(RNS) Surrounded by baskets of fish and bread, with the Capitol at their backs, clergy attacked the Republican budget plan that came before the House Wednesday (March 20).

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Sister Simone Campbell speaks in front of the Capitol surrounded by baskets of fish and bread during an event in which clergy attacked the Republican budget plan that came before the House Wednesday. RNS photo by Caleb Bell


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The event’s theme—“It doesn’t take a miracle”—drew from the biblical story of the feeding of the five thousand, where Jesus turned a single meal of bread and fish into enough for thousands of people.

“It is immoral to cut government-supported programs that address human suffering while continuing to … pour billions of dollars into corporations,” said Sister Simone Campbell, a speaker at the rally.

Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobbying group, emphasized that “there is enough to go around if we share.”

The event was hosted by liberal Christian and Jewish advocates.

The advocates described the budget proposal created by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan as “draconian” and “immoral” because it cuts government programs that help poorer citizens.

“The real issue is how we deal with the economic priorities of the nation,” said J. Herbert Nelson II, the director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Public Witness. “This whole nation needs to see a demonstration of how Jesus took little and made much with it.”

Robert Shapiro, a fellow at the Georgetown University School of Business, said that the Ryan budget probably isn’t going to pass. He took issue with the religious advocates’ approach to economic issues.

“The problem with the moral case in politics is that morality differs from person to person. It gets you into a situation where compromise is impossible,” Shapiro said.

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Sr. Simone Campbell talks to the press right after the nuns meeting with a representative of Rep. Paul Ryan in Janesville, WI. RNS photo by Phil Haslanger

Nelson and Campbell have lobbied about GOP budget plans before. In the summer of 2012, Campbell organized the Nuns on the Bus tour, which traveled the country speaking out against Republican budget proposals.

Ryan, who is Catholic, has said his budget accords with his church’s social teaching, including the idea that communities are best served by local charities and leaders.

9 Comments

    • Donald Kosloff

      What is your point? When did Jesus say that Ceaser should help the poor? It is the duty of individuals and churches to help the poor. Governments, particularly the federal government, cannot effectively help the poor. That has been demonstrated by the failure of decades of federal “help” for the poor. What is currently referred to as “helping the poor” is generally vote-buying or intended to channel money to special interest groups.

      • Actually the Ryan budget does channel money to special interest groups. It includes lots of goodies for the wealthy and the corporate johns who engage in vote-buying with their “campaign contributions”. Corporations do not make contributions. They make investments. Obviously Congress wants to keep generating a return on these investments to insure a continuation of federal “help” for the wealthy.

        And you are correct when you say that individuals and churches do a better job of helping the poor than the government. One problem. Individual incomes have been flat since the turn of the century. You have to have it to give it. Churches and charitable institutions have seen a dramatic decline in their incomes due to our economic difficulties. The dinner plate trumps the collection plate.

        • Donald Kosloff

          Your hatred of free enterprise and freedom of speech leads you to the dead end of socialist propaganda, which is basically mindless drivel. So now I see that your point is to encourage the destruction of the only engine of progress in the world; which would lead to the impoverishment of billions and the deaths of millions. At the current pace of US federal government spending, the entire economy will be ruined. That will mean that the vastly increased number of poor will all starve to death. The road to Hell is still paved with good intentions and you are providing the paving materials.

        • I am curious as to why you think telling lies about people is a Christian activity. For example you say that corporations make campaign contributions. I suspect that you know that corporations do not make campaign contributions, although they do make large contributions to help the poor.

      • So you believe Christians should ignore Jesus when it comes to the economy? But I bet you think the bible should be used to justify banning gay marriage.

  1. “You have to have it to give it”. Perhaps you should read the story of the “widow’s mite”, then tell it to Al Gore and a few other prominent wealthy Democrats. As for incomes being flat, where do you think income tax revenue comes from?

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