Friday, July 29, 2011

Religious Leaders requesting a Circle of Protection

In a meeting with President Obama and senior White House staff on July 20, 2011 national Christian leaders asked the president to protect funding for programs for hungry and poor people in the ongoing budget debate and in any deal concerning the default crisis.

All agreed that we can get our fiscal house in order without doing so on the backs of those who are most vulnerable. The shared concern was to cut the deficit in a way that protects the safety net, protects the vulnerable, and maintains our investments in the future.

Christian leaders at the meeting included representatives from the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bread for the World, Sojourners, the Alliance to End Hunger, the Salvation Army, the National African American Clergy Network, the National Baptist Convention of America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

They are part of the Circle of Protection a nonpartisan movement that insists budgets are moral documents and that poor and vulnerable people should be protected not targeted in efforts to reduce long-term deficits. White House staff in the meeting included Senior Advisory Valerie Jarrett, Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes and Director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois.

The Circle of Protection* statement has been signed by more than 60 heads of Christian denominations and religious organizations including the Church of the Brethren and endorsed by 45 heads of development agencies as well as leaders of other faiths. The Circle of Protection movement has worked to uphold the bipartisan consensus that has long prevailed in deficit-reduction agreements that programs serving poor and hungry people should be protected and exempted from any automatic cuts.

Last week, representatives from the Circle of Protection, a non-partisan movement that insists that the poor should be protected not targeted in efforts to reduce long term deficits, met with President Obama to express their concerns. From a press release provided by Philip E. Jenks, National Council of Churches.

*In a radio and press campaign by Sojourners Pastor Nan Erbaugh from the Lower Miami Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Ohio, shared her thoughts. Erbaugh who lives in Speaker Boehner's district, stressed the importance of such programs by saying, "As a pastor, mother, and grandmother, it is imperative to stand together to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society and whose voices are seldom heard inside the Beltway. As Christians, there is no doubt that we are morally accountable to take care of the least of these--hungry children are the responsibility of each and every one of us. Congress is not making decisions about issues, but about people. I cannot be silent because I am my brother and sister's keeper."

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