VALLEY FORGE, PA (10/2/19)—Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), has joined with more than 50 Christian leaders to send a letter to the presidential candidates asking them to produce a short video telling the American people what they “would do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.”
The letter signers come from across a broad theological spectrum and include National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson and Poor Peoples’ Campaign co-chair Rev. William Barber. The letter was initiated by the Circle of Protection.
“Many American Baptist churches serve in communities where poverty continues to be a significant reality,” said Spitzer. “Our members care deeply about poverty because the Scriptures remind us to ‘defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed’ (Psalm 82:3).”
“This diverse group of Christian leaders has joined together to urge the presidential candidates to focus on people struggling with hunger and poverty,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and a co-chair of the Circle of Protection. “While we may not always see eye to eye, we can all agree on this.”
The letter reads in part: “As national leaders from all the major branches of Christianity, we care deeply about many issues facing our country, but ending hunger and poverty is a top priority of our work together…. We are praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration. Are you that leader?”
The Circle of Protection will not publicly evaluate the proposed policy positions or endorse any candidate.
This is the third presidential election cycle the Circle of Protection has asked presidential candidates for videos. In 2012, both President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney provided videos. In 2016, nearly all the primary-election candidates made videos, including Hillary Clinton, and Clinton and Donald Trump provided statements. That year, we secured 85 million media impressions about the videos. A comparison of media coverage in September 2008 and September 2016 indicated that media attention to poverty during the general election season doubled.
Other signers of the letter include: Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches; Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Catholic Bishop, Diocese of Venice in Florida; Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church; Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners: David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World, Most Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ; Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA and, Commissioner David Hudson, National Commander, The Salvation Army.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.