Faith Leaders Tell Congress to 'Get a Conscience'

By Sandi Villarreal 08-01-2012
Photo by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners.

Noel Castellanos (left), Jim Wallis, David Beckmann, Sr. Simone Campbell, and Michael Livingston. Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

Faith leaders on Wednesday gathered on Capitol Hill to release a letter calling on Congress to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) — programs aimed at keeping the poor and most vulnerable in our country out of poverty. The call comes in advance of a U.S. House of Representatives vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.

In 2010, the EITC and CTC lifted about 9 million people out of poverty, including 4.9 million children, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"The Bible confronts every Evangelical lawmaker with more than 2,000 verses, which call us to defend the poor and vulnerable. If we say we believe the Bible, we simply can’t support policies that directly reward the rich and punish the poor: Christian lawmakers can’t keep going into their prayer breakfasts and leaving their Bibles at the door," said Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners (Wallis' full statement can be read HERE).


Wallis joined Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK; David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association; Rev. Michael Linvingston, director of the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative; and Rev. Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life. The letter expresses the faith community's disappointment, calling the congress members who talk about family values "hypocritical" for abandoning improvements to programs that support families. 

"In the name of the God of love and justice … we say no to tax policies that reward the top 2 percent of us and threaten the security of the 15 million families and the 36 million children that depend on these tax credits," said Campbell, leader of the recent Nuns on the Bus campaign. "These are not family values; they are faithless immoral values and an affront to people of every faith."

The Aug. 1 House vote — to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for even the top 2 percent — would allow tax breaks expire for about 13 million low- and moderate-income families with 26 million children.

"May we dare pray that our Congress get a conscience, find its heart, reconnect with the founders who wanted a government of, by, and for the all the people." Campbell said. 

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Sandi Villarreal is Associate Web Editor for Sojourners. You can follow her on Twitter @Sandi.


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