Circle of Protection

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. - Matthew 25:40

Media Room

Circle of Protection leaders

For Immediate Release

July 24, 2019

Christian Leaders Call for a 2020 Budget that Invests in Families

Christian leaders with the Circle of Protection today released the following statement on the 2020 budget:

“The Circle of Protection is an unprecedented coalition of leaders from all the families of Christianity. National budgets are moral documents, and we see the 2020 budget as a chance to strengthen opportunity for struggling families – housing and child care in this country, and investments to reduce the poverty and violence that are driving desperate families to our border. We ask the President and members of Congress across the political spectrum to spare the country yet another round of brinksmanship – and agree on a budget and appropriations that invest in opportunity for families who struggle to put food on the table.”

In March, Circle of Protection leaders sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to pass a bipartisan budget agreement that reverses harmful sequestration cuts and expands investments in critical programs serving people in poverty.

Statements from individual Circle of Protection leaders:

“We welcome the 2020 budget deal as a chance to strengthen the infrastructure of opportunity for millions of families who struggle to put food on the table. A bipartisan deal is better than a government shutdown, and Congress should use this framework to fund much needed assistance for child care, housing, and job training. They should also continue to invest in progress against world hunger – specifically, maintaining aid to Central America and appropriating $250 million in programs that are reducing child malnutrition globally.” Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

“We believe that God judges individuals and societies by how they respond to the needs of the poor. Our goal as Americans must be the elimination of poverty in our land. The proposed budget agreement avoids damaging cuts and allows for some increase in poverty-focused programs. We support this agreement and ask Congress and the President to approve it expeditiously. Moreover, we must continue to work towards eliminating hunger and poverty. Americans must have access to full-time work that offers a realistic escape from poverty, and to good and affordable health care.” Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together

“Active participation in public life and the duty of government to care for its people, especially the most vulnerable, have been part of the Lutheran movement from it beginning. In his explanation of the petition ‘Give us today our daily bread’, Luther said: ‘It would be therefore fitting if the coat of arms of every upright prince were emblazoned with a loaf of bread instead of a Lion’ (Large Catechism). The Congress and Administration has now before it a responsibility to pass a 2020 bipartisan budget agreement that impacts the human realities of millions of people and families at home and our neighbors abroad. I urge our leaders to ensure that we as a nation embody the prudence and the dignity found in our ‘daily bread’ in the 21st Century we live in, until all are fed.” Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“The Friends Committee on National Legislation has long advocated on behalf of those suffering under extreme poverty that creates barriers to affording housing, obtaining employment, and getting a good education. The current budget compromise between the president and the Congress includes critical funding for the non-defense side of the budget, a necessary and welcome development. It is critical that Congress prioritize these programs that address vital human needs in the appropriations process. We remain seriously disappointed by the continued nonstop growth in funding for defense. Spending untold billions year after year has not led to a safer America or world, and never will.” Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation

“We are encouraged to see our leaders working together to craft an agreement on both the FY20 budget and the debt ceiling. As members of Congress now begin approving appropriations bills, we pray that they will prioritize protecting and assisting our most vulnerable citizens, as well as providing life-saving support to those threatened by famine, persecution, and extreme poverty throughout the world. God has blessed our nation with the resources to care for our neighbors in need, while also exercising fiscal discipline and addressing our debt and deficit issues.” Galen Carey, Vice President for Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals

“The Latino Evangelicals of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition stand committed to a budget that demonstrates a commitment to good financial stewardship and support for economically vulnerable communities and families.” Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition

“At a time when people of color are under attack in various ways, the 2020 budget deal is likely to add billions of dollars to programs that are especially important in African-American, Latino, and Indigenous communities. We support this compromise budget framework and urge members of Congress to insist on priority for low-income programs, notably housing and child care, as decisions about specific appropriations are being made.” Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute

“As we have said many times before, a budget is a moral document. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for the poor and the Bible treats the moral test of a society around how it treats the poor. This deal ensures that the United States does not default on its debt obligations, averts deep and dangerous sequestration cuts, and increases funding for non-defense discretionary programs while maintaining parity with increases in defense spending. While there are many positives to this agreement, we are concerned that the deal did not include additional revenue offsets through the closing of tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Additionally, while suspending the debt ceiling until after the 2020 presidential election will ensure that the debt limit doesn’t lead to unnecessary brinkmanship during this important upcoming election, we will work to ensure that commitments to fiscal responsibility held by many will be upheld and any considerations of additional spending under this agreement will favor programs that assist the millions of Americans living in and near to poverty.” Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners

