September 22, 2021 / Open letter to President Biden and members of Congress
Good News for the Poor in Pending Legislation
Three big bills coming before the House and Senate have captured our attention—the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the family support budget bill, and voting rights legislation. If passed and signed into law they would strengthen the physical and social infrastructure of our society, cut family and child poverty more than any time in our lives, and ensure the precious right to vote for all people made in God’s image.
We want to offer specific suggestions for the family support budget bill as it is finalized. We fervently endorse the extension of recent improvements in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Making the full value of the Child Tax Credit available to the poorest households has substantially reduced child poverty, and we are all of one mind that this provision should be made permanent. The improvements in the EITC are benefiting those low-income working adults who often see little or no other assistance. In view of America’s affordable housing crisis, we also support a generous expansion of housing vouchers, because a place to live for families draws us all together.
Business groups and corporations are fighting hard against tax increases for corporations and high-income individuals, have spent nearly $1.5 billion on lobbying in the first half of this year, and are now intensifying their efforts. Yet we believe that our nation is called to reduce poverty, expand opportunity, and address racial disparities—and that everyone, especially wealthy individuals and corporations, should pay their fair share. The Bible is clear in its opposition to the concentration of wealth amid neglected human need. Those who have benefited the most should contribute to the common good of society and invest in the most vulnerable. WATCH: Christian leaders on budget bill’s impact
Selected Letters and Statements
July 19, 2021 / Open letter to the president and members of Congress
We pray for action on three momentous legislative packages
We welcome a bipartisan infrastructure framework, especially investments that address economic and racial injustices—universal broadband, replacement of the lead pipes poisoning our children, and investment in the public transportation that is so important to working people.
We also repeat strong support for a bold recovery package that includes major investments in human infrastructure (including housing, education, nutrition, health care, family care, and international aid). This year’s expansion of the Child Tax Credit will substantially reduce poverty among U.S. children and must be extended. We also prayerfully support financing these investments with tax increases on high-income people and corporations. The Bible objects to extreme concentrations of wealth and urges nations to care for people in need.
We also feel compelled to speak up together for voting rights legislation. Making voting accessible to all eligible voters is far more than a political issue. The right to vote is a reflection of the Christian doctrine that every human being is created in the image of God.
We have an opportunity to recover from the pandemic in a way that addresses economic and racial injustices and also protects the environment. We consider this a call from God. Read the full letter
May 24, 2021 / Open letter to the president and members of Congress
Six essential areas of action in the Build Back Better Program
We are grateful for the substantial COVID relief legislation of 2020 and 2021. Despite some problems, this historic legislation has been critical for millions of people struggling with the pandemic and its economic fallout. But temporary relief is not enough. This is the moment to strengthen the foundations for human well-being and flourishing for the years ahead.
Nations sometimes need to make big changes so that all can thrive, and this is such a time. We do not all agree on everything in the Build Back Better program. Nor does this collective letter mention all the important initiatives it proposes. But we all agree that the following six areas of action are essential:
- Provide robust assistance to low-income families.
- Improve employment opportunities for low-income people.
- Invest in the care economy.
- Promote education and workforce training.
- Help poor countries deal with COVID-19 and its consequences.
- These needed investments for the common good should be financed by increasing taxes on corporations and high-income Americans.
In the Bible, plagues and other disasters are often taken as a wake-up call from God. The COVID-19 crisis has been revelatory. We are all more aware of the connections among all people, including people on the margins of our economy and those beyond our borders. With faith that God has high hopes for our nation and the world, we pray for you and your leadership. Read the full letter
April 23, 2021 / Open letter to President Biden
Why we support the American Jobs Plan
President Biden is making three major proposals to Congress in his first 100 days. The American Rescue Plan addresses immediate needs, especially among people and communities who have been hit hard by the pandemic. It is now being implemented. The recently announced American Jobs Plan is intended to foster sustained prosperity and, at the same time, address long-standing racial and economic injustices and also climate change. The American Families Plan, yet to be released, is reported to propose policies and systems to help the nation’s families flourish and for that we are grateful. In response, the Circle of Protection offers faith-based, poverty-focused reflections on each plan in turn, hoping to inform our church members, the public, and members of Congress as legislation on the Jobs and Families plans is considered.
This letter is about the American Jobs Plan. We are not experts on all of its many provisions, and we do not agree on every issue. However, we all agree on four principles, grounded in our common values and priorities rooted in our faith and scripture. Read the full letter
March 19, 2021 / Open letter to President Biden
‘We need to shift toward an economy that allows all people to thrive and protects the environment that sustains us’
The American Rescue Plan provides critical relief to millions of people struggling with the pandemic and its economic fallout, but that relief is not enough. The COVID pandemic has exacerbated already alarming levels of poverty, racial injustice, and inequality in our nation.
We need to shift toward an economy that allows all people to thrive and protects the environment that sustains us. This will require concrete steps to address the legacy of racial injustice in the U.S. and commitment to rectify the structural inequalities experienced by so many, especially communities of color. We believe that God has high hopes for our country and the world, and we pray for positive, visionary leadership from all of our elected leaders.
Child hunger in America and the wealth of the richest people have both increased at the same time. A series of violent weather events have made climate change harder to ignore. The events of January 6 have shaken us to be ever more vigilant in our defense of democracy for all of God’s children. The Hebrew prophets were clear that nations sometimes need to make big changes, and we think now is such a time. Read the full letter
January 28, 2021 / Open letter to Congress
‘December-passed COVID relief bill was necessary but is a short-term patch’
The concurrent crises of a global pandemic, economic recession, and ongoing systemic racism are ravaging the country. The December-passed COVID relief bill was necessary but is a short-term patch. We call on Congress to pass legislation that responds to these crises head-on with a plan that matches the magnitude and urgency of the challenge and addresses the injustices and inequities laid bare by COVID.
We welcome President Biden’s American Rescue Plan as the start of a crucial process with Congress. Many of the priorities in the plan align with the Circle of Protection’s statements and prayers over the past decade.
We urge Congress to act quickly before enhanced unemployment benefits expire in mid-March. We pray that legislators from both parties will work together and seek common ground. We ask you to act boldly to prevent Congress from having to revisit these same policies just weeks later. The experience of the Great Recession warns us against doing too little or letting up too soon. Read the full letter