Tuesday, October 15, 2013

J. Herbert Nelson Joins Faith Leaders to Call for a Common Good Budget Deal

This morning, PC(USA) Director for Public Witness, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II, joined with interfaith and ecumenical colleagues in calling on Congress to put the common good ahead of political games.  In a Pilgrimage for Courage and the Common Good, Rev. Nelson and his colleagues gathered in the Rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building, began with prayer and hymns, and then began a processional through the halls of Congress, stopping to deliver this letter at the offices of key members whose influence and good faith is crucial to ending this political standoff.  The letter begins,

J. Herbert Nelson, Michael Livingston and other faith leaders gather
"As people of faith and conscience, we urge you to place shared democratic values above short term political expediency, exercise the courage to fund our nation’s government, raise the debt limit without preconditions and get back to work on a faithful budget that serves the common good.

In a statement about the shutdown, the Rev. Nelson said,

"Too many lives are impacted by this selfish internal battle for power. The United States government has an important role in alleviating hunger and poverty, ensuring food safety and public health, investing in clinical trials and research, monitoring pollution and the safety of the environment, engaging in diplomacy and relief and development operations overseas, and employing the nation’s largest workforce.  It is time to put the federal government back to work to ensure health, wholeness, and fulfilling livelihoods, not only for federal workers, but for all of us.

Join the Rev. Nelson and his interfaith and ecumenical colleagues in calling on Congress to end this government shutdown and to raise the debt ceiling immediately.  Neither a dysfunctional government nor the default on the full faith and credit of the U.S. government will serve our democracy or the Common Good.  Rev. Nelson concluded his statement with,

"We need a government that functions based on a commitment to shared responsibility and the common good. Those who have contempt for government have no business serving as a Member of Congress.  It is contrary to the oath of office.  Join me in calling on Congress to end this shutdown and engage in more reasonable debate in which people’s wellbeing is at the center of our concern.

Presbyterians J. Herbert Nelson, Doug Grace, Michael Livingston, and Jennifer Butler


October 15, 2013
CONTACT: Michael McGovern – 202.499.4084, mmcgovern@faithinpubliclife.org

50 Prominent Faith Leaders and Locked-Out Workers
March on House GOP Offices, Pray for End to Shutdown
Pilgrimage with poor workers ratchets up moral pressure as shutdown harms low-income families, seniors, and veterans.

Washington, DC – Today, over 50 prominent religious leaders joined with locked-out federal workers in a pilgrimage, marched on key House GOP offices – including Leadership – and urged an immediate end to the government shutdown. At each office, the group prayed for the Member to do what is right and vote to immediately end the shutdown with a clean and unconditional continuing resolution and to raise the debt ceiling without preconditions.

During the Pilgrimage, faith leaders invited moderate Republicans to join them in challenging their colleagues who are putting political agendas ahead of the common good.

An extreme faction of Congress is recklessly playing politics with the lives of countless Americans: seniors seeing “Meals on Wheels” cut, pregnant women and infants losing vital nutrition support, workers locked out of their jobs as bills pile up, veterans facing benefit cuts, and communities put in peril by the suspension of crucial environmental protection efforts.

“It’s time for irresponsible factions in Congress to stop this reckless behavior and end this shutdown immediately,” said Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby. “There is no moral justification for holding struggling families, pregnant women and seniors hostage.”

The marchers also included low-wage workers locked out of their jobs by the shutdown.

“Before the shutdown, I was struggling to support my unemployed father and little sister,” said Alex Vesquez, a contract food worker at the Smithsonian. “Now I’ve gone from low wages to no wages. Tea Party Republicans need to stop these political games and let me get back to work.”

At each office the group prayed for the Member and left a letter endorsed by religious organizations, saying  "As people of faith and conscience, we urge you to place shared democratic values above short term political expediency, exercise the courage to fund our nation’s government,  raise the debt limit without preconditions and get back to work on a faithful budget that serves the common good.”

Faith leaders had a clear moral message for the Congressmen responsible.

“Locking low-income workers out of their jobs and holding them for ransom is simply un-Christian. This inflicts needless pain on families already struggling to make ends meet,” said Rev. Michael Livingston, Policy Director at Interfaith Worker Justice. “We’re urging the members of Congress responsible for this hardship to vote now to put these workers back in their jobs.”

Simultaneously, people of faith delivered over 32,000 petitions to Congressional offices around the country calling on House Members to end the government shutdown. The petition signers are members of Faithful America — a fast-growing online community dedicated to reclaiming Christianity from the religious right and putting faith into action for social justice.

This statement, which was also signed by more than 150 clergy and theologians, sharply rebuked irresponsible elected officials for pursuing an “extreme ideological agenda at the expense of the working poor and vulnerable families” by shutting down the federal government.

Participants in the march included leaders from NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; The Salvation Army, Interfaith Worker Justice, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, The Shalom Center, Faith in Public Life, Church World Service, American Friends Service Committee, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ), Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ), Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Franciscan Action Network, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, The Coalition on Human Needs.