Judge H. Lee Sarokin – Retired in 1996 after 17 years on the federal bench
Posted: 8/22/11 05:18 PM ET
I cannot find any passage in the Bible that says: “Oh Ye Faithful: The poor shall sacrifice so that the rich may retain their wealth,” but that appears to be the fundamental policy of the fundamentalists. There are many candidates who are touting their religious credentials, but their platforms appear to be in direct contradiction to their religion. (“Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor.” Luke 18:18-22)
I do not pretend to be an expert or scholar on Christian teachings, but I know they are replete with references to caring for the poor, the hungry and the sick. But the Bible-thumpers running for office rank uppermost on their agendas ending or reducing entitlements and protecting the wealth of the wealthiest. (“Do not look to your own interests, but let each of you look to the interest of others” Phil 2:2-5)
Let’s get real, folks — “entitlements” refer to benefits going to the poor, the sick, the hungry, the unemployed and the elderly. (“The Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.” Ps 140:12) They do not refer to subsidies, corporate deductions or other tax benefits the rich enjoy. When the politicians say they want to end or reduce entitlements instead of corporate benefits, they are not heeding any Christian teaching. (Whoever has the world’s goods and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17 )
Rather than seeking a balance between a reduction in spending (including adjustments to entitlements) and revenue increases, only the former is on the table. The justification often heard is to stop the “freeloaders” living off the government dole. Somehow those persons who have been laid off after working 20, 30 or 40 years in the same factory job have suddenly become “freeloaders”! (“Blessed are those that have toiled; they have found the right life.” Gospel of Thomas, 58)
In addition to reducing government support for the neediest among us, also high on the list of the ultra-religious candidates are restrictions on gay rights, opposition to Muslim mosques, lack of sympathy for illegal immigrants and their children many of whom have lived here for decades (“You do not oppress the alien” Jer. 7:5-7 — all suggesting some indifference to the plight and rights of their fellow man (or woman). They seem more interested in spending money to fight wars than to fight poverty. They are more interested in protecting corporate profits than the protecting the environment — the earth which He (or She) created. They oppose unions and collective bargaining for public employees. They oppose providing health care for those that cannot afford it. They propose tying social security to the vagaries of the stock market, and thus putting the elderly at risk. They defame and debase the president and seek to undermine his legitimacy contrary to the Bible’s admonitions against defamation. They undermine the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” by resisting any attempt to restrict the sale or possession of weapons, despite the hundreds of thousands of deaths by guns, even going so far as opposing restrictions against suspected terrorists buying weapons.
I do not mean to suggest that every candidate who proclaims devotion to Christianity follows this pattern, but I do suggest that there is an astonishing number that do. The most avid faith followers such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry appear to have the least Christian policies. In the surge and admitted need to reduce the deficit and reduce spending, choices must be made. If we ask ourselves the question: What would Jesus do? I doubt the Ryan Tax Plan or the Norquist Tax Pledge would make it into the Bible.
“Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of their rights.” Is. 10:1-3