'This Week' Transcript: God and Government


AMANPOUR: It's easy to dismiss the battles on Capitol Hill these days as primarily a matter of dollars and cents. But in truth, they are moral debates about what America wants to be. Debates infused with deeply held beliefs on both sides. And the conviction that the very future of the country is at stake. These debates resonate deeply in the faith community. So we've assembled a roundtable this morning to pose the question: what would Jesus do? With me today: Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. Eboo Patel, founder of a the Interfaith Youth Core and a former member of President Obama's Faith Advisory Council. The Reverend Al Sharpton. And ABC's Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve Roberts, an interfaith couple, Catholic and Jewish, whose new book is called "Our Haggadah."

AMANPOUR: One of the huge issues - the huge issues that we're facing right now is this budget some say war; others say debate. Conservatives, Dr. Land, are painting this almost as a moral issue. Why is that? What are the spiritual dimensions of this?

LAND: Well, we're borrowing between $0.40 and $0.41 of every dollar that we're spending at the federal level. And many - many Americans, and that would include myself among them see that as generational theft. And theft, you know, there's a - there's a commandment against that in the Bible. That we're - we're literally stealing our children and our grandchildren's future.

ROBERTS, S.: There's also a commandment about charity and righteousness in the Jewish tradition. The word is "Tzedakah." And it means not just charity, but it's a - it's a obligation of righteousness. And to take care of your neighbor. I understand the question of theft. But there's an equally powerful religious argument to be made of - of - as a nation providing for the least among us. And that is equally a powerful moral argument.

AMANPOUR: But I - but I...


LAND: ... but not with money you steal from other people - from your future ancestors.


SHARPTON: ... if you want to deal with theft, then we ought to talk about the rich paying their proper share of taxes.

LAND: Well, they're paying over 50 percent now.

SHARPTON: Well, let me finish. I think that when we deal with the fact that those that raise the moral issue around generational theft, but at the same time want to give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, it would seem to me that our children will have to ask who was really robbing us.



ROBERTS, C.: There - there are a couple of things here. One is that setting a priority inside the budget so that when you're talking about taking away money from our children, yes. Everybody is concerned about the debt and the deficit. That's a given. But then you say OK, what do we spend our money on. And that's where when you - Catholics would call it preferential option for the poor.

So you have those - those concerns. But also I think actually - and there other values other than standard of living. And the - one of the things that we also do want to pass on to our children is a sense of this country all being in it together. And that this - that that's been the great American tradition. And - and they're not the haves and have nots. You know? And I think that that is something that we also have to...

AMANPOUR: Yes, let me turn to Eboo on that note. You know, a country for everybody.

PATEL: Right.

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