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Forget ‘Happy Holidays.’ Let’s talk about Congress this Christmas.

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The following is a guest post from Cheryl Bridges Johns and Alexei Laushkin

The season leading to Christmas can be so busy and bustling that we overlook the staggering invitation to peace and tranquility. But Advent is a reminder that God stands ready to invite us into his kingdom. And this should be good news for all people, especially our neighbors in need.

That’s why we believe that Christians should set aside time amid the Christmas bustle to reflect on Congress.

Talking about public policy may not seem like a festive activity, but it is sorely needed. In 2017, many in the halls of power misrepresented and mislabeled those in need. People who struggle were often painted as lazy, dependent on the government, and responsible for their own problems.

But Christmas reminds us that this is not how God’s sees those in need. They are simply our neighbors and we are called to care for them. Whether it’s because of health or job circumstance, family difficulties or personal crisis, many Americans need additional help and support.

Policy makers should be leading by example on how to talk about our neighbors in need. They set the tone of these debates both in word and deed. Poor people aren’t fundamentally abusers of the system, criminals, or the lawless. Rather, the overwhelming majority are hard working Americans that have fallen on hard times due to reasons outside of their control.

These challenges produce a lot of anxiety and shame for poor people. It is irresponsible for political leaders on the national or local level to feed stereotypes and misconceptions about our fellow citizens. Indeed, only through encouragement, creating a culture of stability, and unleashing tools of empowerment will people’s lives stabilize and make a turn for the better.

So what can Congress do to strengthen the social safety net and better love those in need? We have two ideas:

Expanded Flexibility for Mental Illness: Medicaid and Medicare should be expanded to include at-home care for mental illness and long-term impairment.  Increased funding for home care is both compassionate and economically sustainable. The cost of at-home care and prevention is substantially less than institutionalization.

Expanded Stability for the Medically Fragile and Complex: States should be given additional funding for the medically fragile and those requiring complex care. Steps should be taken to grant working families tools to receive the treatment they need in the home. This is, again, far less expensive than institutionalization and would provide a measure of benefit to families with complex medical needs.

As people feel empowered to live well, they begin to once again dream of a better life for themselves and their children.

2018 will be a year where people talk about the need to reduce the deficit, but we cannot do this by simply cutting off Americans in need. Whether it’s the Tax Bill enacted by the Congress, CHIP health insurance for children, or Medicaid, the goal should be improving access to the tools needed to help our fellow citizens, not ways to make their lives even harder.

So our Christmas prayer is that the coming of Jesus might remind us of the inherent dignity and worth of all people. May this Christmas season encourage generosity of heart and a more careful use of words when it comes to our neighbors in need.

Cheryl Bridges Johns, PhD is the Robert E. Fisher Professor of Spiritual Renewal and Christian Formation, Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN)

Alexei Laushkin is the Executive Director of the Kingdom Mission Society based in Herndon, VA

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

12 Comments

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  • Do you see this New Year’s Day Countdown Timer?

    https://www.timeanddate.com/counters/newyear.html

    Be sure to click on it, because that’s how long your atheism has got left to live. When this timer reaches Zero-Zero-Zero-Zero, at the stroke of the New Year, (or a couple hours later if I’m forced to attend New Years’ church services), I will hereby proclaim the bloody DEATH of atheism in this very forum, in bold font, just to wake all you atheists up.

    (Then I will re-commit myself to trying to bury atheism, as usual.) You have been warned!!

  • Man has definitely ruled over man, to his detriment, (Ecclesiastes 8:9), for many ages, and will only continue to do so!

    But God’s government (Daniel 2:44) will definitely soon make everything right on earth for all (Isaiah 11:1-5; Micah 4.3,4)!??☝️

  • Burying all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Rather presumptuous and antagonistic of you. Self appoint leader of bible sanctioned genocide, talk about hubris.

  • I figured THAT post might get your attention, Ms. Lady. See, you atheists have gotten way too comfy around here. Way too cute. You all think you can “bury all religion in less than 10 seconds“, as one of you say.

    So that’s where good ole heart-warming ME comes in. I know what you need. You need some Outlandish. You need some Outrageous. You need some Antagonism. You need Air Raid Sirens. You need some nice brisk Hubris, on the rocks.

    So I’m your new Holiday Bartender, and I’m serving up the DEATH of Atheism, on New Year’s Day!! Mwahahahah!!

  • Ain’t going to happen. Some wake up statistics:

    http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

    Religion………………………… Adherents

    Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

    Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

    Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion

    Hinduism 900 million
    Chinese traditional religion 394 million
    Buddhism 376 million
    Animist religions 300 million
    African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
    Sikhism 23 million
    Juche 19 million
    Spiritism 15 million

    Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

    Baha’i 7 million
    Jainism 4.2 million
    Shinto 4 million
    Cao Dai 4 million
    Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
    Tenrikyo 2 million
    Neo-Paganism 1 million
    Unitarian Universalism 800,000
    Rastafari Movement 600,000

  • Clean out the corruption in your product before you insist upon conformity. Theocracies tend to have a rotten underbelly.

  • There is only true or Almighty God, who is most high over all the earth, and whose name is Jehovah (or Yahweh, Hebrew, from the Tetragrammaton), and according to the Bible (King James Version, at Psalm 83:18).

    Unfortunately, many Bible translations do not show the thousands of times it is referenced throughout the Bible.

    And there is no trinity doctrine taught by God’s word, the Bible. Jehovah is God Amighty, Jesus is his son, Messiah (John 3:16,17), and King (Isaiah 9:6,7) of his Father, or Jehovah’s, heavenly government (Daniel 2:44). The holy spirit is Jehovah’s active force, which He uses to accomplish his purpose, and is not a person who has a personal name.

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