President Donald Trump’s proposed reductions in foreign aid are being protested by more than 100 Christian leaders.
“Today, there are 65 million displaced people, the most since World War II, and 795 million people still go to bed hungry every night,” the letter stated. “Matthew 25 tells us when we serve the least of these, we are serving the Lord. As people of faith, we cannot turn our back on those in desperate need.”
“We are grateful,” it continued, “for America’s global development and diplomacy programs that have been instrumental in saving lives, safeguarding religious liberties, and keeping America safe and secure.”
The letter’s signatories include leaders such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York; Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith; Dr. Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Rev. Johnnie Moore, and Rich Stearns, president of World Vision USA.
Trump’s budget plan, which did not go line-by-line to direct specific cuts, said foreign assistance “is being refocused on priority strategic objectives and renewed attention is being placed on the appropriate U.S. share of international spending.”
The overview said Trump “seeks to reduce or end direct funding for international organizations whose missions do not substantially advance U.S. foreign policy interests, are duplicative, or are not well-managed. … These steps to reduce foreign assistance free up funding for critical priorities here at home and put America first.”
Elsewhere, the budget book said there is substantial funding for “humanitarian assistance, including food aid, disaster, and refugee program funding. This would focus funding on the highest priority areas while asking the rest of the world to pay their fair share.”
Major cuts are proposed for the United Nations and all programs connected with it, the World Bank and climate change efforts in developing countries.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, defended the foreign aid cuts Thursday.
During his presentation, he was asked if he was “worried that some of the most vulnerable people on earth will suffer” due to the budget cuts.
“They should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign,” he replied. “The president said, specifically, hundreds of times, you covered him, ‘I’m going to spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home,’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this budget.”
However, the religious leaders opposing the cuts say the targeted programs are an essential investment that have built “peaceful, productive societies that do not turn to violence or terrorism.”
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