This summer I marked my tenth year of working for the United Church of Christ’s Washington, DC office. If you had to guess, what would you imagine is the issue I have worked on most consistently in that decade?
Immigration? Health care? Justice for women?
It turns out, the issue that has most consumed my time is the federal budget. Trust me, I know how boring that sounds. But even if talk of fiscal matters doesn’t inspire you to run out the door and pick up a protest sign, it is vitally important work.
Here’s why - every one of the issues I care about is deeply impacted by the federal budget.
Scripture tells us that “where your treasure is your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), which is just the New Testament’s way of saying that your spending speaks loudly about what you care about. As people of faith we cannot simply look at our nation’s spending in terms of dollars and cents. Instead we must frankly analyze the budget’s real life impacts on our neighbors and the earth.
Each year faithful advocates fight to advance a budget that reflects our vision of a just world for all. That work is more important now than ever as Congress considers huge cuts to programs that support the poor and vulnerable; provide for peace building efforts at home and abroad; and protect God’s Creation.
The staff of the UCC Washington Office have worked with our interfaith partners to vision an alternative budget proposal we’re calling a “Faithful Budget.” In the coming days they will be on Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers to discuss how we can make this vision a reality. We will need your help. Take a moment to read the pre-amble to the faithful budget (you can read the whole document here.) Start thinking about how you can advocate for a just and faithful budget. Use our interfaith toolkit to plan an action in your community. And stay tuned for opportunities to take action via the Justice and Peace Action Network in the weeks to come.
Pre-Amble to the Faithful Budget
As communities of faith, we respect and care for one another as a sacred imperative that expresses our endeavor to "love our neighbor as ourselves." But American society as a whole is called to be a place where we delight in the value of each and every person and gladly accept a mutual responsibility for one another's wellbeing.
Government of, by and for the people is a vital forum for promoting the common good, cultivating basic virtues, and ensuring that no one is left behind. All of us have something to contribute to our life together, and none of us is excluded from our circle of mutual care and concern.
A federal budget that is faithful to these convictions must promote a compassionate and comprehensive vision for the future. As communities of faith, we call on our elected leaders to craft a Faithful Budget that fulfills our shared duty to each other in all segments of society. A Faithful Budget prioritizes the well-being of those who are struggling to overcome poverty or are especially vulnerable, as well as our obligation to future generations through our collective responsibility as stewards of creation. It is a budget that addresses and remedies the inequities that result from institutional racism and systemic injustice and a broken immigration system, creating a world where everyone may realize the potential of all that God intends. It is a budget that enhances the transformation of conflict with creative and courageous nonviolent peacebuilding, thus cultivating a more sustainable just peace.
Our message to our national leaders--rooted in our sacred texts--is this: Act with mercy and justice by serving the common good; robustly funding support for poor and vulnerable people as well as peacebuilding, both at home and abroad; and exercising proper care and keeping of the earth.
In the current political and economic climate, neither party is giving sufficient voice to the needs of the families who are struggling to overcome poverty. A Faithful Budget will maintain a strong safety net while creating jobs, revitalizing communities, and ensuring a living wage. It will advance fiscal responsibility by means of an equitable tax system based on fairness and by prioritizing true human security and development. A Faithful Budget will also seek to save lives and advance human flourishing among our neighbors around the world who struggle to overcome hunger, poverty, disease, human rights abuses and forced displacement. A Faithful Budget will offer assistance to resettle refugees and will not provide funding to further militarize our southern border resulting in separation of families.
The way to a thriving nation is not to close our hearts to the poor, but to heed the words of the Prophet Isaiah who assures us, “[I]f you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday . ..you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in”(58:10-12).