President Obama's 2012 budget calls for an increase in spending for war of 1% in real dollars and a freezing of domestic spending. "Freezing" means cuts because of inflation. More than 60% of the discretionary budget will now go for war. That includes funds for the Department of Defense, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Veterans Affairs, and nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy. Deep cuts will be made in such programs as grants to college students, community block grants, and home heating oil assistance for low income families, but over a trillion dollars will be dedicated to two disastrous wars, 700 bases in over 100 countries, and a military that costs more than all the rest of the world's militaries combined.
Religious leaders see these priorities as a moral issue. As Reverend Lynne Smouse-Lopez of Ainsworth United Church of Christ says, "We must re-examine our values as a nation. Where do we put our money? In the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: 'For the evils of racism, poverty and militarism to die, a new set of values must be born. Our economy must become more person-centered than property-centered. Our government must depend more on its moral power than on its military power.' We must be about building up lives, not tearing them down. "
Rev. Smouse-Lopez will be joined in speaking out against the war budget by other Portland religious leaders including: Rev. Mark Knutson, Senior Minister of Augustana Lutheran Church; David Leslie, Executive Director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon: Rev. Bill Sinkford, Senior Minister of First Unitarian Church; and Rabbi Joseph Wolf of the Havurah Shalom Community.
Faith groups will join with unions, health care advocates, education advocates, and peace groups in a rally and march on March 19, 2011 to mark the 8th year of the war in Iraq. They will call for a better use of our common resources than for war. The theme of the rally/march will be "Eight Years in Iraq, Nine Years in Afghanistan. How is the war economy working for you?" The rally will be in Pioneer Square and will begin at 1:00 PM. For more information about the rally contact: Peace and Justice Works at 503-236-3065.
DATE: Wednesday, February 16, 10:00 AM.
PLACE: Eliot Chapel, First Unitarian Church, SW 12th Ave. and Salmon St.
VISUALS: The event will be held in a chapel and a colored banner will be displayed showing the proportion of the discretionary budget going for war.
CONTACT: Curtis Bell
503 227-0016 (h)
503 621-6790 (cell)