In keeping with its mission of supporting peace, unity and social justice, the Council recently has signed on to three letters involving issues being addressed at the federal level. We have spoken out for a faithful budget, for preserving low-income tax credits, and for gun violence prevention and school safety.
The call for a faithful FY 2014 budget demonstrates how federal budget choices can and must reflect America’s shared values. A prominent coalition of major national religious organizations and leaders support it as an expression of the faith community’s priorities that stand in stark contrast to the partisan budget proposals currently under consideration. The document is a set of comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that promotes values shared by diverse faiths: protection of the common good, the value of each individual, and lifting the burden on those living at the economic margins of society.
The Faithful Budget Campaign was spearheaded by some of the nation’s most well-known Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faith-based organizations which are united by their shared commitments to lifting up the most vulnerable and demonstrating that America is a better nation when we follow our faiths’ imperatives to promote the general welfare of all individuals.
Low-Income Tax Credits
The Council also joined signers of a letter to support low-income tax credits through a bill intended to make permanent several vital tax-code priorities for millions of low- to middle-income, working taxpayers and their families — priorities that are currently only temporary. These include:
• The Earned Income Tax Credit’s extra support for families with three or more children, as well as married couples’ relief from the EITC’s so-called “marriage penalty.”
• The Child Tax Credit’s lowered income-eligibility threshold.
• The entire American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps families defray the costs of higher education.
These provisions were extended for only five years in the recent American Taxpayer Relief Act, even as other tax measures benefiting the wealthiest families were made permanent. Yet there is no good reason that working families should face the loss of these measures.
School Safety and Gun Violence
We also endorsed a letter to Senators supporting positive school safety and gun violence prevention, adding the Council’s voice to those urging all Senators to take action to protect children. Knowing we all are working hard on many child safety proposals, we joined with others from across the country to support proposals in three areas:
• Federal funding for increased positive school safety measures.
• A universal background check requirement that covers private gun sales as well as sales at licensed firearms dealers.
• A limit on high capacity ammunition magazines.
While a minority in the Senate refused to allow even such common-sense measures to move forward for consideration, faithful voices continue to be needed in the ongoing call for legislation to curb gun violence. Please speak out and stand up for the 2,694 children and teens (seven every day) whose voices were permanently silenced by gun violence in 2010 and the estimated 166,500 children and teens who have been killed by guns since 1963.
–Sandy Irving, Volunteer Program Associate