“We join with the rest of the Circle of Protection in urging Congress and the President to approve the compromise budget 2020 framework. It avoids deep cuts and allows for some much-needed increases in programs that provide help and opportunity to people in need in our country and around the world. This is consistent with our tradition’s emphasis on holiness both in our personal lives and in how we behave as a society.” Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Letter to Church Leaders

June 14, 2018

Poverty-Related Advocacy Issues Now

In the name of Jesus Christ, grace and peace to you from our loving God.

Since 2011, church leaders from many families of U.S. Christianity have worked together to maintain a Circle of Protection around people struggling with hunger, poverty, and injustice. You have participated alongside us in this ministry. We are now writing to share the Circle of Protection steering committee’s current thinking about the poverty-related issues facing us between now and this fall’s elections. We don’t all agree on every statement in this letter, but we think you will find it helpful to read about the issues we are discussing.

What we have achieved

The budget and appropriations packages that Congress approved in February and March marked a major step forward in the Circle of Protection’s seven-year campaign to protect funding for domestic and international programs that help people in poverty. Despite seven years of budget brinksmanship and the deep cuts proposed in President Trump’s budgets, Congress has not approved any substantial cuts in anti-poverty programs. The clear and unified position that you and many other Christian leaders have maintained–and the activism of many Christians across the country–have contributed to this remarkable result.

We are concerned about the recent surge of deficit spending, especially since only three percent of it funded assistance to people in poverty. Most of it went to the top one percent of the income distribution. When Congress and the president decide to address the deficit, as they should, no one should suggest doing so by cutting programs that help people in poverty.

Farm Bill

Right now, Congress is working on the Farm Bill. We are opposing the House Agriculture Committee’s version because it would take away SNAP food assistance for more than two million people. It would reduce food assistance by $18 billion, in large part to finance an expanded SNAP bureaucracy. It would expand job requirements. All beneficiaries would need to report their status (whether they are working, caring for small children, disabled, or elderly) monthly rather than twice a year–a six-fold increase in paperwork, frustration, and possibilities for error. The very limited funding this bill provides for job training would not allow for effective training.

The House bill is defended as a strategy to get SNAP beneficiaries into jobs. But nearly three-quarters of working-age adults who are not on disability work within the month or year of receiving benefits. Almost two-thirds of SNAP participants are children, disabled, or elderly.

The House voted down their Agriculture Committee’s bill, but Republican leaders have announced their intention to bring it back for another vote this month. The Senate Agriculture Committee just approved a bipartisan Farm Bill that does not include damaging cuts and changes to SNAP.

Please do what you can to defeat the House version of the Farm Bill and encourage passage of the Senate bill. Action on this issue is urgent.

Executive order to cut means-tested programs

President Trump has directed all the departments of government to do an immediate review of all means-tested programs. The president wants them to find ways to cut costs, mainly by imposing new or expanded job requirements in core safety net programs: Medicaid, SNAP, and housing assistance.

Evaluations of work requirements in assistance programs have found them to be an ineffective way to get people into jobs and reduce poverty. A much-cited exception followed welfare reform in 1996 when TANF work requirements were put in place. But the initial gains in employment were not sustained. Continuing job requirements on cash assistance to needy families have instead contributed to a surge in deep poverty–people living on less than $2 a day of cash income. The goal of program reforms should be to get people out of poverty, not just get them off the programs.

Policies to improve job opportunities

We are hoping that our nation’s political leaders will pivot from their current focus on job requirements to policies that would improve job opportunities, especially for low-income people. When they consider investments in infrastructure, for example, we would like them to give priority to investments in communities of concentrated poverty. Public transportation from low-income neighborhoods to centers of employment would make it possible for many more families to work their way out of hunger and poverty. Broadband internet access would help depressed rural communities connect to economic activity.

Can you educate people who look to you for leadership about the disadvantages of expanded job requirements on assistance programs and about the possibility of policies that would improve job opportunities?


