Christian leaders decry Trump's foreign aid cuts

(Reuters/Joshua Roberts)U.S. President Donald Trump's overview of the budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2018 are displayed at the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) on its release by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Washington, U.S. March 16, 2017.

Over 100 Christian leaders have affixed their signature to a letter urging Congress to reject President Donald Trump's proposal to make disproportionate cuts to foreign aid funding.

The budget blueprint, released by the Trump administration on Thursday, included a proposal to reduce the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) budget by 28 percent, according to Christianity Today.

In the statement included with the blueprint, Trump argued that "it is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share."

In the letter sent to House and Senate majority and minority leadership on Thursday, Christian leaders and celebrities called on the legislators to avoid making "disproportionate" cuts to foreign aid programs that provide support to the impoverished, starving and displaced people abroad.

"As followers of Christ, it is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget, and avoid disproportionate cuts to these vital programs that ensure that our country continues to be the 'shining city upon a hill,'" the letter stated, according to The Christian Post.

The letter was signed by leaders from humanitarian aid groups including World Vision USA, World Relief, Compassion International, and Food for the Hungry. Other signatories include Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Ronnie Floyd, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; evangelical author and human rights advocate Johnnie Moore and many others.

The Christian leaders urged the government to maintain the international programs they consider "instrumental in saving lives, safeguarding religious liberties, and keeping America safe and secure." They also contended that the International Affairs Budget, which is used to fund health clinics and schools in developing nations and humanitarian relief programs, is "crucial" to demonstrating American values, building "friendships with other nations" and "lowering security risks around the world."

During the previous administration, most evangelicals supported making cuts to U.S. assistance to the world's poor. Other top choices for spending reductions were government assistance for the unemployed and environmental protection.

The budget blueprint also includes a proposal to reduce the U.S. assessed contribution for U.N. global peacekeeping missions to 25 percent at most, which is consistent with the U.S. law that sets a 25 percent cap on peacekeeping funding. The U.S. currently contributes about 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget.

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