Photo: Rev Samuel Rodriguez
In a meeting with President Barack Obama and senior White House staff yesterday, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and seven other national Christian leaders involved in the “Circle of Protection” asked the president to protect funding for programs for hungry and poor people in the ongoing budget debate and in any deal concerning the default crisis.
The “Circle of Protection,” is a nonpartisan movement that insists budgets are moral documents and that poor and vulnerable people should be protected—not targeted—in efforts to reduce long-term deficits. The meeting addressed both the nation’s responsibility to cut the deficit and address the debt while not abandoning the Christian allocations embedded in the budget as it pertains to helping the poor globally like malaria tents that Bush provided, AIDS and domestic programs that address the poorest of the poor including faith based programs.
The meeting occurred in the Roosevelt Room at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, just before Obama met with Democratic Senate and House leaders about the debt ceiling and deficit-reduction talks. President Obama stayed for 40 minutes of the hour-long session according to leaders in attendance. White House staff in attendance with President Obama at Wednesday’s meeting were Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes, National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Josh DuBois, and Jarrett’s Senior Aide, Michael Strautmanis.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who participated in Wednesday’s meeting at The White House, is the president of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (www.nhclc.org), also known as the Hispanic Evangelical Association, the nation’s largest Christian Hispanic organization. His voice is important to Washington DC because he represents over 34,200 member churches and 20 million constituents- especially important to Washington DC in light of the recent US Census which reported that the Hispanic community is now over 50 million strong.
“As Christians,” said Rev. Rodriguez, “our agenda cannot be dictated by the donkey or the elephant but only by the Lamb. As it pertains to the current budget and fiscal debate, our nation carries a moral imperative to balance the budget, reduce the deficit, and put our fiscal house in order; all without sacrificing the most vulnerable on the altar of expediency. Matthew 25 and Luke 4 compel us to reconcile financial stewardship with Christian outreach to the poor and suffering.”
The Circle of Protection statement has been signed by more than 60 heads of Christian denominations and religious organizations, and endorsed by 45 heads of development agencies as well as leaders of other faiths. The Circle of Protection movement has worked to uphold the bipartisan consensus that has long prevailed in deficit-reduction agreements—that programs serving poor and hungry people should be protected and exempted from any automatic cuts.
The Circle of Protection leaders have met with both Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress, and they have requested meetings with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“As Christian leaders, we urge Congress and the administration to give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world,” they write.
For more information on the Circle of Protection and to view the full list of signatories, visit www.circleofprotection.us and for more information Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and the NHCLC visit www.nhclc.org.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is the Hispanic Evangelical Association unifying, serving and representing the Hispanic Born Again Community via 34,200 member churches and 20 million constituents by reconciling the vertical and horizontal of the Christian message through the 7 Directives of Life, Family, Great Commission, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth.