Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has signed “A Pastoral Letter about Faith, Finances, and the Federal Budget” sent Feb. 25 to President Barack Obama and leaders of Congress.
“Throughout two years of budget negotiations, we and other faith leaders have urged you to maintain a Circle of Protection around effective programs focused on hungry and poor people in our country and around the world,” the letter says. “This pastoral letter offers faith-grounded counsel on the current stage of the budget negotiations.”
The letter continues:
We appreciate that President Obama has kept his promise to the Circle of Protection to protect the poor, and that Republicans and Democrats agreed to shield many core programs benefiting people living in or near poverty from the sequestration cuts. More critical decisions must be made as we consider specific program cuts to reach previously agreed upon funding levels, look for additional ways to reduce the deficit, and avert the looming sequestration; but the moral calculus has not changed. Our long-term fiscal challenges will not be solved by increasing the burden on those who Jesus called the “least of these” (Matthew 25).
… The Bible teaches that civil authority comes from God, and God calls for protection of poor and vulnerable people. Government is imperfect, and there are legitimate differences over how the government should carry out its responsibilities. These should be debated. Assuring government’s obligation to advance the common good, ensure fairness, and defend the most vulnerable is good religion and good politics.