This Sunday, Presbyterians and other people of faith will gather in Washington and around the country to pray that the U.S. government drafts a federal budget that isn’t balanced on the backs of the poor.
Organized by the Faithful Budget Campaign, the vigils will be held in Washington’s Lafayette Park and at the district offices of members of Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Students from Union Presbyterian Seminary — along with the seminary’s president, the Rev. Brian Blount — will gather at Rep. Eric Cantor’s office in Richmond, Va., to join in the vigil.
“It is incumbent on us to press Congress to hold fast to the concepts on which this country was founded,” said the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, director of the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness. “The federal budget encompasses so much of a community’s life in terms of support.”
Nelson cited Matt. 25, where Jesus talks about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The federal government provides support for similar services, such as food banks, indigent care and education.
Although the faith communities involved in the campaign agree that budget cuts should not affect programs that affect the most at-risk people at home and abroad, they don’t necessarily agree on ways to increase revenue, Nelson said.
The Nov. 20 vigil is not the first time the faith community has lobbied for a fair federal budget. In July, several religious leaders — including Nelson — were arrested when they refused to end their public prayers in the U.S. Capitol Building during the debt ceiling debate.
And this weekend’s vigil won’t be the last either, Nelson said. It’s a chance for the faith community to measure its progress and to let Congress know that people of faith are watching.
“This is really the prelude to what we are pressing as a major lobby day,” he said, referring to the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington. “We are continuing to look forward.”