Interfaith leaders urge U.S. Senate to preserve international assistance funding
Written by Wire Reports and Gregg Brekke November 3, 2011
The Rev. David Beckman, Bread for the World president, speaks to faith leaders at a November 2, 2011 briefing on potential cuts to the Senate Foreign Operations bill that would adversely affect the world's poorest people. (Phot Mike Neuroth)
Echoing food-justice related concerns and goals of the UCC's
Mission:1, a group of U.S.
religious leaders were brought together by Bread for the World to meet with
Senators on Wednesday, November 2, to discuss the relationship between ethical
values and American international policy.
closed-door conversation with Senators, hosted by Senator Christopher Coons
(D-DE), the religious leaders shared their concerns that some in Congress are
targeting cuts to programs that assist families in impoverished countries and
communities. The U.S. Senate is expected to consider in the coming days the fiscal
year 2012 Appropriations for the Department of State, Foreign Operations and
Related Programs, which funds many of these programs.
religious leaders who organized the Senate briefing are speaking up because of
a shared belief that the United States has a moral responsibility to respond to
suffering and poverty anywhere around the world. The coalition, which is
comprised of Christian, Jewish and Muslim officials, are underscoring to
Senators that American-led humanitarian and poverty-focused international
assistance programs are essential to help people in the poorest nations lift
themselves out of poverty.
people of faith, we believe the moral measure of the budget debate is how the
most poor and vulnerable people fare. Every proposal needs to be looked at in
terms of how it treats those Jesus called 'the least of these,'" said the
Rev. David Beckmann, Bread for the World president. "If people of faith
contact the Senate in the next few days, we can win in [the goal of continued
funding] Senate vote."
clergy members reminded Senators of the ethics and values that inspire U.S.
assistance to families in impoverished countries and communities around the
world. The religious leaders are emphasizing the need for continued American
international assistance to help those who are hungry and lack clean water, who
are victims of natural disasters such as the famine in the Horn of Africa, who
need life-saving medications, who are children in need of education and who are
refugees from war and other calamities.
American faith community is taking a lead in providing a moral and faithful
voice for policymakers throughout the budget and deficit reduction discussions.
Many of the religious leaders in attendance on Wednesday have joined with the
UCC in the Faithful Budget Campaign. The campaign is encouraging the
administration and Congress to maintain a robust commitment to domestic and
international poverty programs.
From Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11), the UCC’s goals are
to collect more than 1 million food and household items for local food banks,
as well as $111,111 in online donations for hunger-related ministries and
$111,111 in online donations for East Africa famine relief. The UCC also is
asking its 5,300 congregations to advocate for hunger-related causes worldwide
via 11,111 letters to Congress.