The Common Good

Faithful Filibuster: A Vigil Under The Dark Clouds Of Washington

Date: October 10, 2013

On Wednesday afternoon, a small group of faith leaders stood in a chilly rain, outside the Capitol, and began to read all the 2,000 verses in the Bible about the poor and vulnerable, about suffering and indifference, injustice and oppression -- all with God inviting compassion and calling for justice. And it is the poor and vulnerable, who are the collateral damage of the government shutdown and will suffer most from a default on the nation's credit. Christian leaders from across the political and theological spectrum joined together in a "Faithful Filibuster" across the street from the Capitol. For every day that Congress is in session during the shutdown, we will read those verses to remind our lawmakers that justice for the poor should always be our priority, but now more than ever.

Today it is raining once again, but our vigil continues until the government shutdown ends, and politicians no longer threaten economic catastrophe that would come from defaulting on the country's debt unless they get their way.

The stakes here are high: if the shutdown continues until the end of the month, many programs that serve vulnerable people will be at risk of severe cutbacks or termination. Energy assistance, early education programs, and nutrition assistance to women, infants, and children could be the greatest victims of Washington's political game. At yesterday's vigil, David Beckmann of Bread for the World expressed his fear of financial collapse, saying, "It would hurt us all, but the poor most." I had the privilege of reading from Matthew 25, the passage of scripture that converted me to faith in Jesus Christ. "Whenever you fail to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they may seem, you've done it to me." (Matthew 25:45, CEV).