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Religious groups gather for 'Justice Wednesday' pray-in on budget      

Washington, D.C., April 26, 2005--As Congress prepares to vote on the fiscal year 2006 budget this week, a coalition of religious and community groups is asking for a budget "that is more reflective of the moral values of our nation" than the budget resolutions passed by the House and Senate.

Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty is asking people of faith nationwide to stop what they are doing at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 27, to pray for a budget that does more to support children, the poor, families, the elderly, veterans and persons with disabilities.

At the same time, a group from the coalition will gather outside the Senate Hart Building for prayer before going to the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the offices of other key Senators to pray for a more just budget. The group will first go to Senator Frist's office because he has the power to stop the budget from being passed.

The coalition hopes that by calling this "Justice Wednesday" they will highlight the definition of "justice" outlined in biblical texts, particularly the words that inspired the name of the group, which were spoken by the prophet Amos to the people because of their misplaced focus and because they taxed the poor unjustly, "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24)."

According to Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, the proposed budget "is a slap in the face to anyone who believes in justice."

"There is no moral justification for cutting spending on services that benefit the poor, children, families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and impoverished communities while extending tax cuts and adding new ones for the wealthy," Edgar said. "There may be political and economic justifications but definitely not moral ones."

This is not the first attempt by the "Let Justice Roll" coalition to urge Congress to pass a federal budget that reflects the moral values of the nation. The group released a "Vision of Hope & Justice for the FY 2006 Budget" in March and sent a letter signed by more than 40 local, state and national organizations to the House and Senate leadership earlier this month expressing its opposition to the budget resolution (see list of signatories below).

"Most troubling to us is how cuts in services for those in desperate need are being used as a solution to cut the deficit while wealthy populations receive additional tax cuts. This is immoral and reflects a fundamental imbalance in addressing our nation's debt," said the letter. "We call on you to support policies that reflect the moral values of our country more than the economic comfort of the few."

The "Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty" campaign is sponsored by the National Council of Churches USA and the Center for Community Change, as well as a host of national, state and local religious, faith-based, and community organizations.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Clergy and others participating in the Pray-In will gather at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave., NE at 1:30 p.m. and march over to the Hart Building. Participants are being asked to wear all black to signify the severe impact the budget could have on those most in need.

Let Justice Roll Budget and Tax Fairness Budget Letter Signatories

Albany Presbytery
American Baptist Churches USA
American Friends Service Committee
California Church IMPACT
Call to Renewal
Center for Community Change
Colorado Council of Churches
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Faith Partners of the Americas
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Illinois Conference of Churches
Kansas Ecumenical Ministries
Lutheran Network for Justice Advocacy (IL)
Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry (NJ)
Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry (NM)
Lutheran Office on Public Policy (MD)
Maine Council of Churches
Minnesota Council of Churches
Montana Association of Churches
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
New Hampshire Council of Churches
New Mexico Conference of Churches
New York Episcopal Public Policy Network
New York State Council of Churches
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Washington Office
Protestants for the Common Good (IL)
Southern California Ecumenical Council
Synod Council of the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Council of Churches of the City of New York
The Interfaith Alliance
The Kentucky Council of Churches
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ New York Conference Justice & Witness Ministry
United Methodist, General Board for Church and Society
US Action
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Washington Association of Churches
Wisconsin Council of Churches

Contact: Leslie Tune, 202/544-2350 or 202/297-2191 (cell)



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