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Church of the Brethren

Budget Action Alert
2-22-12

Tell Congress and President Obama that as a person of faith, you will not stand by while they seek to control spending on the backs of those living in poverty in the United States and around the world.

These past few weeks in Washington, DC, and around the country, the conversation has been about numbers and not about people. Specifically, how much money do we need to cut from budgets whether they be budgets of our families, state and local governments, or the federal government. These past few years have certainly been years in which many across this country have been hurt by the state of the economy.

But there is something vital missing from the conversation and it is a voice with which the Church of the Brethren has always spoken. In a word - mutuality. In Gen. 4: 9, Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God seems to spend the rest of the Bible answering that question with a resounding yes.

The concept that we are to live in such a way that we are partners with one another and with the entirety of Creation is a concept which Brethren have embraced for, well, more than 300 years. Brethren Encyclopedia tells us, “The expectation among Believers’ Churches has been that no sickness, misfortune, burden, or persecution would need to be faced alone.” We have lived this concept out in our tradition of service responding through Brethren Volunteer Service, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Church World Service, and so much more. We have responded to the needs of the community around us in a way that partners with the rest of God’s people, and bringing benefit to the whole.

The concept of mutuality, however, is one that is not just key to our direct actions. It is a concept that is also key when we think about where our money goes regarding the federal budget. A sign on letter to which the Church of the Brethren is party from a variety of faith based groups begins with the line, “The federal budget is a moral document that reflects and shapes our country’s priorities. Congress should craft it based on the needs of all.” In neither President Obama’s budget, nor in the budget conversations happening on Capitol Hill, however, is this being lifted up.

Brothers and sisters, the spending cuts currently being debated are the ones we can afford the least they are the ones that provide those living in poverty with an opportunity to have some place to live, something to eat, educational opportunities, and the chance to turn their lives around. They are the foreign aid programs that build wells, schools, and infrastructure, building relationships with countries through diplomacy rather than bombs. They are the programs that we, as people of faith, want in a budget that claims to speak for our values. Click here to read a letter signed by the Church of the Brethren on the domestic aspects of the budget, and here for one on global hunger and poverty. Click here to view a fact sheet on the current budget conversation.

This is not just about dollars and cents. This is about who we are as people of faith, and as citizens of the United States of America. About whether we want our federal budget to fund two wars, and a military budget that makes up almost 42 % of the global spending on the military, or whether we want our tax dollars to go to programs that help those most in need. Tell Congress and President Obama that as a person of faith, you will not stand by while they seek to control spending on the backs of those living in poverty in the United States and around the world. It is time to inject the Brethren concept of mutuality into the budget debate.

Church of the Brethren Policy:

2000 Annual Conference Statement: Caring for the Poor
“We recommend that congregations use their experience in ministry with the poor to inform themselves of legislative and political issues having impact on the poor and speak to those issues with their legislators at local, state, and national levels. The Biblical witness and our own experiences as a community of faith suggest that there is a corporate or societal responsibility to deal with the problems of the poor, such as the Year of Jubilee. This extends beyond personal, hands-on responses and includes advocacy on behalf of the poor.” 

2006 Annual Conference Statement, A Call to Reduce Global Poverty and Hunger, reads:
“Through prayer, study, and concrete action, let us resolve to act so that those who know extreme poverty and hunger might enter more fully into the abundance of God’s love.”

1970 Annual Conference Statement on War reads:
“While the Church of the Brethren recognizes the responsibility of all citizens to pay taxes for the constructive purposes of government we oppose the use of taxes by the government for war purposes and military expenditures. For those who are conscientiously opposed to paying taxes for these purposes, the church seeks government provision for an alternative use of such tax money for peaceful, nonmilitary purposes.”

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For more information about the witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Jordan Blevins, Advocacy Officer for the Church of the Brethren:

Jordan Blevins
C/O National Council of Churches
110 Maryland Ave. NE
Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002
jblevins@brethren.org
202-481-6943

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Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission Partnerships and its witness and advocacy office in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the National Council of Churches. Contact advocacy officer Jordan Blevins at jblevins@brethren.org . Contact Global Mission Partnerships at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 or mission@brethren.org .

2010 Church of the Brethren.