WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 22, 2021) – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and other members of the Circle of Protection coalition will meet today with senior officials at the White House. Eaton and other heads of Christian denominations and organizations are working together to urge passage of the economic bills the U.S. Congress is considering now, along with voting rights legislation this fall. Today’s meeting will focus on the family support bill currently being debated in Congress.
In a letter the Circle of Protection is presenting to President Joe Biden and Congress today, the coalition affirms that these pending bills “would strengthen the physical and social infrastructure of our society, cut family and child poverty more than any time in our lives, and ensure the precious right to vote for all people made in God’s image.”
As the final version of the family support budget bill is being negotiated, Circle of Protection members are urging Congress to retain the bill’s anti-poverty provisions and to tax corporations and high-income people to pay for them. “The Bible is clear in its opposition to the concentration of wealth amid neglected human need,” they noted.
“At this moment of historic decision, we are urging the people in our churches and organizations to pay attention to what the President and Congress are doing and be active in advocacy that reflects biblical priorities,” the letter states. Churches and organizations in the Circle of Protection are communicating with grassroots members and sending out action alerts about poverty-focused programs such as the child tax credit. Circle members in West Virginia met with Sen. Joe Manchin last week about extending the child tax credit changes.
According to economic studies, congressional changes to the child tax credit and earned income tax credit last spring played a significant role in reducing the percentage of Americans in poverty this summer to below pre-pandemic levels. Notably, these credits were extended to low-income families and individuals. But this year’s reduction of poverty will be short-lived unless the tax-credit changes are extended in the family support budget bill. The Circle of Protection letter specifically urges that the provisions benefiting low-income Americans be made permanent and fully refundable.
Circle of Protection members have worked together over the last decade to resist repeated government shutdowns and massive political pressure to cut safety-net programs. The coalition has opposed balancing the federal budget on the backs of people in poverty and strongly believes that budgets are moral documents. They have now come together in support of an unprecedented national effort to finally reduce poverty and make it possible for struggling families to get ahead.
The organizations in the Circle of Protection represent all the main branches of Christianity. They include the ELCA, Catholic Charities USA, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches, the National African American Clergy Network, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Bread for the World, Sojourners, and the Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice.
The Circle of Protection letter, including the full list of signers, can be read here.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands.,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
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