Lection Connection

August 28, 2022: Radical Hospitality

From Paul Turley

 

Americans are fed up with the role of big money in political campaigns.

 

So says the Brennan Center for Justice. The Brennan Center is part of New York University and is named for Justice William J. Brennan Jr., a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. “The campaign finance system is broken. Super PACs and shadowy non-profits give enormous sway to the super-wealthy and big corporations,” the Brennan Center says. “The solution is: small donor public financing to put power back in the hands of individuals.”

 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a Democrat-sponsored bill seeking to overhaul campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of big money and foreign interests in elections. Specifically, the bill would require any organization that spends more than $10,000 in a federal election or gives more than $10,000 to a group spending in a federal election, to reveal its major political donors. The bill, as well as restricting foreign spending seeking to influence elections, would have established a voluntary small donor matching program paid for by a new Election Assistance and Innovation Fund. A U.S. House candidate would receive $6 from the fund for every $1 raised, up to $200 per donor.

 

The United States is not the only democracy where there are concerns about money and its influence on politics. In New Zealand, the Greens political party have, for the past five years, campaigned, as yet without success, to lower the amount an individual can give to a political party before their name is disclosed publicly. Currently, the Labour government is proposing to lower the limit for public disclosure of donors from $15,000 to $5,000 by the 2023 election. The Greens have proposed a NZ$1,000 threshold, with others calling for an even lower amount.

 

Simon Chapple, director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington points out that in Canada, the maximum amount of an anonymous donation is C$200, while in Ireland it is currently €100. Chapple says, “Giving NZ$200 to a political party is huge for an ordinary New Zealander, and the reality is only a very small minority would need to disclose their names under such a law.”

 

In Australia, which held national elections in May this year, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that more than a third of donations to political parties have been kept secret by the parties. Nationally, donations of less than $14,300 do not need to be declared. And those amounts over $14,300 are not made public for up to 18 months after they have been made. The Australia Labor party, the winners of the May 2022 election, have vowed to introduce legislation in the next 12 months that will require parties to declare donations over $1,000 and disclose them publicly in real time.

 

The need for transparency in political donations is vital to retaining and building trust in democrat systems. Reducing the influence of the wealthy and powerful and increasing the participation of ordinary voters goes a long way toward ensuring engagement in and the integrity of democracies. This same drive for fairness and active engagement is at the heart of Jesus’s words in our text.

 

Explore… Luke 14:1, 7–14

  • Jesus calls what he says in verses 7-11 a parable. In what ways do you see the words as parabolic?
  • What do you think Jesus means when he says, “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” and what might they mean in your faith community today?
  • What does it mean for you or your faith community to engage in ministry with people who cannot repay you?

 

Prayer…

God of justice and radical welcome, teach us what it means to be your people of inclusion and openness. May we work in joy for the good of all. In the name of the one who welcomes all.

Amen.

 

Learn more…

 

 



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