A group of more than 4,000 pastors around the country joined their voices to speak out against the potential cuts in programs for the most vulnerable members of our society. With the help of Sojourners, the pastors offered their concerns via an advertisement published in Politico newspaper on July 13.
Sojourners' God's Politics blog offered some background on the ad, in a piece entitled Listen to Your Pastors: 4,000 of Them Want a Moral Budget. Rev. Jim Wallis later offered an expanded view in a piece entitled Will Politicians Listen to Pastors? Here is an excerpt from both versions:
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, did a great job summing up what this debate is at its heart. She said, “As a member of the clergy and a mother of 2 children with strong minds and bodies — minds and bodies which benefited for 3 years from WIC — I stand with all Christians in America who believe the cries of the poor and the cries of the children are not only the very voice of Christ, but are indeed the sound of our future waiting for a response. How shall we answer?”
There were 42 pastors from New Mexico who signed the Open Letter, which was the basis for the ad. Among them are clergy who are either Bread members or have led churches that have participated in our Offering of Letters, or have been on our Bread mailing list. They include Anne Morawski; Rafael Garcia, S.J.; Earl Rohleder; David Okerberg; Wayne Hawkins; and Anita Amstutz. Another familiar name was Steve Garnaas-Holmes of Massachusetts, whose reflections we have posted on this blog.
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Click here to view the advertisement in .PDF or read the text below.
We are local pastors. We work, pray, and do whatever we can to remain faithful to the responsibility of every Christian to help the poor. Still, we can’t meet the crushing needs by ourselves. Programs like SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, and Head Start aren't just abstract concepts to us; they serve the same people we serve. There are changes that can be made or efficiencies that can be found, but every day we see what government can do.
We have seen government support allow young people to be the first members of their families to get college degrees, ensure mothers can feed their children a healthy diet, enable those with disabilities to live fulfilling lives, give much-needed medical care to those who can't afford it, support seniors, provide housing for families, and help people in finding a job.
As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up--how it treats those Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources.
As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We want to support you in reducing the deficit. There is more need today than churches can meet by themselves. This is why we join in a "Circle of Protection" around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.