The Common Good

Fasting, Prayer and Budget Cuts -- Day of Action

Date: March 28, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 28, 2011

CONTACTS: Chris LaTondresse (Office of Ambassador Tony Hall)

(202) 368-0139, clatondresse@alliancetoendhunger.org

Tim King (Sojourners)

(202) 631-7763, tking@sojo.net

Kristen Youngblood (Bread for the World)

(202) 688-1138, (202) 423-7379 cell, kyoungblood@bread.org

Anu Palan (Women Thrive Worldwide)

(240) 565-4078 cell, apalan@womenthrive.org

Fasting, Prayer and Budget Cuts

Coalition of Faith and Other Leaders Announce Campaign to Protect Programs for Vulnerable People

Washington, D.C. - A large coalition of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other advocacy organizations have announced a broad based movement of fasting, prayer and advocacy, provoked by budget cuts proposed by Congress that would disproportionately hurt those living in poverty.

"In 1993, as a Member of Congress, I went on a 22 day fast to protest the lack of conscience of the U.S. Congress towards poor and hungry people. Now, almost twenty years later, the stakes are even higher, with Congress proposing budget cuts that will hurt vulnerable people even more than the cuts provoking me to fasting and prayer two decades ago.” said Ambassador Tony Hall, announcing the beginning of a new fast.

Along with Ambassador Hall, three other leaders - Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide - announced the beginning of their own fasts. They challenged people of faith and conscience to join them, pledging to put pressure on Congress to form a "circle of protection” around programs benefitting poor and hungry people.

"These proposed cuts cross a moral line,” said Jim Wallis, "We are moving from neglecting the poor to targeting the poor. Theologically, this is an assault against the very people God specifically instructs us to protect, and whose well-being is the biblical test of a nation's righteousness.”

"The debate about the federal deficit is really a debate about national priorities. We invite God to reshape our personal priorities and the priorities of our nation. We hope our fast will help draw public attention to threatened cuts to programs that help hungry and poor people,” said Rev. David Beckmann.

"Seven in ten of the world's hungry are women, who are also responsible for ensuring that their families are fed," said Ritu Sharma, "As someone who has tried to live on a dollar a day myself in some of the world's poorest areas, I have experienced a little of what they struggle with every day. It is essential for our lawmakers not to slash budgets that invest in the sustainability of global food supplies when food prices and hunger are both at all-time highs."

The budget cuts proposed in the House of Representatives represent a 2.6% cut in total spending but 26% cut in spending on poverty focused foreign aid. Many of the programs at stake once held bi-partisan support. The extension of Bush era-tax cuts last December will cost $6.7 billion through estate planning loopholes alone. Meanwhile, Congress is considering $7.6 billion cuts to domestic programs for low-income women, infants and children.

For weeks individual organizations had been running their own advocacy campaigns, but formally announced a new coalition out of concern of the devastating effects that proposed budget cuts could have on vulnerable people. Leaders of these organizations will be joining in fasting, prayer and other acts of personal sacrifice over the course of the next several weeks and inviting the their constituencies - together representing millions of Americans - to do the same.

"It's time to call upon God for help,” Ambassador Tony Hall concluded his remarks, "I believe fasting, when done with the right heart and the right motive, gets God's attention. It's how we tell God we mean business.”

The growing list of organizations in the HungerFast.org coalition includes: ActionAid, Alliance to End Hunger, American Jewish World Service, Bread for the World, Center of Concern, Coalition on Human Needs, Congressional Hunger Center, FAO (One Billion Hungry Campaign), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Action Network, Feeding America, Five Talents, Food for the Hungry, Heifer Project International, Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Society of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran World Relief, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Meals on Wheels Association of America, MercyCorps, National Farmers Union, NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, ONE, Opportunity International, Presbyterian Hunger Program, RESULTS, Share Our Strength, Sojourners, Texas Hunger Initiative, The Hunger Project, Universities Fighting World Hunger, Women Thrive Worldwide, World Food Program USA, World Vision.

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