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Pastoral Letter to Protect Broad-Based Tax Credits

May 11th, 2016

Note: This letter was delivered to legislators and Governor Fallin on May 11th. Additional signatories are noted in italics [Download the letter as a PDF]

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9

Honored Legislators and Governor Fallin,

We the undersigned religious leaders recognize that it is a difficult time in our state and we acknowledge the burden of office that you bear in the midst of such a severe budget crisis. We are aware that there are currently many different plans for contending with the budget, and as religious leaders we feel compelled by the teachings of our faiths to remind you that every budget decision has human and moral implications.

We ask that you make decisions on the moral principle of attending to the poor and vulnerable. Specifically, we ask you not to make decisions that increase poverty or further burden the poor. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Sales Tax Relief Credit and the Child Tax Credit/Child Care Tax Credit are all programs that have enjoyed long term bi-partisan support and represent an important means of protection for those living in poverty. Ending these credits, or reducing their economic benefit, would mean a tax increase or an income reduction for many middle and lower-income citizens, hitting hardest the elderly on fixed incomes and families in poverty with children.

We also encourage you to consider all options for protecting the important health care needed by the most vulnerable among us, including decisions that support rural hospitals and nursing homes.

The traditions of all the undersigned leaders are very clear on the matter of how people of faith, and the governments they create, are to treat the poor. Care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46), for the “orphans and widows” (Isaiah 1:17), for the “needy and the poor” (Quran 51:19) must be advocated for in the halls of power where decisions made can have huge impacts on the capacity of people to pull themselves out of poverty. You, as voices of the people, are those advocates.

Our churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other worshipping communities do not have the capacity to close whatever gap the state’s budget decisions open. To succeed in reducing and even eliminating poverty everyone must be involved – the private and governmental sectors, along with religious and community agencies, and each one of us as individuals.

As people of faith, we urge you to attend to the poor and vulnerable as you make budget decisions.

Respectfully,

Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr.
Oklahoma Area of The United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa
Tulsa, OK

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward J. Konieczny
Bishop of Oklahoma
The Episcopal Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Dr. Edith Guffey
Conference Minister
Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, United Church of Christ
Wichita, KS

Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee
Executive Director
Oklahoma Conference of Churches
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dr. Rockford Johnson
District Superintendent, Crossroads District
Oklahoma Conference, United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dr. Joseph Harris
Communications Director
Oklahoma Conference, United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rabbi Marc Boone Fitzerman
The Synagogue | Congregation B’nai Emunah
Tulsa, OK

The Very Rev. Justin Lindstrom
Dean of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
Oklahoma City, OK

Monsignor Patrick Gaalaas
Saint Bernard’s Catholic Parish

Tulsa, OK

Rev. Ray Douglas
Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Todd Freeman
College Hill Presbyterian Church
Tulsa, OK

Rabbis Micah and Karen Citrin
Temple Israel
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Ray Hickman

Executive Director
 – Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Michael Riggs
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar
All Souls Unitarian Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Gerald S. Patterson
St. James AME Church
Arcadia, OK

Rabbi Vered L. Harris
Temple B’nai Israel
Oklahoma City, OK

Pastor R. Mitch Randall, DMin.
NorthHaven Baptist Church
Norman, OK

Dr. Bill Crowell
Boston Ave United Methodist Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Dr. William E. Tankersley, III
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Dr. Gregory J. Tener
Heartland District Superintendent
Oklahoma Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
Moore, OK

Dr. Todd A. Littleton
Snow Hill Baptist Church
Tuttle, OK

Imam John Ederer
Islamic Society of Tulsa
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Mark T. Whitley
Verdigris United Methodist Church
Chairperson, The Board of Church & Society
Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church
Verdigris, OK

Rev. Chris Moore
Fellowship UCC
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Barbara Prose
All Souls Unitarian Church
Tulsa, OK

