Saturday, December 17, 2005

Activists protesting immoral '06 budget arrested

I just found out about this today, in a diary at Street Prophets which asked "Why doesn't anybody care about this?" Anybody, meaning the mainstream media--and people quickly came to the conclusion that "budgets aren't sexy". Still, if there is a "war on Christmas", I think the ongoing assault on the poor is it.

Singing "Caring for our neighbors, we shall not be moved," the peaceful demonstrators were frisked, photographed and booked on trespassing charges by Capitol Police officers. The misdemeanor carries a $250 fine or 90 days in jail.

The demonstration was the most direct action by churches who have made the budget their highest domestic priority, and it reflected the continuing tussle between liberals and conservatives over what constitutes "moral values."

Congress is rushing to finish a compromise budget that includes $50 billion in spending cuts approved by the House and $35 billion passed by the Senate. Protesters said that those cuts will primarily hurt the poor. The House has also approved a bill to cut taxes by $95 billion. Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners, said that it was immoral to cut taxes for the wealthy as Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom the Bible says came to "bring good news to the poor."

"There is a Christmas scandal in this nation ... but it has nothing to do with shopping malls saying 'Happy holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas,'" Wallis said. "The Christmas scandal is the immoral budget coming out of this Congress.

Hoping to match conservatives' use of religious rhetoric, Wallis and others said that the budget would take the song of the Virgin Mary when she was told of Jesus' impending birth - "He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty" - and turn it on its head. "This is not just bad public policy," said the Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, the general secretary of the Reformed Church in America. "This is morally disgraceful."

Read the rest here.