FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2013
CONTACT: Casey Schoeneberger, 202-569-4254, firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith Community to Congress: “It Doesn’t Take a Miracle to Make a Moral Budget”
Prominent Clergy Prepare to Deliver Fresh “Loaves and Fishes” to Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Urge Congress to Question Austerity
Additional Events in AR, CO, DC, FL, IN, LA, MO, and WI at Paul Ryan’s office
(Washington, DC)– Prominent national clergy and faith activists will join together on Wednesday, March 20 at 11a.m. in Upper Senate Park as part of a coordinated, multi-state “Loaves and Fishes” Day of Action to highlight the need for moral and political courage in federal budget negotiations. With 21 events in over 13 states, plus a press conference on Capitol Hill, the faith community will encourage Congress to protect families and seniors, reject austerity, and remind them we have enough for all in this country.
“In Jesus’ time, it took a miracle to feed all the hungry. But today in America, we have enough resources to feed everyone, house everyone, and educate everyone if our leaders have the political will to put the common good before tax breaks for big corporations and the super wealthy,” said Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness . “Congress needs political courage, not miracles, to pass a just and moral budget that makes the wealthy to pay their fair share and protects struggling families from further hardship.”
Together with PICO National Network, Interfaith Worker Justice, NETWORK: a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Bread for the World, Catholics United, The Jesuit Conference, Ignatian Solidarity Network, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Franciscan Action Network, Oxfam America, Sojourners, and Faith in Public Life, people of faith from across America will deliver fresh baskets of “Loaves and Fishes” to lawmakers, serve fish-and-bread meals in congregations, and read the Gospel passage of “loaves and fishes” in public forums and congregations across America. Bend the Arc Jewish Action will participate in the Capitol Hill press conference with matza and gefilte fish as Passover approaches.
WHO: Prominent, national clergy leaders and thousands of people of faith across America, including:
Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
- Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
- Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Senior Director of Leadership Initiatives and Rabbi-in-Residence, Bend the Arc
- Bishop Don Williams, Associate for African American Church Relations, Bread for the World
- Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director, Faith in Public Life
WHAT: “Loaves and Fishes” Day of Action with clergy and people of faith detailing why “it doesn’t take a miracle” to achieve moral budgets in today’s society.
WHERE: Upper Senate Park (200 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC)
WHEN: March 20, 2013 at 11 a.m.
VISUALS: Banners that read “It Doesn’t Take a Miracle” and fresh loaves and fishes for delivery to Member of Congress.
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Watch John Gehring, Senior Writer & Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life, on Current TV’s The War Room as he discusses the groundbreaking election of Pope Francis:
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If many progressives are disappointed that President Obama and most political leaders have not done more to reign in the corruption and greed of Wall Street titans who sparked a global financial crisis, they have an unlikely ally in a theologian who leads a global church of more than a billion souls.
While Pope Benedict XVI is viewed as a staunch conservative for his opposition to same-sex marriage and frequent pronouncements on sexual ethics, his powerful voice on economic justice issues too often gets short shrift. But it’s hard to ignore the pope’s recent blistering critique of what he describes as “unregulated financial capitalism.” Pope Benedict, who has urged world leaders to pay more attention to the “scandal of glaring inequalities” between rich and poor nations, used his recent World Day of Peace message to challenge “the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset” that gives rise to economic models based on “maximum profit and consumption.”
It’s unlikely that Catholic Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan or House Speaker John Boehner, free-market fundamentalists with a soft spot for Ayn Rand-libertarianism, will be passing out copies of the pope’s address in the halls of Congress. You can also bet many lawmakers from both parties, dependent on corporate campaign contributions from the financial services industry, paid scant attention to the Vatican’s call in 2011 for more robust financial regulation and a financial transaction tax.
But as we navigate the shoals of post-fiscal cliff Washington, with Republicans hankering for a fight on the debt ceiling and insisting on deeper spending cuts, political leaders could do worse than reflect on the Catholic justice tradition’s prudent balance between acknowledging a vital role for government while advocating for a market system that is tempered – and made more humane – by reasonable safeguards that serve the common good. In fact, Catholic social teaching on taxes, the role of government, the importance of unions, strong social safety nets and the need for robust regulation of global financial markets offers a progressive blueprint for building a moral economy.
The next time you hear a Catholic politician or a “pro-life” leader who argues for gutting financial regulations and slashing vital programs that protect children and the elderly so the wealthiest few can get more tax breaks, tell them to take it up with the pope.
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Missouri Pastors urge elected officials to remember their moral obligation to defend vital safety-net programs for working poor families in Kansas City Star Op-Ed.
Frustrated with the slowing progress being made in the fiscal negotiations, Rev. Rayfield Burns and Pastor Jennifer Thomas of Missouri Faith Voices and Communities Creating Opportunity reminded lawmakers in an op-ed published today in the Kansas City Star that neglecting their duty to protect struggling Americans and seniors from an immoral “fiscal cliff” deal will leave many families economically vulnerable this holiday season.
With middle-class tax rates set to go up at the end of the year, Pastor Thomas and Rev. Burns are urging elected officials to remember the hundreds of thousands of Missouri children and families that depend on the Earned Income Tax Credit to meet their food and healthcare needs.
“At a time of staggering economic inequality, robust corporate profits, large deficits and historically low taxes on rich people, our leaders need to summon the courage to make powerful special interests pay their fair share. That starts with ending the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans and closing loopholes for big, profitable corporations.”
Both Rev. Burns and Pastor Thomas agree that the nation cannot afford politicians to compromise on their commitments to fund Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They point out:
“Any fiscal cliff deal that undermines the health or economic security of American families and fails to require rich and powerful special interests to pay their fair share is immoral. Our elected representatives have a grave responsibility to uphold our values of fairness, justice and shared sacrifice.”
Their voices are just two of many in the faith community that are calling on Congress to stand firm; there is too much at stake for them to waver in their commitment to the poor and vulnerable. The futures of low-income families and children as well as the general well-being of seniors and the disabled depend on lawmakers closing the inequality gap and demanding that the top 2% pay their fair share.
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While the “fiscal cliff” debate roars on, faith leaders across the country are determined to do everything they can to forge a moral solution that asks the wealthy to pay their fair share and doesn’t harm the poor and vulnerable. In an effort to persuade Congress to move towards a balanced deal, Bend the Arc Jewish Action Network has organized a letter signed by nearly 300 rabbis urging lawmakers to allow the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans to expire.
This campaign sends a strong signal from the progressive faith community as it seeks to influence the debate over the fiscal showdown. Addressed to elected officials, the letter opens:
“As rabbis, we are called upon to uphold the highest values of our faith, and to teach the laws of our tradition… Raising revenue in order to support important community institutions was established in the Torah’s commandments, extolled by the prophets, and has been a hallmark of Jewish communities ever since.”
According to The Jewish Week:
“It is believed to be the first time a major American Jewish group has taken a position on a tax issue — other than advocating for preserving the charitable tax deduction — since the Jewish Council for Public Affairs did so in 2002.” Moreover, it highlights that the American Jewish community stands by people of every socio-economic background by ensuring a level-playing field for all Americans.”
The rabbis write that:
“Allowing these cuts to expire at the end of this year for the wealthiest two percent of Americans – those making more than $250,000 a year – is a crucial step toward increasing the equality and basic fairness that our tradition calls for.”
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