Circle of Protection

Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. - Proverbs 31:8-9

Media Room

Circle of Protection leaders

For Immediate Release

Church Leaders Express ‘Deep Moral Concerns’ to Budget Cuts

Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017 — Christian leaders from across the theological and political spectrum today expressed opposition to federal budget cuts that would harm people living in hunger and poverty. Their statement represents the first broad-based, ecumenical response to the ongoing budget debates since the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.

The Christian leaders belong to the Circle of Protection, a broad coalition of leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity who have come together around the biblical mandate to protect poor and vulnerable people. They are calling on “political leaders in the House and the Senate to express their faith convictions in their votes.” The Christian leaders flew in from across the country, and will personally meet with members of Congress to deliver the statement.

The statement reads in part, “The Trump Administration’s budget proposal has now been presented to Congress. We believe budgets are moral documents; they reveal our values and show our priorities, whether for families, churches, organizations, or governments. Budgets show who and what we view as important, and, likewise, who and what are not. We have deep moral concerns about the way this budget would impact those we are called to protect…”

The church leaders also reiterated their commitment to working with all members of Congress to build a budget that defends those who need protecting. They urged Congress to improve the U.S. healthcare system in ways that guard the health of people who are most at risk.

“As Congress considers budget and appropriation bills and potential health care legislation, we urge our leaders to approve bills that do not put the lives of the most vulnerable in danger…”

The Trump administration has proposed significant budget cuts to programs for people who are poor, hungry, weak, sick, and vulnerable. This includes cuts to programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, and foreign assistance.

Read the full statement.

Featured Press Release

Christian Leaders Speak Out On Budget Cuts Against the Poor

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2017 — Today, a diverse group of Christian leaders held a press conference and prayer vigil on Capitol Hill to protest proposed legislation that would disproportionally harm poor and vulnerable people. The leaders are members of the Circle of Protection, a broad coalition from all the families of U.S. Christianity who have come together around the biblical mandate to protect poor people.

The White House has recently proposed budget cuts to a wide array of domestic anti-poverty programs, including nutrition, housing, heating assistance, and community development. The budget cuts would also slash foreign aid during a time of worsening famine. The Circle of Protection, which believes that budgets are moral documents, opposes these cuts and are making their voices known to congressional leadership.

The following are quotes from the Christian leaders:

“As Christian leaders, it is our responsibility to speak out when our government officials promote policies that will hurt poor and hungry people. Right now, 20 million people are facing famine in Africa, and millions of children here in our own country do not always get the nutrition they need. Yet the White House is proposing deep cuts to international and domestic assistance programs. We urge Congress to oppose these cuts and pass a budget that puts us and the world on track to ending hunger.”

— Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

“As Sojourners has been saying for decades, a budget is a moral document. It reflects a nation’s real priorities; and a nation whose budget increases military spending at the expense of programs that protect the poor and vulnerable puts us in danger of ‘approaching spiritual death’ as Dr. King reminded us many years ago. How we treat the most vulnerable is the test of a nation’s righteousness.”

— Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners

“A federal budget that takes away from our neighbors, food, shelter, medicine, schools, air to breath and water to drink – a budget that guts SNAP, Medicaid, health care, the environment, education, diplomacy, and foreign aid — a federal budget that channels those same resources to an unnecessary military spending increase and gives tax cuts for those who already have more than enough – is an immoral budget. It’s not America at our best. We can do better.”

— Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins; Board Chair, National Council of Churches; General Minister and President, Disciples of Christ

“Just as we found that the health care legislation signaled a standard of basic American decency and compassion, the same must be true of the federal budget. The budget is properly called a moral document and the reflection of the nation’s highest values. The budget that has been proposed falls far below our nations rudimentary moral standard by favoring the rich and powerful over poor and vulnerable Americans.”

— Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African American Clergy Network

“It is in the interest of all Americans to see that all our children are adequately nourished, so that their brains develop to their full potential. We all benefit when those struggling with illness and disability get the help they need. Family life is strengthened when public policies help make adequate housing available and affordable, so that fewer people become homeless. Adequate addiction treatment saves lives and futures, and it also increases public safety.”

— Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals

“We organized the Circle of Protection to look at budget and policy choices from the bottom-up and outside-in. The US Catholic Bishops have said the poor and vulnerable have the greatest needs, but the least power. Our faith and America’s values call us to put the poor first. The human consequences of misplaced priorities threaten the lives and dignity of the vulnerable among us and the moral consequences challenge the consciences of all of us.”

— John Carr, Director, Initiative on Catholic Social thought and Public Life, Georgetown University

“The convictions that shape our sense of fairness, justice and compassion are rooted in the gospel, in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The priority of our government must the millions of Americans who go to work every day, and those who are sick or too old to go to work. The work of this Congress must be to protect the most vulnerable, to protect them from the oppression of markets, corporations, political parties, individuals and even from cynicism. We are here today and we will be here tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, for as long as it takes for the voice and the plea of millions of our brothers and sisters be clearly heard in the halls of Congress.”

— Rev. Carlos Malave, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together

Archived Press Release

Christian Leaders Challenge U.S. Presidential Candidates

January 15, 2015

Washington, D.C. – As President Obama prepares to present his plan for his final two years in office in the annual State of the Union address next week, a group of Christian leaders is already looking ahead to what the next president may do to address hunger and poverty.

The group of 100 Christian leaders around the country is challenging the presidential candidates to appear on camera in a video stating how they propose to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and abroad.

“We are praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration. Are you that leader?” a statement from the group asks. Read the full statement.

Read the full letter
View the List of Letter Signers

The leaders, convened by the Circle of Protection, represent a diverse array of Christian denominations, churches, colleges, and agencies across the country. They will disseminate the videos throughout their networks and memberships in order to raise hunger and poverty as an election issue.

“We will be calling on people of faith to examine presidential candidates to see if they have a heart for poor and hungry people. We want to know how each candidate proposes to fulfill the mandate to those who govern to “give deliverance to the needy” (Psalm 72), the leaders said in their statement released today.

According to the latest U.S. Census data, 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger, while 45 million live in poverty. One in five children lives in poverty. That is 15 million children, 5 million of them under age 6.

The challenge to candidates was issued today during a press conference organized by the Circle of Protection. Speakers included Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals; Rev. Sèkinah Hamlin, director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative; Rev. Carlos Malavè, executive director of Christian Churches Together; Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA; and Rev. Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners.


“There is broad consensus among faith leaders that our country has been culpably neglectful of poverty, especially in our own country. 100 Christian leaders of all stripes are urging all the candidates to explain, on camera, what they would do to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in our country and around the world.” – Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World

“There are different ways to address the needs of poor and vulnerable people—some more effective than others. Christians who believe government leaders are called to share God’s concern for the poor and vulnerable want to know how presidential candidates would approach this essential responsibility. Silence on poverty is inexcusable.” – Galen Carey, vice president for government relations, National Association of Evangelicals

“We are looking for those who aspire to become president of the United States to seize this moment and take decisive leadership in ways that address the complex yet solvable evil of poverty, particularly as poverty affects nearly one in every five children in America and one in every three children of color.” – Rev. Sèkinah Hamlin, director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative

“Christian leaders from all major Christian traditions have come to have a shared sense that the extent of poverty in this country is unnecessary and shameful. We expect that our president, regardless of which political party he or she represents, place hunger and poverty at the top of his or her priorities.” – Rev. Carlos Malavè, executive director, Christian Churches Together in the USA

“For the 45 million Americans living in poverty, the state of our union leaves them struggling to get by. Helping them achieve their full potential should not be a partisan issue – it’s time for candidates from both sides of the aisle to have a meaningful conversation about advancing the common good.” – Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.”

“The State of the Union is still not good for poor and vulnerable people in America. Should we also not consider God’s point of view as we look toward this important speech? Throughout the Scripture, we’re told that a society will be judged by how they treat “the least” among them. Our political leaders also must be assessed through the measure of their commitment to the poor and most vulnerable. Though political advisors are telling their candidates that they shouldn’t talk about poverty, as people of faith we must and will disagree. That is why, as each presidential candidate declares, the faith community will hold them accountable by asking them all-Republicans and Democrats alike–to tell answer the question “how will you treat those Jesus has called ‘the least of these'”? How will you address and find real solutions to poverty?” – Jim Wallis, founder and CEO, Sojourners