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Pastoral Advice for Our Nation's Political Leaders
By Rev. Gary Cook
It may sound a little silly to write a “pastoral” letter to the president and congressional leaders. Politicians, after all, usually respond to power and money, not the advice of clerics. But right now, as the sequester looms and it is obvious that the political process is stuck— if not broken—it may be time for a little pastoral counseling.
Today nearly 100 Christian leaders from across the wide spectrum of the church spoke with one voice to our nation’s leaders. National leaders of Catholic, protestant, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and evangelical churches—leaders representing broad racial and ethnic diversity—offered encouragement and wise counsel in the form of a joint letter. We thanked them for their efforts and told them that we're praying for them. We urged them to skip the brinksmanship and compromise on spending cuts and revenues. We asked them to remember that the Bible tells us that the government has responsibilities concerning poor people. We told them to be clear about the moral choices they are making.
Our leaders would be wise to listen to such advice. But it is the paragraph that begins with “Finally” that is most exciting to me:
Finally, we ask both parties to work together toward ending hunger and poverty. The Circle of Protection continues to be committed to protecting vital programs for people in or near poverty in our country and around the world, but that is not enough. Help us reduce hunger and poverty by expanding opportunity and justice, promoting economic growth and good paying jobs, stabilizing family life, and protecting the well-being of children. We celebrate the progress the world is making against hunger, poverty, and disease, and we are encouraged by the possibility of ending extreme hunger and poverty globally. Dramatic progress against hunger and poverty in our richly blessed country is also possible. Please, protect the poor and help create the opportunities that make them poor no more.
After two years of being in the defensive “please don’t cut” mode, Christian leaders are asking Congress and the president to look beyond their current squabbles toward a goal of actually ending hunger and poverty. That’s good pastoral advice.Rev. Gary Cook is director of church relations at Bread for the World.
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