‘There’s no justice’: Bernie Sanders tells conservative Christians inequality is a moral crisis

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders © Jay Paul
Known for being a self-proclaimed socialist and his liberal views, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders ventured into a lion’s den of sorts on Monday, telling students at a Christian university that they should view inequality as a moral crisis.

Speaking in front of 12,000 students at Liberty University, known to have strong conservative and Evangelical views, Sanders made no attempt to hide his support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage, issues that many conservative Christians fervently oppose. However, he said the two sides could still find common ground on serious moral issues and seek justice together in fighting inequality.

Sanders invoked the Bible several times during his speech, highlighting the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 – "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” – and Amos 5:24: "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream."

He also cited Pope Francis, who will be visiting the US next week and who traced recent global financial calamity to “the denial of the primacy of the human person” and to the worship of money.

“Those are pretty profound words, which I hope we will all think about,” Sanders told students. “We are living in a nation and in a world … which worships not love of brothers and sisters, not love of the poor and the sick, but worships the acquisition of money and great wealth. I do not believe that is the country we should be living in.”

Sanders then dove headfirst into his critiques of the “rigged” US economy, using data to frame inequality as a moral dilemma that needs to be addressed urgently. He said that most of the wealth being generated in the US is being funneled to the top 1 percent while millions of Americans toil away for minimum wage, typically earning between $7.25 and $9 an hour.

He also flagged studies from earlier this year which showed that more than 20 percent of American children are living in poverty, including 40 percent of African-American children. One study showed that 22 percent of American children are living under the federal poverty line – an amount that’s greater than when the Great Recession began in 2008.

Just last week, a study showed that roughly 14 percent of US households do not have enough food for an active and healthy life.

“In my view, there is no justice, and morality suffers when in our wealthy country, millions of children go to bed hungry,” Sanders said. “That is not morality and that is not in my view ... what America should be about.”

"It is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor, to stand with working people, and, when necessary, take on very powerful and wealthy people whose greed is doing our country enormous harm," he added later.

Although Sanders’ speech focused extensively on the topic of inequality, the issue of abortion could not remain unaddressed for the day. During a question-and-answer session following his address, Sanders was asked how he reconciles his view that the wealthy should not be protected at the expense of society’s most vulnerable with his support for abortion rights, since many Christians believe “children in the womb need our protection even more,” according to the Raw Story.

Sanders replied that while he understands abortion opponents, he believes “it is improper for the United States government or state government to tell every woman in this country the very painful and difficult choice she has to make on that issue.”

“I respect absolutely a family that says no, we are not going to have an abortion. I understand that and I respect that,” he added. “But I would hope that other people respect the very painful and difficult choice that many women feel they need to make and don’t want the government telling them what they have to do.”

Sanders then took aim at Republicans in Congress, who he argued have done little to try and protect vulnerable children, citing cuts to programs that offer financial assistance to low-income pregnant women and mothers.

“When you talk about issues of children, understand the Republican budget threw 27 million people off of health care, including many children, at a time when many families cannot afford to send their kids to college,” he said, according to Raw Story.

“To add insult to injury in that budget, the Republicans provided over $250 billion over a 10-year period in tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1 percent,” Sanders said. “I don’t think that is a moral budget.”