Congress is now working on Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations, including important decisions about many specific programs. President Trump has proposed $15.4 billion in rescissions from past appropriations, including a $7 billion cut from the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Resistance to racism

In January, the Circle of Protection helped to develop and disseminate the Unity Statement on Racism and Poverty. Many church leaders are alarmed by the persistence and resurgence of explicit racism and hateful attitudes and policies toward immigrants. Racism is an attack on the image of God in each person, and racist laws and social structures are a major cause of poverty. Racial profiling and mass incarceration are realities that churches must no longer accept.

The Unity Statement led us to restructure the Circle of Protection steering committee to include stronger African-American and Latino leadership. We are grateful that the October annual meeting of Christian Churches Together will include discussion of the Unity Statement and of how predominantly white churches can educate their members about structural racism.

Criminal justice reform would be one way to address structural racism. The House of Representatives has passed a prison reform bill, but it does not address the problem of excessive mandatory sentences or effective models of restorative justice. Most of the faith community is supporting the Senate Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017 (S. 1917). It would allow for judicial review of some mandatory sentences and strengthen federal-prison programs that reduce recidivism.

President Trump’s harsh rhetoric and policies toward immigrants and refugees have done great harm. The faith community has expressed particular alarm about the separation of children from their parents at the border. We remain concerned about a regulation the White House is currently working on that would keep immigrants from becoming citizens if they have ever accepted public assistance. But the president and some members of Congress from both parties have said they want to reach a deal that would provide security for the “Dreamers.” The Dream Act (S. 1615 and H.R. 2440) would provide a path to citizenship for all the Dreamers, allowing almost two million young people to move up into better jobs and, in the process, help many people in their families and communities out of poverty.

We hope you will join in faith-grounded anti-racism education and help to achieve criminal justice reform and positive immigration reform.

International hunger and poverty

There is opportunity for positive action on international hunger and poverty issues. The Global Food Security Act is up for reauthorization. That could continue our country’s effective agriculture and nutrition assistance programs for another five years, with concentration on fragile states where conflict and climate change are increasing hunger. It would also continue hard-won improvements that have made U.S. food assistance more efficient and effective. This is important in desperate situations such as in South Sudan and Yemen.

Concerned Christian people can help by urging their members of Congress to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act. It is bill number S. 2269 in the Senate and H.R. 5129 in the House. Broad, bipartisan approval of the Global Food Security Act is possible and would help to protect appropriations for aid to hungry and poor people around the world.

Our wounded body politic, and this year’s elections

Finally, church leaders are called to be both thoughtful and bold in helping their members contribute to the healing of our wounded body politic. Some Christian leaders are speaking out about the theological dimension of the exceptional turmoil and division we are suffering. Some Christian organizations are helping people of faith have an impact during this fall’s elections.

We know you are praying for our nation and the world. Urge people who look to you for leadership to ask God to guide their conversation and behavior as citizens. Urge them to exercise their civic duty and support candidates for office who will serve the common good and improve opportunity for poor and vulnerable people. In Jesus Christ, we experience the love of God for all people and are moved to help and defend people who struggle with hunger, poverty, and injustice.

Rev. Jim Wallis
President and Founder, Sojourners

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
Co-Convener, National African-American Clergy Network and President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Rev. David Beckmann
President, Bread for the World

Rev. Carlos Malavé
Executive Director, Christian Churches Together USA
(in his personal capacity)

Open Letter to Congress

January 29, 2018

Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty: A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

Dear Members of Congress,

As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are sharing a common “Unity Statement” on racism and poverty. As Christians, we are grounded in God’s love for all people, and we feel called to ask our churches and political leaders of both parties to work together to overcome racism and poverty which are theological, biblical, and gospel issues for us, not merely political or partisan ones.

This moment in time and the clear movement of the Spirit have brought diverse multi-racial church leaders together over the last several months for dinner conversations and times of prayer. Out of those moving times together, we developed a Unity Statement on Racism and Poverty. It has attracted many more racially and theologically diverse church leaders and is now embraced by the Circle of Protection, the broadest group of Christian leaders focused on poverty. The leaders who have signed this statement are from African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native American, Evangelical, Catholic, Pentecostal, and mainline Protestant churches; and many national faith-based organizations. We are all committed to help build a fresh, newly energetic, multi-racial Christian movement to make the integral connection between racism and poverty and seek the spiritual power to end both. We are also committed and are ready to work with allies from other faith communities on the crucial intersection between racism and poverty as it shapes public policy.

