In this op/ed in the Austin American-Statesman, Jim Rigby argues that economic justice should be at the heart of Christian theology:

In a culture where Christianity is increasingly fused in the public mind with right-wing politics, it’s more important than ever for people of faith to question the fundamental fairness of the economic system.

Tonight and Saturday morning, that’s what we’ll be doing at the Faith in Action: Economic Justice in the Age of Inequality conference at University Methodist Church, 2409 Guadalupe St., and at 5604 Manor Road on Saturday. The locations tell the story: To live out the faith we celebrate in church, we must become part of the community’s struggles for justice.

In the United States, many believe that if we surrender responsibility to free markets, an invisible hand will steer us on a steady course. But when economic disparity between rich and poor is at record levels about 20 percent of the population controls 85 percent of the country’s wealth, and the top 1 percent has captured the lion’s share of increases in income more and more progressive people of faith are challenging the assumption that we can surrender responsibility to any economic system.

Most Americans, religious or not, do not realize that the Bible makes it clear that no one should get rich at others’ expense. Collecting interest was called usury and was considered a sin. The Jewish people believed in a time of Jubilee, when economic slaves were freed from debt, the land was allowed to restore itself, and the economic deck was reshuffled. One symbol for that redistribution of the goods was for “the mountains to be made low, and the valleys to be raised.” When Jesus began his ministry by declaring “good news to the poor” he was placing his gospel within the context of Jubilee. His wasn’t just pie-in-the-sky salvation it was about saving real human beings here and now.

Rigby’s complete essay is online at the Statesman. For details on the conference, check our events page.