Debt As A Moral Issue

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Lisa Miller passes along a Pew report that finds, "more than other Americans, evangelicals are prepared to cut deeply and forcefully when chopping the deficit." I'm impressed with their grasp that, in many ways, debt is profoundly immoral when it is taken to the extremes of Americans these days, both publicly and privately:

On conservative Christian blogs and on right-wing Christian radio, preachers and pundits reinforce the Biblical sinfulness of debt. A publicist from Coral Ridge Ministries, the conservative megachurch in Coral Gables, Florida, quotes his church's founder, D. James Kennedy, in a recent blog post.  "The bible says that inheritences should go from the fathers unto the sons, but we have reversed that concept. We are taking from our sons and our grandsons and are wasting it on our own immediate wants. We have lost the biblical concept of self-discipline."

There is no Biblical reason that a government shouldn't run a deficit from time to time, counters P.J. Hill, an economist at Wheaton College, a Christian school. Governments run deficits and surpluses and God has nothing to say about it, he adds. But how much one generation shifts its financial obligations to another is a moral issue–and about that he is very concerned. "As the debt becomes bigger and bigger, it becomes of more pressing concern, and that I can see becoming a social issue." Hill doesn't believe evangelicals' priorities have changed–they're still concerned about abortion and the breakdown of the American family, and they still give more to the poor through private charity than most other groups. He thinks the shift relates, appropriately, to a shift in the national conversation. "Evangelicals, like all Americans, are very concered about the debt."

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