Why is ‘justice’ such a dirty word in so many churches?

By Robert Mann

Do you ever wonder how religious leaders and those in the pews can read their Bibles and then remain silent about the scandalous injustice against the poor that our society tolerates? Why isn’t the state Capitol crawling with pastors, preachers and rabbis advocating on behalf of those afflicted by poverty? Why aren’t those same religious leaders challenging their followers to storm government institutions to demand fair treatment for the powerless?6449741467_dc1a81af70_b

Reading the Bible is sometimes difficult, but understanding what it says about justice for the poor is not. Simply put, ignoring economic and social justice should be impossible for those who take their faith seriously.

Unfortunately, the poor are all too easy to ignore.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll see a flood of commentary about how this industry or that special interest will fare in the coming fiscal session of the Louisiana Legislature. Will wealthy taxpayers pay more in income taxes? What about small businesses?

Who knows which industries and individuals will come out ahead? Your guess is as good as mine — unless you’re wondering who the big losers will be. That’s easy. It’s always the same. It’s the poor.

In Louisiana, in particular, the working poor pay 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the top 1 percent pay less than half that (4.2 percent). It’s not just that Louisiana’s tax laws are unfavorable to the working poor; it’s that we punish them with a cruel poverty surtax.

We oppress them in other ways. We offer substandard child care, housing and health care and provide dreadful legal representation when they are charged with crimes. We tolerate the usurious interest rates payday lenders impose on them.

In Louisiana, we spend about $20,000 a year to house people in prison. We spend about $10,700 a year to educate our children. In both cases, the poor get the shaft. We don’t devote the resources necessary to provide them a ticket out of poverty while giving far too many of them a free ride to the state’s penitentiary at Angola.

My wife and I have been going to Louisiana prisons for 20 years for various reasons, mostly prison ministry. Do you know how many inmates from well-to-do families I’ve met? I could count them on one hand.

“How dare you crush my people and grind the faces of the poor?” the prophet Isaiah, speaking on God’s behalf, warned religious people of Jerusalem more than 2,700 years ago.

Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.

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11 Responses to Why is ‘justice’ such a dirty word in so many churches?

  1. jbkeenanjr says:

    I Thou shalt balance the budget
    II Thou shalt lock ’em all up
    III Thou shalt not feed the hungry
    IV Thou shalt not clothe the nekid
    V Thou shalt bear heat
    VI Thou shalt spread alternative facts
    VII Marriage is meant for one man and a series of progressively younger women
    VIII Thou shalt win
    IX Thou shalt pay no taxes
    X Thou shalt bomb the crap out of THEM

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Edith Herring says:

    Where I live in North Louisiana, there has been a successful campaign to make poor people evil. They are considered takers, moochers and just told to go out and get a job. This may have started as a conservative political tactic – but, it has invaded our social and religious culture. It is an excuse to turn the blind eye. There is strong resentment for “their tax dollars to be wasted on lazy, immoral people!” I hear this all of the time..they say they don’t mind their taxes going to help people that really need it. I, personally, do not trust these folks to judge who needs and who doesn’t need. We are suffering because we are not trying to fight poverty on every level. But, this has become acceptable. Woe unto us…it is written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fredster says:

      Edith I was going to ask: who gets to judge who is “truly needy” and who isn’t? And based on what criteria?


      • Edith Herring says:

        The folks that I know claim this right for themselves. It isn’t difficult to figure out the people that they will judge unworthy. If I am feeling fiesty, I will point out that the Good Samaritan did not do a background check. Their have scales over their eyes and the church is scratching their itchy ears.


  3. Gayle Joseph says:

    I also hear the complaints against those on food stamps and welfare. They are blamed for much of our budget problems, however, there are no complaints about tax breaks and tax exemptions
    for corporations. There are not complaints for lower tax rates for the most affluent. Interesting
    and distressing!
    I will continue to pray that our lawmakers will deal with and accept the facts not myths along with doing what is possible for just one person.


    • Edith Herring says:

      Gayle: the most disturbing pointbus the absolute absence of true New Testament teachings. There is no justice in the dingulvattitudes toward the poor and needy. These are not good times for Jesus. Just my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

    • earthmother says:

      Spot on comment. Gayle. Corporate welfare is perfectly acceptable, but a hand up to feed the destitute wrecks the budget (not). And these people invariably call themselves Christian.
      “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” (Mahatma Ghandi)
      “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values. Because you don’t.” (Comedian John Fugelsang, sometimes mistakenly attributed to former President Jimmy Carter)


  4. Stephen Winham says:

    The clearest and simplest rule we should all live by is the golden rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Attempting to live by it doesn’t require religion. It just requires decency and common sense both of which are sadly lacking in our society.


    • Edith Herring says:

      Stephen, I hit the thumbs down button by mistake
      I could not change it. I really meant to give a big thumbs up. Sorry!


  5. One reason you seldom hear about “justice” in many churches today is that the word has become associated with efforts at systemic changes where people attempt to change economic and social structures that put the usual pharasaical burdens upon the poor and disenfranchised. This is too much to bear for especially pastors (of great and small congregations) who depend upon the benevolence of their governments and other one percenters who keep their missions going. It is much more palatable to discuss charity from the pulpit, i.e., soup kitchens, food baskets, helping a person in need, etc., but to discuss bending the will of the system that creates the environment of hunger, homelessness, poor health, etc., is verboten, and can only lead to the evils of socialism. The ideals of capitalism will not allow that.

    (I have always liked what Pope Paul VI said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”)


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