and Mark Bittman. Jim Wallis was among those who started it.

I’m not saying you have to fast. That’s a personal decision, but rather I’m sharing the story of other people of faith if only to shine the light on them and redeem what it means to be a person of faith in this country. Conservative Evangelicals and other conservative Christians (and the assorted other organizations that claim to speak for God, ahem, FRC) have monopolized the conversation for far too long.  Budgets are moral documents and there are other ways of morality outside of the ways that powerful Christians have insisted on.

Compassion and empathy – the two missing American values.


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