A Christian minister and activist wants to send a message to President Barack Obama while he and his family are vacationing at Martha's Vineyard this week: remember the nation's poor and needy.
The Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, plans to hold a demonstration on Thursday, Aug. 25, in front of the White House to protest what he sees as an "irresponsible" decision by Obama to leave Washington, D.C. while the nation is in turmoil.
"It's clearly irresponsible and sends the exact wrong message when we are struggling with these hard economic times...and it shows a profound disrespect for the poor and for the struggling for the president to take this incredibly expensive vacation," Mahoney told The Christian Post Thursday.
"While the President is relaxing in luxurious and plush surroundings [and] dining on the best foods, millions of Americans are living in the streets and wondering where their next meal will come from," Mahoney said in a separate statement.
President Obama and his family are scheduled to leave the White House this evening for Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, where they will be staying for ten days at the Blue Heron Farm, a $20 million estate.
The Obamas' stay reportedly costs about $50,000 per week, which comes out of the president's own pocket. However, the expenses for the Obamas' entourage – secret service agents, aides, drivers, etc. – will be covered by taxpayer money, as is usually the case for presidential vacations.
No matter who will be paying for what, Mahoney thinks the president's "lavish and elite" vacation sends a "signal that he has contempt for America's poor and no respect for the 'least of these' in our society."
"Mr. President we don't begrudge your time away with your family," Mahoney said. "However, in these very difficult times it is important that you send a clear message that you care and have compassion for the poor."
The president heads out on vacation amid concerns of economic unrest with regard to the nation's unemployment rate, turmoil on Wall Street, and a recent credit downgrade by Standard and Poor's.
According to the most recent jobs report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rose by 117,000 in July, leaving the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent.
Obama, who chastised lawmakers last month for wanting to take time off during the debt ceiling debates, was expected to give a speech in September highlighting his plans for increasing jobs and adding support to the nation's struggling poor and middle classes.
Other events have been recently launched to address what some Americans view as President Obama's poor stance on tackling poverty.
Last week, radio and television host Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor Cornel West launched a 16-city "Poverty Tour," in which the men blasted President Obama for allegedly not doing enough to alleviate the plight of the poor.
Mahoney's protest, titled "The Matthew 25 Project," will involve participants using sleeping bags, old newspapers, blankets and garbage cans to get their point across.
Not more than about 20 people are expected to participate in the event, according to Mahoney, who cited permit and timing restrictions for why he decided against recruiting more participants.
The Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition is a Christ-centered ministry committed to challenging the Christian community to live out their faith in the public square.
Mahoney, who also criticized former President George W. Bush for his perceived poor response during Hurricane Katrina, told CP that the work of the Christian Defense Coalition is meant to be "prophetic, not partisan."
The "Matthew 25" demonstration will be on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 1:00 p.m. on Pennsylvania Ave. NW in front of the White House.