The Spiritually Viral Hunger Fast
Sojomail - April 7, 2011
"These critical funds enable millions around the world to have access to food and clean water, the very basics needed for human survival. I am proud to join my colleague, friends, and over 30,000 Americans in this fast to call attention to the drastic cuts being proposed by House Republicans to critical programs and services."
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro on why she and other members of Congress are joining the hunger fast for a moral budget. (Source: CNN)
The Spiritually Viral Hunger Fast
The hunger fast for a moral budget has gone spiritually viral. Ten days ago, we announced at the National Press Club that the budget debate had become a moral crisis. Prayer, fasting, and radical action are now required. Sojourners, the Alliance to End Hunger, and Bread for the World spearheaded this effort, but many more organizations, churches, and individuals have joined each day. We now have more than 30,000 participants and are still growing.
From large Christian groups such as World Vision and Opportunity International, to secular groups such as Women Thrive Worldwide and the ONE campaign; from labor unions such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents the poorest workers in the country, to MoveOn.org, involvement in this fast is amazingly broad. Twenty-five members of Congress will join the fast, and this work is now referenced constantly on the House floor. More members continue to join, and they plan to have at least one member fasting every day until Easter by "passing the baton" on to their colleagues.
We are keeping the pressure on Congress through emails and phone calls as well as media coverage. CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and many print and online outlets have highlighted the hunger fast. Every story is another opportunity to raise awareness about what is happening in Washington, D.C., and how it will affect the poor across our country and the world. Others are spreading the word by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.
My favorite thing about these first 10 days of the fast has been the stories. For example, a doctor friend, calling with concerns about my health, said, "Well, I walked into church today and our youth group announced a 30-hour fast for the poor and a moral budget, and said they were inspired by your fast." Also, a Jewish activist joining our water fast told me he was re-reading the biblical story of Esther, who called the people to a public fast to change the king's mind. He spoke about the emotions he felt when he imagined his 2-year-old daughter having the hunger pangs he was now experiencing. Low-income workers from my hometown of Detroit, Michigan came to one of our congressional events to thank us for fasting, and to say they were joining us.
Finally, we were given a very generous gift from Christ House, a 24-hour residential medical facility for homeless men and women in Washington, D.C., founded by the Church of the Savior. Gordon Cosby, the 94-year-old founder of the church who now lives at Christ House, told me that the homeless men and women had raised the money themselves. And when Gordon said, "I am praying for you every hour," I felt ready to take on the giants of Washington for another day.
The message of the fast gets clearer each day -- fasting tends to focus you, and the message is that a budget is about the choices we make. This fast is not just about cutting spending, but about the values that will determine our priorities and decisions. Should we cut $8.5 billion for low-income housing, or $8.5 billion in mortgage tax deductions for second vacation homes? Should we cut $11.2 billion in early childhood programs for poor kids, or $11.5 billion in tax cuts for millionaires' estates? Should we cut $2.5 billion in home heating assistance in winter months, or $2.5 billion in tax breaks for oil companies and off-shore drilling? This debate isn't about scarcity as much as it is about choices.
This battle over a moral budget will be with us for a while, but it is bringing more and more Christians together -- from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Salvation Army, from the National Association of Evangelicals to the National Council of Churches, from Sojourners and Bread for the World to a growing number of other denominations and groups -- a vision and strategy is coalescing to form a "circle of protection" around the most critical and life-saving programs for the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities.
The fast has energized the faith community, poverty and hunger organizations, and secular social change groups, and has helped to spark a broad and united movement for a moral budget. With 17 days left until Easter, we are continuing to create a spiritually empowered community ready to engage in the moral battle for a better budget, a better country, and a better world in the huge political fights that lie ahead. Join the hunger fast for a moral budget, and let's make this fast spiritually viral!
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.
How To Talk to Climate Change Skeptics
The reasons for raising doubts about the human causes of global warming, explains Skeptical Science's John Cook, are often political rather than scientific. Cook hears from climate change skeptics that "'it's all a liberal plot to spread socialism and destroy capitalism.' ... However, what is causing global warming is a purely scientific question."
Afghanistan Weekly Digest: Quran Burning. Troop Drawdown. War Tax Calculator.
Glenn Beck and Teachable Moments
In the Midst of Fasting, I am so Grateful
The Hunger Fast Resource Post (Updated)
Burning Anger and Small-Minded Men
Rediscovering Values for Lent: The Power of Grief
Entering God's Story
The Church Called to Rebellion
Terry Jones, Burning a Quran, and Evangelicalism
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Silent Betrayal of our Veterans
Why I am Fasting (Again)
The Medicaid Card: A Useless Piece of Plastic?
Terry Jones: We Have Lost Our Brother
Martin Luther King and the Spiritual Death of a Nation
Remembering the Real, Radical Martin Luther King
Friday Links Round Up: Afghanistan. Geography Game. @jimwallis.
Can We Stand to Lose 70,000 Children?
Finding God on the Running Course
Faith That Creates Jobs
Why I am Joining the Fast: Global Hunger is Getting Worse
Nestling for the Planet
How To Talk With Climate Change Skeptics
Activists Ask Pelosi to Halt Budget Cuts
Progressive And Labor Leaders To Fast In Protest Of Budget Cuts
Thousands join fast to protest proposed budget cuts
"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.
|GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.
GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today