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Is God waiting for us to do something?

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From remarks by President Reagan at a recent White House luncheon with national religious leaders.

Today America is in the midst of a period of reevaluation about the role of our fundamental institutions, what functions are within the proper sphere of government, which of those should be left at state and local levels, how much can government tax before it infringes on our citizens' freedom and damages the economy's ability to grow and prosper.

For some time now I've been convinced that there is a great hunger on the part of our people for a spiritual revival in this land. There is a role for churches and temples -- just as there has been throughout our history. They were once the center of community activity, the primary source of help for the less fortunate, with the churches that ran orphanages, homes for the elderly, other vital services.

As late as 1935, at the depth of the Great Depression, a substantial portion of all charity was sponsored by religious institutions. And today, as we all know, the field seems to have been co-opted by government.

The story of the Good Samaritan has always illustrated to me what God's challenge really is, the injured pilgrim lying by the roadside, those who passed by and then the one man, the Samaritan, who crossed over to help him. He didn't go running into town and look for a case worker to tell him that there was a fellow out there that needed help. He took it upon himself.

Today, we've become so used to turning to government rather than taking the personal time and effort required to help those in need. Some even confuse charity as being the money that is given for lobbying to get more social programs passed.

I realize there is apprehension in the religious community about budget cuts, fear that we're trying to dump responsibility on others, including the churches, and I understand the concern. While we've quite justly, and out of economic necessity, cut some budgets, we have not, contrary to what seems to be the perception, abandoned America's commitment to the poor.


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