John Whittum : New bill harmful

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The recent passage of the Bankruptcy Bill with strong assistance from the so-called "religious" right wing of the Republican Party gives us a stark sign of how anti-religious those representatives truly are.

The banking/credit card industry now is the most profitable in the country and the most powerful in Congress -- more powerful even than the oil and gas lobby, which used to be the top spender in Washington. The credit people insisted that this particular bill was essential to keep debtors paying their loans and not escaping until every last penny was paid, even though exorbitant interest rates and late fees could be charged. Interest plus late-fee charges can exceed 100 percent.

Although there certainly are some dishonest people who have benefited in the past by escaping their creditors, the real burden of this new bill falls on honest people, who usually fall into debt because of medical emergencies or loss of jobs. This new bill will harm the middle class, and it will significantly and unfairly enrich the financial corporations.

The liberals in Congress attempted to soften the blow with an amendment, which would have prohibited the credit companies from charging interest rates of more than 30 percent per year. The credit lobby refused to consider it. And Tom DeLay was happy to oblige them by insisting on no amendments and no real debate.

As any Bible reader knows, the good book has many references to the evil of charging high interest (usury). And where were our so-called religious spokesmen in this case? They were solidly with the credit card industry. Every congressman from a so-called Christian constituency voted for this outrageous bill. It also is discouraging to hear that the individual church groups and the right-wing organizations, such as Focus on the Family and Christian Coalition, did not oppose the bill.

Today, we hear from the right-wingers that the Bible should be taught in schools. I, myself, have taught the Bible in private school and would approve it being taught in public school, but only under the right supervision. However, I see no future in public religious instruction when our religious community fails to follow what is written clearly in the Bible.

Our modern technology has made it difficult to determine what Moses or Jesus might have said about today's political/moral issues: birth control is a good example. However, about usury there can be no dispute: The Bible condemns the charging of high interest. But the religious right does not seem to care.

John Whittum

Steamboat Springs

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