Facing scribbling reporters and flashing cameras at a packed room in the National Press Club, Jim Wallis and a band of faith leaders stood together this morning to declare the beginning of a hunger fast in response to immoral budget cuts that target poor individuals.
Standing with Jim was Ambassador Tony P. Hall, executive director of Alliance to End Hunger; Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide; and one dozen other leaders committed to fasting, prayer, and action in defending those who are often left without a voice as lawmakers decide their fate.
"We do not fast today against fiscal responsibility. We fast against political hypocrisy," Jim Wallis said, criticizing members of Congress who are focused on cutting programs that help poor people instead of going after wasteful corporate tax loopholes and military spending.
"There is a difference between deficit hawks and deficit hypocrites," Jim Wallis said.
Tony Hall, who completed a 22-day fast while a member of Congress in 1993, said that the stakes are even higher now.
"17 million U.S. children are going to bed hungry," Hall said. "We've talked and talked and talked. And we've lobbied and we've reasoned and we've sent letters and we've admonished. That's why we're having the fast. It's time to call in God."
Jim Wallis said the true focus of the fast shouldn't be on those who were at the head of the room. Rather, he said, it should be on the collective action of each individual who is willing to stand up against immoral and unconscionable cuts to vulnerable individuals.
"We are calling on people to fast and pray, and if a circle of protection forms around these programs, that's the power of it," Jim Wallis said.
More than 3,000 Sojourners supporters have already joined this "circle of protection." Please consider doing the same .
View photos from the event: