Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

It’s official: Praying for the poor is a firing offense in the GOP House

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Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post:

Praying for the poor is now apparently a firing offense in the corridors of power.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) did not give a reason when his chief of staff this month told the Rev. Patrick Conroy, a Jesuit priest and House chaplain, to resign or face dismissal.

But we know this much: Ryan’s office complained to Conroy about a prayer he offered on the House floor during the tax overhaul debate that those who “continue to struggle” in the United States would not be made “losers under new tax laws.” Ryan admonished the priest after the Nov. 6 prayer, saying, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics,”Conroy told the New York Times.

He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Over the five months since Ryan’s warning, Conroy dared to continue to preach the teachings of Jesus on the House floor:

He prayed to God that lawmakers would help “the least among us.”

He prayed for them to follow the example of St. Nicholas, “who fed the hungry, brought hope to the imprisoned, gave comfort to the lost.”

He admonished lawmakers “to serve other people in their need” and “to pray for the unemployed and those who work but still struggle to make ends meet.”

After an immigration deal collapsed, he urged “those who possess power here in Washington be mindful of those whom they represent who possess little or no power.”

He prayed for lawmakers to be “free of all prejudice” and, after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, to “fulfill the hopes of those who long for peace and security for their children.”

But such “political” sentiments are apparently no longer compatible with service as House chaplain. “As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation,” Conroy, named chaplain seven years ago by then-Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), wrote to Ryan on April 16. The ouster became public Thursday.

Only in this perverted time could a priest lose his job after committing the sin of crying out for justice for the poor. But then, look around: Everywhere are the signs of a rising kleptocracy. The $1.5 trillion tax cutdid make winners of corporations and the wealthy. And actions since then show that the Trump administration is making losers of the poor.

In a speech to bankers this week, Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney spoke of the “hierarchy” he followed when he was in Congress: “If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

Also this week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was on Capitol Hill, defiant as lawmakers grilled him about his lavish expense account (at a time when Trump wants to cut the EPA budget by 25 percent) and coziness with corporate lobbyists — most notably renting a condo at a sweetheart rate from the wife of an energy lobbyist. “I simply have not failed to take responsibility,” Pruitt said after blaming bureaucrats and others. “I’ve simply recited the facts.”

Meanwhile, Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, this week proposed to triple the rent charged to the poorest familiesliving in subsidized housing. “It’s clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable,” Carson explained. It’s hard to sustain help for the poor when you’re proposing to cut HUD spending by 14 percent next year — and when you’ve borrowed $1.5 trillion to give tax breaks mostly for the wealthy.

Conroy, of course, didn’t preach about such truly political things; he prayed, generically, for compassion. In the prayer that earned him Ryan’s reprimand, he merely reminded lawmakers that “the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle.” He prayed that lawmakers “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Such heresies continued. He prayed for “peace and reconciliation where those virtues are so sorely needed.” He prayed for them to rise above “self-interest” and “immediate political wins.” He prayed for them to promote “justice, equity and truth.” He admonished them to “show respect for those with whom they disagree.”

On Friday morning, in the well for one of his last remaining prayers, Conroy prayed “for all people who have special needs” and “those who are sick” and for those “who serve in this House to be their best selves.”

Best selves? Respect? Reconciliation? No can do. Later Friday,  . . .

Continue reading.

Notice that the GOP’s actions, which could have been accurately predicted if you took as an assumption that the GOP hates the poor, were done by a group whose members profess (in some cases strongly) to be Christian.

I am not saying that the GOP does hate the poor, just that what they do is what people would do if they did hate the poort.

So I propose a different definition of Christian. The usual definition is that a Christian who believes in Jesus (i.e., believes that Jesus is divine) and believes that Jesus offers salvation to the world for those who believe in Him.

The problem is that belief is very easy to fake, since belief is something completely internal to a person. It’s truly impossible to know what a person believes, but it is fairly easy to see what what a person does.

So I propose eliminating the “belief” part of the definition of Christian and focus on words and actions: a person whose words and actions are in accordance with what Jesus taught is a Christian, regardless of what the person believes. (I suddenly realize that this is the exact definition my mother used, which I could not understand at the time, being fixated on the belief definition.)

So a person who prays in public, seeks wealth, and is okay with divorce: not a Christian, since those are things Jesus specifically forbade. Their belief may or may not be Christian—who knows?—but their actions show clearly that they do not follow the teachings of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus Himself said (in the Sermon on the Mount), “By their fruits [i.e., their words and deeds: what they produce] you will know them.” Not by their beliefs. By their deeds. And, BTW, rereading the Sermon on the Mount shows that the GOP’s actions (not their beliefs, but their actions) are profoundly un-Christian.

The number of Christians is much diminished by this definition, I would guess. But no one said being a Christian was easy.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 April 2018 at 12:07 pm

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