The U.S. faith community has responded primarily with concern and critique to President Trump’s budget proposal.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis said it “strenuously objects” to the budget in a May 25 press release, asserting “The President’s budget recommendation neglects the foundational values that we hold dear as Reform rabbis and as Americans.”
The budget “neglects the value of ‘rofeh cholim,’ healing the sick … [and] the value of learning and teaching,” they added, and “disregards the value of ‘hazan et hakol,’ feeding all.”
The rabbis did commend the president for “proposing a pilot program to support paid parental leave. … Among its many benefits, this program would work to address women’s equality in the workplace.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a May 19 letter, “Our Conference has long supported the goal of reducing future unsustainable deficits that would harm all citizens, especially those who are poor. This goal can only be achieved through a comprehensive approach that requires shared sacrifice … A just framework for sound fiscal policy cannot rely almost exclusively on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons.”
Bread for the World, an ecumenical Christian organization working to end global hunger, organized a three-day fast surrounding the budget’s release to call attention to hunger and poverty and to express concern about funding cuts.
Ten U.S. faith leaders partnered with Bread for the World in sponsoring and promoting the fast, including Arturo Chavez (president and CEO, Mexican American Catholic College), Michael Bruce Curry (presiding bishop and primate, Episcopal Church), Elizabeth Eaton (presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Anwar Khan (CEO, Islamic Relief USA), Lawrence Reddick (presiding bishop, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church) and Barbara Williams-Skinner (co-chair, National African American Clergy Network).
Bread for the World issued a formal response on May 22 calling the budget an “unprecedented assault on people living in hunger and poverty,” followed on May 24 by President David Beckmann’s assertion that the budget “robs the poor to pay the rich.”
Baptist responses included Marv Knox, editor at The Baptist Standard, and Zach Dawes Jr., managing editor at EthicsDaily.com.
Knox, highlighting several possible scenarios that could play out if the budget passes congressional review, observed, “Just in case the president’s new budget doesn’t do the trick and stimulate the economy so nobody needs a safety net, Christians better get busy building a bunch of them. This is what many Christians have said they will do. … So, now we’ll see if the church is sufficient to the challenge.”
Dawes praised the desire to reduce the national deficit, while expressing concerns over how the proposed means would impact the nation’s most vulnerable.
“Goodwill people of faith would do well to avoid painting this budget as wholly good or bad. Like all presidential proposals, it appears to be a mixed bag,” he summarized. “The overall goal of debt reduction is commendable, but how we work toward this goal matters. Moral means must be used to achieve desired moral ends.”
In mid-March, following the administration’s release of a general budget outline, World Vision issued a statement signed by around 100 evangelical leaders expressing concern about proposed cuts.
“The 100-plus Christian leaders want America to maintain the international programs they consider ‘instrumental in saving lives, safeguarding religious liberties and keeping America safe and secure,'” Christianity Today reported. “Because of their involvement with such outreach, they have seen firsthand the impact of America’s generous support – and just how far its assistance can go.”
A May 24 Associated Press analysis of President Trump’s budget noted a 31.7 percent decrease in State Department funding, which “eliminates funding for the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, as part of a $780 million cut to international organizations … and slashes assistance for refugees and global health.”
“Someone said that [the budget] was a moral document. It is,” stated Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget during a May 24 Congressional hearing. “If I take money from you with no intention of giving it back, that is not debt that is theft. … That is not moral to take money from people without having a plan to pay it back.”