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Government Shutdown Update: Progressive Pastor Tells Tea Party to 'Read Their Bibles'

By David Brody on September 30, 2013
© The Christian Broadcasting Network

A group of liberal Christian leaders blasted the Tea Party today over the looming government shutdown, saying that the folks who comprise the movement should, “read their Bibles.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, who is a friend of President Obama and the president of liberal-minded Sojourners, said the following today at a press conference:

“The Bible sees the role of government to protect from evil and promote the good, especially helping and protecting the poorest and most vulnerable people. To protect the common good and the most vulnerable is being denied as the role of government by those who are so eager to push for the brinkmanship of one government crisis and confrontation after another. Those who are eager to shut down the government now and later risk defaulting on the nation’s debt need to read their Bibles—at least the ones who claim to be Christian do.”

A group of 33 progressive-minded faith leaders also released a letter today urging members of Congress to keep the government open. Among the signees were Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance.

Here’s the letter:

September 30, 2013

Dear Senator/Representative:

As leaders of faith communities and organizations comprising millions of people from all walks of life across our nation, we are deeply concerned by the completely avoidable budget and financial crises we are fast approaching as a nation.

Though Congress must pass the federal budget, it belongs to every American. This common fund formed of our combined tax revenues is designed to support the shared infrastructure, well-being, and long-term ethical values of our society. As people of faith we find it morally irresponsible to blockade the process by which we provide for our nation’s shared needs in a bid to force any individual legislative priority.

It would likewise be reckless to propel the United States into financial default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling for spending that Congress has already approved. Shuttering the federal government or defaulting on the nation’s financial commitments is likely to reverse our fragile economic recovery, punish the middle class, and deeply harm our most vulnerable neighbors.

Our democracy rests on principles of reason, compromise, and a commitment to the common good. To hold our governance processes and financial credibility hostage to narrow priorities is not only dangerous to the nation’s near-term financial well-being, it threatens the very foundations of our democratic process and our capacity to live united in community.

We ask that lawmakers address their concerns through the proper legislative channels. It ill serves our nation and people to stand in the way of funding federal operations or raising the debt ceiling in an effort to block implementation of health care legislation that Congress duly enacted. We ask that congressional leadership of both parties stand strong in opposing efforts to allow the will of the few to threaten the common good.

We commit to keeping you in prayer, asking that God continue to give you wisdom as you faithfully serve our nation during this time when the country most needs your principled leadership.

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