United Church of Christ General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black was one of nearly 100 national Christian leaders to sign a pastoral letter calling on the United States government to end its political positioning, and urging it not to endanger poor communities by slashing social programs.
Black joined 87 other faith leaders in a letter from the Circle of Protection, a Christian community that advocates services for poor and hungry persons, sent to President Obama and Congress.
"The time to act is upon us. Nations are often judged by their compassion for the poor, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate our compassion," Black said. "There has been enough time — since the government approved a two-month extension and delayed automatic spending cuts — to find a common ground without pushing vulnerable people of American society over the edge."
The letter asks government leaders to create a "proactive, long-term strategy for addressing poverty and hunger that reduces the deficit [and] grows the economy." The latest poverty figures from November say that 42.6 million Americans, about 15 percent of the population, live in poverty, including 16.1 percent of children age 5 and younger.
The letter states that the President and Congress "must weigh the benefits of tax credits for low-income people and tax breaks for high-income people; of nutrition assistance to low-income families and subsidies to agricultural businesses. Within the category of "defense," there is a difference between legitimate national security and unnecessary spending. Congress can and must develop a balanced and thoughtful path forward that protects the most vulnerable and preserves economic opportunity."
Read the full text of the letter and the list of signees online.