SNAP cuts start this week

October 30, 2013, 11:42 am | Posted by

In two days, an indiscriminate cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will take up to 21 meals per month away from American families who count on this crucial protection to put food on the table. It’s clear that hunger will rise and poverty will deepen in all 50 states.

These cuts — which will reduce benefits to a mere $1.40 per meal — aren’t just taking food away from seniors, children, families and veterans, they’re placing an unbearable burden on congregations that serve low-income communities. Faith–based charities, food banks and service providers that already strain to feed their struggling neighbors are bracing for a surge in need as people scramble to make ends meet.

The tireless advocacy of groups like the Faithful Budget Campaign have gone a long way toward preventing cuts like this, but this time Congress has turned a deaf ear.

Looking forward, these unconscionable cuts show the need for the faith community to maintain an ironclad commitment to protect low-income families and seniors. During upcoming budget negotiations between Republican and Democratic Members of Congress, there is renewed concern of cuts to Social Security and Medicare. While this agenda is carefully cloaked in rhetoric about debt reduction, what it really does is take money out of vulnerable seniors’ pockets at a time when millions are already on the edge of poverty. That’s not right, and we can’t go along with it.


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Praying for courage to end the shutdown

October 16, 2013, 4:04 pm | Posted by

As the shutdown entered its third week and we approached the brink of economic catastrophe, I couldn’t sit and watch families, seniors, veterans and our economy suffer. Yesterday morning I joined more than 70 faith leaders, as well as dozens of families harmed by the shutdown, to march and pray at Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. We visited the offices of 13 GOP Representatives – including the Leadership — and called on them to have the courage and wisdom to end the shutdown and the threat of a debt default. At the same time, Faithful America members delivered 32,000 petitions to Congressional offices in five states calling on Congress to end the shutdown.

As we sang Amazing Grace while marching through the halls of the Cannon House Office Building, I was overcome with the realization of just how much guidance and grace Congress needs right now. Reckless Tea Party Representatives aren’t playing political hardball, they’re rejecting their basic governing responsibilities and making innocent people suffer for no good reason. Even though it appears that we’ve avoided a catastrophic default on our nation’s debt, this reckless episode of political hostage-taking diminishes our nation’s moral credibility and global leadership.

Here’s footage of our march:

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The poor are paying the price

October 9, 2013, 1:57 pm | Posted by

As the government shutdown continues, the impacts are immediate and unconscionable: cancer patients denied treatment, pregnant women and infants losing critical nutrition supports, and the families of deceased military service members are even being denied benefits. The mounting damage of it all is stunning.

In response, Faith in Public Life released a hard-hitting statement from faith leaders calling for an end to the shutdown and rebuking Members of Congress who claim to be pro-life but have no compunction about taking food away from pregnant women and young children. One hundred Catholic, evangelical and Mainline Protestant leaders — ranging from nationally prominent voices to local clergy from coast to coast — have signed on, and more are doing so every day.

Almost 30,000 Faithful America members have also added their names, and next week they’ll deliver the statement as a petition to the offices of Members of Congress who support the shutdown.

If you’re a faith leader and would like to add your name, you can do so here. If you’re a lay person, you can sign the statement here. The handful of reckless legislators who are behind the current crisis need to hear from all of us.

The March for Citizenship forges on 

In a stirring display of commitment and courage yesterday, more than 200 people — including faith leaders and eight Members of Congress — mounted a civil disobedience action on Capitol Hill to call attention to the moral urgency of reforming our unjust immigration system. With civil rights movement leader Rep. John Lewis among those arrested, the echoes of historic struggles for equality were clear.

Earlier in the day, influential clergy leaders held a press at the Capitol directly challenging House leadership on this issue, and in the afternoon tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall to tell Congress to get back to work on reform that protects families and builds a path to citizenship. This came on the heels of a National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect last Saturday that featured 180 events in 40 states, many of which had religious leaders playing key roles.

In a promising sign that our community’s hard work is paying off, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – the 4th ranking House Republican – told Univision this weekend that the House will pass immigration reform this year.

