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Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts
February 25th, 2013
05:13 PM ET

Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A coalition of noteworthy Christian leaders and thinkers is asking President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to protect the poor from the forced spending cuts that are due to take effect this week.

The group’s open letter frames budget decisions as a moral question for lawmakers and asks them to stop the political brinksmanship.

“Important choices must be made: we 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,” the letter says. “Congress can and must develop a balanced and thoughtful path forward that protects the most vulnerable and preserves economic opportunity.”

The group is called Circle of Protection,  and it goes on to ask lawmakers to “maintain a Circle of Protection around effective programs focused on hungry and poor people in our country and around the world.”

Founded nearly two years ago, the groups boasts a politically diverse group of almost 100 Christian leaders, including Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jim Wallis, president of the group Sojourners.

Wallis, who for many years has helped organize Christian coalitions to lobby Congress on issues such as immigration and poverty, said he is prepared to harness the power of the Christian congregations for the issues of poverty and the budget.

“People of faith are saying that what the Bible tells us that a nation will be judged by how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable,” Wallis told CNN. “It doesn’t say it will be judged by its military, its gross domestic product or by its popular culture. That is the principle that we all have to obey.”

On top of sending this letter to the leaders in Congress and the White House, Wallis said the group will ask pastors around the country to engage their congregation on the issue.

The reasons for Wallis’ passion on the issue: his belief that a budget is a moral issue.

“These are moral choices that they are making,” Wallis said. “We are saying that you have to be self-conscience about your choices. These are choices about people, and we have said since the start that the budget is a moral document. It says, who is important and who is not, what is important and what is not.”

If Congress and the White House don’t act on forced spending cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, across-the-board budget cuts will be made to domestic and defense programs starting March 1. The triggered cuts, which originated from the White House in 2011 as Congress faced debate over raising the debt ceiling, were only supposed to be enacted if the two sides couldn’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

So far, no agreement has been reached.

What do the cuts mean for most people? Some 4 million home-bound and disabled seniors may have to go without supper this year because of cuts to Meals on Wheels programs, some 70,000 children from lower-income families will not be able to enroll for preschools and day care centers run by Head Start programs this fall and on average, it would mean a cut of $400 for nearly 3.8 million Americans.

For members of the Circle of Protection, these issues are personal, says Wallis.

“We are pastors and faith leaders who know the people are that are going to be hurt if you cut Head Start or food stamps,” Wallis concluded. “We know their names, the moms and kids and dads.”

– CNNMoney’s Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Politics • Poverty

soundoff (562 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Au Contraire!!

    Donations to the Christian cons should stop immediately and all these donations redirected to fund the shortfall. Added details:

    Redirecting our funds and saving a lot of "souls" in the process:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

    Giving to religious groups mostly Christian in 2010, totaled $95.8 billion,

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    February 25, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  2. GravitySailor

    Then perhaps they should tell their T-Party brethren to stop wrecking the country! This is highly ironic!

    http://gravitysailor.com/government-politics/gop-dichotomy-2/

    February 25, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  3. T

    ............F-35 costs $435,000,000.00 each......................or.....$1,000,000.00 an INCH.....................

    February 25, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  4. HenryB

    I can see the Catholics do this and Sojourners, but today's American evangelical Christians? Hardly. And those who say that not all are like that, start policing your Tea party "Christians". Nasty bunch.

    February 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  5. Phred

    Thanks Robert.

    February 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  6. Free enterprise

    Free enterprise was the largest miracle what can happen to the poor. Not only he was able to feed himself, but he was able to feel proud to make living for himself, and to save what is left. Today we can't develop free enterprise, because we have monopoly over money supply. Even worse, money supply became totally corrupt, where our savings for future small business is diluted through inflation and taxation. The only way for the poor to climb back to being human again is to get a job and be able to survive on that job. And gold currency is the only way out of this mess.

    February 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • greg

      Funny, I haven't been able to find "Free Enterprise" or "Capitalism" in the Bible at all, anywhere. In fact, Jesus commanded the rich to surrender all their possessions.

      February 25, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  7. Robert Brown

    When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
    (Mat. 25:31-46)

    February 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Robert Brown", but all that is unfounded.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • stephen48739

      Good quote, Robert Brown. Empathy is a good thing. When we get to heaven, I'll visit your house, okay?

