FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 15, 2013
CONTACT: Casey Schoeneberger, 202-569-4254, firstname.lastname@example.org
This message was sent to Congress today on behalf of the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs.
It is with great concern over the effects of the sequester that I write to you today. These budget cuts will harm real people; they are not an academic exercise and this is no laboratory for testing ideology around the role of government. Indeed, a recent report by the Coalition on Human Needs shows that 600,000 children and women stand to lose WIC nutrition assistance, 70,000 children may be denied Head Start, and at a time when the need for better mental health care is brought into stark relief by recent violent events, 373,000 people stand to lose access to mental health treatment. Arguments that the effects of the sequester will not be “that bad” fail to account for the real lives of people who depend on the services that we have committed to provide for the common good of all.
Please find attached Faithful Alternatives to the Sequester, a document offered last summer to Members of Congress by the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs. In particular, we draw your attention to the following excerpt:
“Crushing poverty in a world of abundance is insufferable and our nation has allowed too much injustice and greed to govern our current economic structures. Instead, we seek to increase equity and equality in this nation. We are alarmed at the growing economic divergence between rich and poor, creating permanent inequalities that are neither just nor socially sustainable. Over the past thirty years, tax policy has too often been used to perpetuate rather than address these inequalities…
“It is from this place of concern for the common good, right relationship, and the just working of the economy, that we seek a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Sequestration was developed as a backstop – a last resort if Congress failed to act in a more thoughtful and balanced way. Whether Congress uses sequestration or some alternative as a means of achieving deficit reduction, Congress can and must act in a way that reflects our shared values. There are core challenges facing our nation: rising income inequality, persistent unemployment, historically high rates of poverty and anemic economic growth. These challenges must be addressed with justice.
“Therefore, we refuse to accept additional spending cuts to programs that serve “the least of these,” and we support extending the tax cuts for low and middle-income families. In particular, we support a strong, refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, as they are some of this nation’s most effective tools for alleviating poverty.
“Our approach to upcoming sequestration needs to be rooted in our values – a balanced approach that addresses the deficit crisis with justice and compassion. On the one hand, we need to be good stewards of the resources we already have, making judicious cuts to defense, earmarks, and other wasteful spending, while preserving that which is most important for the good of all. On the other hand, we must increase revenue, in order to ensure that this nation can meet our need to operate a fair and just economy, which serves all of our human community. The nation’s deficit crisis cannot be solved through spending cuts alone – new revenues must be part of the solution. The need is great and the resources are abundant. The budget choices we make must reflect this reality.
Please feel free to contact me at the contact information below, or my fellow Co-Chair, Amelia Kegan, Policy Analyst at Bread for the Word, should you have any questions.
With sincere hopes for a just resolution to Sequestration,
Representative for Domestic Poverty & Environmental Issues
Office of Public Witness
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Co-Chair of the Inter-religious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs
Filed under: Federal Budget, Inequality, Poverty, Religious leaders, Theology and Ethics | Tagged: alternatives, budget, Christian, Deficit, faith, Faithful Budget, Inequality, Interreligious, Moral Budget, Poverty, sequester | 1 Comment »
In the past two years’ budget and deficit struggles, we have repeated the wisdom of Matthew 6:21: “where your treasure lies, there your heart will be also.” If we treasure God’s shalom - the biblical vision of wholeness for communities - we need a Faithful Budget that creates a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable. Prayers, letters, phone calls, and vigils make a difference. One Senate staffer told me half all the letters his office received about budget issues came from faithful constituents concerned about poverty.
But, with a Sequester eight days away, we’re not done yet. Send a message to your U.S. Senators and Representatives here.
The Sequester will undermine much of what our nation should treasure. For example, 600,000 babies and young children will lose the nutrition aid afforded by the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and 70,000 young children will lose access to Head Start. We want to treasure our nation’s children, yet one in four kids under age five live in poverty. Please keep the faith and send a message to your members of Congress TODAY.
Filed under: Child Poverty, Circle of Protection, Federal Budget, Poverty | Tagged: children, Christian Community, Circle of Protection, Debt, Deficit, Faith Community, Faithful Budget, Federal Budget, Fiscal Cliff, sequester | 1 Comment »
There are just a few weeks left to reach a deal that averts the “fiscal cliff.” While Congress is busy deal-making, many faith communities are taking up collections, putting up giving trees, or preparing food and gift baskets for those who might otherwise go without during the holiday season.
Any fiscal deal that doesn’t protect people in poverty goes against the spirit of generosity in our churches. If you haven’t yet, I hope you will click here to email your members of Congress and tell them about how your faith community is sharing Advent hope with neighbors in need.
Unfortunately, members of Congress are openly considering cuts to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a powerful tool for fighting hunger among the 20 percent of children who live in food insecure households. If government reflects who we are – our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – we should not be considering cuts to programs that lift up struggling families.
Please email your members of Congress about sharing Advent hope with neighbors in need. Then, click here to use this easy tool to share the message with a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. Let us keep Advent hope and prepare room in our hearts for the One who taught us how loving our neighbors leads us all to a more abundant life.
An interfaith coalition has been holding daily prayer vigils since July 11th to protect federal programs that serve people living in poverty. This coalition has formed the “Faithful Budget” campaign. Click here for worship, action, and news clip resources from the campaign.
Faith leaders met with President Obama to ask him to protect “the least of these” (Mt 25) in the budget and deficit debates leading up to the debt ceiling deal. The coalition brought religious leaders to Capitol Hill on July 26 to meet with the offices of Congressional leadership.
On July 28, it became clear we had to bring our prayers to the heart of the Capitol. Eleven faith leaders prayed there until they were forcefully removed and arrested.
Watch a video about our campaign here:
Filed under: Federal Budget | Tagged: Capitol Hill, Christian response to debt crisis, Circle of Protection, Debt Ceiling, Deficit, Faith Community, Faithful Budget, Federal Budget, Moral Budget, National Council of Churches, National Council of Churches USA, NCC, NCC-USA | Leave a Comment »