This month the Grinch has been lending his shrunken heart to members of the House of Representatives. The House has been desperately trying to cut every program that helps the poor, elderly, and disadvantage in the name of budget deficits. Meanwhile, they find the energy to give even more tax breaks to millionaires and corporations.
On Wednesday, 200 religious activists converged on Washington, DC with signs saying “Help the Needy, Not the Greedy.” They urged our representatives to show they have hearts and stop cutting benefits to those who need it the most.
A pray-in was held at the entrance to the Cannon House Office Building. Over 100 people attended. Those present were arrested. There was also a rally where several speakers put the spotlight on growing poverty in America. Barbara Lee, Representative from California, was the only member of Congress to participate.
The organizer of the protest was Jim Wallis of Sojourners. His groups’ motto is “Christians for justice and peace”. Wallis is dubbing the recent round of budget cuts and tax breaks as “The Christmas Scandal”. He speaks in direct opposition to more visible Christian groups such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.
According to Wallis and other Christian leaders who were on hand, terms like compassionate conservatism mean nothing when those using the phrase cut programs which benefit our neediest citizens. There seems to be a growing concern among Christians that the poor and middle class are doing all the sacrificing in America, while the rich get richer.
During the holiday season, we tend to think of those in our society who are suffering. This year there are more people teetering on the edge of poverty. The recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast have only highlighted how wide the divide between rich and poor has become. While we argue over the phrases “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” members of the House have stolen the real meaning of Christmas right out from under our noses. We all know that in the end Grinch’s heart grew several sizes up on that mountaintop. Will the members of Congress hear the voices of the poor and show a little compassion in the name of Christmas spirit?