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More than 100 Christian leaders urge Congress to reject Trump’s proposed 'deep cuts' to foreign aid

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney talks about President Donald Trump’s budget during a media briefing Feb. 27 at the White House in Washington, D.C. More than 100 Christian leaders are opposing the president’s proposed “deep cuts” to foreign aid spending. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 100 Christian leaders are voicing their opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed “deep cuts” to foreign aid.

Following the release of the president’s budget blueprint on Thursday, dozens of faith leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), urging them to reject the Trump administration’s unspecified cuts to foreign aid programs.

“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 said. “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.”

In a statement accompanying the budget proposal, Trump called for “deep cuts to foreign aid” because the government needs 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.”

During the daily press briefing from the White House Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, was steadfast about the decision to cut foreign aid spending. In fact, when asked by a reporter if the White House is “worried that some of the most vulnerable people on earth will suffer” because of the cuts, the OMB director dug in his heels.

“[The cuts] should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign,” he said. “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.”

But many Christian leaders are not happy with the proposal.

The letter's signatories include leaders such as Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York; Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith; Dr. Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; the Rev. Johnnie Moore, humanitarian and author of the book, “Defying ISIS;” and Rich Stearns, president of World Vision USA.

“America is blessed with fertile land, abundant natural resources, a strong economy and faithful citizens who value religious freedom,” they wrote. “But beyond our borders, many countries experience unparalleled suffering and loss of life due to extreme poverty, disease, natural disasters and conflict.”

The faith leaders claim the foreign aid dollars, accounting for about 1 percent of the federal budget, have helped build “peaceful, productive societies that do not turn to violence or terrorism.”

In a separate statement, Stearns, the president of World Vision USA, expressed his organization’s insistence on not cutting the United States’ foreign aid investments. While World Vision “appreciates that the president wishes to run a fiscally responsible government,” Stearns said, cutting foreign aid “seems penny wise and pound foolish.”

“World Vision urges Congress to reject these broad and short-sighted cuts and to work with the international community on a foreign assistance budget that includes smart, strategic and effective investments,” he said.

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