President, Congress Urged To Reorder Budget Priorities

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Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church
Bishop Roy I. Sano, Executive Secretary
100 Maryland Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 547-6270

February 15, 2007

Contact: Diane Denton
(615) 742-5406 (Office) (615) 483-1765 (Cell)

Debate Should Focus on Most Vulnerable Populations

WASHINGTON Two officers of the United Methodist Council of Bishops have joined with the president of the denomination's social justice agency to call for a reordering of the nation's budget priorities. President Bush's proposed FY 2008 five-year budget was submitted to Congress last week.

A letter sent to the White House and members of Congress today said the federal budget doesn't adequately meet the needs of children and the poor and appealed to elected leaders "to reverse policies that have taken from those with the least and given to those with the most."

The letter was signed by Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Bishop Gregory Palmer, president-designate, and Bishop Beverly Shamana, president of the General Board of Church and Society.

The missive cited dismay over recent federal budget trends that have impacted funding for education, child care, food nutrition and other programs that help the poor in order to accommodate tax cuts and military spending.

Children and poverty have long been areas of emphasis for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, who play an important leadership role in helping to set the direction of the 11-million member denomination and its mission around the globe.

The full text of the letter follows:

"The United States is a nation blessed with unparalleled abundance. The debate among elected leaders over the federal budget is at its core a debate over how the nation's abundance is shared.

The budget is as much a moral as a financial document. Beneath the charts and graphs and projections are people and communities and values. At this critical time, our faith has called us to proclaim a new vision of community and a reordering of our nation's budget priorities. A budget reflecting our nation's values would more equitably share the abundance of the nation and ensure that all God's children are secure a security born of justice and the guarantee of basic rights to food, shelter and health care.

We are alarmed by recent trends in the federal budget that have squeezed investments in education, child care, food nutrition programs and other anti-poverty measures to accommodate dramatic tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens in the United States and to fuel military conflicts abroad. These policies turn the teachings of Christ on their head.

The Council of Bishops has focused for years on lifting up the well-being of children and combating persistent poverty and we will not remain silent as the most vulnerable populations in the United States and around the world are sacrificed at the altars of greed and war.

We are not unaware of the fiscal constraints some real, some perceived binding this Congress and the President. As the debate over budget priorities begins, however, we call on elected leaders to place the needs of children and the poor at the center of the budget debate; to reverse policies that have taken from those with the least and given to those with the most; and to enact a budget that reflects our shared commitment to justice and compassion for all God's children."

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