Jack Jenkins is a writer and researcher for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the House GOP’s latest budget proposal this morning, championing it as “an exit ramp from the current mess — and an entry ramp to a better future.” But the proposal, which includes expansive tax breaks for the wealthy and slashes funding to programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, has sparked frustration amongst prominent faith leaders who say its draconian cuts are destructive to the lives of America’s poor.
Hours after Ryan’s announcement, a diverse group of faith leaders condemned the budget as “unacceptable” and “immoral.” “Today we are convinced more than ever that the voices of the people must be heard and that Rep. Ryan’s cuts to vital human-needs programs to benefit the wealthy must be defeated,” wrote Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun and executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby. “We are a nation for the 100 percent, and his budget cuts are both immoral and counter to our values.”
Other faith leaders echoed Campbell in a statement from the Center for American Progress and Faith in Public Life:
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, The United Methodist Church, Los Angeles area: The House Republican budget cuts away at vital social services that affect the poor and those who are barely able to meet the basic needs of their families. Our national budget reflects our core moral values and we will not recover economically until we address our unjust approach to budgeting. People living on the economic margins must be treated with care and dignity if we are to ever hope to have a just and effective national budget.
Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., executive director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, San Diego, California: Our representatives in the House and Senate are elected, inaugurated, and anointed to the sacred responsibility of serving the common good through public office. As leaders of diverse faith communities, we urge them to protect the “least among us”—the children, the infirm, the poor, and the vulnerable. Members of our congregations depend upon our chosen representatives to hear their cries of suffering and to work collaboratively to pass a Moral Budget. May it reflect the highest values and priorities of family, community, state, and a just society.
Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): This budget, if pursued and passed, will send a message, in both tone and tactic, that our government is more concerned with protecting those who control wealth and privilege than supporting those upon whom that wealth and privilege has been built. As a person of faith, as a citizen of the United States, and as a human being, this is simply unacceptable and I urge Congress to reject Rep. Ryan’s budget.
Bishop Gene Robinson, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress: Every world religion describes a God who will judge us by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. The prophets of the Jewish scriptures, and certainly Jesus, would have much to say about the impending cuts to the most vulnerable brought on by the Ryan budget. And it wouldn’t be pretty! People of faith need to stand up to a Congress that would “save” the economy on the backs of the poor, the disabled, and the vulnerable.
This isn’t the first time faith leaders have chastised Ryan and House Republicans for failing to offer a moral budget. Ryan was widely rebuked by religious groups last year after he claimed that his budget proposal was in line with Catholic social teaching, leading Catholic bishops to issue formal letters decrying the proposal and Catholic nuns to organize a multi-state “Nuns on the Bus” tour lambasting the budget as morally bankrupt.