Paul Bedard at US News tells us of a remarkable meeting at the White House this week:
President Obama on Wednesday prayed with several Christian leaders to find an answer to the debt ceiling crisis that doesn’t undercut federal programs to the poor.
Opening a White House meeting with a diverse group of Christian religious leaders, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner said she reached across a table to hold the president’s hand “to pray for God’s wisdom.”
And at one point in the following discussion, the president referenced Matthew 25 from the Bible in praying that the cuts envisioned by his negotiating team don’t fall on “the least of these.”
Said Skinner, the former Congressional Black Caucus executive director who heads the Skinner Leadership Institute, “it was amazing that the president himself used that term in his reference to those in need because as a Christian, he too knows that is the word of God.”
The head of one leftist Christian group spoke wistfully of putting churches at the service of the State:
“It would be a powerful thing if our pulpits could be linked to the Bully Pulpit here and together we could say, however else we do this, however we put our fiscal house in order, we can’t do it with more sacrifice from those who are already sacrificing and hurting so much. So we’d like to link our pulpits with the Bully Pulpit here and help the American people understand what’s at stake and who’s really going to be impact by all of this. So I felt encouraged.”
Now, I thought secular liberals were absolutely horrified by this kind of thing. Don’t they relentlessly mock Michele Bachmann because she prays for guidance, and talks of divine inspiration for her major life choices?
Isn’t Obama supposed to be a hyper-intelligent technocratic Lightworker with a first-class temperament, sharply creased pants, and a fashionably progressive determination to resist the encroach of Christofascist tyranny? What’s he doing in a prayer circle, in the White House, asking for divine guidance on a policy matter?
We don’t have many details about how the prayer circle turned out, because according to US News, “those in the meeting were not allowed to directly quote much of what the president said.” No surprises there. This is the famously transparent Obama Administration, after all.
One attendee did say that Obama quoted Abraham Lincoln: “If you don’t pray before you get here, you pray when you get here and that the presidency drives you to your knees.” Wouldn’t that be an argument in favor of electing someone who prays a lot before they get to the Oval Office? We argue about all the other “experience” to be found on a candidate’s resume.
The reason Obama made time for these Christian leaders is their “Circle of Protection” initiative, a name which actually sounds more Harry Potter than New Testament. Their goal is to protect programs that benefit the poor from budget cuts. It’s not hard to get Barack Obama’s attention when you tell him you want to help him keep spending money.
Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, was left with the impression that Obama would fight cuts to programs for the poor. “He indicated again yesterday that the sacrifice in budget or deficit deal should not be born by the least of these. He used that phrase, ‘The lease of these,’ and of course we know that’s from Matthew 25 where Jesus says, ‘As you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done to me.’ So that was the reason we were all there, that’s the text that brings us there and it’s always heartening to hear a political leader refer to that text, that he knows that text.”
This is, naturally, the only part of the Bible liberals are interested in. Anything that makes Jesus sound like a New Deal Democrat is cool. The parts that contradict this interpretation, or convey positions on social issues that liberals disagree with, are dangerous nonsense that no one should ever repeat out loud.
The Left is always screaming that social conservatives want to impose their religious beliefs on the nation. Barack Obama just had a prayer meeting with a group explicitly dedicated to compelling Americans to fund certain government programs on religious grounds.
Here’s the thing, Circle of Protection supporters: we’re out of money. We’ve been out of money for decades. Nearly half of the money spent by the federal government this year is money we don’t have. We passed the point of simply compelling Americans to support Great Society programs long ago. We’re now funding the Chinese army with interest payments on the money we borrow to keep them going.
Those programs designed for “the least of these” pour billions into wasteful bureaucracies, and put pennies into the hands of the poor. They also guarantee that those dependent upon them will remain “the least of these.” Religious groups are many times more efficient at delivering assistance to the downtrodden than the government. And yet, the tax deduction for charitable donations is one of the things Big Government acolytes are most eager to do away with, when they pretend to care about the deficit.
The difference between charity and socialism is choice. Charity is voluntary, for both those who give, and those who receive. Church groups expect something from those they assist, if only a commitment to stay away from drugs and alcohol… and the beneficiaries are, beyond question, better off because of it. What poisons the truly downtrodden is a life of standing in line to receive no-questions-asked government checks, pumped out by a State whose impending financial collapse makes a mockery of its alleged “compassion.”
At any rate, the current budget negotiation is not premised on “slashing” welfare programs. All together, such programs add up to less than 13% of the federal budget. There will surely be some reductions if Congress does serious belt-tightening… but servicing the national debt already costs almost half that amount, and if we don’t bring the budget into balance, it will soon cost more. Within the lives of our children, interest on the debt will consume the entire federal budget. There won’t be a single dollar left over for aid to the poor. No amount of praying or Circles of Protection will make a lick of difference.
By offering political support to the man most dedicated to keeping those budget deficits in the stratosphere, this prayer group sabotaged the future of the very programs they claim to care about. I’m not a Bible scholar, so maybe someone can show me the part where it says Christ was short-sighted and gullible.