More than 100 Christian leaders signed a letter addressed to members of Congress, urging them to reject President Trump’s proposed budget cuts on foreign aid.
The Trump administration released its budget blueprint on Thursday, called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” among which included cuts to the foreign aid budget called the International Affairs Budget. The blueprint would cut the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 37 percent, according to reports, while increasing military spending.
The letter, dated March 16, emphasizes the help that the International Affairs Budget was able to provide for communities around the world.
“With just 1 percent of our nation’s budget, the International Affairs Budget has helped alleviate the suffering of millions; drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio,” the letter states. “Additionally, it promotes freedom and human rights, protecting religious freedom for millions around the world.”
“As followers of Christ, it is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget, and avoid disproportionate cuts to these vital programs that ensure that our country continues to be the ‘shining city upon a hill.’”
Denominational leaders who signed the letter included George Wood, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God; Ronnie Floyd, previous president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Jo Anne Lyon, the general superintendent emerita of The Wesleyan Church; David Wilson, the general secretary of the Church of Nazarene; and Colin P. Watson, Sr., the director of ministries and administration of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
Leaders of World Vision USA, Catholic Relief Services, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Habitat for Humanity, Compassion International, World Relief, and Food for the Hungry, and presidents of Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary were also among the signatories.
Worship artists Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Brandon Heath, and Third Day signed the letter as well.
Meanwhile, Christians are not the only group that have urged members of Congress to protect funding for foreign aid. In late February, over 120 retired military officials, including generals and admirals, wrote a letter to lawmakers emphasizing the need to secure funding to address development issues across the world to ensure military security as well.
“The military will lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield,” the letter states, “but it needs strong civilian partners in the battle against the drivers of extremism — lack of opportunity, insecurity, injustice, and hopelessness.”
Some members of Congress have already expressed concern regarding the proposed cuts to foreign aid. Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee Ed Royce told Vox, “I am very concerned by reports of deep cuts that could damage efforts to combat terrorism, save lives, and create opportunities for American workers.”
“It’s dead on arrival. It’s not going to happen,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on MSNBC regarding the proposed budget. “It would be a disaster.”
The blueprint released on Thursday, also known as the ‘skinny budget,’ is a rough sketch of what the Trump administration hopes to achieve in the budget. The full budget with more comprehensive descriptions and numbers is set to be released in May.