What do the Archbishop of New York, a group of Nashville singer/songwriters, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and this ordinary pastor here in Memphis all share in common? We, along with about 100 others, are using our voices to call on our congressional representatives to reject recent proposals put forward by President Trump in his budget blueprint. In particular, we are calling on Congress to protect the International Affairs budget.
Many might wonder why this matters. The rhetoric of “America First” has certainly been a hot topic in our national discourse over the past year.
The president’s proposed cuts to the International Affairs budget loses sight of the fact that foreign assistance, saves innocent lives, makes us safer, helps to create jobs here in America, and, most importantly, is fundamentally the right thing to do for the strongest, most successful country on earth.
Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with some of the members of our Tennessee congressional delegation. I went because my Christian faith compels me to speak up for the people of our planet who are not as lucky as we are to live here. I have a moral obligation to speak up for the poor, hungry, vulnerable, and displaced men, women, and children of our world who are supported through the International Affairs budget.
This piece of our government’s monetary pie accounts for less than 1 percent our overall spending. To cut that slice smaller, particularly when it deals with programs that help alleviate the suffering of millions, is a step in the wrong direction.
In recent years we have seen the number of people on our planet living in extreme poverty cut in half. The International Affairs portion of the federal budget helps make this happen. Additionally, it provides vital resources to help stop the spread of diseases like HIV and AIDS as well as Ebola. There are real consequences that come from drastic reductions in funding for this kind of work. Human rights are undermined. Religious freedom is threatened.
As a nation, does that make us look better or worse in the eyes of the world? More importantly, how does that make us look in the eyes of our Creator?
Our nation’s budget reflects our nation’s character. The food we share with the hungry, the medicine we offer to those who are sick, and the hand we extend to the ones trying to climb out of poverty: these are all expressions of our character and values.
As a pastor in our community committed to promoting the common good, I hope we will call on our congressional leaders to do what is right for our nation, our international neighbors, and our souls. There isn’t a faith tradition practiced here that says anything other than to speak up for the poor, the stranger, and the dignity of every human being.
Join me in asking our elected leaders to do what is right. Revise the budget blueprint the president has proposed. Protect the International Affairs budget. Speak up for the most vulnerable people on the planet. In doing this we have the opportunity to reflect our highest values as citizens of a nation that is truly great.
Dr. Stephen Cook is the Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Memphis.
Original post can be read here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/opinion/2017/04/19/protecting-foreign-aid-shows-our-nations-greatness/100618328/