The Federal Budget as a Moral Document: A Letter from Religious Leaders

The following letter, signed by over 60 leaders from diverse faith communities across the nation, calls on Congress to examine the budget as an inherently moral document and offers six specific questions that should be asked to determine whether the budget’s provisions are fair, just and promote the common good.

Dear Member of Congress:

We are leaders of America’s religious community and citizens of this great country. Our faith traditions teach us that every person is created in God’s image and that we are all part of God’s family. We are called by God to care for each other, both individually and as a nation.

Because of these core beliefs, we feel called to speak out on the federal budget, which will be released on February 7th. Despite its complexity, the budget is essentially a moral document–the specific expression of the values of the nation.

As people of faith and responsible citizens, we must examine the budget closely to determine whether its provisions are fair and just. We must ask specific questions to discover whether the budget of President Bush promotes the common good.

1. Does the budget provide those in need with the assistance necessary to build self-reliant, purposeful lives?

2. Does the budget provide adequately for all of God’s children, including the poor and sick, the old and very young?

3. Does the budget strengthen the foundations of our country in order to make us safer and more secure?

4. Does the budget protect God’s creation, the environment?

5. Does the budget spread its burdens and rewards fairly, or are some groups given special unearned privilege, while others are excluded from America’s bounty and opportunity?

6. Does the budget promote justice and equality by providing for basic human needs in health care, education, housing and other areas?

When the budget is released, we will assess its provisions concerning health care, education, housing, the environment, foreign policy, national security and other issues. If the budget falls short in these areas, we will work to transform it into a document that reflects America’s best moral values and who we are as children of God.

We invite you and the American people to join us in this important work.




* Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

* Rev. Steven C. Baines, Senior Organizer for Religious Affairs, People for the American Way/PFAW Foundation, Washington, DC

* Rev. Chloe Breyer, St. Mary’s Manhattanville, West Harlem, NY

* Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Director, Faith Voices for the Common Good Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Oakland, CA

* Rev. Jim Burklo, author of “Open Christianity,” Presbyterian minister in Sausalito, CA

* Simone Campbell, SSS, National Coordinator, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Washington, DC

* Rev. Theopholus Caviness, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH

* Charlie Clements, CEO and President, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Cambridge, MA

* Marge Clark, BVM, Lobbyist, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Washington, DC

* Rev. Ann Marie Coleman, Co-Senior Minister, University Church—A Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ Congregation, Chicago, IL

* Rev. Daryl Coleman, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, AME Zion Church, Jackson, TN

* Dr. David R. Currie, Mainstream Baptist Network

* Dan Daley, Co-Director, Call to Action USA

* Rev. John E. Denaro, Episcopal Migration Ministries

* Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches, New York , NY

* Rev. Janet Ellinger, United Methodist Pastor, River Falls , WI

* Rev. Dr. James L Evans , Auburn First Baptist Church, Auburn, AL

* Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.,  Senior Minister, The Riverside Church, New York , NY

* Rev. Paul B. Feuerstein, President/CEO, Barrier Free Living Inc.

* Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, The Interfaith Alliance, Washington, DC

* Rev. Debra W. Haffner, Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, Norwalk, CT

* Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins , Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church , Washington, DC

* Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President and Professor of Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York , NY

* James E. Hug, S.J., President, Center of Concern

* Dr. Mary E. Hunt, Co-director, WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, Silver Spring , MD

*Rev. Betty Hudson , Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

* Vince Isner, Faithful America, New York , NY

* Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory , Director, Washington office, Presbyterian Church (USA)

* Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, Temple Kol Tikvah, Los Angeles , CA

* Patricia de Jong, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church of Berkeley

* Rob Keithan, Director, Washington office, Unitarian Universalist Association, Washington, DC

* Dr. Catherine Keller, Professor of Theology, Drew University, The Theological School, Madison, NJ

* Pam Kelly, Facilitator of the New Hampshire Faithful Democracy Network

* Dr. Nazir Khaja, Islamic Information Services, Los Angeles , CA

* Jung Ha Kim, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

* Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice, Washington, DC

* The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, Cathedral of St.John the Divine, New York, New York

* Rev. Peter Laarman, Executive Director, Progressive Christians Uniting, Pomona, CA

* Jackie Ladd, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Cambridge, MA

* Rabbi  Michael Lerner, Editor of Tikkun Magazine and Rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue, San Francisco , CA

* Tat-siong Benny Liew, Chicago Theological Seminary

* Marie Lucey, OSF, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Silver Spring , MD

* Rabbi Jane Marder, Beth Am Congregation, Los Altos Hills , CA

* Rev. Timothy McDonald, Founder, African American Ministers Leadership Council and Pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA

* Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President, Central Conference of American Rabbis, New York , NY

* Robert Parham, Executive Director, Baptist Center for Ethics, Nashville, Tennessee

* Rev. Dr. Andrew Sung Park, Professor, United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH

* Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, President, Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, CA

* Rev. Clarence Pemberton,  Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA

* Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson,  Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Washington, DC

* Sister Catherine Pinkerton, Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

* Rev. Lois M. Powell, Minister and Team Leader of Human Rights, Justice for Women and Transformation Ministry Team Justice and Witness  Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, OH

* Rev. Dr. Bruce Prescott, Executive Director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists

* Rev. George F. Regas, Founder, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, L.A.

* Rev. Meg Riley, Director, Advocacy and Witness, Unitarian Universalist Association, Washington, DC

* David Robinson, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA, Erie, PA

* Charlie Rooney, Catholics for the Common Good, Detroit, MI

* Rev. Dr. Jose D. Rodriguez, Director, Th.M./Ph.D. Programs of Study, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, IL

* Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Los Angeles , CA

* Rev. Kenneth Samuel, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Victory Church, Atlanta, GA

* Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington, DC

* Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church, Portland, OR

* Rev. Paul H. Sherry, Coordinator, Mobilization  to Overcome Poverty, National Council of Churches, Cleveland, OH

* Rev. Bill Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association, Washington, DC

* Rev. Dr. A. Knighton Stanley, Senior Minister, Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, DC

* Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss, Minister, River Road Unitarian Church, Bethesda, MD

* Rev. Leonard Charles Stovall, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Camp Wisdom United Methodist Church, Dallas, TX

* Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, President, Chicago Theological Seminary

* Rev. Romal Tune, Assistant Pastor, Nineteenth St. Baptist Church and Director for African-American Ministers Programs, People for the American Way , Washington, DC

* Jim Wallis, Editor, Sojourners, Washington, DC

* Rev. Jeremy M. Warnick, Vicar Christ Episcopal Church, New Bern , NC

* Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center, Philadelphia, PA

* Rev. Dr.  Daphne Wiggins, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Assistant Pastor, Union Baptist Church, Durham, NC

* Rev. Reginald Williams, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Assistant Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL

* Rev. Dr. Roland Womack, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church, Milwaukee, WI

* Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism, New York , NY


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