Jesus taught that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” His words came to mind as I watched Jeff Bezos board his private spaceship in July. It now seems easier for a billionaire to get into space than it is for Congress to raise taxes on the rich.
This is not only good policy or good policy, it is also good Christian ethics.
Fortunately, Congress is now examining how to raise taxes on wealthy people and corporations to fund historic investments in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better program. This is not only good policy or good policy, it is also good Christian ethics.
Many Christians in the United States – and Americans at large – are in favor of raising taxes on the rich and on business, according to recent polls. According to an April Morning Consult / Politico poll, 60% of Christians who identify with themselves think high-income people pay too little tax, while 62% of Christians think companies pay too little tax. And 77% of Christians in the same poll agreed that the richest Americans should pay higher taxes, while 71% said the same about businesses. According to another poll conducted in the spring by Americans for Tax Fairness, 60% of Protestants and 68% of Catholics support raising taxes on the rich and corporate.
According to an August Navigator Research survey, some of the most popular provisions of Biden’s Build Back Better plan among Christians included extending Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage (84% support ); increase the wages of home care workers who help elderly, injured and disabled patients (76% support); and investing in clean energy infrastructure, such as solar panels and wind turbines (67% support).
Too often Christian politics boils down to abortion and same-sex marriage. This dynamic has always seemed strange to me, since Jesus never spoke about these subjects. However, the Gospels record him constantly speaking on economic justice. Drawing attention to Christian support for raising taxes and increasing spending on social programs helps reorient our public discourse toward the issues Jesus really cared about.
“For years tax-dodging corporations, the ultra-rich and an army of K Street lobbyists have rigged the tax code to prevent the privileged from paying their fair share of taxes,” Mary J. Novak, executive director of NETWORK Lobby. for Catholic social justice, said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the chasm between low-wage workers and the richest 1% has grown to unsustainable heights over the past decade – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. NETWORK joined a coalition of faith-based organizations with several members of Congress on Friday for a prayer vigil for a “holy restoration” in the reconciliation bill.
And on Wednesday, the Circle of Protection (a group of religious leaders who represent nearly 100 million American Christians) met with senior officials of the Biden administration at the White House to discuss economic justice. “The Bible is clear in its opposition to the concentration of wealth amid neglected human needs,” a public letter from the group said. Leaders specifically highlighted the need to expand the child tax credit, writing: “Making the full value of the child tax credit available to the poorest households has dramatically reduced child poverty, and we we all agree that this provision should be made permanent. . “
In addition to increased social spending to help American families, the Build Back Better program also contains major climate investments, which will hopefully put our nation on track for a sustainable future while creating millions of dollars. well-paying jobs that honor the dignity of work.
Funding investments to build back better is really a religious issue, as well as a political one. The moral imperative to act stems from the values of fairness and support for the common good taught by the great religions of the world. What would Jesus want the richest among us to pay to finance the common good? The answer is probably much higher, but any attempt to rebalance the scales is good. The greed of a handful always limits the God-given dignity of the rest of us.
In his recent encyclical, Pope Francis wrote that after the pandemic “our worst response would be to delve even deeper into feverish consumerism and new forms of selfish self-preservation.” He also warned against “this dogma of the neoliberal faith” that “the seaside resort[s] to the magical theories of “overflow” or “runoff. , George Bush and Donald Trump. The trickle-down economy is the opposite of Christian teaching. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25 that the nations will be judged first and foremost for how they care about the most vulnerable.
If we can mobilize the political will to protect the most vulnerable people and the planet through bold investments in the common good, we can build a fairer country and economy for all. The resources are there for us to make these investments. It is no longer a question of having the moral courage to make the rich pay their fair share.