Christian opposition grows to US budget cuts that hit the poor

By staff writers
23 Apr 2011

A diverse US coalition of evangelical, Catholic, Methodist, mainline Protestant, African-American, and Latino Christian leaders will next week announce a new coalition to fight cuts to anti-poverty programmes and congressional plans to make those cuts even deeper.

The launch of the new initiative, called the Circle of Protection, will take place in a series of three teleconferences on Wednesday 27 April, offered in both English and Spanish.

Congress will reconvene on Monday, 2 May, after a two-week recess. The financial year 2012 budget and raising the debt ceiling will top its agenda.

In the meantime, a growing number in the Christian community say they believe that while the deficit needs to be addressed, this must not be done on the backs of poor people.

"A budget is a moral document, and a moral measure of any budget is how it affects poor people," they declare.

A joint statement released by the new coalition - and signed by 32 leaders - states: "As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.

"Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programmes that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad."

The financial year 2011 budget agreement recently passed by the US Congress included steep cuts to domestic and foreign assistance programs that are vital to vulnerable people. Now the House Budget Committee chair proposes even deeper cuts.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly two-thirds of those proposed cuts are to programmes that serve poor people.

In March 2011, more than 36,000 activists and 28 members of US Congress protested the budget cuts by participating in a "hunger fast" that ended at Easter.

To read the Circle of Protection statement, the full list of signatories, and the programmes included in the campaign, visit www.circleofprotection.us

[Ekk/3]

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