HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> Bulletin Insert on Economic Life:  January 2000 Legislative Update

Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
(LOGA)

122 C Street N.W., Suite 125
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-783-7507    loga@elca.org 

LOGA January 2000 Legislative Update:  Bulletin Insert

 

OUR OBLIGATIONS AND ECONOMIC LIFE

Part 1 of a series on the social statement on economic life.....
Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All

Legislation will be proposed that affects everyone’s economic life in the coming year. Some leaders have urged that the market is the key factor in evaluating and making decisions regarding our national budget. Others have made the suggestion that the way the budget cares for the poor is the key factor in evaluating the budget. Whose right?

What does the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have to say about this budget and our every day lives? Plenty! At the sixth biennial Churchwide Assembly in 1999 the ELCA adopted the social statement on economic life...Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All. The statement was formulated so that the people of the church would have a deeper understanding of how our faith and economic life in the workplace and the marketplace are brought together. Using this statement church members can discuss public policy dimensions of economic life, implement programs, and work for justice in our economic system. This statement is a benchmark for affirming, opposing, and seeking changes in economic life.

The statement begins its discussion with the understanding that we are living in a global market economy, and that human beings are responsible and accountable for our economy; but it acknowledges that people often feel powerless in the face of what occurs. It also raises the concern about the reigning power of the economic system and in whom we place our trust. The statement reminds us of the stories of God’s magnificent care for the poor and oppressed and that we live in light of God’s promise that ultimately there will be no hunger or injustice.

The statement also acknowledges that peoples economic assumptions can conflict with what we as a church confess. This tension can be seen in the priorities given to money, consumption, competition, and profit in our economic system. In addressing this tension the economic life statement holds:

While autonomy and self-sufficiency are highly valued in our society, as people of faith we confess that we depend on God and are interdependent with one another. Through these relationships we are nurtured, sustained and held accountable.

While succeeding or making something of themselves is what matters to many in economic life, we confess that in Christ we are freely justified by grace through faith rather than by what we do.

While a market economy emphasizes what individuals want and are willing and able to buy, as people of faith we realize that what human beings want is not necessarily what they need for the sake of life.

While a market economy assumes people will act to maximize their own interests we acknowledge that what is in our interest must be placed in the context of what is good for the neighbor.

While competitiveness is key to economic success, we recognize that intense competitiveness can destroy relationships and work against the reconciliation and cooperation God desires among people.

While economic reasoning assumes that resources are scarce, relative to people’s wants, we affirm that God promises a world where there is enough for every one, if only we would learn how to use and share what God has given for the sake of all.

While economic growth often is considered an unconditional good, we insist that such growth must be evaluated by its direct, indirect, short-term, and long-term effects on the well-being of all creation and people, especially those who are poor.*

These statements expand our notion of who "us" includes and provide stark contrast to those who seek unchecked accumulation and profit. Because of this, our attention is drawn "to those who are desperate for what will sustain their lives for just this day."

Actions you can take:

Discuss this part of the economic life statement in your adult forum/ newsletter of your congregation.

Evaluate an issue in your life using the understanding of our obligations as expressed in the economic life statement.

To obtain a copy of Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, check the DCS Web site www.elca.org/dcs/studies.html or contact the ELCA Distribution Service 1-800-328-4648.

*pages 3-4

 

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