Sean Callahan, Richard Stearns Make a Christian, Conservative Case for Foreign Aid

People wait for relief goods outside a Catholic church after evacuating their homes due to super-typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines in December 2014. Tens of thousands of people fled coastal villages and landslide-prone areas in the central Philippines. (Reuters)

People wait for relief goods outside a Catholic church after evacuating their homes due to super-typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines in December 2014. Tens of thousands of people fled coastal villages and landslide-prone areas in the central Philippines. (Reuters)

The Bible is replete with references to caring for the poor in obedience to God. Jesus declares that loving our neighbor — wherever they live — is one of the greatest commandments, a corollary to loving God.

While the U.S. government doesn’t directly share this mandate, it plays a critical role in fulfilling the moral responsibility of all Americans to help those less fortunate. In fact, the U.S. government has always been a strong partner with American citizens in helping those in extreme poverty and crisis. Yet now, President Trump’s proposed budget threatens to severely cut that foreign aid.

At less than 1 percent of the federal budget — an amount analogous to the “widow’s mite” — foreign assistance promotes our values, our own prosperity and our nation’s security, all while providing a lifeline to the most vulnerable in the world, those Jesus called “the least of these.”

This isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. If the U.S. government isn’t on the ground saving lives and promoting recovery and development — in solidarity with thousands of American aid workers and American allies — then global crises will proliferate and cause destabilization that eventually reaches our shores.

In an increasingly unstable world, this small but vital account is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure. Former secretary of defense Robert Gates has said, “Economic development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

We hold out hope that new American leadership will seek to strengthen American resolve to act before crises escalate. Our country did not act soon enough in Syria. A famine has been declared in South Sudan, and three other countries are on the brink.

Every year, generous Americans, churches and foundations support the life-saving work of organizations like World Vision and Catholic Relief Services to keep vulnerable children alive and enable communities to work toward standing on their own. They expect our government to mirror their generosity. The U.S. government and faith-based organizations are powerful partners in eradicating the most egregious forms of poverty hindering human potential.

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SOURCE: The Washignton Post
Richard Stearns is president of World Vision U.S. and the author of “The Hole in Our Gospel.” Sean Callahan is president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services.

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