      February 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Phred

      @hal 9001-- Wrong. I've found it true.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      stephen48739
      &
      Phred,

      Amen

      When we all get to heaven,
      What a day of rejoicing that will be!
      When we all see Jesus,
      We’ll sing and shout the victory!

      February 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Phred. It is unfounded. You may believe it but that doesn't make it true.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Phred

      @In Santa we trust

      And does your disbelief does not make it false.

      February 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Phred

      @In Santa we trust

      And your disbelief does not make it false.

      February 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Religion is

      Superstition

      I'm sorry, Robert Brown, but all that is bibleshit.

      February 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • clarity

      The foundation of Christianity will always be challenged. Unknown gospel writers. Stories passed on with a lapse of time between alleged eyewitnesses. When challenged that the gospel stories appeared to be copies of earlier pagan stories, several early Christian apologists could only come up with the concept of diabolical mimicry as an excuse. They said that the devil disseminated the fake stories of pagan lore first before the gospels to confuse everyone. How about that – plagiarism in reverse sequence. lol.

      February 25, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • greg

      See, if more Christians focused on these passages, people wouldn't bash Christianity.

      February 25, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      robert: do you feel that cut an paste jobs are convincing?

      February 26, 2013 at 4:18 am |
    • sam stone

      'When we all get to heaven,
      What a day of rejoicing that will be!
      When we all see Jesus,
      We’ll sing and shout the victory!"

      Catchy poem.

      If you really believed you were bound for eternal paradise, what are you doing here on earth?

      February 26, 2013 at 4:22 am |
    • Robert Brown

      sam stone,

      That is the chorus from a popular hymn, the ti.tle is the first line. You can google it for the whole thing, it is good.

      I am clothed in the same flesh as you are sam. The flesh does not want to die.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • fintastic

      Nothing more than mythology Robert...... nothing more.

      February 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  8. stephen48739

    My earned income is nothing more than a temporary loan. My possessions will be given to others one day. It's not about "whoever ends up with the most toys, wins". It's about having an excuse for wasting what I was blessed with. Good Karma = what goes around, comes around. Give to charity anonymously. It does your heart good and your sleep will be sweet. Yes, the poor will always be with us. So too, those among us, with stone-cold hearts, who only care about themselves.

    February 25, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  9. God

    I thought real Tea Party patriot "Christians" were for letting the poor starve and cutting everything that would help anyone other than the rich. These people can't be real Christians. They don't seem like tea-baggers.

    February 25, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Budd

      God,
      Why don't you part with some of that money of yours and create your circle around the poor. Or we could start taxing all the fine upstanding churches , mosques, and synagogues to help pay for it. Then you wouldn't have to worry about those Tea Party people. But they are just trying to have a say in how their tax dollars are being spent. Just like your minions are doing here.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  10. Liz the First

    They don't have to ask Obama, he's doing everything possible to get the rethugs to govern but they're too busy punishing the country for having the gall to elect a black man to the White House. if they crash the economy again, they should all be prosecuted for treason!

    February 25, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  11. Jack33

    Republicans wont do anything to improve conditions for the poor of this Country till those in the underclass either sway the vote away from republicans entirely, or bring revolution to their doorsteps.

    February 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  12. A Buddhist

    As Mohandas "Mahatama" Gandhi so aptly put it, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

    February 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Grace Precepts

      ))-A Buddhist: Which precept asks Buddhists vow to refrain from talking about other's errors and faults? Was it 6 or 7?

      February 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  13. GOP IS IN DECLINE

    John "cry baby" Boehner is such a failure! He couldn't even make Obama a one term president!! Why do republicans continue to listen to him?? What? Oh. I see. He promised to make Obama a two term president this time. That's right America. Ther will be no third Obama Administration courtesy of Boehner/McConnell/Ryan/Cantor et. al.

    February 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • wut?!?

      "Ther will be no third Obama Administration courtesy of Boehner/McConnell/Ryan/Cantor et. al."

      There is no THIRD administration, period ever - you did know that, didn't you? But not to worry, come 2016 we'll be ushering in our first female President of the United States - President Hillary Rodham Clinton . . . nice ring to it too. The GOOP party diminishes itself with each day that passes. Perhaps one of these days they'll just dissapear and take their obstructionist behavior with them - CLINTON IN 2016 - IT'S A GIVEN!!

      February 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • ..

      Wut, I think that the post above is called "sarcasm". You did know that, didn't you?

