Bishop: Bush budget 'does not reflect the gospel' - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 9, 2005

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Bishop: Bush budget 'does not reflect the gospel'

-9/02/05

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop And Primate of the Episcopal Church, USA has suggested that President Bush's 2.6 trillion dollar spending plans for 2006, fail to reflect gospel priorities.

His statement comes after other Christian campaigners in the US condemned the budget proposals as standing 'in opposition to biblical values'.

As feared by demonstrators at the President's recent inauguration the budget includes increases in military spending while at the same time proposing major cuts to domestic programs that benefit people living in poverty, both in the US and abroad.

Christian campaigners are suggesting that the stage is now set for one of the most heated budget debates in years.

The presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church in the US warned several weeks ago that the budget was a 'moral document'.

In a statement that elaborated on the theme, however he said that the budget, published this week, neglected and exacerbated America's healthcare crisis and failed to honour America's commitments around the world.

Griswold said; "In the life of our nation, one of the most concrete expressions of our shared moral values and priorities is the federal budget."

He proposed three criteria for "examining whether a budget properly reflects America's values"; whether the budget was 'compassionate', whether it served the 'human family', both at home and around the world, and whether it served the 'common good'.

"While there are some areas in President Bush's budget that give me hope" he said, "I am deeply disheartened by others."

"As Congress begins its budget deliberations and the Administration negotiates with them, there are a number of areas I hope they will consider anew. In particular, I am concerned that this budget neglects and exacerbates our nation's healthcare crisis, especially for children and seniors, and fails to honour the commitments our nation has made to combating poverty and disease overseas. Such a budget is not a reflection of the compassionate values of our nation, nor of the Gospel's command to care for the least among us."

The Bishop pointed out that forty-five million Americans lack access to quality and affordable health care, an increase of five million over the past three years.

"This budget exacerbates the problem by recommending deep cuts in Medicaid" the bishop said, "of which the most bruising impact of these cuts will fall upon the neediest in our midst: the poor, children, senior citizens, and the disabled and states will be hard-pressed to make up the difference.

"If our federal budget is to reflect the values of the American people, it must better care for the neediest among us."

The bishop also said that the budget proposals affecting help for developing countries fell short of the commitments the President had previously made.

For the second time in two years, the primate of the Episcopal Church in the USA said, there were significant cuts to the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and funds the MCA at just 60 percent of its promised level.

"These figures are particularly problematic when viewed alongside the budget's other cuts in foreign-aid programs." said the bishop.

"As the President has observed in the past, our nation's efforts to combat poverty and disease abroad are not just a matter of humanitarian obligation, but a necessity in building a more secure and stable world."

However, the bishop did praise the provision of 150 million US dollars in aid "to the Palestinian people."

"It is my sincere prayer that this is a signal that the United States has re-committed itself to helping to lead a political process to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At this unique moment of opportunity, the vision of a two-state solution is coming back into focus, giving me hope that Palestinians and Israelis may both soon live in freedom and security" the bishop concluded.

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