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Beliefnet News

Churches Form ‘Circle of Protection’ Around Poor

c. 2011 Religion News Service

(RNS) Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant, black and Latino Christian leaders have formed a “Circle of Protection” against U.S. cuts to poverty-fighting programs, gearing up for a high-stakes budget battle when Congress reconvenes next week.

While recognizing the need for “fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice,” the 50 leaders argue that Christian values require them “to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.”

“Every budget decision has to be assessed on whether it protects or threatens human life or dignity,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ domestic policy committee.


“The central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects the least of our brothers and sisters, the needs of those who are hungry or homeless, those who are without work, those who live in poverty.”

The Circle of Protection campaign will range from lobbying elected officials to mobilizing grass-roots efforts in the pews, and includes representatives from the National Association of Evangelicals, National Council of Churches, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Catholic Charities USA.

More than 36,000 activists and two dozen members of Congress protested the current budget cuts by participating in a hunger fast that ended on Easter, led by Circle of Protection members Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, and Sojourners founder the Rev. Jim Wallis.


Deeper cuts to programs that feed, shelter and provide medical care for people at home and abroad are unacceptable, the coalition argues, especially while areas like military spending, tax breaks for vacation homes and corporate subsidies remain intact.

“What kind of nation do we want to be, and what kind of choices and priorities do we need to make, and what kind of shared sacrifices are we prepared to make?” asked Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, of the National African American Clergy Network.

“Cutting the budget on the backs of the poor, the vulnerable and sick and children without spreading the sacrifices is simply not worthy of a great nation like ours.”

While some parishioners may vote conservatively on social issues, Circle of Protection leaders believe Christian economic principles go beyond political affiliation and partisan conflict.

“This is about faith, and what God requires of us,” Wallis said. “Our duty before God is to defend the people that Jesus called the ‘least of these.”‘

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Their circle of protection would be a lot stronger if they didn’t materially help Republicans get elected so much. But it’s nice they are speaking up.

    Today I was thinking of our soldiers willing to risk their lives for our country and of the greedy among the wealthy willing to spend their money so they don’t even have to pay their fair share of taxes. Tax shirking is not patriotic and it’s not moral. These religious leaders might want to point that out.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    It is so silly and short-sighted to blame parties. In the first place if what certain people and our prez are looking for is to tax more big businesses out of our country then pointing the finger it the right way to go sure tax folks into not doing business here and lose even more jobs. See how that works for us. We can’t create jobs when taxing the job makers out. We live in a world where the most wealthy no longer have to be American they can live internationally (that’s anywhere they want, or anywhere they don’t feel taxed out).
    To create jobs for the poor and improve our educational system we have to be inviting to big money not discouraging, get out of the war business and put those monies into our educational system. Hello we gave our industry to China and now we are borrowing money from them. Both parties are at fault and the blame game along with some other meaningless pursuits (homosexuality) only serves to further divide this country. One day the division will be beyond repair and that will be a sad day.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment coolhands

    Government is not the savior of the poor, tired, and broken. The churches should be forming a “circle of protection” around the poor, but not around the government. The government programs that are designed to help the poor often encourage the poor to be poor. Churches recognize that poverty is often a issue of poor choices that can be overcome with Jesus changing a person’s heart. Additionally, if there is not significant fiscal changes that “circle of protection” will include millions more people.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    coolhands, facts have established that religious donations do not begin to provide the aid people need, especially in times like these.

    Many times government aid has made the difference that let the nation get back on its feet. Just for example without the President’s propping up GM all those jobs would be gone rather than GM now being a thriving world leader in the auto industry. And churches can’t cough up the money for the medical care sick people often need, which government can and should and sometimes does do, enabling families to get back on their feet and provide for themselves.

    cknuck we now see that in addition to being bigoted and Republican you are probably among those greedy wealthy or the greedy hope-to-be-wealthy. Anyway, you too are reciting a myth of the right wing. There are plenty of opportunities in the US for people willing to seize them and plenty of bright people willing to take their turn. And the economy is improving, albeit too slowly. And with Republican legislators fighting it every step of the way. It was doing excellently under the fair taxes when President Clinton left office and we were paying down the national debt.

    If some people are so greedy and so lazy they want to take their money and go elsewhere good riddance. But we still need to be sure we tax them fairly on any business activities in the US. I don’t think many of them will do that but they sure want to profit from that kind of fear mongering.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    nnmns you ego maniac you don’t speak for all and you have no idea about my financial status so don’t ass-ume it only goes to show your ignorance if you cannot make an argument with facts you base your argument on a lie not in evidence. Plenty of bright people cannot get small businesses started and the monies lent to GM were our monies of which we did not profit. I have to give GM credit they did the right thing and I think they are now balanced but other recipients are looking for more loans. Our projected revenue is 2.174 Trillion (mind you that’s projected) our deficit is 1.65 Trillion, don’t try to tell me about Obama, we are on at least 3 money sucking war fronts and trying to micro manage a 4th. We owe China over 1 trillion dollars, also China spend almost their entire money they earn from U.S. import to buy cheap bargain stock in the Wallstreet like AIG, freddie Mac, they gain a record profit out of it, and do you know what land use rights China holds over the U.S. where is our industry? in china taxed out of America, take a look around your house – made in where?

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Wallis should have gone a little farther, like be against taking away SS, Medicare, and not just Medicaid and other help for the people that are down and out. I know they just want to modify SS, and Medicare. It doesn’t need it it works fine. When you start chipping away on a plan that has kept people from joining the “poor and down and out” you will have the very rich getting richer, all rich incl. Churches and mega companies. Look what the Republican govenors are doing to their states in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, N.J., and Ohio. Doesn’t look like the middleclass are happy with what is going on.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    H22 for the most part you are right but you shade the truth the middleclass are not happy period what state or what political party has nothing to do with it, we just don’t operate the way this country used to and I really don’t understand why would you exclude the lowerclss folks or do you think they are happy or do you think in the Dem states they are happy?
    coolhands is right about government programs not being a solution for people including some of the poorly thought out dem programs that not only did not provide a solution but moreover just perpetuated poverty.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    You could try to stay on topic ck, but you fly all over with other issues. Try reading my last post and consentrate on what it says.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    for an old gal H you sure try to boss people around, fortunately for me I’m not married to ya. lol

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