Religious Leaders from the Faithful Budget Campaign Take Center Stage at Capitol Hill Jobs Rally
Thousands of unemployed workers, faith, labor and community activists prayed for jobs and government support outside of the U.S. Capitol today.
The vigil was part of a week-long series of events planned by Faith Advocates for Jobs calling on Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits for jobless workers beyond the December 31 cutoff.
Following the vigil, 99 unemployed persons marched to the offices of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to request a meeting with the Speaker. The request was denied.
But earlier, the Rev. Michael Livingston, director of the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative, told participants they were being heard by a higher authority.
“Listen my brothers and sisters: What you do here today, what you’ve done here these last few days, is right, just, and sacred,” Livingston said. “We representatives of the religious community are proud to be here with you. It’s our duty to be here with you. And we are not alone here, the God of the universe is here with us.”
Livingston said, “There is a fundamental moral incompatibility between celebrating the joys of this holiday season and leaving this congressional session without passing legislation to extend unemployment benefits for people struggling to support their families. Our Congress needs to act now to serve the American people, especially those who are unemployed.”
Also participating in the vigil were the Rev. Paul Sherry of Faithful Advocated for Jobs, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, and Jennifer Butler, Director of Faith and Public Life.
Livingston, Sherry, Nelson and Butler were among eleven faith leadersarrested July 28 for kneeling in the rotunda of the Capitol to pray for a just national budget.
“The faith community and labor are bound together by the mere suggestion that providing work for the unemployed to feed their families is questionable in the minds of Congress,” said Dr. Nelson.
“Furthermore, it is appalling that we are debating the approval of unemployment benefits for the jobless and poor while touting our country as ‘one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.’ These two acts are a contradiction and must be fought with the power of faith, the people of this country and organized labor.”