Imam Imad Enchassi
Islamic Society of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Susan D. Payne
Community Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Ponca City, OK

Rev. Twila Gibbens
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Roy Fleshman
Morrison Christian Church
Morrison, OK

Rev. Dr. Jarrett Banks
Central Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)
Enid, OK

Rev. Fred Turner
East Side Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Tulsa, OK

Rabbi Daniel S. Kaiman
The Synagogue | Congregation B’nai Emunah
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Gary Peluso-Verdend, PhD
President and Associate Professor of Practical Theology
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Sheri L. Curry
Co-creator/Facilitator, Domestic Violence Awareness & Healthy Choices Classes at David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center (DLM) – Tulsa
Tulsa, OK

Rev. B. Gordon Edwards
Cimarron Presbytery Executive PC(USA)
Broken Arrow, OK

Jeannie McMahan, M.Ed.
Licensed Minister
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Pastor Ronnie Fields
First Christian Church
El Reno, OK

Pastor Charles Ragland
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Claremore, OK

Rev. Sandra L Harris
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Retired
Broken Bow, OK

Rev. Travis Ewton,
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Chris Muse
Nicoma Park Christian Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Shannon Speidel
Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Enid, OK

Rev. Lisa Beavers
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Lawton, OK

Rev. Paul Ragle
First Christian Church
Stroud, OK

Rev. Amy Rogers
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Guthrie, OK

Rev. Bruce E. Davis
Grace and Blair United Methodist Churches
Altus, OK

Rev. Kayla Bonewell
Cathedral of Hope, UCC & Church of the Open Arms, UCC
Oklahoma City, OK

Pastor Marilynn Knott
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), retired
Oklahoma City, OK

The Rev. Fr. Dewayne Messenger
The Parish Church of St. Jerome
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Kathy Brown
New Life United Methodist Church
Moore, OK

Dr. Paul J Kirbas
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Keith Spaulding
West Point Christian Church
Yukon, OK

Rev. Ann Shell LaMar, Honorably Retired
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Wally Johnson
First Presbyterian Church
Sapulpa, OK

Rev. Debra Garfinkel
Church of the Restoration Unitarian Universalist
Tulsa, OK

Rev. John E. Bain
First Christian Church(Disciples of Christ)
Stillwater, OK

Rev. Dr. Susan Hamilton,
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tahlequah
Tahlequah, OK

Rev. James Stovall
The Mediation Institute
Oklahoma City, OK

Jeanette Heitfeld, Pastor
First Congregational Church
Goltry, OK

Rev. Andrea Clark Chambers
Antioch Baptist Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Cathey Edwards
Hope Unitarian Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Gina Woods
Fellowship UCC
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Kelli Driscoll
Bethany Christian Church
Tulsa, OK

The Rev. Ann C. Wasson
First Presbyterian Church
Woodward, OK

Rev. Gordon R. Epps,
United Church of Christ (retired)
Enid, OK

Rev. Bill Inglish
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), retired
Bartlesville, OK

Rev. Lynda K. Powell
Bethel Foundation
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Lori Walke
Mayflower Congregational UCC
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Scott Foster
First United Presbyterian
Guthrie, Oklahoma

Rev. Ron Robinson
Executive Director, A Third Place Community Foundation
Senior Minister, The Welcome Table Church
Tulsa, OK

Pastor Norman V. Wasson
Seiling United Methodist Church
Seiling, OK
Rev. Larry Foster, Sr.
Progressive Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Scott Spencer
Mosaic United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City

Rev. Shelly Coulter Daigle
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Kathy Weaver
Midwest Boulevard Christian Church
Midwest City, OK

Rev. Aaron Krueger
Crown Heights Christian Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Matthew Franks
Locust Grove United Methodist Church
Locust Grove, OK

Rev. Dr. Gregory J. Coulter 

Presbyterian Church (USA)
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Leah R. Hrachovec
First Presbyterian Church
Stillwater, OK

