ELCA NEWS SERVICE
February 25, 2013
ELCA Bishop Joins Plea for U.S. Budget that Protects the Vulnerable
CHICAGO (ELCA) - In a Feb. 25 letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), joined more than 100 national church leaders, calling for fiscal responsibility that models our nation’s values and is mindful of the moral obligation to protect those most vulnerable.
“The measure of the necessary work of debt and deficit reduction should not be political gain or loss, but whether or not fiscal decisions reflect the needs of all people, particularly for vulnerable people. I pray for public officials and ask them to remember their God-given call to servant leadership and to forego irresponsible brinksmanship,” Hanson said.
The letter is the latest effort by Circle of Protection, an initiative formed by national Christian leaders and heads of relief and development organizations to protect programs that serve those living in poverty.
“The charter of the Circle of Protection is a powerful witness that people of faith join together in our commitment to those who are hungry and live in poverty,” Hanson said.
The appeal pleads for an end to the constant budget battles of the past two years and strongly urges the president and Congress to work together to end poverty and hunger. The communication encourages the nation’s leaders to consider the government’s responsibility to people living in poverty and to recognize that providing opportunity and encouragement to those living on the margins of society benefits the country’s overall fiscal health.
Kathryn Lohre, director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations at ELCA churchwide ministries, also endorsed the statement as president of the National Council of Churches in Christ.
“It is a scandalous reality that today more than one in seven Americans (46.2 million people) -- and one in five children -- are living in poverty. Budgets are moral documents, reflecting our core values and commitments. For this reason, we urge our elected leaders to continue to seek financial health for this nation while protecting those who are living at its margins, those whom Jesus called ‘the least of these,’” Lohre said.
Should Republicans and Democrats fail to reach a budget compromise, mandated cuts in domestic and defense spending are set to go into effect March 1. Although the cuts, also known as the sequester, will not impact Medicaid or Social Security, many social safety-net programs will be affected.
“Our leaders are currently debating about who wins politically on these important issues rather than finding a constructive compromise. There are real people behind words such as ‘sequester’ and ‘debt ceiling’ -- rural families, working single-mothers, seniors, veterans and children -- and they deserve real action on debt reduction so that we can proceed to meaningful discussion about economic opportunity, job creation and community transformation,” said the Rev. Andrew Genzsler, director for ELCA advocacy ministries.
The letter offers prayers and faith-grounded counsel, asking the country’s leaders to shift their collective focus from the politics of the budget process to our country’s most vulnerable people.
“This is not only a good thing to do, it is the right thing to do,” said Lohre. “The fiscal showdowns of recent months fail to honor the fact that 46.2 million of us are already living on the brink. This is not acceptable to us, nor is it acceptable to God. We must find another way forward -- one that honors the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. We pledge our partnership and prayers as we seek together to become a nation where there is truly enough for all.”
The full text of the letter is available at www.circleofprotection.us.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
773-380-2877 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
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