Ending the government shutdown, averting the economic catastrophe that will occur if Congress defaults on our nation’s bills, and reforming our immigration system are grave political challenges that share a common solution. House Speaker John Boehner must defy the radicals in his caucus who have forgotten their responsibility to serve the common good and protect American families.

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Faith Leaders Challenge Pro-Life Representatives to end Shutdown

October 3, 2013, 11:15 am | Posted by

Reckless Congress Members rebuked for harming pregnant women, infants, seniors

(Updated October 9, 2013)

Washington, DC –  More than 100 Catholic, evangelical and mainline Protestant leaders issued a statement sharply rebuking 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.

Signed by prominent pro-life Catholic and evangelical clergy and scholars, as well as progressive Christian leaders, the statement highlights the fact that federal funding for Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – which provides low-income pregnant women and infants with vital nutrition and health care support — will be cut off as a result of the shutdown.

“We especially challenge those Members of Congress who call themselves pro-life to cease their political posturing on Capitol Hill,” the leaders said. “There is nothing ‘pro-life’ or Christian about taking food away from pregnant women and babies. It is hypocritical and shameful for those who tout their commitment to family values to show such callous indifference.”

Signatories include two former U.S. Ambassadors to the Vatican from Republican and Democratic administrations; Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK; Rev. Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners; the Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; and Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Agency.

More than 28,000 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 — have also signed the statement.

“It’s time for extreme factions in Congress to stop this reckless behavior, grow up and demonstrate real leadership,” said Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby. “There is no justification for playing politics in Washington when struggling families, pregnant women and seniors are getting hurt.”

“This shutdown will cause unnecessary pain to families already struggling to make ends meet,” said Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association. “Congress has a moral responsibility to act now and do what’s right for the country.”

“The low-income families and hardworking people across Ohio who will suffer because of this shutdown deserve better,” said Rev. Tim Ahrens, Senior Minister of First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio. “We all do. It’s time for the tiny political faction that caused this crisis to stop playing games and get back to work.”


The complete statement and list of signatories is below.

As Christians and citizens, we are appalled that elected officials are pursuing an extreme ideological agenda at the expense of the working poor and vulnerable families.

We especially challenge those Members of Congress who call themselves pro-life to cease their political posturing on Capitol Hill. Shutting down the government in a futile effort to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act will hurt low-income pregnant women and infants who receive vital nutrition support. The Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will receive no additional funds during the shutdown.

There is nothing “pro-life” or Christian about taking food away from pregnant women and babies. It is hypocritical and shameful for those who tout their commitment to family values to show such callous indifference.

The shutdown hurts all Americans, including seniors who will see “Meals on Wheels” cut, preschoolers who will be turned away from Head Start, and public servants who will be locked out of their workplaces without pay as bills pile up. This failure of political leadership and responsible governance exposes our nation’s misplaced values.

Struggling families, seniors and pregnant women don’t deserve to be victims of a manufactured crisis in Washington.

Sr. Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Jim Wallis

Rev. Larry Snyder
Catholic Charities USA

Noel Castellanos
Chief Executive Officer
Christian Community Development Agency

Rev. Jennifer Butler
Faith in Public Life

Timothy Collins
Executive Director (retired)
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Francis X. Doyle
Associate General Secretary (retired)
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Rev. Richard Cizik
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Amb. Thomas P. Melady
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired)
President Emeritus, Sacred Heart University

Miguel Diaz
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired)
University Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton

Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale
Ray of Hope Christian Church
Decatur, Georgia

Stephen Schneck
Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies

J. George Reed
Executive Director
North Carolina Council of Churches

Brian McLaren
Christian author and activist

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Leadership Team

Rev. Michael Livingston
Past President
National Council of Churches

Eli S. McCarthy
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Marie Dennis
Pax Christi International

Rev. Troy Jackson
Ohio Prophetic Voices
Cincinnati, Ohio

Rev. Tim Ahrens
Senior Minister
First Congregational Church
Columbus, Ohio

Rev. Dr. Kendrick Curry
Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch, Sr.
New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
Chicago, Illinois

