'Faithful Filibuster' Protest Asks Politicians to Focus on Poor, Vulnerable in Shutdown Fight

A group of evangelical leaders have embarked on a "faithful filibuster" protest, asking political leaders to address the impact of the partial government shutdown on the poor and vulnerable in society.

These leaders, including the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, Galen Carey, vice president for governmental affairs at National Association of Evangelicals, and Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, will be reading 2,000 Bible verses dealing with poverty at an outdoor location near the Capitol. The "faithful filibuster" is planned to last until the shutdown ends.

They are also sending each member of Congress a "Poverty and Justice Bible" in which each of those 2,000 verses are highlighted.

The "Faithful Filibuster" is organized by the Circle of Protection, a group of 65 Christian leaders who have asked political leaders to prioritize the needs of the poor and vulnerable as they try to deal with the nearly $17 trillion national debt.

Some government programs for the poor are not impacted by the shutdown. Medicaid, a health insurance program for the poor, is self-funded, for instance, and not part of the yearly budget process.

There are some other programs, though, that are being impacted. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that provides food assistance and nutrition education for poor women with young children, ran out of money in most states this week. Beneficiaries must wait until the shutdown ends to continue receiving benefits.

"After these 2,000 verses are read, we're going to keep talking," Wallis wrote Wednesday. "We're going to keep sharing God's message of good news for the poor to help our elected officials rediscover the vision of the 'common good.' We're going to keep talking whenever Congress is in session until this shutdown ends."

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