Last night I attended a local gathering with nuns who had been part of the October Nuns on the Bus tour of Ohio that was designed to counter the deluge of negative ads with messages about values and justice. It followed the nine-state national Nuns on the Bus in June who traveled from Iowa to Washington, DC, to highlight the impact of the Ryan budget on the poor. A friend and I signed up for this potluck/discussion event last week, before the election, in the recognition that no matter the outcome we need to educate ourselves and prepare to advocate on issues from our faith perspective. Like many, I have been very touched by the public witness of women religious through these bus tours. On each of their stops, they visited housing agencies, food pantries, and other endeavors that address poverty, to listen to individual stories. Their non-partisan, issues-focused outreach is teaching that touches hearts in its authenticity, inviting action from a place of genuine concern rather than fear or guilt.
And the bus is “still rolling,” as one sister put it last night. Besides the looming “fiscal cliff” soon to be taken up by the lame duck Congress, expanded Medicaid provisions in the health law that take effect in 2014 were ruled optional for states by the Supreme Court. We did not delve into the complexities of these issues last night but used as a starting point for small group discussion a document called the Faithful Budget, written by a 30-member coalition of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups in 2011. According to the website, The Faithful Budget promotes comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that will “protect the common good, value each individual and his or her livelihood, and help lift the burden on the poor, rather than increasing it while shielding the wealthiest from any additional sacrifice.” The Faithful Budget lays out ideas for restoring economic opportunity, ensuring adequate resources for the country’s fiscal needs, fostering true security, reducing poverty and hardship, taking responsibility for future generations, caring for the environment, improving access to health care and recognizing the robust role of government in combating poverty. While copies of the preamble only were distributed last night, I do intend to download and read the entire 54-page Faithful Budget.
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