February 16, 2011; Source: Free Times | The South Carolina Christian Action Council is a 78-year-old organization with origins in the civil rights movement and even the temperance movement. It currently has ministers from 17 denominations representing 4,500 congregations.

For these religious leaders, staying quiet about the South Carolina state budget violates their beliefs. "A budget is a moral document," according to a resolution adopted by the Council. "It reminds us that each of us, 4 million-plus South Carolinians, are created in the image of God, with needs to be met and gifts to offer the world."

The trigger for this statement is South Carolina's looming $829 million budget shortfall, solutions for which might come in cuts to education, health care, and social services impacting poor people. The Council applied the WWJD standard to the budget: "In the New Testament, Jesus reminds us that 'inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.' He calls upon us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner."

The budget, in a way, is a covenant between the state and its citizens, according to the Council, reflecting "not only the services that we will ensure for all citizens but also the commitment to pay for them." What would the Council do? In South Carolina, instead of cuts, the Council favors increasing tax revenues.

In Webster's dictionary, the state emblem of South Carolina is probably next to the definition of "low-tax state." South Carolina has the lowest tax rate per capita in the country and spends less General Fund dollars than it did a decade ago. A little upward nudge in the tax rate would be a positive and moral response according to these ministers.—Rick Cohen