      February 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  14. ghostriter

    Why am I not surprised that more conservatives are leaving this thread alone...Any other time, they would be screaming to the top of their lungs.

    I guess they are only passionate about their religion when it agrees with them.

    February 25, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  15. Jonquil

    It's refreshing to hear from real, compassionate and conscious Christians, on the national stage, for once. I thought they were fast becoming an extinct breed. This is what faith is supposed to be about; looking beyond the easy answers, stretching ourselves to feel empathy for our fellow man and to see how we can solve problems without losing our "souls" in the process. It can be done, if both sides work together.

    February 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Thomas

      You are right, Jonquil. That is what the Dominican nuns and Jesuits taught us 50 -60 years ago.

      February 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  16. Compassionate Cosette

    As Christians, we are called to be loving and compassionate to our fellow beings who are suffering.

    February 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Jonquil

      ...and that means showing compassion, even when it's difficult to do so. "Jesus does not want you for a fair weather friend". It's easy to be good when times are simple; it's far more difficult when times challenge us all.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Religion is

      Superstition

      What the hell does Jesus have to do with it? Are you saying people cannot be compassionate without Jesus? I certainly don't have that problem.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Compassionate Cosette

      Jesus was the epitome of compassion his followers have to be compassionate, one can't be a Christian and not be charitable.
      Faith without works is dead.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      cozy, your god is dead and "works" do not require faith.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Christians are only good because they are under the duress of the possibility of going to hell.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Phred

      @ Christians are only good because they are under the duress of the possibility of going to hell.

      Really? Is that what you think?

      February 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The only being who deserves hell is the mind that imagined hell and created it. Fvck hell creators.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • saggyroy

      @Phred Why else would they care. Most were probably threatened by their parents with it when they are young to get them to behave.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Phred

      *saggyroy

      So their belief is based on a fear of punishment?

      February 25, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Saggyroy,

      You can’t earn heaven. There is literally nothing you can pay for it and no work you can do for it. You don’t go to hell for not doing good deeds. You go to hell for rejecting Jesus.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Phred

      @Robert Brown

      What, if like the Old Testament describes, we all go to the same place? So for some, being with God is heavenly. For those who hate God, it is hell?

      February 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • AC

      Yes be compassionate, but do not ask the secular federal government to do the bidding of the church

      February 25, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • saggyroy

      @Phred Yes. Based on fear. How many times in the bible are you threatened with being thrown into a lake of fire?

      @Brown There is nothing to reject about mythology, except maybe interpretation. But as you believe in going to hell for rejecting Jesus, isn't not trying to be like him rejecting him?

      February 26, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Saggyroy,

      We are justified by faith, period. What we do, works, does not earn us salvation or take away salvation. Works do not produce faith, it is the other way around. Faith produces works.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 25, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Doobs

      No, it doesn't. You're still here.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!,.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  18. joshua

    The kingdom of David teaches us how he was blessed for treating poor people good by providing a simple need that we all share and is a plate of food, a place to sleep and some sort of work so we can provide the same to our kids. but when greed becomes the norm and poor at put aside than that nation collapses because we make a nation that the rich.

    February 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jonquil

      Evangelical Christians need to remember that their savior was born to a carpenter and a poor mother, who was in danger of being rejected by the moral establishment in her society. If you truly believe in scripture, you also believe this was done by God to make a point about value and how we should treat others.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Just threaten that Jesus is going to take you away if people don't send in 10 million dollars. That should do it.

      February 25, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Jonathan

      People must also remember, that despite being born into a 'poor' family, Jesus was no stranger to hard work and labor in order to earn his meals.

      February 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  19. CNN Belief Board

    We apologize for not being able to find a way to tie this to the Pope. We are truly sorry. Forgive us.

    February 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Hey nitwit! It's "CNN Belief Blog", not "board"

      Aw, the poor widdle Catholic troll is upset that his church has had so many scandals.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • CNN Belief Board

      @Aw, the poor widdle Catholic troll is upset that his church has had so many scandals.
      I'm a Hindu. In my country we say Board, not Blog.

      February 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  20. Larry of Nazareth

    So they think government is socialist until there are part of that socialism they want?

    February 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • ..

      Looks that way.

      February 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Carl

      And what is wrong with socialism anyways? Nations with the higherst standards of living practice it.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:34 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.