Thursday, July 28, 2011

Politics in the church bulletin

One of my favorite parts of belonging to a parish is reading the bulletin.We have been in this parish for over 20 years, it is very nice that we know a lot of the people and have a history here so I recognize the names and pictures in each edition. I like being kept up to date on what's going on in the parish, I peruse who is sick and who is getting married, and I read the pastor's corner and make note of what the youth group is up to. I love having our bulletin online too so that I can refer to it later.  But one part of the bulletin I tend to avoid is the Social Justice section - partly because I don't understand it, but also because even though it is presented as if it is an article of the faith,  I'm not sure every column written is authentic and complete Catholic teaching.

Last week was a good example. We were asked to call our Senators to tell them to "create a circle of protection around vital programs for the hungry and poor people in the United States and abroad."

Well, I'm all for helping the less fortunate in this country and abroad. I'm just not sure that it is responsibility of the United States government to do that. I'm not even sure if having the government involved is the best or most effective way to do it. And what defines a "vital program?"  With our country in such poor economic straits shouldn't we be trying to get our own house in order first?  and why don't the other countries have an obligation to their own citizens first?

Moving on the column said: "Our budget is a moral document that tells the world who we are as a people and what our national priorities are."

A budget is a financial document. Calling it anything else is manipulative. I think if you want to look at the morals of the country it is best to look at our constitution and founding documents as well as our laws.

It continues: "Congress must oppose caps on overall federal spending." Now I'm wondering if the authors of the country understand the dire financial times that we are currently under! A "cap" isn't a "cut."  Holding the line on spending seems a reasonable first step in balancing the budget.  After all isn't that what a household would do in the same situation?  To not at least cap our spending seems a tad out of touch with the reality of the situation.

Interestingly, last night I saw that back when the Great Society started under President Johnson in the 1960s, poverty was at 14%. Now decades later and billions of dollars of investment - the poverty rate is at 14.3%. I think it's pretty clear that government is not the answer to eliminating poverty - if you can eliminate it at all. Didn't Jesus say we would have poor always?

It seems to me that the Social Justice Committee is sort of a political action group that gets to write unopposed opinions in the parish bulletin - not that I want to read political debate in my church bulletin! But other than guiding us to events and ways we can help in the community I kind of wish they would keep the political stuff out of the bulletin.

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