More and more faith leaders are lining up to oppose the budget plans presented this week by George W. Bush. Today a group of interfaith organizations released the following statement calling on our leaders in Washington, DC to adopt a moral budget that protects God's creation and the least of these among us. Take a few minutes to read it and then send your own message to Congress. Without the active role of people of faith our health care system, schools, affordable housing projects, and environmental protections will all be cut to pay for tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans. God calls us to do better.
A Faith Reflection on the Federal Budget
As communities of faith, we are grounded in a shared tradition of justice and compassion, and we are called upon to hold ourselves and our communities accountable to the moral standard of our Biblical tradition. We speak out now because we are concerned about our national priorities. The federal budget serves as a fundamental statement of who we are as a nation. The decisions we make about how we generate revenue and spend resources test our commitment to these values. Thus, we hold that the federal budget should be viewed and evaluated through a moral lens: does it uphold values that will strengthen our life together as a nation and as part of the global community?
Community and the Common Good
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you… and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will have your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7, NRSV).
Our nation’s wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of all its members. In order to form a more perfect union, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution commits this nation to promoting the general welfare. In faith language we would call that the "common good.” The budget should reflect a commitment to the common good by ensuring that the basic needs of all members of society are met. At this time, when more than 45 million Americans are uninsured, over 8 million are unemployed and over 12 percent live in poverty, additional cuts to critical human needs programs cannot be justified.
Investments in education, job training, work supports, healthcare, housing, food assistance and environmental protection promote opportunity for all and strengthen families and communities. These should be budget priorities.
Budget decisions must be evaluated not just in the short term, but with respect to their long-term effects on our children’s children, the global community and on all of creation.
Concern for Those Who Are Poor and Vulnerable
Give the king your justice, O God… May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice… May he defend the cause of the poor of the people and give deliverance to the needy (Psalm 72:1-4, NRSV).
Government has special responsibility to care for the most vulnerable members of society. All budget decisions and administrative procedures must be judged by their impact on children, low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.
Whatever one’s position on the war in Iraq or on the tax cuts, these policies are driving the deficit. Attempting to pay off the deficit by cutting programs that affect needy populations, when these programs did not lead to the deficit, is unjust.
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people (Isaiah 10:1-2, NIV).
God has created a world of sufficiency for all; the problem is not the lack of natural and economic resources, but how they are shared, distributed and made accessible within society.
Our government should be a tool to correct inequalities, not a means of institutionalizing them. The federal budget should share the burdens of taxation, according to one’s ability to pay, and distribute government resources fairly to create opportunity for all.
American Baptist Churches USA
American Friends Service Committee
Bread for the World
Call to Renewal
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Church of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office
The Episcopal Church, USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
Women of Reform Judaism
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