Thursday, February 24, 2011

Religious and humanitarian groups speak out on the federal budget.

The Church of the Brethren is an "endorsing communion" for a campaign organized by the Sojourners community in Washington, D.C., called "What Would Jesus Cut?"--a play on words on the Christian slogan WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). The campaign is placing an advertisement in Monday’s issue of "Politico."

Following is the full text of the advertisement:

"What Would Jesus Cut? Our faith tells us that that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor. As a country, we face difficult choices, but whether or not we defend vulnerable people should not be one of them. Please defend: International aid that directly and literally save lives from pandemic diseases; critical child health and family nutrition programs--at home and abroad; proven work and income supports that lift families out of poverty; support for education, especially in low income communities. Vaccines, bed nets and food aid save the lives of thousands of children across the world every day. School lunches and early childhood education, tax credits that reward work and stabilize families--are sound investments that a just nation must protect, not abandon. The deficit is indeed a moral issue, and we must not bankrupt our nation nor leave a world of debt for our children. But how we reduce the deficit is also a moral issue. Our budget should not be balanced on the backs of poor and vulnerable people. Budgets are moral documents. We ask our legislators to consider ‘What Would Jesus Cut?’"

In an e-mail to endorsing communions, Sojourners leader Jim Wallis wrote: "If just one of the proposed cuts is passed--$450 million in contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis--approximately 10.4 million bed nets that help prevent malaria will not reach people who need them; 6 million treatments for malaria will not be given; 3.7 million people will not be tested for HIV; and 372,000 tests and treatments for tuberculosis will not be administered. In addition, the proposed budget cuts $544 million in international food aid grants. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that helps provide food to hungry mothers and their children, faces a $758 million cut.... Simultaneously our military and defense budget, which sends our young adults off to kill and be killed, would receive an $8 billion increase." For more go to

In related news, Church World Service (CWS) and partner groups also are taking action on the proposed federal budget. CWS is among a large group of humanitarian organizations urging lawmakers to spare humanitarian spending from budget cuts.

A release from CWS said the organization is attempting to halt "US budget cuts that could be devastating to disaster victims, displaced people and refugees throughout the world."

In a Feb. 22 letter to House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, CWS and leaders of the nation's foremost faith-based and humanitarian agencies made the case that cuts outlined in the House of Representatives bill H.R. 1 would severely hinder the capacity of the United States to mount effective humanitarian response efforts around the world.

The coalition’s letter posed the scenario that, "in the next major global humanitarian crisis--the next Haiti, tsunami, or Darfur--the United States might simply fail to show up," the release said. The letter states, "The bill cuts global disaster aid by 67 percent, global refugee assistance by 45 percent and global food relief by 41 percent relative to FY10 enacted levels." The letter's signers urged House leaders to fully fund the programs at 2010 levels.

Signers included heads of ADRA International, American Jewish World Service, American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, CHF International, ChildFund International, Food for the Hungry, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, International Relief Teams, International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Life for Relief & Development, Lutheran World Relief, Mercy Corps, Oxfam America, Refugees International, Relief International, Resolve, Save the Children, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Women’s Refugee Commission, World Food Program - USA, World Hope International, and World Vision. (The letter is at

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