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

About Us

Circle of Protection faith leaders keep a prayer vigil in front of the U.S. Capitol before a crucial healthcare vote.

Who We Are

The Circle of Protection is a coalition of church bodies and related ministries representing the diversity of Christianity in this country—Historic Black Churches, Hispanic Churches, Protestants and Evangelicals, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Churches, Pentecostals, and Peace Churches. Together, the church bodies in the Circle of Protection have close to 100 million members.

We are united across theological, sociological, and political differences by our shared Christian faith and the motivation it inspires to make our nation and world more consistent with the fact that God loves all people, with a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, as our Scriptures remind us.

Coordinating Committee

David Beckmann, Circle of Protection Coordinator
President Emeritus, Bread for the World

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

Eugene Cho, President/CEO
Bread for the World

Richard Coll, Executive Director, Department of Justice, Peace, and International Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Anthony Granado, Vice President, Government Relations
Catholic Charities USA

Rev. Carlos L. Malavè, Coordinator
Latino Christian National Network

Diane Randall, General Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Rev. Amy Reumann, Senior Director for Witness in Society
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Bishop A.J. Richardson, Bishop, Eleventh Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President and Founder
National Latino Evangelical Coalition

Adam Taylor, President

Jim Wallis
Chair in Faith and Justice, McCourt School of Public Policy and Director, Center on Faith and Justice, Georgetown University

Cecilia Williams, President and CEO
Christian Community Development Association

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

Other Leaders in the Circle of Protection

John Ashmen, President and CEO
Citygate Network

Rebecca Blachly, Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. Paul Baxley, Executive Coordinator
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

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

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, PhD, General Secretary
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, Chief Operating Officer
National Council of Churches

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The Most Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, National Commander
The Salvation Army

Rev. Walter Kim, President
National Association of Evangelicals

Rev. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita
The Wesleyan Church

Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO
Catholic Charities USA

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Interim President and General Secretary
National Council of Churches

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Lori Tapia, National Hispanic Pastor
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Participants in the Circle of Protection do not all sign on to all policy statements the Circle issues.

Our Story

In late 2010, the newly elected Congress was focusing on deficit reduction. It became clear that it might disproportionately cut programs vital to hungry and poor people. Had those cuts been enacted, each of the country’s 350,000 religious congregations would have had to spend $50,000 annually just to make up for the proposed cuts in nutrition programs.

Representatives of very diverse Christian groups had several meetings to decide how to react. We developed a set of principles that were endorsed by over 65 national Christian leaders.

The Circle of Protection began with a fast that lasted until the end of Lent. The fast was led by Ambassador Tony Hall of the Alliance to End Hunger, Rev. David Beckmann of Bread for the World, and Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners. When it ended, more than 36,000 people—including about 24 members of Congress—had participated. The FY 2011 budget was passed without drastic cuts to hunger and poverty programs, and a government shutdown was averted.

Our fast was followed with a meeting with President Barack Obama and his senior staff at the White House, July 20, 2011. We asked them to protect funding for programs for hungry and poor people in the budget debate and in any deal concerning the debt crisis. We all agreed that we could get our fiscal house in order without doing so on the backs of those who are most vulnerable.

We met with leaders of Congress, from both parties in both houses, sharing this message and the Circle of Protection principles.

On July 6, 2012, we invited the presidential candidates—President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney—to submit short video statements on hunger and poverty. “We believe that this presidential campaign should include a clear focus on what each candidate proposes to do to provide help and opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world,” we wrote them.

Each candidate sent a video statement, and this was the first time they talked openly about how they would end hunger. We circulated these to more than 3,000 local congregations and our organizations posted them on their websites.

Related Resources
Listen to Christian leaders reflect on historic legislation
View the 2020 candidate videos archive
Read our Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty