This is the fourth article in a bimonthly series by the Economic Inequality Task Force of the DSC Board of Church & Society that offer guidance as to why and how the church should be involved in social justice concerns.
By Rev. Jane Baker
“We claim all economic systems to be under the judgment of God no less than other facets of the created order.”
What does this mean? Does God actually care about the way we use the resources he has given to us? What did Jesus say about sharing? Is the Kingdom of God one in which everyone, regardless of race, status, and ability, has equal access to economic resources that provide economic security?
“Therefore, we recognize the responsibility of governments to develop and implement sound fiscal and monetary policies that provide for the economic life of individuals and corporate entities and that ensure full employment and adequate incomes with a minimum of inflation. We believe private and public economic enterprises are responsible for the social costs of doing business, such as employment and environmental pollution, and that they should be held accountable for these costs. WE SUPPORT MEASURES THAT WOULD REDUCE THE CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH IN THE HANDS OF A FEW. We further support efforts to revise tax structures and to eliminate government support programs that now benefit the wealthy at the expense of other persons.”
What would our Church think about giving tax breaks to corporations and the top 1%? Taking away income tax deductions for childcare and student loans? When we vote, do we take these things into consideration or do we feel powerless to change the system? Mission is important in the United Methodist Church, but our Church calls us to take on the more difficult task of trying to change the systems that make missions necessary.
Our Social Principles suggest one way we might begin to tackle this problem. We can exercise our economic power to encourage the manufacture of goods that are necessary while avoiding the desecration of our environment. Buying “Fair Trade Certified” products will help us to accomplish this goal.
We can also help the majority of persons in the world who are poor by supporting policies that provide quality education, decent housing, job training and meaningful employment opportunities plus good medical care.
And, finally, we can become more aware of how our financial institutions operate. Are they protecting the neediest among us or taking advantage of them so the rich can be rewarded? Are they charging interest rates that keep people in a cycle of debt?
All of these measures are ways we can work towards the common good, something Jesus envisioned when he talked about the Kingdom of God. Are you up to the task?