The Common Good

Faith-Based Groups Urge Support for President’s Budget Priorities to Address National Poverty Crisis

Source: Sojourners
Date: March 2, 2009

Faith-Based Groups Urge Support for President's Budget Priorities to Address National Poverty Crisis

"Program Funding For Low-Income & Poor Americans a Necessary Component for Economic Recovery”

AUDIO RECORDING:

WASHINGTON, DC - March 2, 2009 - Today a group of leaders representing Christian faith-based non-profits that serve millions of Americans in low-income and poor communities responded to the new direction that President Obama's budget proposal represents in addressing domestic poverty. Faith-based groups are facing a significant increase in demand for services due to an economic recession that threatens to push an additional nine million Americans into poverty. The economic situation coupled with a shortfall in revenue and charitable giving for faith-based groups exacerbates the poverty crisis in our nation. Religious leaders lifted up the budget as a moral document, outlined programs in the budget that would help reduce domestic poverty and called upon faith communities to press Congress to adopt these funding priorities. This discussion comes at a critical time when congressional budget hearings begin this week that ultimately decide how federal dollars are spent and directed towards addressing domestic poverty.

INTERVIEWS: All of the spokespeople are available for interview.
Jason Gedeik: 202-745-4633 / jgedeik@sojo.net

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DISCUSSION:

REV. JIM WALLIS, Founder and president of Sojourners; the largest network of progressive Christians in the United States, and best-selling author of God's Politics and The Great Awakening

"We have trusted in "the invisible hand” to make everything turn out all right, but things too often haven't turned out all right. The invisible hand let go of the common good. The idea that policies which benefit the wealthiest automatically benefit everyone has proven false. The president's budget is a step toward restoring the value of the common good. It is a step to rebalance our priorities, protect the vulnerable, and strengthen our economy. The growing inequality in America over decades is a sin of biblical proportions, and it's time to bring our principles of social justice to bear.”

CANDY HILL, Senior Vice President of Social Policy and Government Affairs, Catholic Charities USA; a network of over 1,600 local Catholic Charities agencies and institutions nationwide that serve nearly 8 million people a year.

"Catholic Charities USA is working to ensure that the least of among us are considered in any budget discussion first. What we're seeing across the country is unprecedented human need, especially from families who aren't on Wall Street or Main Street but families we serve who are on the Back Street. Those who have the least always suffer the most in economic downturns. We see the president's budget request as providing a number of important investments in programs that we think will reduce poverty in America including healthcare reform, child nutrition, housing reform and education and training programs.”

NOEL CASTELLANOS, CEO of Christian Community Development Association; a network of over 500 non-profits ranging from grassroots, community based groups to large relief and development organizations serving under-resourced communities.

"I have the opportunity to travel around the country to talk to grassroots leaders from small churches of 100 or less to others that are large, sophisticated organizations with multi million dollar budgets. We are seeing families who are losing their homes due to eviction and needing help. We're seeing organizations nationwide that have to expand their services in new communities due to the increased demand from the economic fall out. Community after community I'm hearing about parishioners losing their jobs and coming to the church for help. So what I'm seeing are pastors organizing to really become foot soldiers in this effort to ensure that the new budget allocations reach the poorest of the poor.”

MARY NELSON, founder of Bethel New Life, an urban ministry that serves as a model for national programs that promote the social, economic, and spiritual welfare of children, families, and seniors.

"It's energizing to finally be in favor of a budget proposal instead of protesting budgets and getting arrested for it. This is a good expenditure of money that will have a long term financial impact on our country because it makes economic sense. It is cost effective to spend budget dollars on prevention rather than spending money once it becomes a problem. Our president and congress will only respond boldly to this bold budget if the faith-based community continues to push. As people of faith we have a wonderful opportunity in the Mobilization To End Poverty convened by Sojourners here in DC in April. People of faith will gather in Washington to say to the president and to our political representatives, "This is the kind of budget that not only reverses the negatives but invests in people and invests in the future of our country in a way that will make us all proud.”