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Five Denominations Make Joint Statement on Bush 2006 Budget

Budget Ignores Christian Teachings on Economic Justice

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Updated January 05, 2006
This statement, presented below in its entirety, was first released jointly in March 2005 by five leading Christian denominations in the United States: The Episcopal church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.

Per the Washington Post on December 14, 2005, these five leading Christian denominations sent a letter to President George W. Bush in early December, reiterating their statements in this joint document.

Ecumenical statement on Bush's 2006 federal budget

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Episcopal Church, USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Presbyterian Church USA
United Church Of Christ
United Methodist Church

Joint Statement

We are preachers, and so, in explaining our opposition to the 2006 Federal Budget that President Bush has sent to Congress, it seems only fitting that we should begin with Scripture.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames."

The passage comes from 16th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, and it contains a warning that should deeply trouble those of us who live in a wealthy nation. As the story continues, the rich man implores Abraham to raise Lazarus from the dead and send him to the house of his brothers so that they may be spared his torment.

"They have Moses and the prophets," Abraham replies. "They should listen to them." The rich man says, "No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." And Abraham answers, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

In telling this story, Jesus makes clear that perpetrating economic injustice is among the gravest of sins. Yet self-interest is so deeply ingrained in each one of us, he says, that we will not renounce it, even should someone rise from the dead. Jesus was right about that. It was he who rose from the dead to save us from greed and myriad other sins. Yet those who have much continue feasting, even as those who have little remain at their gates.

Like many Americans, we read our daily newspaper through the lens of faith, and when we see injustice, it is our duty to say so. The 2006 Federal Budget that President Bush has sent to Capitol Hill is unjust. It has much for the rich man and little for Lazarus.

According to the White House's own numbers, this budget would move 300,000 people off food stamps in the next five years. It would cut the funds that allow 300,000 children to receive day care. It would reduce funding for Medicaid by $45 billion over the next ten years, and this at a time when 45 million Americans-the highest level on record-are already without health insurance.

These cuts would be alarming in any circumstances, but in the context of the 2006 budget, they are especially troubling. For even as it reduces aid to those in poverty, this budget showers presents on the rich.

-- If passed in its current form, it would make permanent tax cuts that have bestowed nearly three-quarters of the "relief" on one-fifth of the county.

-- If passed in its current form, it would include whopping new cuts that would benefit, almost exclusively, those with household incomes of more than $200,000 per year.

-- If passed in its current form, it would take Jesus' teaching on economic justice and stands it on its head.

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