Frustrated that their pleas to the Administration and Congress to protect funding for the nation’s most vulnerable are being ignored, nearly a dozen leaders from the faith community were arrested inside the U.S. Capitol Building on Thursday.
Despite repeated warnings from the U.S. Capitol Police, the leaders refused to end their public prayers asking the Administration and Congress not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.
Among those who were arrested were the Rev. Michael Livingston, former president of the National Council of Churches, now director of the NCC’s poverty initiative; and Jordan Blevins, director of peace witness for the Church of the Brethren and the NCC.
“Congress is paralyzed by toxic partisan politics while people suffer,” said Livingston. “Our elected officials are protecting corporations and wealthy individuals while shredding the safety net for millions of the most vulnerable people in our nation and abroad. Our faith won’t allow us to passively watch this travesty unfold. We’ve written letters, talked with and prayed for our elected officials, and prayed together daily in interreligious community. Today, we ‘offer our bodies as a living sacrifice’ to say to congress ‘Raise revenue, protect the vulnerable and those living in poverty…’”
Others arrested include Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center in Philadelphia; Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director, Faith and Public Life; Rev. Paul Sherry, Director of the Washington Office, Interfaith Worker Justice; Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of Public Witness, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Sandy Sorenson, Director of Washington Office, United Church of Christ; Martin Shupack, Director of Advocacy, Church World Service; and Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause. Edgar is a former general secretary of the NCC…
Capitol Hill police asked them to clear the rotunda but the religious leaders continued praying. As they were being arrested, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D.-Maine) announced on the floor of the House of Representatives that religious leaders are being arrested for standing up for persons in poverty…
There was no response from those members of the House of Representatives who campaign for office as Christian conservatives.