While I expect that heated debate over abortion and gay "marriage" will continue for years to come, I think there is potentially a lot of common ground between morally/theologically conservative Christians and political progressives: January 17, 2005 The Honorable George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President: We write as evangelical leaders to urge a strengthened, expanded emphasis on overcoming hunger and poverty both here and abroad in the next four years. Precisely the commitment to moral values (including the sanctity of human life) that shapes all our political activity compels us to insist that as a nation we must do more to end starvation and hunger and strengthen the capacity of poor people to create wealth and care for their families. We are grateful for your faith-based initiative and the way this approach is strengthening the ability of faith-based organizations to bring their unique gifts and passion to the task of overcoming social brokenness and poverty. We are also grateful for the way your administration has expanded the American contribution to economic development and the battle against AIDS in Africa and other developing countries through the Millennium Challenge Account and the AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Initiative. Thank you also for your moral leadership in the fight against human trafficking, your commitment to rebuild the U.S. refugee program, and your sustained efforts to end decades of war in Sudan. Tragically, however, both at home and abroad, the number of people in poverty remains unacceptably high. In 2000, virtually every nation on the planet approved the Millennium Development Goals that included a commitment to halve global poverty by 2015. But adequate funds to meet these goals are not being given, and the U.S. ranks absolutely last (as a percentage of GNP) among all developed nations in its governmental assistance to overcome global poverty. Our nation has fallen far short of the increases in health and development assistance that you proposed. The richest nation in history can and must grasp the opportunity to lead. Poverty in our own nation has increased in the last several years and millions more working poor lack health insurance. We agree with you that there is a poverty of the soul and a poverty of the wallet and that government should not try to solve the first. We pledge to you to strengthen the armies of compassion in order to do more through our faith-based organizations to overcome the poverty of the soul. But our faith-based social service agencies cannot by themselves solve the problem of poverty of the wallet. As you have often said, government can and should help solve this problem. Tragically, millions of Americans today work full time and still fall below the poverty level. The moral values that shape our lives tell us this is wrong. We believe our rich nation should agree that everyone who works full time responsibly will be able to earn enough to rise above the poverty level and enjoy health insurance. We know there will be powerful pressures, from some places, as you and the Congress work to reduce deficit spending, to cut even effective programs for poor people. We pray that you will not allow this to happen. We pray that God will give you the strength to act like the righteous king in Ps. 72:12-13 and “deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help, take pity on the weak and the needy, and save the needy from death.” We call on you, Mr. President, to declare, in your Inaugural or State of the Union address, that it is the policy of your administration to make the necessary improvements in the next four years so that all Americans who work full time responsibly will be able to escape poverty and enjoy health insurance. This policy would strengthen the family, discourage divorce, reduce out-of-wedlock births and strengthen moral values in our nation. If the Bible teaches us anything clearly on this issue, it is, as the recent declaration of the National Association of Evangelicals said, that “God measures societies by how they treat the people at the bottom.” A dramatic reduction in poverty, both here and abroad, would honor our Lord who called us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. It would also be a wonderful legacy for you to leave with the American people and indeed the world. Such an outcome is clearly within the reach of the richest nation in history. The moral values you share with us demand no less. We request the opportunity to meet with you and your administration to discuss ways that we can help you strengthen your administration’s efforts to overcome hunger and poverty. Respectfully, Robert Andringa, President, Council For Christian Colleges and Universities Paul Armes, President, Wayland Baptist University Todd Bassett, National Commander, The Salvation Army David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World Esdras Betancourt, Director of Hispanic Ministries, Church of God David Black, President, Eastern University Peter Borgdorff, Executive Director, CRWRC William Brown, President, Cedarville University George Brushaber, President, Bethel College & Seminary Gaylen Byker, President, Calvin College Jerry Cain, President, Judson College Galen Carey, Director, Advocacy and Policy, World Relief R.Judson Carlberg, President, Gordon College Joel Carpenter, Provost, Calvin College John Castellani, President, Teen Challenge International USA Daniel Chamberlain, President, Houghton College Richard Chamiec-Case, Director, N. American Assoc. of Christians In Social Work Richard Cizik, V.P. of Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals Dennis Clements, Chairman, Reaching Indians Ministries International John Derry, President, Hope International University Dave Donaldson, President, We Care America Larry Donnithorne, President, Colorado Christian University G. Dowden, President, Huntington College James Edwards, President, Anderson University Bill Emery, Chairman, Virginia Round Table Bernard Evans, President, Elim Fellowship E.Lebron Fairbanks, President, Mount