“For unto whom much is given, much is required.” This verse is from the parable of the wise and faithful manager in Luke 12:41-48. President Obama referred to this text today at the National Prayer Breakfast. Then, in keeping with separation of church and state and religious tolerance, he continued, “It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.”
Obama referred to these religious teachings in the context of taxation, specifically higher taxes for the rich. Was this a misuse of the Bible and other sacred teachings? According to Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, for the president to tie his tax policy to Jesus’ teachings “is theologically threadbare and straining credulity.”
Hmm, I thought that the Faith and Freedom Coalition was in favor of upholding Jesus’ teachings in U.S. law. Perhaps just some of Jesus’ teachings?
Yesterday Rick Santorum gave a speech about health care in Colorado. ABC News’ Russell Goldman writes,
GOP contender Rick Santorum had a heated exchange with a mother and her sick young son Wednesday, arguing that drug companies were entitled to charge whatever the market demanded for life-saving therapies.
Another mother talked about kids with cancer who were dying because their parents couldn’t afford treatment. In response,
Santorum said drugs take years to develop and cost millions of dollars to produce, and manufacturers need to turn a profit or they would stop developing new drugs.
Recently I have been learning about “frames,” which are the packages surrounding news stories which emphasize certain aspects of a story and invoke cultural themes. Democrats have long been “framed” as Godless and immoral, while Republicans were “framed” as God-fearing and moral. No doubt it’s true — for some Democrats and some Republicans. But as a generalization it falls flat on its face, pushed over by Republican Christian leaders who flaunt their religiosity yet callously push aside those of our society who are the poor, the sick, the disabled — everyone with any kind of need.
Blessed John Paul II wrote, “The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.” (Economic Justice, para. 94) Catholicism has long been known for its teachings regarding social justice — the St. Vincent de Paul society that takes donations for the poor is only one example. Santorum is “a devout Catholic” — I wonder if he donates to St. Vincent de Paul? Or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? What would Pope John Paul II say about him?