Top religious leaders unveil principles, priorities for Faithful Federal Budget
Written by Jeff Woodard
March 23, 2012

Labeling the federal budget a "day-to-day moral statement,” the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black was among a dozen leading religious leaders in Washington, D.C., March 22 calling for Congress to "embody mercy and justice while providing robust support for the poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad.”

"The federal budget controls nearly one-quarter of our nation's spending. It therefore touches the lives of millions of Americans,” said Black, UCC general minister and president, urging Congress to support "Priorities for a Faithful Federal Budget.”

"The budget decisions we make about spending and taxes are vitally important,” said Black. "They can mean eating or going hungry, opportunity or a dead end, a job or continued unemployment, staying in school or dropping out, a home or a homeless shelter – even life or death. We call for a federal budget that . . . will say what is right, equal and just in our society, and it will point to what is wrong.”

Priorities for a Faithful Federal Budget, which has the support of three dozen faith-based organizations, is a set of comprehensive, compassionate budget principles that lays out ideas for restoring economic opportunity; ensuring resources for fiscal needs; fostering security; reducing poverty; taking responsibility for future generations; caring for the environment; improving access to health care; and recognizing government's role in combating poverty.

The campaign took root with the Faithful Budget Campaign, launched in May 2011 to lift up faithful voices on behalf of the nation's poor and vulnerable.  Last July, the campaign organized high-level meetings with policymakers, a Washington fly-in of top religious leaders and daily prayer vigils near the U.S. Capitol Building. The campaign included a prayerful gathering in the Capitol Rotunda that culminated when 11 faith leaders were arrested for refusing to stop praying on behalf of the nation's most vulnerable.

In addition to Black, religious leaders attending the March 22 event were:

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Bishop Neil Irons, executive secretary of the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops; Sister Simone Campbell, executive director, NETWORK; Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America; the Rev. Michael Livingston, past president of the National Council of Churches and former executive director of the International Council of Community Churches; the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of Minnesota Council of Churches and the immediate past president of the National Council of Churches; Rabbi David Saperstein, executive director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; the Rev. David Beckman, president of Bread for the World; and Douglas G. Grace, director of Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice.

Later in the day, the religious leaders met with the offices of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to present the Faithful Budget in person for congressional consideration.

On March 26, hundreds of faith advocates from around the country will partake in the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days. They will meet with and deliver the priorities of the Faithful Federal Budget to their own senators and representatives.

Faith-based organizations endorsing the Faithful Federal Budget are:

American Friends Service Committee; Arkansas Interfaith Alliance; Bread for the World; Center of Concern; Center on Conscience and War; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada; Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice; Church of the Brethren; Church World Service; Columbian Center for Advocacy and Outreach; Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Evangelical Lutheran Church in American; Faithful Reform in Health Care; Franciscan Action Network; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Leadership Team; Islamic Society of North America; Jesuit Conference; Jubilee USA Network; Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, United States Province; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; Minnesota Council of Churches; Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity; Muslim Public Affairs Council; Sisters of the Good Shepherd: The National Advocacy Center; National Council of Churches of Christ, USA; NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Pax Christi USA; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), Office of Public Witness; Progressive National Baptist Convention; Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.

Additional details about the Faithful Budget Campaign can be found at www.faithfulbudget.org.

Watch Rev. Black's testimony:  http://youtu.be/v-5a6cNUtog.

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