Budgets are Moral Documents!

The religious not-so-right begins to link economic disparity and moral values

| February 17, 2005

'A budget that scapegoats the poor and fattens the rich, that asks for sacrifice mostly from those who can least afford it, is a moral outrage,' writes Sojourners editor Jim Wallis in a response to President Bush's 2006 budget proposal. Agree with that assessment? Sojourners magazine provides a simple email form for people of faith to fill out and send to their congressperson.

On February 7, President Bush unveiled a budget that makes tax cuts from 2001 permanent, cuts housing and urban development programs by 11%, and slashes $355 million from 'programs that promote safe and drug-free schools,' reports Sojourners.

In an article from the April 2004 issue of Sojourners, Wallis praised University of Alabama law professor Susan Pace Hamill as a new champion of a just tax system. Hamill's paper, 'An Argument for Tax Reform based on Judeo-Christian Ethics' examined Alabama tax code and argued that 'principles of Judeo-Christian ethics offer moral arguments that complement and often strengthen secularly based ethical arguments illustrating the need for social reform.'

Bob Riley, Alabama's conservative Republican governor was inspired. Beliefnet reported in July 2003 that Riley wanted to raise taxes for Alabama's wealthy and cut them for the poor because, as a Christian, he believed it was the right thing to do. Later that year, the tax increase made it onto state ballots as 'Amendment One.' Alabama voters rejected it overwhelmingly.

The movement to align Christians with progressive policy is neither new nor confined to Alabama. Just last December, for instance, Don Lattin, who reports on religion for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote about Kim Bobo, who has been active in the progressive Christian movement for 30 years. Executive director of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice in Chicago, on the subject. Bobo believes those 'who work with the religious community have not adequately made the connection between economic disparity and moral values.'
-- Harry Sheff

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