The Common Good

Religious Leaders United Against 'Immoral' Shutdown

Date: October 1, 2013

Reverend Beckmann and Dr. Syeed joined 31 other progressive faith leaders, including presiding bishops of the Lutheran and Presbyterian church, rabbis and Imams, to send a message to Congress, saying that the lack of bipartisanship is “morally irresponsible.”

“It ill serves our nation and people to stand in the way of funding federal operations or raising the debt ceiling in an effort to block implementation of health care legislation that Congress duly enacted,” the letter states. “Shuttering the federal government or defaulting on the nation’s financial commitments is likely to reverse our fragile economic recovery, punish the middle class, and deeply harm our most vulnerable neighbors,” the letter states.

One of the co-signers of the letter, Reverend C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, conceded that the religious community is just as divided as the political community, but “disgust” for the shutdown has become a unifying factor, bringing about “religious communions.”

“For many individuals, government has begun to look like an enemy of the people rather than the institution charged with promoting the public’s welfare,” Reverend Gaddy wrote in an email to MSNBC.  ”Most people of goodwill, whether religious or not, should be speaking of the shame members of Congress should be feeling for abrogating their civic responsibility and forgetting those values that stand as both moral and civil virtues.”

“The financial shutdown qualifies as a moral failure of huge proportions,” the reverend said.

Rev. Jim Wallis, president of a liberal religious group called the Sojourners, suggested on Monday that politicians “read their Bibles.”  According to a report by CBN News, the reverend lambasted the Tea Party and conservative House members for pushing their political agendas instead of working with their colleagues across the aisle.

“The Bible sees the role of government to protect from evil and promote the good, especially helping and protecting the poorest and most vulnerable people…  Those who are eager to shut down the government now and later risk defaulting on the nation’s debt need to read their Bibles—at least the ones who claim to be Christian do.”