Christian leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity are concerned that the tax bill being considered in Congress will cause harm to people in poverty. Below are statements from leaders of the Circle of Protection. The statements follow a letter the Circle of Protection sent to members of Congress recently. It reads in part: As Christian leaders, the concern is always about how legislation impacts the poor and most vulnerable. We will continue to pray, mobilize, and advocate on behalf of our neighbors in poverty.
We encourage you to contact you US Representative and Senators. It is critical that they hear your concerns during November 27-30.The senate will take a vote by the end of next week.
What Christian Leaders are Saying About the Tax Bill
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Because tax policy is far-reaching, Congress must provide ample time for Americans to discuss the complexities of these reforms and fully understand their effects. The current timetable does not provide adequate time for that discussion. In many ways, this legislation is unacceptable in its present form and requires amendment. It must be changed for the sake of families—the bedrock of our country—and for those struggling on the peripheries of society who have a claim on our national conscience.”
National Council of Churches: “The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended. The National Council of Churches reminds us that our lawmakers have a responsibility to care for the entire citizenry, not just those with the means to influence tax policy.”
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals: “Doing taxes right is really good. Let’s encourage Congress to take the time to get tax reform right–helping the poor and reducing the debt are high biblical priorities. And, providing an above-the-line charitable deduction to all taxpayers will go a long way to keeping America charitable.”
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African American Clergy Network: “The National African American Clergy Network is deeply concerned that historic Republican commitments to reducing deficits are being abandoned in adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt by taking life-sustaining programs from poor and working Americans. We suggest that Congress take the time to shape a bi-partisan tax reform measure that grows the economy by providing education and training for lower skilled and non-skilled workers, thus stabilizing families and communities economically.”
Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners: “The tax code is a moral document, a social contract on how we are going to do our part in sharing our resources with our communities, our neighbors, and those most in need. We are told by Jesus that we will be judged not by our profit margins, our corporate tax rates, or our repeal of healthcare, but how we treat the poor, the sick, and the most vulnerable in society. The tax bill currently under consideration in the Senate fails that moral test on all accounts.”
David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World: “The spirit of the season is sharing. But tax cuts for high-income people that are funded with deficit spending will almost certainly lead to deep cuts in Medicaid, SNAP, and other programs that help people living in poverty. The same budget resolution that permits $1.5 trillion in deficit spending for tax cuts outlines more than $2 trillion in cuts to low-income programs.”
John Ashmen, President, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions: “By and large, the 300 member organizations in the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions are pleased that the House’s tax reform bill and the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal provide financial relief for many working Americans and the incentive for new business opportunities. At the same time, we are concerned that outlined cuts to programs like Medicaid and SNAP would cause many of our most vulnerable citizens to join the hundreds of thousands already seeking life-sustaining services at faith-based ministries like rescue missions. Of equal concern is the likelihood that the proposed tax simplification plans—without something like a universal charitable contribution amendment in the final bill—will disincentive giving to nonprofits. The possibility of more people in need and fewer contributions to charities that are making a real difference could bring about a crisis for which the government is not prepared.”
Rev. Noel Castellanos, President, Christian Community Development Association: “Christian Community Development Association is an organization of over a thousand ministries across the nation focused on mobilizing residents in under-served neighborhoods to overcome poverty and to restore healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. We are concerned that the tax bill, currently being considered in the Senate, will devastate not only many individuals, but families, and entire communities.”
Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church: “The Episcopal Church supports efforts to reform our tax system and to ensure the ability of the government to pay its bills and deliver the programs and charitable services the people of this nation rely on. The current proposals, developed though partisan backroom negotiations, will result in reduced funding for critical public goods, increased deficits, and leave behind many of the most vulnerable Americans. We encourage Congress to develop bipartisan reforms that will ensure we can fully fund programs that provide for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and needy as the Gospels command.”
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together: “The moral and ethical principles that have guided our country always impelled us to contribute and to sacrifice for the common good. A country where the vast majority claim to be Christian must heed the words of scripture: ‘There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.’ (Deut. 15:11) A tax reform that falls short of lifting up the poor in the land is an affront against our Creator. God has blessed our country with wealth beyond measure. We call on the U.S. Congress to enact a tax reform that prioritizes and lifts up the poor in our country.”
Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA: “While we recognize the efforts to simplify the tax code and grow the economy, the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces or eliminates tax programs that are vital to low-income individuals and families and are critical to fostering family economic and opportunity. CCUSA urges Congress to take this opportunity to make meaningful investments so that families are supported, programs helping individuals who are poor or vulnerable are funded, and our nation’s faith-based and nonprofit organizations are assisted in their response to community needs.” (Letter to Congress, November 7, 2017)
Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation: “The massive tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations in the current tax reform bill before Congress would increase the deficit by a whopping $1.5 trillion. This giveaway will imperil the long-term fiscal health of our country and undermine future funding for critical programs. This tax reform proposal is being rushed through Congress without full scrutiny by congressional offices or the people of our country whose welfare is directly affected. The people of the United States— low and middle-income households—are looking for opportunity. Sadly, this bill will do more to hurt those families than to help them. When fully implemented, the Senate bill raises taxes on households making less than $75,000, increasing the tax burden for those with incomes between $20,000 and $30,000 by a staggering 25 percent. This bill does not serve those who government should help first. Making the rich get richer at the expense of families struggling just to get by weakens our society and harms people who want government to work for everyone.”