Contact: Michael Mershon, Director of Advocacy and Communications

Phone: 202-745-4654


March 29, 2017

Today, a diverse group of Christian leaders held a press conference and prayer vigil on Capitol Hill to protest proposed legislation that would disproportionally harm poor and vulnerable people. The leaders are members of the Circle of Protection, a broad coalition from all the families of U.S. Christianity who have come together around the biblical mandate to protect poor people.

The White House has recently proposed budget cuts to a wide array of domestic anti-poverty programs, including nutrition, housing, heating assistance, and community development. The budget cuts would also slash foreign aid during a time of worsening famine. The Circle of Protection, which believes that budgets are moral documents, opposes these cuts and are making their voices known to congressional leadership.

The following are quotes from the Christian leaders:

“As Christian leaders, it is our responsibility to speak out when our government officials promote policies that will hurt poor and hungry people. Right now, 20 million people are facing famine in Africa, and millions of children here in our own country do not always get the nutrition they need. Yet the White House is proposing deep cuts to international and domestic assistance programs. We urge Congress to oppose these cuts and pass a budget that puts us and the world on track to ending hunger.”

— Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

“As Sojourners has been saying for decades, a budget is a moral document. It reflects a nation’s real priorities; and a nation whose budget increases military spending at the expense of programs that protect the poor and vulnerable puts us in danger of ‘approaching spiritual death’ as Dr. King reminded us many years ago. How we treat the most vulnerable is the test of a nation’s righteousness.”

— Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners

“A federal budget that takes away from our neighbors, food, shelter, medicine, schools, air to breath and water to drink – a budget that guts SNAP, Medicaid, health care, the environment, education, diplomacy, and foreign aid — a federal budget that channels those same resources to an unnecessary military spending increase and gives tax cuts for those who already have more than enough – is an immoral budget. It’s not America at our best. We can do better.”

— Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins; Board Chair, National Council of Churches; General Minister and President, Disciples of Christ

“Just as we found that the health care legislation signaled a standard of basic American decency and compassion, the same must be true of the federal budget. The budget is properly called a moral document and the reflection of the nation’s highest values. The budget that has been proposed falls far below our nations rudimentary moral standard by favoring the rich and powerful over poor and vulnerable Americans.”

— Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African American Clergy Network

“It is in the interest of all Americans to see that all our children are adequately nourished, so that their brains develop to their full potential. We all benefit when those struggling with illness and disability get the help they need. Family life is strengthened when public policies help make adequate housing available and affordable, so that fewer people become homeless. Adequate addiction treatment saves lives and futures, and it also increases public safety.”

— Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals

“We organized the Circle of Protection to look at budget and policy choices from the bottom-up and outside-in. The US Catholic Bishops have said the poor and vulnerable have the greatest needs, but the least power. Our faith and America’s values call us to put the poor first. The human consequences of misplaced priorities threaten the lives and dignity of the vulnerable among us and the moral consequences challenge the consciences of all of us.”

— John Carr, Director, Initiative on Catholic Social thought and Public Life, Georgetown University

“The convictions that shape our sense of fairness, justice and compassion are rooted in the gospel, in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The priority of our government must the millions of Americans who go to work every day, and those who are sick or too old to go to work. The work of this Congress must be to protect the most vulnerable, to protect them from the oppression of markets, corporations, political parties, individuals and even from cynicism. We are here today and we will be here tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, for as long as it takes for the voice and the plea of millions of our brothers and sisters be clearly heard in the halls of Congress.”

— Rev. Carlos Malave, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together