More than three dozen religious leaders today (March 22) unveiled a “faithful budget” that they say will address the nation’s needs and priorities rather than partisan political considerations.

According to a press release from the “Faithful Budget Campaign,”  its priorities for a faithful budget are a set of comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that will protect the common good, value each individual and help lift the burden on the poor.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s participants in the group are the Rev. Gradye Parstons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, and the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the denomination’s Office of Public Witness in Washington.

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,” the group said in unveiling its proposal at a Washington press conference.

“Drafted by Jews, Christians, Muslims and other faith leaders, the ‘Faithful Budget’ embraces our role as a united nation to take care of the most vulnerable among us, while making balanced investments in our future,” said Parsons in a prepared statement read by Nelson after Parsons’ flight was delayed.

“By following our sacred imperative to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves,’” Nelson said, “we not only can pass a budget that makes sense, but pass a budget that begins to create a more just society and a healthier world.”

Endorsed by 37 religious denominations and organizations, the proposal is a call to Congress and the President to enact a budget that “enhances the well-being of all Americans and to make a good faith increase in funding for the impoverished and the vulnerable here and abroad in fiscal year 2013,” the group’s press release states.

“For too long, our nation’s political leaders have fallen into a trap of starting with an arbitrary top-line budget number and then working within its parameters to fund the programs on which we all rely. Rather than follow Washington’s example, the Faithful Budget focuses on our national needs and priorities,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

"We hope our Faithful Budget model can serve as a model that Congress and the Obama Administration can use to help build a more perfect union,” she added.

In addition to Parsons, Nelson and Campbell, others who presented the “faithful budget” to congressional leaders today were the Rev. Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ; Bishop Neil Irons, executive secretary of the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops; Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America; the  Rev. Michael Livingston, a Presbyterian who is past president of the National Council of Churches and currently director of its anti-poverty campaign; the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of Minnesota Council of Churches and the immediate past president of the NCC; Rabbi David Saperstein, executive director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; the Rev. David Beckman, president of the Bread for the World; and Douglas G. Grace, director of Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice.

Following the unveiling of their proposal, the religious officials were scheduled to meet with the offices of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to present the Faithful Budget in person for congressional consideration.

“Regardless of if you are Republican or Democrat, a Christian, Jew, Muslim or a follower of another faith, the Faithful Budget embraces the reality that we live together in a community, not agreeing on everything, but sharing in the common purpose of bettering our nation,” said Syeed. “The Faithful Budget seeks to transcend Washington’s current political climate and find common ground.”

On March 26 ― as part of Ecumenical Advocacy Days ― hundreds of faith advocates from around the country will meet with and deliver the Priorities for a Faithful Budget Preamble and Principles to their own senators and representatives.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community and over 50 recognized partners and allies to strengthen Christian voices and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues.

“Whether guided by the words of Isaiah, Luke or Muhammad, the values included in the Faithful Budget are inherent in all of our faiths,” said Rabbi Saperstein. “During this time of great need in this country, it is essential that we lift our collective voices to speak to the social and ecological challenges our nation faces. The Faithful Budget begins that effort.”

Information for this story furnished by Adam Muhlendorf, Faithful Budget Campaign