Stated Clerk urges Congress: Stop Playing Politics with People's Wellbeing

September 30, 2013

Washington, DC

On Friday, the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, joined with 33 other leaders of faith denominations and organizations to urge Congress duly to enact a budget that will keep our government running into the new fiscal year.  They wrote: 

"Our democracy rests on principles of reason, compromise, and a commitment to the common good. To hold our governance processes and financial credibility hostage to narrow priorities is not only dangerous to the nation’s near-term financial well-being, it threatens the very foundations of our democratic process and our capacity to live united in community."

Parsons continued in a separate comment:

"It is time to stop playing politics with people's wellbeing.  It is the genius of our democracy that no one political ideology should determine the agenda of a nation, nor should those relying on government programs or the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury be held hostage.  It is time for everyone, citizens and elected officials, to engage in good faith in the difficult and challenging work of government."

The complete text of the letter from Religious Leaders follows:

September 27, 2013
Dear Senator/Representative:

As leaders of faith communities and organizations comprising millions of people from all walks of life across our nation, we are deeply concerned by the completely avoidable budget and financial crises we are fast approaching as a nation.

Though Congress must pass the federal budget, it belongs to every American.  This common fund formed of our combined tax revenues is designed to support the shared infrastructure, well-being, and long-term ethical values of our society.  As people of faith we find it morally irresponsible to blockade the process by which we provide for our nation’s shared needs in a bid to force any individual legislative priority.

It would likewise be reckless to propel the United States into financial default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling for spending that Congress has already approved.  Shuttering the federal government or defaulting on the nation’s financial commitments is likely to reverse our fragile economic recovery, punish the middle class, and deeply harm our most vulnerable neighbors.

Our democracy rests on principles of reason, compromise, and a commitment to the common good.  To hold our governance processes and financial credibility hostage to narrow priorities is not only dangerous to the nation’s near-term financial well-being, it threatens the very foundations of our democratic process and our capacity to live united in community.

We ask that lawmakers address their concerns through the proper legislative channels. It ill serves our nation and people to stand in the way of funding federal operations or raising the debt ceiling in an effort to block implementation of health care legislation that Congress duly enacted.  We ask that congressional leadership of both parties stand strong in opposing efforts to allow the will of the few to threaten the common good.

We commit to keeping you in prayer, asking that God continue to give you wisdom as you faithfully serve our nation during this time when the country most needs your principled leadership.


Ruth Messinger
American Jewish World Service
Rev. David Beckmann
Bread for the World
Dr. Lester A. Myers
Center of Concern
Dr. Sharon Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. John L. McCullough
President and CEO
Church World Service
Dr. Jack Sullivan
Disciples Justice Action Network
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Linda Hanna Walling
Executive Director
Faithful Reform in Health Care
Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
Franciscan Action Network
Diane Randall
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
Interfaith Alliance
Dr. Sayyid Syeed
National Director
Islamic Society of North America
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Sr. Janet Mock, CSJ
Executive Director
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Fr. Tim Mulroy, SSC
U S. Regional Director
Missionary Society of St. Columban
Salam Al-Marayati
Muslim Public Affairs Council
Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, RGS
National Coordinator
National Advocacy Center of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
Jack Payden-Travers
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
Peg Birk
Transitional General Secretary
National Council of Churches
Nancy Kaufman
Chief Executive Officer
National Council of Jewish Women
Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Sr. Patricia Chappell
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA
Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Rev. Kip B. Banks
Interim General Secretary
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Rabbi David Saperstein
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Sr. Patricia McDermott, RSM
President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Rev. Jim Wallis
Rev. Peter Morales
Unitarian Universalist Association
Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President  and
Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo
Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ
Bishop Peter D. Weaver
Executive Secretary, The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Shan Cretin
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee
  1. I truly believe these people are so caught up in the way they think and do business that they no longer feel a need to listen to anything the American people have to say.

    by cliff

    July 14, 2014

  2. It’s one thing to sign such a blatantly one-sided political letter as a personal expression. Instead, you co-signed as if these biased views represent our whole church. How dare you? I'm thankful that some of the politicians have chosen to try to shield taxpayers from yet another egregious expansion of an already bloated government.

    by Garry Lee

    October 3, 2013

  3. This is a well written, well thought out letter to tell our representatives that they are responsible for compromising, and working together. Thank you, Reverend Gradye Parsons and the Office of the General Assembly

    by Leslie Hahn

    October 1, 2013

  4. I am disappointed, and disagree wholeheartedly with the statement. The Stated Clerk attempts to speak for the entire denomination, but instead reflects the partisan leanings of the national leadership.

    by Jennifer Poe Umphress

    September 30, 2013

  5. This letter is finger-wagging partisanship in the guise of religious concern. It is all too typical of the communications routinely written and/or signed by the Stated Clerk. I dissent from this statement.

    by John Erthein

    September 30, 2013

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