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John W. McCarthy Headshot

Can Faithful America Vote for Paul Ryan?

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A bishop, a nun and an evangelical walk into a bar. No it's not the opening of a bad joke -- it's just another gathering of religious leaders who have come out against the barbaric budget practices of Congressman Paul Ryan. What I find most shocking is the fact that he opens his "Path to Prosperity" budget with: "This budget ... heeds America's political, economic, and moral imperatives by confronting the nation's most urgent fiscal challenges." I wouldn't have been so confused with his plan if Paul Ryan, a Catholic, didn't play the morality card.

I don't know if Paul and I have been reading the same Bible -- I'm going to be honest, I skipped a few pages here and there in the Old Testament -- but it seems as though his budget ignores the entire Gospel message of Jesus Christ. I remember Jesus doing an awful lot of talking about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and giving shelter to the homeless. But it seems like the Romney-Ryan team finally found a political belief they're going to hold themselves to: put the 1 percent before those living on the margins of society.

The Romney-Ryan team is the next step in a Republican plan to dismantle the social safety net that protects society's most vulnerable. They start out by gutting Medicare and Medicaid -- putting Medicaid into a block grant program and privatizing Medicare for those 55 and younger. As if dismantling our senior's healthcare coverage wasn't enough, the budget goes further by cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 17 percent over the next decade -- ensuring that children and mothers everywhere will go without food. In total, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Ryan Budget gets 62 perfect of its proposed cuts from low-income programs including Medicaid, Pell grants, food stamps and job training. So much for being our brother's keeper!

What is clear is that Paul Ryan does an awful lot of talking about faith but seems to only follow Church teachings when it suits him politically. A few weeks ago he was leading the charge against the president's balanced contraception policy -- now he's ignoring the urging of his Church leaders to restructure his budgetary priorities. He's taking from the "least of these" among us to give CEOs and Big Oil a tax cut that they don't need.

While this may be a political agenda that suits the needs and purposes of the Tea Party and Republican-Right, it goes against the values of every major religious group in America. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals and the National Council of Churches have all condemned the reckless budgetary practices of Paul Ryan -- and yet, Mitt Romney gives him a spot on his presidential ticket. Mitt Romney who said he's "not concerned with the very poor" doesn't share the values of Faithful America.

Jesus gave us a simple message, "whatever you did for one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did for me." The economic initiatives of the Romney-Ryan ticket, and the GOP's convenient use of religion only show America two things: how out of touch they are with America's faithful, and how dusty some Christian's Bibles are getting.