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leaders call on candidates
New York, August 4, 2008 - High ranking Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Protestant leaders have called on the presidential candidates of both major parties to use their primetime slots at the nominating conventions to offer plans for combating poverty.
"As people of faith, we believe that it is immoral to ignore our nation's most vulnerable populations," the leaders said in letters to Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
"As Americans," the leaders wrote, "we believe enduring poverty undermines our country's economic strength and prosperity. Everyday, faith organizations serve individuals in need within our communities. But our efforts to sustain our brothers and sisters living in poverty must be complemented with a serious plan from our political leaders to reduce the number of needy."
The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, is among the signers of the letter. The NCC has called poverty a "scourge" that "enslaves and breaks the spirits of tens of millions of Americans." The council's long-standing policy is to "look toward a measurable reduction of poverty in America and a greater potential for all persons to live the lives for which they were created."
Other signers of the letter are Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for government affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals; Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religion Action Center for Reform Judaism; Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Rev. Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners; Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of America; and Dr. Eboo Patel, executive director of Interfaith Youth Core.
"By making a commitment to help 'the least of us,'" the leaders told the candidates, "you can help create an economy that enables all Americans to move forward together. Giving a primetime speech at the 2008 national convention is an important first step. We look forward to working with you to make sure our nation’s most fundamental values – a commitment to shared prosperity and opportunity for all – are given the attention they so desperately need and deserve."
The full text of the letter follows:
NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228, NCCnews@ncccusa.org
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