Kit Danley
Founder and President
Neighborhood Ministries
Phoenix, Arizona

Rev. Chuck Currie
Minister, Sunnyside Church and University Park Church
Portland, Orego

Dominican Sisters of Houston
Houston, Texas

Rev. Dr. John Brisco
Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church
Norfolk, Virginia

S. Maxine Johnson
New Destiny Bible Fellowship
Camp Springs, Maryland

Sr. Rose Marie Tresp
Director of Justice
Sisters of Mercy South Central
Belmont, North Carolina

Sister Rosemary Welsh, RSM, RN
Executive Director
Casa de Misericordia/Domestic Violence Shelter
Laredo, Texas

Terry Lynch
Executive Director
The Downtown Cluster of Congregations
Washington, DC

Bishop Michael Kelsey
New Samaritan Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Minister Mack Baugh
Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Debra James
Senior Pastor
Zion Hill Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Pastor Bruce Jones
First Baptist Church
Louisa, Virginia

Dr. James C. Perkins
Greater Christ Baptist Church
Detroit, Michigan

Fr. Rafael Garcia, S.J.
Immaculate Conception Church
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Marva Riley
Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church
Washington, DC

Pastor Calvin A. Durham
New Hope Church of God in Christ
Norfolk, Virginia

Pastor Orlando Bego
CenterPoing Baptist Church
Camp Springs, Maryland

Rev. William L. Coop, H.R.
MidCoast Presbyterian Church
Topsham, Maine

Rev. Sandy Huber
Discipleship Minister
Powell United Methodist Church
Lewis Center, Ohio

Rev. Mark Greiner
Takoma Park Presbyterian Church
Takoma Park, Maryland

Fr. Daniel McLaughlin, M.M.
Arlington, Massachusetts

Christine Thompson, M.Div.
Zion Personal Esentials Pantry
Monona, Wisconsin

Rev. Emily Bowen
Brightwood Christian Church
Springfield, Missouri

Pastor Susan Stonestreet
United Christian Church
Lincolnville, Maine

Pastor Bob Hake
Orangewood Church of the Nazarene
Phoenix, Arizona

Adam Estle
Social Justice and Missions Pastor
Orangewood Chuch of the Nazarene
Phoenix, Arizona

Rev. Sean Carroll, S.J.
Executive Director
Kino Border Initiative
Nogales, Arizona

Bishop Lanier Twyman
St. Stephen Baptist Church
Temple Hills, Maryland

Rev. Anne S. Howard
Executive Director
The Beatitudes Society

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network

Rev. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM
Chair, Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation
Directorate of the Franciscan Province of Holy Name

Rev. James F. Keenan, S.J.
Founders Professor in Theology
Boston College

David O’Brien
Professor Emeritus
College of the Holy Cross

M. Shawn Copeland
Professor of Systematic Theology
Boston College

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza
Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies
Harvard Divinity School

Christopher Pramuk
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University

Alex Mikulich
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University, New Orleans

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Assistant to the Provost for Social Justice Initiatives
Loyola University, Chicago

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale
Professor of Theological Ethics
Marquette University

Lisa Fullam
Associate Professor of Moral Theology
Jesuit School of Theology
Santa Clara University

Rev. Tom Reese, S.J.
Senior Analyst
National Catholic Reporter

Tobias Winright
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Saint Louis University

Nicholas P. Cafardi
Dean Emeritus
Duquesne University School of Law

William J. Collinge
Knott Professor of Theology
Mount St. Mary’s University
Emmitsburg, MD

Susan H. Collinge
Catholic Campus Minister
Gettysburg College

Rev. T. Michael McNulty, S.J.
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University, Jesuit Residence

Vincent J. Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
University of Dayton

Dennis Doyle
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

John Inglis
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Una M. Cadegan
Department of History
University of Dayton

Marian K. Diaz
Lecturer, University of Dayton

Sr. Paulette Skiba, BVM
Professor of Religious Studies
Clarke University

Nancy Dallavalle
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University Facilitator for Mission and Identity
Fairfield University

