Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Faith-Based Lesson for Paul Ryan

As even a half conscious reader would quickly determine, I typically have nothing but contempt for most of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy that seemingly is increasingly becoming an arm of the Republican Party.  Hence, my delight in seeing the Catholic bishops turn on Paul Ryan and his anti-poor, pro-wealthy budget proposal.  I suspect that Ryan never expected his disingenuous statement that his budget approach is guided by his Catholic faith would bite him in the ass quite so forcefully.  And thankfully, its not just the bishops who seem to be taking to task.  Rank and file Catholics and some of the Catholic intelligentsia, if you will, are increasingly revolting against both the the bishops and the anti-Gospel message GOP budget.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the lesson Ryan is receiving.  Here are excerpts:

There is something un-Christian about the Gospel According to Paul Ryan. So, at least, says Ryan’s Catholic Church.  In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody this month, Ryan, the author of the House Republican budget endorsed by Mitt Romney, said his program was crafted “using my Catholic faith” as inspiration. But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was not about to bless that claim.

A week after Ryan’s boast, the bishops sent letters to Congress saying that the Ryan budget, passed by the House, “fails to meet” the moral criteria of the Church, namely its view that any budget should help “the least of these” as the Christian Bible requires: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless. “A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,” the bishops wrote.   In fact, Ryan would cut spending on the least of these by about $5 trillion over 10 years — from Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and the like  .  .  .  . 

“Your budget,” a group of Jesuit scholars and other Georgetown University faculty members wrote to Ryan last week, “appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”

Ryan didn’t turn the other cheek. He showed up at Georgetown on Thursday to deliver a previously scheduled lecture, and lecture he did. He said the faculty members would benefit from a “fact-based conversation” on the issue.

From the balcony, a group of young demonstrators answered Ryan by holding up a banner with the message “Stop the War on the Poor: No Social Justice in Ryan’s Budget.” On the plaza outside, more protesters held a banner asking: “Were you there when they crucified the poor?” A man wearing a bedsheet, sash and sandals, with a name tag identifying him as “GOP Je$us,” read a new version of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the rich: The reign of the world is ours. . . . ”

The rebuke of Ryan is a credit to the Catholic leaders, because they are displaying their doctrinal consistency even as politicians embrace church teachings selectively. Republicans hailed the Catholic bishops when they were opposing the Obama administration’s policy to expand contraceptive coverage; likewise, they cite the church’s opposition to abortion. But these same lawmakers have little interest in the church’s position against the death penalty or its opposition to the Arizona immigration law.

Even Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Ryan would rather give the rich a tax cut. 

Today's GOP loves to wrap itself in religion and pretend to be the party of true Christian values.  In truth, however, these same individuals act little better than the Pharisees that Christ so consistently condemned.  The disingenuousness and hypocrisy of those like Paul Ryan is truly breath taking.

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