As the heated political standoff over raising the nation's debt ceiling continues, with proposals to cut Medicare and Medicaid and potentially delay Social Security payments now on the table, almost 5,000 pastors have signed on to a letter urging legislators and President Barack Obama to not cut programs that aid the poor.
The letter, which was printed in Wednesday's Politico and is being delivered to Congressional offices, calls on decision-makers to listen to their pastors and reminds them that the "moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable fare."
Organized by Sojourners, a Washington, D.C.-based national network of Christians focused on social justice issues, the plea continues the "Circle of Protection" effort the group launched during federal budget debates earlier this year to propose keeping cuts to social services off the table.
"We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up -- how it treats those who Jesus called 'the last of these' (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources," the letter reads.
"As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice," it later continues. "We want to support you in reducing the deficit. These is more need today than churches can meet themselves."
Pastors of churches from several denominations and from 50 states signed the message.
"As I look out our country, what concerns me more ... is a radically individualistic attitude that says 'I got mine, it's completely up to you to get yours," said the Rev. Rich Nathan, a signee and pastor of the 9,000-member Vineyard Church of Columbus, Ohio. "That's not the ethic of Jesus."
"I woke up this morning and thought if God indeed does judge the nation, I believe that will be not on the basis of how well we protect the wealth of the top 1 percent, but how much we heed to Christ's command to care for the 'least of these'" said the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Co.
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SOURCE: The Huffington Post