Thursday, December 15, 2005

Religious Left's very moral protest

By Diane Carman
Denver Post Staff Columnist

They don't have a hotline into Karl Rove's office. They're not front and center at the president's prayer breakfasts. And when political analysts talk about the rise of moral values in the consciousness of the American electorate, pundits seldom make any mention of their priorities.

So on Wednesday, members of the religious left decided it was time to take to the streets and bear a little witness.

In Denver and across the country, lefty clergy and their supporters engaged in an old-fashioned protest against a federal budget bill that would cut up to $50 billion from programs providing food stamps, health care, student loans and other services for the poor over the next five years.

They sang protest songs to the tunes of Christmas carols, recited righteous poems and prayers, and carried signs outside the offices of the Denver Urban Ministries on Colfax. In Washington, D.C., 115 lefty religious activists were arrested for allegedly blocking the entrance to the Cannon House Office Building.

As they waved their signs calling for food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless, they talked about moral values, and their choice of words was no accident.

They're fed up with the tax-cut-obsessed right laying claim to the moral high ground.

"I personally felt during the elections of 2004 that because of my own belief system, the political right was calling me an immoral person," said Tammy Mulligan, executive director of Denver Urban Ministries. "I was highly offended by that."

To Mulligan and others, morality isn't about buying newspaper ads railing against gay marriage or endorsing Samuel Alito's views on abortion. It's about helping the least of our brothers.

"How you choose to spend your money, cutting programs for the poorest Americans and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, is a statement of morality," Mulligan said. "You're speaking with your money. You're saying where your priorities are."

To her, the budget bill before Congress is a moral crisis of the highest order.

"I would think Congress would be embarrassed to be cutting services so necessary for people's survival and then giving tax cuts to the wealthy," said Maureen McCormack, a Sister of Loretto and president-elect of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, who joined Mulligan in the "vigil

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