I am Sharon Watkins, Chair of the Board of the National Council of Churches. We, of the NCC, are 38 member churches who follow Jesus. We have been consistent in proclaiming that Jesus would not have liked this budget.
Jesus said, “let the children come to me,” and expects us to follow in that spirit. This budget makes American children go hungry – please hear me when I say that – children. in. America. will go hungry because this budget cuts SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) by more than 25%. Greatest negative impact? Low-income working families.
This budget would significantly cut the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I ask you – what kind of people don’t take care of our children?
This proposed budget would cut Community Block Grants which support many vital neighborhood programs – especially for youth – and … children.
We, as the National Council of Churches and as part of the Circle of Protection, are also deeply distressed by the proposed cuts to funding of international assistance programs.
Jesus tells us a neighbor is the one who shows mercy. He calls us to be that neighbor. Instead, this budget would reduce U.S. foreign aid by 29 percent – at a time when famines are emerging in four countries across Africa and the Middle East – not just drought: starving-to-death famines. Deep cuts to foreign aid are likely to fall especially hard on international initiatives that help people get out of poverty – nutrition programs for babies, for example. “Let the children come,” says Jesus.
Further, this proposed budget seems to be based on an assumption that poor people and children should fund our national defense. The National Council of Churches and the Circle of Protection do not agree. The biblical prophets teach us that our security depends on upholding justice for people in poverty. Common wisdom in our own time tells us, “a hungry man is an angry man.” *
Today, from across the Christian spectrum we agree: Jesus would not like a budget that increases hunger and sickness in children and working families here or abroad. We do not think it is right – or wise – to ask sick and hungry children to pay for the nation’s defense.
We join hands today in a continued circle of protection around those programs which provide a needed neighborly hand to the vulnerable among us. When they are strong and healthy, we all are stronger and more secure.
* Bob Marley from the album “Live”
Read the release from the press conference
Read the full statement by the Circle of Protection