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Reason cites a New York Times editorial discussing Paul Ryan’s budget proposals:

These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations.

Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

Paul Ryan is so evil, argues the Times, that the Roman Catholic congressman has even drawn the ire of Catholic bishops with his budget proposal. The word of the Catholic bishops, in this case, should be taken at face value. But the Times is no friend of religious institutions or even of those same Catholic bishops. From a Times op-ed on “the politics of religion,” published just a few months ago:

“Thirteen Roman Catholic dioceses and some Catholic-related groups scattered lawsuits across a dozen federal courts last week claiming that President Obama was violating their religious freedom by including contraceptives in basic health care coverage for female employees. It was a dramatic stunt, full of indignation but built on air…”

This is a clear partisan play. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone.

Except, apparently, when that doctrine happens to align with a liberal agenda, then its a moral obligation for our political leaders. Thanks for clearing that up, New York Times!

Fair point, well made.

Equally, one must again point to the contradictions of a church that urges increased government spending, but benefits from substantial tax privileges, a church that argues for universal health care but tries to reserve for itself the right to opt out of those parts of universal healthcare legislation with which it disagrees.

Religious institutions have every right to be in the public square (in fact it’s good that they are there), but once they are in it, they should not be allowed to claim “rights” that exempt them from the rules that bind everyone else in that same venue.

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Ayn Rand as Scarecrow (3)

Time’s Amy Sullivan (she is the religion writer who dreamt up the story that Republicans were drumming up Obama-as-antichrist rumors during the 2008 election) was also thrilled by Paul Ryan’s encounter with a member of the religious left:

These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.”

A broad coalition. Really?

It is, however, certainly a dishonest one. As its members well know, it’s quite possible to pick and choose what one admires about an author without agreeing with everything that he or she said. After all, there’s some pretty rough stuff in the Bible. Are we to take it that this posse of ‘progressive’ clerics has signed up for everything that is in their holy book?

But back to Amy Sullivan:

Across the street from the Faith & Freedom Conference Friday afternoon, a group of religious leaders continued the attack on what they now consistently refer to as “The Ayn Rand Budget.” Father Cletus Kiley, a Catholic priest, declared the Ryan budget “does not pass our test” of Catholic teachings, and suggested that supporters of the budget “drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts.”

Who, I wonder, is Father Kiley to set “our” test? As for the infinitely patronizing suggestion that supporters of the Ryan budget should “pick up their sacred texts”, well, those supporters should just pause to ask themselves how much tax this church of Kiley’s pays and move on.

Andrew Sullivan discusses some of these issues here. There’s an enormous amount with which to disagree, not least his implicit rejection of the syncretic nature of Christianity, a religion that, after two thousand years, amounts to rather more than the possibly apocryphal words of its presumed founder, but this, in particular, caught my eye:

It seems to me that one of the core messages of Jesus was that his kingdom was not of this world. Politics is a necessary evil, but it is not a spiritual vocation. Between a life in the world and a life that is otherworldly, it is hard to see Christianity in a political mode.

I’m not sure that’s a distinction that holds up. Thus Father Kiley may believe that his agenda is spiritual, but it sure looks political to me…

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Ayn Rand as Scarecrow (2)

Via TPM:

Paul Ryan was chased by a protester waving a giant Bible and decrying libertarian author Ayn Rand on his way out of the Faith and Freedom Conference, a social conservative gathering in DC where he delivered a speech on his budget.
“Why did you choose to model your budget on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than the faith of economic justice in the Bible?” the blond, 20-something male asked. He said he wanted to “present” Ryan with a Bible to teach him how to help the “most vulnerable.”

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