|Action Alert: One Week Left Until the Sequester|
One week left…
On March 1st, new federal budget cuts will begin to take effect. If Congress does nothing, many hundreds of thousands of people will be hurt by across-the-board cuts (sequestration) to education, nutrition, job training, home heating assistance, public health, mental health, and social services, to name only a few areas. In the absence of a resolution, there will be $31.4 billion in spending cuts to domestic programs like WIC, Head Start, child care, housing, home energy, homeless aid, education and training, and much more. Medicare alone will be cut by $11.2 billion.
Congress should replace the sequester with a balanced approach that reflects our collective responsibility to our human community. There are core challenges facing our nation: rising income inequality, persistent unemployment, historically high rates of poverty and anemic economic growth. These challenges must be addressed with justice, but the sequester will only exacerbate them.
Sequestration was developed as a backstop – a last resort if Congress failed to reduce the deficit in a more thoughtful and balanced way. As Christians, we believe that our economic system must be rooted in fairness, justice, and equal opportunity. Without these values, our economy is, quite literally, demoralized. Thus it is our responsibility, both individually and collectively, to respond to those who are in need.
Therefore, the first rule should be that deficit reduction should not increase poverty. Congress must not replace the current sequester with policy that will be even worse for those who are already struggling to make ends meet. We must explore responsible alternatives to sequestration that will be more consistent with our faith and sense of compassion. The nation’s deficit problem cannot be solved through spending cuts alone – new revenues must be part of the solution.
To raise revenue, the tax code should be made more progressive (that is, tax liability increases as income increases), system-wide health care costs should be controlled, and unnecessary tax expenditures should be eliminated. Further, Congress should seriously scrutinize the Defense budget, which has doubled in size in the last fifteen years. Outdated weapons systems and an over-reliance on the apparatus of war are no way to build peace and true security in a troubled world.
Our partners at the Coalition on Human Needs have recently released new national and state-specific fact sheets that highlight (or lowlight) the effects of these devastating cuts. Just a sampling of the impacts in fact sheets for every state and for the U.S are startling: Up to 125,000 families and 100,000 formerly homeless people losing their housing (or having to pay much more), 600,000 young children and moms losing WIC nutrition aid, 70,000 children denied Head Start, nearly 76,000 people with disabilities losing Voc. Rehabilitation services, 373,000 adults and children with serious mental illness losing treatment.
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A Call to Action: Lenten Petition to Prevent Gun Violence
"Patty Sanders" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Call to Action: Lenten Petition to Prevent Gun Violence|
LENTEN PETITION CALLING FOR COMMON-SENSE MEASURES TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons (and daughters) of God.
- Matthew 5:9
The 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted the resolution, Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call, in exercise of its responsibility to help the whole church address matters of “social righteousness.” The resolution calls both the Church to support and the federal government to establish laws that will prevent and reduce gun violence. The PC(USA) recognizes the seriousness of gun violence in the United States, where more than 30,000 lives are lost each year due to firearms. We call on all people to conscience to make earnest strides to challenge the pervasive culture of violence that permeates our social fabric.
During this Lenten Season we are joining other faith groups in prayerful engagement and direct action to reduce our culture of violence and to bring peace to our homes, streets, and public venues. Our role as Christians is to be peacemakers. Peace is more than the absence of conflict. Peace requires our active participation in the work to serve the common good. Making peace often stirs controversy, because it requires engaging in faithful witness on behalf of Jesus Christ, despite the resulting discomfort. Peace exposes human frailty and sin in order to make repentance possible. Jesus affirms that his presence and teachings in the world will create division among those who are closest to him (Matthew 10:34). Therefore, the gospel is a double edged sword that evokes unrest while creating a platform for peaceful reconciliation.
As we journey together through this period of spiritual discipline and contemplation, while also experiencing gun-related grief and trauma in our communities and nation, let us remember that New Life awaits us on Easter morning.
This petition, calling for common-sense federal measures to reduce gun violence, is one small piece of a larger strategy to address the culture of violence that pervades our nation. We will deliver this petition to Congress during Eastertide. Sign it now!
As you move through your Lenten discipline, make this petition – signing it, circulating it, inviting your friends and congregation-members to sign it – one of your personal commitments. In addition, try these other action steps toward raising awareness and reducing violence and poverty in our nation.
As members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and people of faith and conscience, we believe that God desires health and wholeness for all of God’s children – not cycles of despair, poverty, and violence.
We therefore believe that we have a responsibility to reduce such injustice in our midst, wherever we see it. We therefore call upon the United States Senate and House of Representatives to approve federal legislation that will --
Reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 – banning all assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Assault weapons are weapons of war and have no place in the hands common citizens. Most mass shootings in this nation involve such weapons.
Require universal background checks when purchasing any firearm. Many states do not require background checks, making it simple to acquire a gun for persons with criminal records, persons who do not know how to handle a gun, or persons who suffer from mental illness. Guns only belong in the hands of those who know how to handle them with correct intention.
Make gun trafficking a federal crime. Currently, gun trafficking is prosecuted under a statute that prohibits selling guns without a federal license. This crime carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock.
Please forward this petition to friends, church members, organizations and/or other persons and institutions.
Post cards are available for large groups and/or congregations who desire to collect many signatures at once (such as church coffee hour). Please contact our office at email@example.com to request petition post cards.
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"Leah Gage" <firstname.lastname@example.org>Add sender to Contacts
"NSO Staff - USA" <email@example.com>
Dear Oikocredit Supporter,
Oikocredit USA’s Stuart Krengel is currently in Senegal, one of the poorest and least developed countries of the world. This is his first trip to Africa, and first time visiting Oikocredit partners in the field. While there, he where is visiting some of Oikocredit’s partners there, meeting clients, working with Oikocredit staff from around the world, and even dancing to the beat of a Senegalese drum! Stuart is also blogging from the field – when electricity and internet permits. You can find all of his inspiring entries by visiting our blog: http://oikocreditusa.org/blogs You can also follow him on Twitter & Facebook using #stuartinsenegal
Day 3: Too Many Mangoes
“Oikocredit is deeply involved in all aspects of this project from the financing, building the business model, organizing the cooperative, and forming the partnerships in Europe for export. Not your typical lender, eh? Furthermore this area of Senegal is one of the poorest regions in West Africa, so as you can imagine, investments in such a project are a rare occurrence. However, that is what Oikocredit does. We go where others won’t.” Read more…
When Stuart returns, he will be holding a special webinar to update us on his experiences, the projects he visited, and other aspects of Oikocredit’s work in Senegal on Monday, February 25 at 3pm EST / 12 pm PST. Click here to register!
Stuart is based in San Francisco and is available to make presentations about his experience and the work of Oikocredit in Senegal and beyond. If you would like him to make a presentation to your community, organization, or church, you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may have noticed that Oikocredit USA has a brand new website! We encourage you to spend some time reading the brand new content we have created about Oikocredit’s work in the field, in addition to exploring our blog series, e-newsletter archives, and FAQs. www.oikocreditusa.org
Please note our new address!
PO Box 66383
Washington, DC 20035
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Bread for the Preacher: God Will Make a Way
"Rev. Gary Cook, Bread for the World" <firstname.lastname@example.org>Add sender to Contacts