Under the auspices of the "Cry for Renewal" movement, 55 Christian leaders were arrested December 7 after praying, reading Scripture, and singing hymns as part of a demonstration in the Capitol Rotunda. Organizers say they believe they accomplished their goal of drawing attention to congressional plans to reduce welfare benefits to the nation's poor. "Cry for Renewal" is a broad-based alliance of 100 Christian leaders critical of the Christian Right.
Among those handcuffed and briefly jailed were "Sojourners" editor Jim Wallis; sociologist and author Tony Campolo; Boston minister Eugene Rivers; and Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), which played a central organizing role.
Sider said he was both angry and sad at lawmakers' intentions to "slash $380 billion from programs for the poor," while granting "about $245 billion in tax cuts to the rich and middle class." Sider protested legislators' plans to cut Head Start, food stamps, Pell Grants, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides either a tax break or a modest financial grant to the working poor. Sider pointed out that former President Reagan called the EITC "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress."
Most of the demonstrators at arraignments pleaded guilty and paid $50 fines.1
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