When asked which options they would support to reduce the debt burden on future generations, 70 percent of evangelical leaders indicated that they would support both reducing spending and increasing revenues, 26 percent said they would only support spending reductions, and 4 percent said they would only support increasing revenues, according to the May Evangelical Leaders Survey.
“What do all answers share in common when asked about government debt? Do something! The moral choice is to bless and not burden tomorrow’s generation of Americans,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).
Evangelical leaders take the problem of unsustainable debt seriously and are open to different ways to reduce the national debt. Some expressed concern that our political leaders are unwilling to support a comprehensive approach.
Randall Bach, president of Open Bible Churches, explained, “Depending on your political persuasion, increasing revenues or reducing spending is considered heresy today. On the left, the mantra is increase revenues, but typically to increase spending instead of facing the debt. On the right, the mantra is reduce spending, even if it cuts critical services, and the debt is not reduced. We are in a quagmire where neither left nor right is willing to peek beyond their partisan bunkers.”
He continued, “Facing the debt burden we are passing to future generations is not on radar screens of priorities so, even if we increase revenues and reduce spending, other priorities or values consume our political attention. In short, no answer involving revenues or spending will be meaningful as long as we lack the will and resolve to address the debt. We have lived on a national ‘credit card’ for so long that we do not envision a different lifestyle.”
Rocky Rocholl, president of Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, said, “The challenge always seems to be that the ‘increase revenues’ part gets enacted, but we never get around to the ‘reduce spending’ part.”
The NAE’s 2011 resolution “Lowering the Debt, Raising the Poor” notes, “By failing to live within its means, the nation has enjoyed unsustainable prosperity at the expense of future generations.”
The resolution calls the president and Congress to “demonstrate moral leadership and fiscal integrity in addressing the national debt. This will require extraordinary political courage, bipartisan cooperation and shared sacrifice. Every major area of expense and revenue must be scrutinized — particularly those that have contributed the most to the deficit.”
The resolution also emphasizes that the nation’s commitment to helping those living in poverty must be maintained. “We have not amassed our national debt by spending too much on the world’s poor,” it says.
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.