We are purposefully sending you this statement before you go to your respective retreats. In addition to reading this statement thoughtfully, we ask for the following three things: first, we ask you to discuss this statement and the issues central to it—racism and poverty—at your retreats; second, we ask you to incorporate these concerns into your policy decisions and legislation in 2018 and beyond; third, we ask you to convene meetings with faith leaders in your communities to plan follow-up action on these issues in your states and districts. Racism and poverty are systemic issues that are central to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. Therefore, they are critical to policy choices made by political leaders of faith and conscience. We will be following up with you directly to see how we can be helpful and useful to you as you consider these deeply biblical and theological issues.

We believe if we Christians from diverse backgrounds and traditions were known, not mostly for our divisions, but for our unity in a shared commitment to faithfully address both racism and poverty—together—it could be powerful force—both for our churches and the country. So help us God.

Rev. Jim Wallis
President and Founder, Sojourners

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
Co-Convener, National African-American Clergy Network and President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Rev. David Beckmann
President, Bread for the World

Rev. Carlos Malavé
Executive Director, Christian Churches Together USA
(in his personal capacity)

Archived Press Release

December 20, 2017

What Christian Leaders are Saying About the Tax Bill’s Passage

Washington, D.C. – Christian leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity expressed concern that Congress’ passage of the tax bill will be followed by efforts to cut programs and support for people living in poverty. Below are statements from leaders of the Circle of Protection. The statements follow a letter the Circle of Protection sent to members of Congress recently, which reads in part:

“We oppose cutting low-income programs to pay for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Tax reform must be undertaken in such a way as to strengthen and empower low and moderate-income families and small businesses.”

As Christian leaders, our concern is always about how legislation impacts the poor and most vulnerable. We will continue to pray, mobilize, and advocate on behalf of our neighbors in poverty.

Quotes from Circle of Protection leaders:

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Today, Congress passed its tax reform legislation, The Tax Reform and Jobs Act, and it has been sent to the President to consider. The legislation achieves some laudable things, like doubling the standard deduction, which will help many struggling families avoid tax liability, expanding the use of 529 education plans, and increasing the child tax credit. However, the Act contains a number of problematic provisions that will have dramatic negative consequences, particularly for those most in need. Among other things, the Joint Committee on Taxation indicates that the bill will eventually raise taxes on those with lower incomes while simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthy. This is clearly problematic, especially for the poor. The repeal of the personal exemption will cause larger families, including many in the middle class, to be financially worse off. The final bill creates a large deficit that, as early as next year, will be used as a basis to cut programs that help the poor and vulnerable toward stability. The legislation is also likely to produce up to a $13 billion drop in annual charitable giving to nonprofits that are relied upon to help those struggling on the margins. This will also significantly diminish the role of civil society in promoting the common good. As the President considers the tax bill before him, we ask that he take into account the full consequences of its provisions and work with Congress to remedy them before signing a tax bill into law.”

National Council of Churches: “This tax plan cannot be biblically defended. Words of warning from Holy Scripture serve to remind us that over time those in power who steal from the poor will weaken the body politic and invite chaos. Most certainly, cutting programs the poor depend on, just to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, is reprehensible. “Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving it to the rich, will lead only to loss (Proverbs 22:16, NRSV).” The National Council of Churches prays our elected leaders heed these ancient words of wisdom which bear witness even today. Our lawmakers have a responsibility to care for the entire citizenry, not just those with the means to influence tax policy.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals: “What are our next hopes after tax reform? The rich and richer will be generous to the poor and poorer. The Congress will protect children, the disabled, elderly, needy and other vulnerable Americans against future budget cuts. Compassion will be both a liberal and a conservative value.”

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African American Clergy Network: “We are told that corporate profits today are about $2.3 trillion; the stock market is at an all time high and that unemployment is at 4% or nearly full employment. Economists of all political persuasions agree that there is no guarantee that the “trickle down” notion that corporations with lower tax rates will invest in American jobs and spur economic growth. What other reason would there be for taking from the poorer and giving to the richer, who do not need a tax cut except greed? What a shameful and immoral way of snatching milk and bread off the table of low income people just days before Christmas!”

Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners: “The treatment of the poor and vulnerable is lifted up in the Bible more than 2,000 times. And it is these people, the ones our Scriptures call us to protect and serve, who will be most hurt by the results of this disastrous tax bill. The bill suffers from deeply immoral logic: to blow a hole in the deficit by giving huge tax cuts to the rich and corporations, that will ultimately be paid for by the poor—literally on the backs of their children and their future—is indefensible. This is a shameful hypocrisy, callous calculation, and immoral act. It is an offense to God who hears the cry of the poor. As the book of Isaiah says, “woe to you legislators of unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.” It is the duty and responsibility of the government to give aid to the oppressed and downtrodden, not to siphon wealth away from them to pad the pockets of the rich.”

David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World: “This tax bill is part of a 1-2 punch. President Trump and congressional leaders have already announced plans to follow this tax cut, mainly for high-income people, with a big push to cut more than $2 trillion from social programs for low-and middle-income people.”

Rev. Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference: “This bill will inflict multilayered suffering upon many Americans. It will necessitate the cutting of funds from programs which help America’s struggling masses: black and brown people, women, children, the elderly, and the disabled. The bill will also result in an additional 13 million people losing health care . . . Quality of life is not, or should not be, a partisan issue; the lives and needs of American citizens are not Liberal or Conservative, but are, rather, human. This tax “reform” act sets in motion a series of legislative actions that will further rob people – some who are already poor and some close to abject poverty – of the capacity to earn a decent living in this nation. Historically, the country’s wealth has been created by the very people who stand to suffer most from this tax “reform” act. The process and passage of this legislation bears the mark of this history. It too has been accomplished out of a spirit of unGodly callousness and greed. There is something deeply wrong with this narrative which points to the very soul of America.”

John Ashmen, President, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions: “After passing a historic tax reform bill, it is the hope and prayer of members of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, nationwide, that Congress will now engage in an unprecedented, persistent monitoring of the ongoing conditions of our most vulnerable citizens—particularly hungry and homeless individuals and families, and those unable to afford proper medical care. We hope and pray that, as concerned legislators, they will quickly introduce amending measures as soon as they see inequities, and that they do more to protect the religious freedom and gift income of nonprofit organizations that are working so hard to relieve the government’s burden.”

Commissioner David Hudson, The Salvation Army National Headquarters: “The Salvation Army is able to serve almost 25 million people each year across the United States due to the generosity of fellow Americans and our strong partnership with Federal and State governments. The government has encouraged that generosity by creating a tax code that supports charitable giving. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (S. 1) in its current form will undermine this incentive and increase need. While we appreciate the goal of decreasing taxes and simplifying the tax code, we recognize that this plan does not benefit those in or close to poverty nor organizations like ours who meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

The Episcopal Church: The Episcopal Church is deeply troubled by the passage of this tax bill which places political and corporate interests above the love and care of our neighbors. Over the long term, this legislation will raise taxes on the poor in order to pay for permanent tax cuts for corporations and Americans who can afford to contribute more. Economists agree that this bill will plunge our nation further into debt, and we are concerned that this tax cut will serve to justify future funding cuts for programs that feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the sick, and provide education for our children. Our Church supports efforts to reduce economic disparities in the United States, and we will vehemently oppose any cuts to programs that help our neighbors meet their most pressing needs. The Bible calls on Christians to care for each other, and we believe that while imperfect, the federal government is one of many necessary and effective tools to care for the poor and vulnerable in this country. We take seriously the understanding of St. John Chrysostom who wrote: “This is the rule of the most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good . . . for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors.”

Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together: “Leaders of more than 39 Christian communions in our country have been saying for more than 10 years that our economy and priorities must be reordered. The biblical teaching about God’s special concern for the poor demands that any stimulus and economic recovery plan must make the pressing needs of vulnerable and low-income Americans a priority. We must ensure that all families have access to the basic needs of food, health care, and housing. We must correct racial disparities and structural injustices that undermine families, especially in low-income communities. In order to protect and uplift vulnerable families, there must be the right mix of the following: an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit; a just minimum wage; well funded SNAP program, increased unemployment insurance; and other proven investments that reward work. Based on the call of the Old Testament prophets and the gospel of Jesus, any tax reform legislation that neglects the well being of the poor is unacceptable and fail to reflect our Christian moral principles.”

Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA: “Throughout the tax reform negotiations CCUSA has urged you to adopt a tax reform proposal which prioritizes individuals working their way out of poverty, fosters family economic stability, promotes a culture of charitable giving and promotes access to affordable housing. . . As it stands, the bill fails to make these investments and provides only small and temporary relief for low-income and working families. CCUSA stands ready to work with you to make these meaningful investments. As you move forward, we urge you to reject efforts to use the deficit created by this bill as a pretext for even greater cuts to programs for low-income communities. Instead we urge you to address the shortcomings in this bill and recommit yourselves to the bipartisan solutions needed to lift people out of poverty.” (Letter to Congress, December 19, 2017)

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation: “Congress’ vote to pass such an unconscionable and irresponsible tax bill is gravely disappointing, violating fundamental Quaker values of equality, stewardship and economic security. Nearly every independent analysis shows this bill will leave federal deficits and debt soaring with minimal economic growth or job creation. This will harm tens of millions of people throughout our country, while giving corporations and wealthy individuals excessive benefits. That Congressional leaders are using these self-inflicted deficits to call for cuts and harmful changes to critical programs like Medicaid, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and SSI is nothing short of immoral. These very programs enable struggling families to make ends meet and help parents to provide a better future for their children. Surely, this is the common good that government can and must provide to foster equality, opportunity and a strong society. Members of Congress should search their hearts for what they will do to assure that the tax cuts they give to the wealthy do not require cutting basic assistance and opportunity programs for struggling families.”

Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Director, Advocacy, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: “A tax policy that serves the common good will be evaluated by how it prioritizes the health, well-being and the future prospects for those most vulnerable in society. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act fails this test. Lutheran Christians should vigorously make their opinions known to their members of Congress and call for a swift commitment to children, the working poor, those living with disabilities and seniors in 2018.”

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, Director, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative and Ecumenical Advocacy Days: “Congress has again put their own selfish ambition and political power above children, the elderly and the poor. They are ready to do marvelous things for the rich and well off and to further demoralize and vilify the poor and vulnerable … This tax bill will increase the national deficit by more than $1.5 trillion dollars, while favoring the richest in our nation and corporations on the backs of the poor, the elderly, children and the most vulnerable. It will end health care coverage for 13 million people by removing the individual mandate, destabilizing the market and making health coverage premiums cost prohibitive. In addition, congressional leaders have already made it known that they are driving up the debt so that they can cut safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that provide support for those who Jesus called ‘the least of these.’ This is unacceptable and immoral. We will continue to mobilize and stand against any and all efforts to undermine safety net programs and we will have no choice but to remember this legislative malpractice and recklessness disregard of the most vulnerable during the midterm elections next year.”

Archived Press Release

Christian Leaders Urge Congress to Protect Programs that Help People in Poverty

Washington, D.C., November 2, 2017 – A diverse group of national Christian leaders from across the theological and political spectrum today sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to maintain a “circle of protection” around programs of assistance for people in poverty.

The leaders are concerned, because this fall Congress will make decisions that have far reaching consequences for people living in poverty and working families struggling to make ends meet. Specifically, the Christian leaders are calling on Congress to 1) protect funding for anti-poverty programs in appropriations bills, and 2) protect and support low-income families in any tax legislation.

The Christian leaders belong to the Circle of Protection (CoP), a broad coalition of leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity. The CoP is working to ensure the vitality of church-sponsored programs serving people in or near poverty in the United States and around the world, while also supporting public sector efforts to alleviate poverty and increase opportunity for all of God’s children.

The letter reads in part, “These are biblical and gospel issues for us, not just political or partisan concerns. In Matthew 25 Jesus identified himself with those who are immigrants, poor, sick, homeless and imprisoned, and challenged his followers to welcome and care for them as we would care for Jesus himself. We continue to pray, mobilize, and advocate on behalf of our neighbors in poverty…”

“We are bold enough to imagine news stories about Members of Congress from both parties joining together to support the urgent needs of low-income Americans and life-saving assistance to hungry and poor people around the world—because of the religious faith of those political leaders,” the letter adds.

In the letter, the Christian leaders committed to praying for members of Congress as they develop legislation for the nation, especially as the legislation impacts America’s most vulnerable citizens and neighbors.

Read the full letter with the complete list of signatories.