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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Church leaders bash budget proposal

In separate critiques, Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders blasted President Bush's 2006 budget proposal, saying the most vulnerable Americans will suffer because of $214 billion cuts in domestic spending while wealthy citizens receive tax breaks.

"The prophets said God doesn't judge us on the eloquence of our preaching or the beauty of our sanctuaries," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson. "God will look at the condition of the poor in our midst and judge the quality of our faith. Based on this year's budget, God would find us guilty."

Hanson was joined in his critique by top officials of the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

The anti-hunger group, Bread for the World, headed by ELCA pastor David Beckmann, said the budget ?misses the mark? in caring for the poor.

Specifically, the religious leaders pointed to budget changes that would remove 300,000 people from food stamps, cut child care for 300,000 children and reduce Medicaid (health coverage for low-income citizens) by $45 billion — while making permanent the tax cuts first approved in 2001. The Bush administration disputed the criticisms, saying the president doesn't want to cut Medicaid but to slow the growth in spending.The White House pointed to $7 billion in new spending for low-income housing, homeless programs and community health clinics.


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