Christian leaders challenge Trump's 'America First' budget plan

(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.

President Donald Trump's administration has declared an "America First" master plan for the federal budget — a move that sparked outrage and protests from many Evangelical leaders in the country.

The "America First" budget blueprint, released on Mar. 16, featured reductions in the budget for U.S. overseas assistance and increased financial allocation for the construction of the border wall with Mexico

Many Christian leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Evangelical minister Reverend Samuel Rodriguez — who both gave addresses in Trump's inauguration — voiced their disapproval of the latest federal development.

On the same day the budget plans were revealed, the international aid agency of the United States Catholic Bishops — Catholic Relief Services — released a letter in protest of the declaration. A total of 106 Faith leaders signed the address.

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The 2018 U.S. budget is slated to focus on the development of the wall on Mexico's southern border, effectively cutting off several federal agencies that provide assistance to foreign civilians.

"It is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget," the letter stressed, emphasizing its importance in bringing hope to displaced and vulnerable people around the world.

The letter was directed at the House and Senate leaders, namely, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader Pelosi, and Speaker Ryan.

The signatories detailed the International Affairs Budget's achievements in "drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio" despite encompassing only one percent of America's national budget.

They also underscored the budget's contributions in the protection of freedom, human rights, and religious freedom not only for Americans but also for "millions around the world."

The signatories of the letter were not all members of the clergy. Evangelical leaders, CEOs of several Christian charitable groups, and singers also supported the protest.

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