Church Leaders Urge Stewardship, Decry Greed

As President Bush presses for a modified $700-billion bailout bill, United Methodist leaders have called for a biblical mandate of stewardship over corporate greed.

"All we have is ours 'on loan' from God to be used for good in this world. John Wesley's mandate to 'do no harm' is violated when we prey on the vulnerable," the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination's social action agency, said in a statement Tuesday.

The church leaders recognized that the "financial bubble has burst" and said that the American people have "little appetite" to "rescue the rich from their excesses."

The financial rescue plan, the biggest government intervention in the markets since the Great Depression, faces the House of Representatives on Friday, just days after the House had rejected an earlier version of the package and sent the stock market on a rollercoaster ride.

"By 228-205, a majority comprising both Democrats and Republicans responded to the enormous outcry from the American people opposing any plan that does not hold Wall Street barons accountable for the financial morass they helped create," the UMC Church and Society statement read.

"The prophetic voices of the Bible repeatedly warn against a society that favors the rich over the widows, aliens, orphans and the poor," it further stated.

Senators added tax provisions and made additions to appeal to a broad range of Americans as well as the House Republicans who voted against the package. The Senate passed the modified version late Wednesday in a 74-25 vote.

"I will tell you, the American people are angry and frustrated," Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said on ABC's "Good Morning America," saying he's been hearing messages like "the woman who said she was concerned about getting access to a student loan for her daughter."

While many are critical of bailing out Wall Street and believe the plan will add burden to the working class, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) insisted that this is a measure for Main Street.

"This rescue package ... is not for the titans of Wall Street. It's not for those whose greed got us here, who chose greed over prudence," he said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "It's for families across Nevada and across America who are fighting to keep their jobs, save their homes and make one paycheck last until another one."

Nevertheless, evangelical Christian leaders are adding their voices to the concern over the "immorality" and greed fueling the economy.

The Rev. Joel Edwards, international director-designate of Micah Challenge International, stated earlier, "It's well known that our ability to deal effectively with human suffering and global poverty is little to do with our financial resources and everything to do with our political will."

"The current financial crisis has demonstrated not only the degree of our self-interest and human greed in the West, but also our abject reluctance to rise to the challenges of taking our promises seriously," he added.

United Methodist leaders have put forward a list of measures that it would support, including the revision of tax structures, elimination of governmental support programs that benefit the wealthy at the expense of other persons, and the regulation of Wall Street.

"Our denomination, The United Methodist Church, declares in its Social Principles that all economic systems are 'to be under the judgment of God … and recognizes 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,'" they stated.

"Let's pray our elected officials act with wisdom in this crisis."

Both presidential nominees Sen. John McCain and Barack Obama voted in favor of the revised rescue package.