The Common Good

'Faithful Filibuster': Religious Leaders Address Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C — Religious leaders have been standing across from the U.S. Capitol this week in front of the United Methodist Building to read the more than 2,000 verses of Holy Scripture charging humanity to care for hungry and poor. This “Faithful Filibuster” began Oct. 9. Sponsors said it will continue at the beginning of each day’s session of Congress.

The “Faithful Filibuster” aims to remind congressional leaders of the biblical mandate to protect the most vulnerable people. It is organized by the Circle of Protection, a coalition of faith leaders supporting programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad. Participants in the “Faithful Filibuster” include Jim Wallis, president, Sojourners; the Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World; Galen Carey, vice president, National Assn. of Evangelicals; and Dr. Caroll Baltimore, president, Progressive National Baptist Convention.

Among the readers during a rain-swept day was the Rev. Clayton Childers, director of Advocacy for the United Methodist Imagine No Malaria Campaign. He is also director of Conference Relations for the General Board of Church & Society, which is headquartered in the building.

Wallis pointed out that the voices often missing in Washington’s ideological battles are the ones that need national attention. “That’s why we need a faithful filibuster, a vigil for the poor,” he said. “There are more than 2,000 verses in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures about the poor — about suffering and indifference, injustice and oppression — all with God inviting compassion and calling for justice.”

What would happen if Congress were reminded of those verses each day it is in session during this latest financial debate, Wallis wondered.