Christian Leaders Refuse Food to Cancel Debts

Several prominent Christian leaders are joining a 40-day fast beginning Thursday to lobby Congress to cancel the debts of 67 of the poorest countries in the world.

Forty major religious and community leaders will participate in the "Cancel Debt Fast" organized by the Jubilee USA Network Sept. 6-Oct. 15. The leaders will be joined by up to an expected 20,000 Americans who will urge not only for the cancellation of debts, but also to establish responsible lending practices for the future.

"Today, millions of men, women and children around the world are literally starving for debt cancellation," lamented Jubilee USA Network on its website.

Jubilee USA Network is a religious alliance working for the cancellation of debts to fight poverty in poor countries.

"The 2007 Jubilee Act (HR 2634) would provide expanded debt cancellation for many countries that were not included in the 2005 G-8 (Group of Eight) agreement and need debt cancellation to address extreme poverty," the network explained.

Indebted nations spend an average of $100 million each day to pay their debts – money that could be spent on food, education, health services and other needs in a poor country, according to Jubilee.

Among the faith leaders participating in a day-long fast during the campaign are the Rev. Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners/Call to Renewal; Ron Sider, founder of Evangelicals for Social Action; and John Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Tony Campolo, founder of Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, meanwhile has endorsed the fast.

Organizers and participants hope to secure a hearing on the Jubilee Act in the House of Representatives and the introduction of a similar bill in the Senate.

The Jubilee campaign noted that this year marks the halfway point of the G-8 Millennium Development Goal to cut worldwide poverty in half by 2015 – a goal which the United States had committed itself to in 2000.

The Jubilee Week of Action for Debt Cancellation & Economic Justice will take place Oct. 16-18 in Washington, D.C., and will include its National Lobby Day on Oct. 17 and the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Jubilee USA Network on Oct. 18.