3:36pm

Thu July 28, 2011
All Politics are Local

Sojourners Hit McConnell over Debt Ceiling

A Christian social justice group is running radio ads targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for neglecting Biblical teachings and the poor during the debt ceiling negotiations. The minute-long spot is paid for by Sojourners, a progressive coalition of Christians led by Rev. Jim Wallis, who led hunger strikes to oppose budget cuts earlier this year. The group produced three ads that are running in Kentucky, Ohio and Nevada to target congressional leaders. The group criticize GOP leaders over neglecting the needy while “protecting tax cuts for the rich and powerful” but also challenges Democrats to do more to protect social programs.

Sojourners spokesman Tim King says the debate in Washington has overlooked a concern for the poor and the ads are encouraging leaders and voters to support a plan that raises the debt without hurting the disadvantaged.

“Jesus never said blessed is the middle-classed. He said blessed are the poor and in Matthew 25, he said the ultimate test—the ultimate test—for who were his true followers and who weren’t, was how they treated the poor and the needy,” he says.

The Kentucky ad features local pastor Duane Beachey of Letcher County, who denounces tax breaks given to oil companies while cuts are being made to programs that provide heating to low-income families. He told WFPL he cut the ad because the country’s budget is a moral document that should reflect a concern for the needy and not a protection for the rich.

The evangelist group has not supported any debt ceiling plan, however, its criticism appears to be bipartisan. While it targeting McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., Sojourners also challenges Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal with ads running in Nevada.

The spot targeting Reid quotes the Book of Proverbs and adds “in budget debates the rich have many political friends and lobbyists. The poor and needy don’t.”

“The politicians here in Washington have a lot of people watching the—special interests, big business and the wealthy—who are working hard to make sure that when it comes to deficit reduction they don’t have to pay the cost,” says King. “And if we aren’t watchful and Christians don’t speak the burden of deficit reduction, the burden of balancing the budget will end up on the backs of the poor.”

According to King, Sojourners spent $50,000 to buy  the ads, which are airing in several country radio station markets.