End Govt Shut-Down! Prayerful Pilgrimage to House of Reps Oct 15

Pilgrimage to Congress for Courage and the Common Good:

Prayers for and with certain Representatives

For Ending Govt Shut-down and Preventing Default

Tomorrow, Tuesday October 15, religious leaders and congregants will gather at the House of Representatives Office Buildings for a pilgrimage to pray for Courage and the Common Good.

We will pray that God move some specific Republican Members of the House, to enable  the House swiftly to end the shut-down of the federal government and  prevent a default on the Federal debt, which are already causing or threatening to cause serious damage to the most vulnerable among us and to the wounded Earth.. We will leave the letter below with the members whom we visit.

Members of religious communities are invited to join in prayerful mode before 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building South of the Capitol, (bounded by Independence Ave., First St., New Jersey Ave., and C St. SE).  Participants are invited to wear religious garb. Give yourself plenty of time to get through security. If you plan to take part in the Pilgrimage, please RSVP to Spencer Howard: showard@faithinpubliclife.org

If you cannot get to Washington or to the Cannon Building, we strongly urge you to call 202/225-3121 between 10 am and Noon tomorrow and ask for Speaker Boehner or Congressman Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, a leader of the “Republican moderates.”

 We suggest that Jewish readers and members of The Shalom Center might call Representative Eric Cantor at 202/225-2815. You might recite for him, his staff, or a recording the beginning of Psalm 101: “Of love and justice I will sing; To you, Adonai, I’ll sing praises!”; in Hebrew, Chesed u’mishpat ashira; L’kha adonai azamaira!” and then, “I am [give your name, home town, and Jewish affiliation]. I urge you to arrange an immediate floor vote on clean and unconditional bills to -- pass the Federal budget, reopen the government, and prevent a disastrous default on obligations of the United States.”

The Pilgrimage will move in procession to offices of Republican leaders of the House (Speaker Boehner and Majority leader Cantor) and to Republican Members who have expressed support  for ending the shut-down and preventing default, without other legislative conditions.   The pilgrimage will include songs from the Psalms and other religious sources. It will end at Noon.

The Pilgrimage was sparked by Network, a social action organization of Roman Catholic nuns. I will be taking part on behalf of The Shalom Center. As I write, I know that Rabbi David Shneyer will also be taking part, leading in prayerful song and sounding of the shofar.   Others from the Jewish community may also be joining, along with leaders of Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian, and other communities.


 The letter we will be handing Members of the House follows.

 Calling the Government Back to Work
Dear Member of Congress:
As people of faith and conscience, we urge you to place shared democratic values above short term political expediency, exercise the courage to fund our nation’s government,  raise the debt limit without preconditions and get back to work on a faithful budget that serves the common good.

Shuttering the federal government and propelling the United States into financial default to achieve narrow political objectives is short-sighted and self-destructive. The danger for all who value democracy – regardless of party affiliation – is apparent.  One only needs to consider this precedent being applied to other policy concerns of a minority in Congress who are powerful within their own party but unable to create legislative change within the bounds of due process.  Blocking routine but essential functions of government to extract specific policy concessions could destroy America’s democratic process.

To take such rash and destructive action in order to prevent further implementation of the Affordable Care Act – which addresses the needs of 50 million people without health insurance -- is a grave moral failure. While the ACA has its limitations, it implements a market-based model with a history of bi-partisan support. Repealing or defunding it will hurt millions of people and many small businesses. We urge all members of Congress to stand up for our democracy and reject this futile and harmful effort.

Additional damage accrues each day the government remains in partial shutdown:
•    Federal funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program may not be able to cover all benefits. Some states have already closed WIC offices, and many participants are terrified that they won’t be able to find nourishment for themselves or their infants and toddlers.
•    An estimated 19,000 impoverished children are without preschool because of the shutdown, which left more than 20 programs across 11 states without funding on the heels of devastating sequester cuts. Those previous cuts had already shut out 57,000 at-risk children who lost their Head Start slots.
•    Many low-wage workers are losing their paychecks or seeing their earnings dwindle even further. Examples include government mailroom clerks, many of whom are people with disabilities, who work for government contractors. Even if furloughed federal employees are eventually paid, many others who work for contractors have no such assurance.
•    The Administration for Children and Families, which cares for children in abusive and violent family situations, announced that certain child welfare programs will not be funded during the shutdown.
•    Our environmental wellbeing is suffering and our citizens are at risk as health inspectors, EPA inspectors and a myriad others who enforce important laws are unable to do their jobs.
•    In addition, a failure to raise the debt limit on spending that Congress has already approved will undermine our still fragile economy and harm the global economy, especially the most vulnerable.

You hold a key to doing what is right for the American people, and we pray for you to act in the best interest of our nation. Once this unnecessary and dangerous stalemate is over, we count on you to act on behalf of all of our people and enact a Faithful Budget. Stop the partisan paralysis and uphold what our Constitution refers to as the “general welfare” – the common good of all.
With hope and a belief in the ultimate goodwill and good sense of Members of Congress, we hold you in our hearts and prayers.

 American Friends Service Committee
Church World Service
Franciscan Action Network
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
The National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA
United Methodist Women
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Conference of Major Superiors of Men    
Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
The Shalom Center
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Office of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation
Church of the Brethren
Center of Concern
Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good   Shepherd
Unitarian Universalist Association
Center on Conscience and War


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