|April 11, 2005|
How Christian Is George Bush?
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
On March 8 in Washington, D.C., several faith groups met to critique the 2006 Federal Budget Plan and denounced it as “unjust.” Leaders of five mainline Protestant denominations (Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church) strongly denounced Bush’s 2006 Federal Budget Plan. The group said, “The 2006 federal budget that President Bush has sent to Capitol Hill is unjust,” charging that the budget would move 300,000 people off food stamps, cut day care programs for 300,000 children, and reduce funding for Medicaid by roughly $45 billion over the next decade. These church leaders iterated, “For even as it reduces aid to those in poverty, this budget showers presents to the rich. ... Jesus makes clear that perpetrating economic injustice is among the gravest of sins. If passed in its current form, it would take Jesus’ teaching on economic justice and stand it on its head.”
Jim Winkler, a United Methodist leader, said, “The federal budget is a moral document. It is a statement of our national priorities—of what, and more importantly, who we as a nation value. The budget Congress will consider this week is out of step with our nation’s priorities, adrift from the values taught by our faith traditions.”
Another religious effort—Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs—produced a statement entitled, A Faith Reflection on the Federal Budget. It outlines three criteria to consider in the Federal Budget:
1.) Does it benefit community and the common good?
2.) Does it give concern for those who are poor and vulnerable?
3.) Does it promote economic justice?
This statement drew endorsement from the following religious entities: American Baptist Churches USA, American Friends Service Committee, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Church of the Brethren Witness, The Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Mennonite Central Committee, NETWORK (A Catholic Social Justice Lobby), Presbyterian Church USA, Union for Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ Justice & Witness, the United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society, and Women of Reform Judaism, just to name a few (there were twenty-three total).
Bush’s United Methodist beliefs should also be called into question. Two issues are glaring. First, Bush’s preemptive doctrine of war is in clear violation of the United Methodist Church’s position on war and peace. United Methodists have long held anti-war positions, while at the same time allowing for just war language (namely criteria of last resort, appropriate international organizations, and to oppose aggression and/or genocide). Clearly, this current preemptive war violates the United Methodist Church’s positions on war.
Second, this administration’s record with regards to the environment are suspect at best, grossly negligent at worse. In a column from last year, United Methodist Bishop William Boyd Grove wrote these words: “The Social Principles of the President's Church declares, All creation is the Lord's and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life are to be valued and conserved because they are God's creation, and not solely because they are useful to human beings." Further he stated, “In violation of this teaching, the policies of the administration have rolled back legislation protecting the environment that has been in force for many years under presidents of both parties, and our government has refused to sign international treaties on global warming and other threats to the environment.”
These are just a few reasons why I am deeply troubled as to how some still think that Bush upholds religious and/or Christian values. Clearly, a significant number of religious voices in our nation—voices other than the Religious Right—has differing opinions about these so-called values.
It is time that religious communities across our country speak clearly and honestly about this President’s religious values, or lack thereof. As one sacred text avows, “You will know them by their fruit.”
Sources: For the March 8 gathering see: Church leaders denounce Bush budget as ‘unjust' to poor (umc-gbcs.org)
Bishop Grove’s article was submitted to the Charleston (WV) Gazette,
and was entitled, RELIGION AND THE ELECTION: A Caution Against Blasphemy.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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