Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/customer/www/valuesandvoices.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/salient/nectar/redux-framework/ReduxCore/inc/class.redux_filesystem.php on line 29
Letter 59 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 59

Stephen Breck Reid

Professor of Christian Scriptures
George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University

March 19, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice-President Pence, and the Members of the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress,

As you embark on a great adventure of service to the American people, I encourage you to recall President Ronald Reagan’s use of the Russian proverb, “Trust but verify.” Remember that before Reagan and the Russian proverb, the Hebrew prophet Micah and Jesus taught some simple metrics for verifying that our religious and civic language matches the policies we enact.

Micah describes a vision of an age marked by widespread peace and tranquility. Instead of spending precious resources on weapons, Micah declares that nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares” and “not learn war any more.” Security will bring about shared prosperity: “Everyone shall sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and none shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:3-4).

Micah challenges “trickle down” economics. Likewise, the story of Lazarus provides a cautionary tale that refutes the saying, “A rising tide raises all ships.” In Luke 16:19-31, an elegantly dressed rich man feasts sumptuously each day while neglecting Lazarus, a poor man at his gate. Lazarus is reduced to trying to survive on the scraps that fall from the rich man’s table.

How many more people like Lazarus will we see at our gates once budget cuts to HUD lead to an increase in homelessness? With an end to funding for programs like Meals on Wheels, how many more folk like Lazarus will be forced to beg for food or go hungry? When millions lose their health insurance, how many people will we see like Lazarus, who was covered with sores and died from his illness?

While Lazarus receives no help from the rich man, he merits divine favor. When he dies, he is “carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.” The rich man, on the other hand, dies and goes to Hades. Once he realizes the folly of his ways, it is too late. When he petitions to warn his relatives and friends, Abraham replies: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

The “America First” budget does not match our religious or civic values. We can and must do better.

Peace of Christ,

Stephen Breck Reid

Stephen Breck Reid
Professor of Christian Scriptures
George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University

 

About the author

Stephen Breck Reid, Professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, is ordained in the Church of the Brethern. With a Ph.D. from Emory University, he has written numerous books and articles, including Psalms and Practice: Worship, Virtue and Authority (Liturgical Press, 2001) and Experience and Traditions: A Primer in Black Biblical Hermeneutics (Abingdon, 1991).