Faith leaders warn of implications of U.S. shutdown

Faith leaders warn of implications of U.S. shutdown

9/30/2013

 Gov Shutdown Faith leaders warn of implications of U.S. shutdown

“We ask that congressional leadership of both parties stand strong in opposing efforts to allow the will of the few to threaten the common good, ” a group of faith leaders urged Congress in a letter. A UMNS photo by Kathleen Barry.

By Linda Bloom*

A group of U.S. faith leaders warned today that the impending shutdown of the U.S. government has “enormous implications,” both at home and abroad, for the poor and those trying to fill in the gaps to support them.

Or, as the Rev. John McCullough, a United Methodist pastor and president of Church World Service, a humanitarian agency, bluntly put it, the “inability” of the U.S. House of Representatives to compromise on a federal budget “is literally taking food away from the mouths of hungry children.”

He was part of a telephone news conference of faith leaders hosted by Bread for the World and moderated by the Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president.

The bill to fund the government for the next fiscal year has been stalled over amendments related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Unless Congress can agree on a spending bill, the government will begin to shut down at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1. The Senate meets at 2 p.m. today to consider its next move.

A letter signed by 33 faith leaders urged members of Congress to keep the government open.

“Our democracy rests on principles of reason, compromise, and a commitment to the common good,” the letter said. “To hold our governance processes and financial credibility hostage to narrow priorities is not only dangerous to the nation’s near-term financial being, it threatens the very foundations of our democratic process and our capacity to live united.

“We ask that congressional leadership of both parties stand strong in opposing efforts to allow the will of the few to threaten the common good.”

The Rev. Jim Wallis, an evangelical and the chief executive of Sojourners, believes the Congressional stalemate is a theological issue, not a political one.

“Most Republicans believe in government even if it is limited or smaller. They also believe in governing,” he said. An extreme minority with a view of the government “that is unbiblical” is holding the government hostage.

“The Bible says the government should help poor people,” Wallis added. “Their hostility toward government also translates into a hostility toward poor people.”

Other participants in the conference  were Sister Simone Campbell SSS, executive director, NETWORK, A National Catholics Social Justice Lobby; Rabbi David Saperstein, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director, Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances,  Islamic Society of North America.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe and contact her at (646) 369-3759 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

by United Methodist News Service