Faith Leaders Urge Obama to Prioritize Gulf Restoration

A letter authored by over 50 leading Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders was sent to U.S. President Barack Obama this week, urging him to prioritize restoration of the Katrina-battered Gulf Coast.

Coinciding with the president's first visit to New Orleans since taking office, the letter read, "Four years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and the levees were breached, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, climate change and coastal land loss have created a moral crisis across the region that demands a powerful response from people of faith and our elected officials."

"Our national response to these natural and man-made disasters has yet to protect the well-being of the Gulf Coast's most vulnerable people and places through long-term policies which restore the environment, rebuild lives and respect human rights," the letter continued. "As communities of faith, we are grounded in a shared tradition of justice and compassion and we are called upon to hold ourselves and our nation accountable to the moral standard of this tradition."

"We have learned that acts of faith and mercy alone, no matter how profound, cannot provide everything needed for a just recovery," the statement concludes. "Gulf Coast families deserve a federal government that recognizes their human rights and needs by partnering with them to rebuild and sustain their communities."

Written in coordination with the week-long mobilization effort "Fighting Poverty with Faith: Good Jobs, Green Jobs," the letter also urges President Obama to look to bipartisan bill HR 2269 as a means of ensuring recovery for the region. If signed, the bill would create 100,000 green jobs for hurricane survivors, restore wetlands, and promote energy efficiency and climate change resiliency.

Signers on the letter included Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Mary Fontenot, Executive Director of All Congregations Together of New Orleans; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; the Rev. Jim Wallis, CEO and President of Sojourners; and the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

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