Vernon Nazarene University Frederick Finks, President, Ashland Theological Seminary Paul Fleischmann, President, National Network of Youth Ministries Stan Gaede, President, Westmont College Wayne Gordon, Chairman, Christian Community Dev. Assoc. William Hamel, President, Evangelical Free Church of America Doug Hodo, President, Houston Baptist University Dennis Hollinger, President, Evangelical School of Theology William Hossier, President, Missionary Church Inc Clyde Hughes, Genera! l Overse er, International Pentecostal Church of Christ William Ipema, Vice President, Leadership Foundations of America Bruce Jackson, Director, Christian Community Health Fellowship Bryce Jessup, President, Jessup University Glen Kehrein, Executive Director, Circle Urban Ministries J.Nelson Kraybill, President, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary Steven Livesay, President, Bryan College Larry Lloyd, President, Crichton College Joel MacCollam, Chief Executive World Emergency Relief Ronald Manahan, President, Grace College & Theological Seminary Jim Mannoia, President, Greenville College Josh McDowell, Author/Speaker, Josh McDowell Ministry David Moberg, Publisher, W Publishing Chuck Moore, President, Northern Seminary Bruce Murphy, President, Northwestern College George W. Murray, President, Columbia International University David Neff, Editor, Christianity Today Magazine Larry Nikkel, President, Tabor College Michael Nyenhuis, President, MAP International Glenn R. Palmberg, President, Evangelical Covenant Church John E. Phelan, Jr, President, North Park Theological Seminary William Robinson, President, Whitworth College Andrew Ryskamp, Executive Director, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee Scott Sabin, Executive Director, Floresta USA Donald Sharp, Pastor, Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church of Chicago Amy Sherman, Director, Faith In Communities Ronald Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action Michael Sigman, Bishop, Evangelical Congregational Church Barry St. Clair, President, Reach Out Youth Solutions Richard E. Stearns, President, World Vision Loren Swartzendruber, President, Eastern Mennonite University Pat Taylor, President, Southwest Baptist University Steve Timmermans, President, Trinity Christian College Joseph Tkach, President/General Pastor, Worldwide Church of God Thomas Trask, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God Bill Vermillion, General Superin! tendent, Evangelical Churches of N. America Jon Wallace, President, Azusa Pacific University Jim Wallis, Convenor, Call To Renewal Craig Williford, President, Denver Seminary James Wolff, Pastor, Lawndale Christian Reformed Church Tim Ziemer, Executive Director, World Relief Jason McGaughey Rev. Delvin A. Roper, Retired United Methodist Pastor Chad Allen, Editor, Baker Books Virginia Mulhern Carl Jordan, Retired teacher Lois Jordan, Retired teacher Ursula Kaplowitz Matt Rindge, Writer James R. Monroe, Pastor Jonathan Ferguson, Ministry Coordinator Victoria Fitoon, Counselor Dr. CG White, Pastor Roger Eberly, Pastor John Stonecypher, Pastor Dale A. Painter Kathryn A. Painter Paul Faber, Dean Jacinta Faber, member, St. Andrews Episcopal Mary Anne Poe, Director of Social Work Laurie Gruenbeck Joe Carson, President, Affil. of Christian Engineers Matt Campbell Wendy Campbell Linda Messamore Phil Landers, Rev. Deborah McFatter, Evangelical Lutheran Church Larry McFatter, Evangelical Lutheran Church Deborah Abello, Director I, Migrant Education Region 23 Jo Kadlecek, Writer Jennifer Fair Nathan D. Wilson, Rev. Becky Horst, Director of CALL Rev. Gene Beerens, Vice Chair, Reentry Roundtable of Kent Becky Johnson, Pastor Leroy & Kari Huizenga James Huff, professor Todd M. Muller, After School Director Rodney Steward-Wilcox, Rev. Michael Finely, author Daphne Krabill Hollinger, agricultural intern Marc Averill D! avid Lyn n Smith, M.D. Erma Mae Perkins Susan Gilbert Zencka, Rev., PCUSA Wendy Tobias Jill Shook, Pasadena/Altadena Congregations Stan Franco, Deacon David Wetzell, Bethel Student Brian Heller Heidi Muller, Youth worker Walter Shurden, professor Allison Caylor, Karl Road Baptist Church Claude Good, Coordinator, Franconia Mennonite Conf Thomas Litteer, Rev. Kristin Stults Elliot Hui Walt Miller, Pastor-retired Paul Hanneman, Program Director, Urban Ministry Center Katherine L. Vandegrift Robert Henderson, Pastor, Presbyterian Jim Henderlite, Deacon Ted Lucas, M.D. Freda B. Schlaman Patrick Cicero Helena Cicero Faithe Zercher, Director Adult Services Boyd Holliday, Pastor, Methodist George Patterson II Joseph F. Gamarano Jr. A. C. Cuppy, Rev. Luisa Hansel, Rev. Patrick Cabello Hansel, Rev. Willis Sutter, Past-President, IL Mennonite Conference Laura A. Starrett, M.D. Richard P. Starrett, M.D. Ken Burkholder Stephen Valder, M.D. Odette Valder, M.D. Anniegrace Bassage Lance W. Jobe, M.D. Scott Meier Christine M. Corneille Kyle Small, Covenant Church Richard Lamb Mary Fox Cecil Prescod Denise Ribera Luxton, Riverside Church Edith Johnson Jim Johnson Maxwell Carroll Mike Wallens, Chaplain Jim Bender, Deputy Director Walter Shurden, Professor Fredric E. Spalding, Pastor Niles R. Sharif, Lawyer Kenneth Hunn, Rev. James Moore, Baptist General Conference Minnesota Curt Dodson, Rev. Lynn I Thrush, Pastor Judy Harmon, Lay Church Leader Robert Harmon, Dr. Greg Jackson, M.D. Scot F Martin Peter A. Dearstyne Michel Hostetter, Rep Eastern Mennonite Missions - Chile Paul Burks, Rev., United Methodist M! inister- retired Steve Sharp, Upper School Director, The Kings Academy Phil Olson, Pastor, Presbyterian Sarita Dinnocente James E Wolff, Lawndale Christian Reformed Church G Peter Schrek, Prof. of Pastoral Care&Counseling, EBTS Audrey Benjamin Andrew Benjamin Donald L Sharp, Pastor, Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church of Chicago Kevin Waters, Lay Pastor, Pleasant Plain, OH Brian Vosburg William Calhoun George Alcser, Professor Mary Grove College Mike Etheridge Janette Plunkett, Consultant Pat Francis-Lyon See also http://www.nae.net/images/civic_responsibility2.pdf.