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Imagine

Imagine if the U.S. government spent only half a trillion dollars on the military. Would you still feel safe? Or, what if the United States deployed only 1,000 nuclear warheads?

Incredible as those numbers seem, those are the kinds of questions that need to be asked of policymakers who claim that military spending needs to be “off the table” when making cuts to the federal budget.

There are many places that could be trimmed in the Pentagon’s budget, if policymakers are willing to do it. For example, the U.S. currently deploys about 2,000 nuclear warheads. Cutting this number in half would save $113.5 billion over ten years.

As Christians, we must speak to the idolatry of these choices. Are we putting our trust in weapons systems and nuclear warheads, or are we putting our trust in God?

Then there are weapons development programs that have been deemed unnecessary and many of which are over-budget. Cutting these programs would save another $135 billion over a decade.

Currently the United States spends more on defense than nearly all other countries combined. Yet in the budget proposals that Congress is discussing, funding levels for the Pentagon remain virtually unchanged. Some actually increase the amount compared to last year’s budget.

This unquestioning support for military spending comes at the same time that poverty programs, which make up a much smaller part of federal spending, are facing dramatic cuts. Cutting weapons programs which, in some cases, the military itself deems excessive would eliminate the need to cut food, housing and heating assistance.

As Christians, we must speak to the idolatry of these choices. Are we putting our trust in weapons systems and nuclear warheads, or are we putting our trust in God? Are we accepting a society in which the gap between rich and poor keeps getting bigger, or are we working for a just society in which all have enough food on the table, a place to sleep at night and the opportunity to work?

These are the kinds of questions that should engage us in our conversations with friends and family, in our congregations and communities. Who do we want to be as a nation?

Take some time to imagine what this country and the world could look like. The $113.5 billion that would be saved by having “only” 1,000 active nuclear warheads would provide health care coverage for 58 million low-income children.

If we spent “only” half a trillion dollars on the Pentagon this year, we would save more than enough to make sure that everybody around the world had enough to eat, a goal that the United Nations says could be reached for about $30 billion.

Take a moment today to share your thoughts on this with Congress by sending them an email. And then keep imagining a world in which God’s justice, grace and peace prevail.

Posted: 4/8/2011 7:00:00 AM

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