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By Nicole Neroulias
Religion News Service

(RNS) Nine faith leaders have banded together to urge Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain to present a 10-year plan to combat poverty when speaking at their national nominating conventions.
The interfaith coalition — led by Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA — sent letters to the two candidates asking that they address poverty in a prime-time speech and propose a strategy to help the 37 million Americans who live below the poverty line.
“As people of faith, we believe it is immoral to ignore our nation’s most vulnerable populations. As Americans, we believe enduring poverty undermines our country’s economic strength and prosperity,” the letter states. “But our efforts to sustain our brothers and sisters living in poverty must be complemented with a serious plan from our political leaders to reduce the number of needy.”
In addition to Gutow and Snyder, the statement was signed by the Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World; the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for government affairs, National Association of Evangelicals; the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary, National Council of Churches; Dr. Eboo Patel, executive director, Interfaith Youth Core; Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism; Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary general, Islamic Society of North America; and the Rev. Jim Wallis, chief executive officer, Sojourners.
The letter is part of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ new national anti-poverty initiative, “There Shall Be No Needy Among You.”
The campaign urges local, state and national lawmakers to advance anti-poverty legislation and programs, including shelters, work and educational opportunities.
“JCPA is trying to get the faith community involved to engage politicians to address poverty in this country,” said Adam Muhlendorf, JCPA spokesman. “We want to have the candidates ensure that at the convention, the issue is addressed.”
Neither the McCain nor Obama campaign has responded yet, he said.

Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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