- Deseret News - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

After President Barack Obama issued his 2015 Budget Proposal last month, Bread for the World, a Christian nonprofit seeking to end world hunger, wrote that the spending plan’s details were important to the belief systems of people everywhere.

The press release highlights a longstanding issue within the Christian community: How should Christians look at government fiscal policies?

“The budget debate has a central moral dimension,” said Rev. David Beckman, as reported by Bread. “As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the budget is based on how the most poor and vulnerable people fare.”

Bread for the World praised Mr. Obama for proposing to make permanent changes made to the earned income tax credit and child tax credit.

Meanwhile, the conservative faith-based activist group Christian Coalition of America published a piece calling Mr. Obama’s budget ideas old.

“His recent budget proposal is chock full of the same top-down, tax-and-spend tactics that he’s been pushing for the last six years,” the coalition stated. “You would think that the $7.5 trillion increase in the national debt that’s occurred on his watch would be enough to retire some of those outdated policies.”

Conservative Christian groups like the Christian Coalition see small government as allowing them to live their religion as they see fit.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an ardent critic of Obama and a Catholic, recently held a prayer rally where The Huffington Post reported that he encouraged Christian lawmakers to pray for the president and look toward a religious revival in the political world.

“We can’t just elect a candidate to fix what ails our country. We can’t just pass a law and fix what ails our country,” said Mr. Jindal as reported by The Washington Post. “We need a spiritual revival to fix what ails our country.”

Two years ago Rep. Paul Ryan, who is a Republican from Wisconsin and Catholic, said his religious beliefs guide his economic policies to favor private charities over government welfare.

“Through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities — through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community — that’s how we advance the common good,” Mr. Ryan told NPR.

More recently, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Ryan said he wanted to streamline welfare programs and called for a “welfare reform 2.0” by combining various welfare programs, cutting inefficient programs and getting rid of certain forms of corporate welfare.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, seems to agree more with Bread for the World that the government should have a stronger hand in helping the poor. Pope Francis has spoken on how government organizations have a duty to help the poor.

According to American magazine, on his visit to the Philippines, Pope Francis went as far as to say it’s a moral imperative of the government to help the poor.

“Well aware of the resistance to social reform by a number of the powerful and very rich families in this land, the Jesuit Pope, who has seen something similar in Argentina, told state authorities that ‘reforming the social structures that perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of heart and mind,’ ” American magazine reported.

The pope has spoken critically of materialism’s effect on income inequality before.

“Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules,” said the pope as reported by The Huffington Post. “God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: We have this task!”

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