Sr. Nancy Sylvester, IHM,
Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue

Eleonore Stump
Professor of Philosophy
St. Louis University

Eugene McCarraher
Associate Professor of Humanities
Villanova University

Bradford E. Hinze
Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Mary E. Hines
Professor of Theology
Emmanuel College
Boston, Massachusetts

Danielle Poe
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Dayton

Elena G. Procario-Foley
Chair, Religious Studies Department
Driscoll Professor of Jewish-Catholic Studies
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Iona College

Sandra Yokum
Associate Professor
Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Mary Ann Hinsdale
Associate Professor of Theology
Boston College

Mark J. Allman
Professor of Religious & Theological Studies
Merrimack College

Marian K. Diaz
University of Dayton

Susan A. Ross
Professor of Theology and department chair
Loyola University, Chicago

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University

Anthony B. Smith
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Michael E. Lee
Associate Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Anthony J. Godzieba
Professor of Theology & Religious Studies
Villanova University

Meghan J. Clark
Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
St. John’s University, New York

Doug Pagitt
Solomon’s Porch
CANA Initiative
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Valerie H. Phillips
Associate Pastor
Steele Creek Presbyterian Church
Charlotte, North Carolina

Ralph W. Milligan
Pastoral Psychotherapist in Residence
St. John’s Episcopal Church,
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. T.J. Thompson
Cook’s Memorial Presbyterian Church
Charlotte, North Carolina

William P. Wood
Presbyterian Minister (Retired)
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Everdith Landrau
Associate Pastor
Caldwell Presbyterian
Presbytery of Charlotte, North Carolina

Jonathan Dula
Trustee, Dulatown Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbytery of Western North Carolina

M. Elaine Rhodes
Presbyterian Minister (retired)
Presbytery of Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Dr. Bill Lindeman
Philadelphia Presbyterian Church (USA)
Mint Hill, North Carolina

Rev. Amantha L. Barbee
Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church (USA)
Charlotte, North Carolina

Betty Meadows
Transitional General Presbyter
Presbytery of Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Dr. James A. Thomas, Sr.
South End Presbyterian Church
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Robyn M. Bles
Minister of Growth
Crestwood Christian Church
Lexington, Kentucky

Rev. Dr. Priscilla B. Durkin
Correctional Chaplain II
Southern Correctional Institution
Troy, North Carolina

Neil M. McMillan
Retired Minister
Presbytery of Charlotte, North Carolina

Shantha Alonso
Field Organizer
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Rev. Kim Capps
Silver Spring, Maryland

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Needless suffering

October 2, 2013, 11:46 am | Posted by

Last week I marched in front of the White House with faith leaders and federal contract workers demanding a living wage. Today those same workers are locked out of their jobs – without pay — along with 800,000 other federal workers. This futile, foolish government shutdown is making low-income and middle class families pay the price, and it’s just getting started.

The consequences of this political charade – forced upon all of us by “one faction of one party” – go beyond lost pay and economic disruption. Funding of critical nutrition supports for pregnant women, new mothers and infants is about to lapse. Children are already being turned away from Head Start even though it provides crucial educational and health benefits for low-income preschoolers. Seniors who struggle to put food on the table will see Meals on Wheels cut back. Even unemployed and disabled veterans will suffer.

House Republicans who trumpet themselves as pro-life and pro-family need to answer for both their hypocrisy and recklessness.

Yesterday, millions of uninsured Americans finally had the chance to get affordable coverage through Obamacare’s new health insurance exchanges. This is clearly something to celebrate. Republicans in Congress who object to Obamacare should be working to fix and improve it, not holding the government hostage in a desperate attempt to sabotage it. It’s time for them to set aside this childish scheme.

There’s no way this shutdown ends well for House Speaker John Boehner and his caucus. The government will resume functioning. Obamacare will continue to be implemented. The only question is how long American families will continue to feel the sting before their elected officials grow up and start doing their jobs again.

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