Romney, Ryan faith and ‘least of these’
by Kevin Foley
October 05, 2012 01:03 AM | 2091 views | 11 11 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Along with American flags, many conservative politicians are fond of wrapping themselves in their Christianity. Two who come to mind are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

One proclaims to be a dedicated member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the other professes to be a devoted Roman Catholic. If true, both should embrace the theological centerpiece of their denominations, the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So it was surprising to hear devastating criticism leveled at both GOP nominees from their coreligionists.

In Romney’s case, he fallaciously dismissed the 47 percent of Americans that don’t pay income taxes as parasites who believe they are “entitled” to free food, housing and healthcare.

Ryan is on the ticket due in large part to his budget proposal that would, if enacted, strip away or severely diminish many of the humanitarian services the government now provides such as food stamps, meals for disadvantaged schoolchildren, and Medicare for the elderly.

Romney’s statement and Ryan’s bill are directed at delivering tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poor and sick. So I wondered what Jesus Christ had to say about this.

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:21)

“We have pure love when, from the heart, we show genuine concern and compassion for all our brothers and sisters,” adds the Mormon Gospel Principles.

Mormon author and former Romney supporter Gregory A. Prince must have been thinking about these teachings when he ripped into the GOP presidential candidate in a recent blog:

“His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share — the religion whose official mantra is ‘to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world,’” Prince wrote.

“I agree with him,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Mormon, told a Utah interviewer. “(Romney) is coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church ... They understand that he is not the face of Mormonism.”

Paul Ryan’s Catholic faith likewise instructs parishioners to embrace the poor and sick, not turn their backs on them.

“Our budget offers a better path,” says Ryan, “consistent with the timeless principles of our nation’s founding and, frankly, consistent with how I understand my Catholic faith.”

“Many politicians offer deeply flawed theological justifications for the federal budget. They ought to get some theological help,” replies Sister Simone Campbell of the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

Sister Simone, who recently led the Nuns on the Bus tour to spotlight America’s impoverished, says Ryan’s budget would push the poor and sick into even more desperate straits: “Ryan thinks churches can pick up the tab. That’s ridiculous. The magnitude of the need is so great.”

Pope Benedict agrees with Sister, not Ryan. “Charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as social charity,” he said in 2008.

This teaching seems to transcend denominations. The Christian Left, a group of evangelicals, “...think(s) the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong... (We) left hate behind; left prejudice; left callous attitudes; and followed Jesus as he left the 99 in the fold, to go find the ones who were lost, ignored, excluded, overlooked, abandoned, uncared-for — all ‘the least of these.’”

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments
(11)
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Devlin Adams
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October 08, 2012
Foley, I have come up with a long list of derogatory adjectives that fit you very well, but up until this column, "classless" has not been one of them. That is no longer true.

Only a no-class hack would attack someone, based on his judgement of how well they follow the teachings of Christ, then make this statement.

"Why don't we just, as a society, do as Christ taught and not make judgements but cast aside prejudice and do what's right?

anonymous
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October 08, 2012
Look at the little liberal trying to interpret scripture!

Stick to defending the Obamaphone Kev. It makes you look less ignorant.
Mike Bennion
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October 06, 2012
Dear Mr. Foley,

I tend not to measure charity and compassion by how many people can be temporarily helped by government programs but by how many people can be assisted to independence and self-sufficiency so they can help others. I honestly do not believe that Jesus would set up a permanent underclass but rather would teach those in need of help how to learn to exit the system and prosper. That is true religion. Mr. Price and Senator Reid seem to have forgotten that, but as a Mormon I will exercise charity and not cast aspersions on their level of Mormon orthodoxy.
Kevin Foley
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October 06, 2012
Mr. Bennion, Thanks for your polite and well thought out commentary. Exiting the underclass is a tall order. I'm sure many in the underclass would tell you exiting it is no mean feat. Why don't we just, as a society, do as Christ taught and not make judgements but cast aside prejudice and do what's right?
Kevin Foley
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October 07, 2012
Mr. Bennion - You either believe and follow Christ's teachings or you don't. But please don't equivocate or suggest what Christ would or would have not done to justify Romney's callous dismissal of the poor and sick.

Take a look at your New Testament if you want to know what Jesus thought of hypocrisy. As Sister Simone says, some of you folks need theological help.
CypressSteve
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October 05, 2012
Mr. Foley, in order for your argument to have merit, you would have to believe that Christ meant for the government to take care of the poor, sick, and needy; He clearly did not. If He had meant it, He would have said it:

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the GOVERNMENT so they can take care or the poor... ” (Mark 10:21, revised to fit your worldview)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of PERSONAL salvation. It instructs the INDIVIDUAL to purify their heart and follow Him. When that responsibility is turned over to the government, the individual has lost the TRUE ability to follow Christ's teachings.

It is always dangerous to attempt a justification of one's political postions with Christianity.
Kevin Foley
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October 06, 2012
@ CypressSteve (whoever you are) - I think Jesus meant exactly what he said. It's always dangerous to put words in Christ's mouth.

Practice what you preach, Steve.
Thermidor
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October 05, 2012
What will you claim next; that Republicans all have some type of alien blood? You have long since exhausted any possible legitimate critique of conservatism and now are exposing yourself more and more to reasonable people seeing you as quit a ways outside the realm of sanity.

Your integrity is in serious question. First you essentially smear the religious backgrounds of Romney and Ryan, then claim that charity is the greatest part of religion, and finally create (in your mind) unhappenings to prove they are going to destroy charity.

I was once asked how so many smart people (not that I include you in that category) could be so wrong in what they believe. I think part of the answer is that they delude themselves (and others) into seeing the type of world they prefer rather than thinking within the world of reality.

Only the feeble minded could accept your feeble-minded positions.
Kevin Foley
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October 05, 2012
Thermidor (whoever you are) - I didn't "smear" anyone. I just quoted what their coreligionists said about them. And, guess what? Charity IS the "greatest part of religion," or so the religious claim.

There's an enormous amount of dishonesty and hypocrisy coming from Romney and Ryan. You want to vote for that, be my guest.
Bob Johnson
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October 05, 2012
There is a difference between being disabled or needy and the ones who are just plan lazy and work the system so someone else pays their way.
Bob Johnson
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October 05, 2012
Well with Obama being unprepared and uninformed at the debate the other night it is no surprise that you try to deflect attention from the issues and talk about something else. Its funny that you failed to mention the Rev.Wright in you column.
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