Thousands of Christians across the USA are fasting in solidarity and protest against a budget process which is punishing the poorest.
"It’s hard to believe what’s happening here in Washington," says Beth Dahlman of Faithful America, a progressive religious lobbying group. "Congress is considering harsh budget cuts for poor and working families while protecting tax breaks for the wealthy."
In 2010, major US corporations like GE and Bank of America posted billions in profits, yet did not pay one cent in taxes – "they actually got benefits (as in, more profits) from taxpayers like you and me," she adds.
Yet some in Congress think the right way to balance the budget is to cut billions from basic investments in education and child health and nutrition. And USAID estimates cuts to programmes like anti-malaria initiatives will cause the deaths of over 70,000 children.
In response, faith communities are organising an all-out protest. Religious leaders are sending a message to Congress by preaching, fasting and praying against what they argue is an immoral budget proposal.
Supporters are also being urged to add their “Amen” to the call for a moral budget and social justice by signing an online petition in support of the initiative and its aims (http://tinyurl.com/3nwm5hs).
Before the budget deadline on Friday 8 April 2011, the aim is to deliver a mass of signatures, "along with the very best preaching on the budget to leaders in Congress", says Beth Dahlman.
"There’s going to be a lot of pressure on moderates to strike a bad deal with the Tea Party to prevent a government shut down, but your voice can help them stand firm," she adds.
"We didn’t get into this fiscal mess by being too generous to struggling families and the middle class. So why is Congress sticking us with the bill?"
Sojourners (www.sojo.net) leader, the Rev Jim Wallis, a prominent 'social justice evangelical', speaking on his fast for a fair budget declared: "These proposed cuts cross a moral line. We are moving from neglecting the poor to targeting the poor."
"Theologically, this is an assault against the very people God specifically instructs us to protect, and whose well- being is the biblical test of a nation’s righteousness," concluded Wallis.