The Common Good

Some Faith-Based Contractors Using Own Funds During Federal Shutdown

Date: October 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — Social Security, food stamp and Medicare benefits continued, but the federal government shutdown over a congressional budget impasse was putting other aid and nutrition programs at risk and forcing some faith-based contractors to use their own funds to keep them operating.

On the second day of the partial shutdown that began Oct. 1 with the start of the fiscal year, President Barack Obama had summoned congressional leaders to the White House to work on an agreement to get federal agencies functioning again.

The U.S. Capitol is photographed behind a chain fence in Washington Sept. 30. The federal government is in Day 2 of its first shutdown since 1995-1996 and an estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed. 

The U.S. Capitol is photographed behind a chain fence in Washington Sept. 30. The federal government is in Day 2 of its first shutdown since 1995-1996 and an estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed. 

While the visuals of closed national monuments and parks kept those effects in the forefront of the news, around the country thousands of organizations with less picturesque venues were digging into reserves to continue to provide Head Start programs or food vouchers for children.

The Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, or WIC, which gives vouchers for baby formula and food to poor pregnant women and families, was closing to new applicants in Utah, while in Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, program managers said they could keep it going on reserves for a few weeks, perhaps.

Signers included two former ambassadors to the Holy See, Thomas Melady and Miguel Diaz; leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men; representatives of several Franciscan organizations and many Jesuit institutions.

Others included: the Rev. Jim Wallis, director of Sojourners; Franciscan Sr. Margaret Carney, president of St. Bonaventure University and chair of the board of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; faculty members of two dozen universities both Catholic and of other denominations; Timothy Collins, retired director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Francis X. Doyle, retired associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Other signers were: the Rev. Cynthia Hale from Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga.; the Rev. Troy Jackson, director of Ohio Prophetic Voices in Cincinnati; the Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Agency; and the Rev. Michael Livingston, past president of the National Council of Churches.

A day earlier, three U.S. bishops who chair USCCB committees, as well as Bread for the World, representing 33 interfaith religious leaders, released statements decrying the effects of the shutdown on the poor.