A basic premise of Jesus Christ’s teaching was charity toward the least fortunate as a sign of compassion and the ability to earn everlasting life. Christ felt that helping the poor was so crucial, that he gave instructions to the rich to sell all their belongings and hand the proceeds to the poor, but it is obvious that his message is lost on Republicans who claim Christianity as their guiding force to govern America. The current GOP economic hero, Paul Ryan, claims that his faith contributed to shaping the Heritage Foundation’s budget that takes from the poor and gives to the rich leading any thinking human being to ponder whether or not Ryan is a Christian or a heartless satanic barbarian.
Last week, Ryan told the Christian Broadcasting Network that “A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private, so to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?” Ryan’s faith is at odds with Christ’s teaching, and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) understated the severity of Ryan’s spending cuts when they criticized his courageous budget as being “too hard on the poor.”
John Gehring, the Catholic Outreach Coordinator at Faith in Public Life said, “If Rep. Ryan thinks a budget that takes food and health care away from millions of vulnerable families upholds Catholic values, then he also probably believes Jesus was a Tea Partier who lectured the poor to stop being so lazy and work harder.” Since World War I the USCCB has called for government to provide “a safety net to the orphan, the widow, the disabled, and the poorest among us,” but Ryan’s budget shreds the safety nets to give outlandish tax cuts to the richest Americans and is in direct contrast to Christ’s teaching.
Ryan contends that if government removes itself from helping the poor, then charities, civic organizations, and churches will advance the common good, and that “government crowds out civic society” disallowing people the ability to take care of each other. Ryan can rationalize his cruel philosophy all he wants, but it is a fallacious assumption that government is preventing civic organizations and churches from caring for the poor. If filthy rich churches were serious about caring for the poor as Jesus commanded, they would provide sustenance and shelter whether there was a big government or no government and there would be less poverty in America. Ryan’s Catholic Church might help the poor through their charities, but they could, and should do more in light of government entitlements the church receives as tax-exempt non-profit organizations. Mr. Ryan hates government helping the poor because it wastes money that could be better spent enriching the wealthy, but his budget does not slash one penny that’s wasted on grants to faith-based organizations or the unjust tax-exemption churches and clergy receive, but that is another subject.
Ryan is not the only alleged Christian promoting more cuts to safety nets to enrich the wealthy. Willard Romney claims he is a Christian, but his grand economic plan gives more entitlements to the wealthy than Ryan’s budget. First, Romney is not a Christian, he is a Mormon. However, whatever kind of Christian deviant he is, there is nothing Christ-like in his plans to slash safety nets to give the rich more tax cuts that will increase the deficit and the number of Americans living in poverty. Romney’s problem, like Paul Ryan, is that he is a liar and a hypocrite for calling himself a Christian while contradicting Christ’s admonition to care for the poor. Jesus did not make allowances for what a government does, or does not do, he just said take care of the poor and both Romney and Ryan’s churches are complicit in hoarding considerable assets and fighting to acquire more government entitlements while millions struggle in poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
The Mormon and Catholic organizations both have massive wealth they could share with the needy as Christ commanded, but instead they hide behind non-profit status and lobby for more tax cuts for the wealthy that Jesus said would have difficulty entering into the kingdom of god. It is possible that all Republicans are not religious hypocrites, but when they claim they are the purveyors of the Christian ethic while they work tirelessly to punish the poor with every piece of legislation and budget proposal they pass; it is difficult to see them as anything but anti-Christ.