Some contend that works of mercy are not the business of the government but of private citizens. But in what other area of our national life do we formulate policies uninformed by our deepest values?
Some contend that with the proper support faith-based charities will step forward to fill the gap created by the government's retreat. But this flies in the face of the lessons that we, as religious leaders, have learned first hand. Our churches operate thousands of charities from the parochial to the international.
Believe us when we tell you that neither we, nor our Evangelical brothers and sisters, nor our friends of other faiths have anywhere near the resources to turn back the rising tide of poverty in this country.
We know that programs, whether governmental or non-profit, can change people's lives for the better. New situations challenge us to respond to new conditions and to support those who are in transition out of poverty. Sadly, the 2006 budget will send more people searching for food in cupboards that, quite frequently, are bare.
Our churches will continue their ameliorative ministries. But it is not enough for us as a Church or a society to be merciful. We must remember the admonition of the prophet Micah. "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah's choice of verbs is instructive. We are not to love justice or preach justice, we are to do justice-to act, and, when necessary, to struggle.
We urge the members of our churches, of other churches and other faiths, and all whose conscience compels them to do justice to join us in opposing this budget. Write to your representatives. Write to your local newspaper. Join the organizations working to obtain justice for the 36 million Americans living below the poverty line, the 45 million without health insurance and the unknown millions struggling to keep their families from slipping into these ever increasing ranks.
Together, let us pledge ourselves to creating a nation in which economic policies are infused with the spirit of the man who began his public ministry almost 2,000 years ago by proclaiming that God had anointed him "to bring good news to the poor."
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, USA
The Right Reverend Mark Hanson
Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Reverend Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church, USA
The Reverend John H. Thomas
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Mr. James Winkler
General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church