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Faith leaders protest federal budget proposal in Washington, D.C.

Seven arrested in act of civil disobedience

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – Hundreds of clergy and lay leaders headed for Capitol Hill this week, urging Congress to reject what they called the president’s “sinful and immoral” federal budget proposal. The group is opposed to increased Pentagon spending and used the opportunity to voice their objections.

Faith leaders hold a prayer vigil on Capitol Hill urging Congress to reject the White House budget proposal. Photo provided by Office of Public Witness.

The group held a prayer vigil and news conference on the hill on Monday, wrapping up the annual three-day Ecumenical Advocacy Days gathering in Washington, where Christian denominations gathered for worship and workshops around important national and world issues.  This year’s theme was “Confronting Chaos, Forging Community-Challenging Racism, Materialism and Militarism.”

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, was among those speaking at the vigil. He said Congress should increase funding for programs that support people living in poverty in America and abroad, address systemic racism and exercise responsible care for the earth.

“Budgets can do great good when put to the service of the poor, or they can do great harm,” he said. “When implemented with compassion and vision, they can lift millions out of poverty or doom them to a life of despair. They can provide health insurance or make bankrupt, those who do not have it. They can fuel wars or promote peacekeeping and diplomacy.”

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C. Photo provided by Office of Public Witness.

The faith leaders also oppose any financial resources going to private prisons or the border wall.

“Some of our leaders worship the false gods of money and power,” said Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network. “We need to remind them that they will be judged by voters and by God.”

After the news conference, seven faith leaders were arrested in an act of civil disobedience including Carolan, the Rev. Traci Blackmon, Bob Cooke, Doug Grace, Elizabeth King, Eli McCarty and Scott Wright. The seven were arrested as they knelt in prayer in the Hart Senate Office Building.

“Christ began the passion week with civil disobedience, which leads with arrest and crucifixion and ends with resurrection,” said Blackmon. “We stand in this season, unified in rejection of this budget, committed to be the hands and feet of God, steadfast in our commitment to the least of these.”

“In 2017, we have been drawn together at Ecumenical Advocacy Days to challenge racism, militarism and materialism,” said Hawkins. “We reflect God’s call to love our neighbor through our advocacy for a budget that advances the common good and builds toward the beloved community God intends.”


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