Thursday, June 30, 2011

Church leader signs on to letters about Afghanistan, Medicaid budget.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has added his signature to two letters from American religious leaders, one addressing the Afghanistan war, and the other on the Medicaid budget.

On June 21 as President Obama prepared to announce the number of troops he planned to withdraw from Afghanistan, religious leaders sent him an open letter stating, "It is time to bring the US war in Afghanistan to an end."

Noting the cost of the war in lives and property, the open letter called for increased aid to Afghanistan. "The past 10 years have shown that we cannot broker peace in Afghanistan by military force," it said. "It is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans."

Acknowledging that the situation the president faces is complex and involves such issues as protecting the lives of soldiers, protecting Afghan civilians, defending the rights of Afghan women, supporting democracy, and saving innocent lives, the letter said, "We humbly believe there is a better way than war to address these important issues."

Signers included Christian leaders representing the National Council of Churches as well as Catholic leaders and Jewish, and Muslim leaders. Find the full text of the letter on Afghanistan at

At the request of Congregational Life Ministries staff, Noffsinger also signed on to a letter regarding Medicaid funding. The letter, also sent in June, was organized by the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC).

The letter to members of Congress urged them to protect Medicaid from drastic cuts and other harmful changes to the program, including the current Medicaid block grant proposals. The letter opposed proposals to drastically cut Medicaid spending, which benefits people with disabilities living in the community. While acknowledging the need to address the growing federal debt, the letter encouraged Congress to work toward deficit reduction strategies and changes to Medicaid that maintain the program's integrity and enable people with disabilities to continue to be active participants in their communities and congregations.

IDAC is a coalition of 25 national faith-based organizations, including representatives from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu traditions, with a mission of mobilizing the religious community to speak out and take action on disability issues. Find out more about the work of IDAC at

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