Rev. Philip Jones
Retired United Methodist Pastor
Lawton, OK

Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers
Mayflower UCC
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Richard K. Davis
Chaplain at Inverness Village
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Deborah Ingraham
Skyline Urban Ministry
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Marla Lobo
Wesley United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dr. Judye Pistole
First Presbyterian Church
Alva, OK

Rev. Margaret A. Ball
United Methodist Church (Retired)
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Trina Bose
Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. April Coates
Albright United Methodist Church
Ponca City, OK

Rev. Dr. Mark Davies
Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church
Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics, Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Tim Boyer
Heavener First UMC and Hodgen UMC
Heavener, OK

Rev. Christy Moore
Founding CEO
StoneSoup Community Venture
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Richard F Ward, Phd.
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Gerald Davis
Church of the Restoration, UU
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Anthony Zahn
United Methodist Church (Retired)
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Floyd M. Schoenhals, Bishop Emeritus
Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod, ELCA
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Anna Hubbard
First Christian-Presbyterian
Pryor, OK

Rev. David Clewell
Quail Springs/Summit United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Jim Gragg
United Methodist Church (retired)
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Lizette Merchán Pinilla,DVM, Mdiv
United Church of Christ
Tulsa, OK

Rev. David Rose
United Methodist Church (retired)
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Alan Fox
Fellowship Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Don E Gibson
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) retired
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dr. Ernest Jackson, Jr.
Selecman United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Michael Davison Jr
Associate Regional Minister
Christian Church in Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Michael J. Barron
First Presbyterian Church
Broken Arrow, OK

Rev. Geoffrey Brewster
Senior Director of Stewardship
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Bill Buttram
Gore United Methodist Church
Gore, OK

Rev. Bob Lawrence
Executive Director – Tulsa Interfaith Alliance
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Dr. Ellen Blue
Mouzon Biggs, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity
and United Methodist Studies
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK

Dr. Frank R. McClarty.
Holy Temple Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Richard Mize
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Burnis Burrell, Jr., D.Min.
Olive Branch Baptist Church
Valliant, OK

Rev. Jeremy Basset
Wesley United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dwight Welch
United Church of Norman UCC
Norman, OK

Rev. Heather Scherer
Living Water United Methodist Church
Glenpool, OK

Rev. Mary Hughes Gaudreau
Director of Emotional and Spiritual Care
Oklahoma Conference of Churches
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Jeni Markham Clewell
Mosaic United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Timothy Blodgett
Connecting Point Presbyterian Church
Oklahoma City OK

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
East 6th Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dr. Debi Powell-Maxwell
First Christian Church (DOC)
Yukon, OK

Rev. Susanna Weslie Southard
Director of Teaching with Technology,
Chaplain, and Instructor in Ministry Studies
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Wayne Majors
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), retired
Ponca City, OK

Rev. Susan Ross
United Methodist Church (retired)
Stillwater, OK

Rev. Leslie A. Dotson
Associate Regional Minister
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Linda Lusnia
J.J. Methvin United Methodist Church, Anadarko
United Methodist Church of Apache
Anadarko, OK

Pastor Dylan P. Ward
Adair United Methodist Church
Adair, OK

Rev. Tracy L. Evans
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Norman, OK

Rev. Arthur L. Raney Jr.
Hillwood Missionary Baptist Church
Spencer, OK

Rev. Nancy Eggen
Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Nathan Mattox
University United Methodist Church
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Charles W. King
McLoud United Methodist Church
McLoud, Oklahoma

Rev. Jen Logsdon-Kellogg
Calera United Methodist Church
Calera OK

Rev. Bryan Tener
Newkirk First United Methodist Church
Newkirk, OK

Pastor Teron V. Gaddis
Greater Bethel Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Jennifer Long
Oologah United Methodist Church
Oologah, OK

Rev. David Wheeler
Church of the Servant, United Methodist
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Dr. Allen Buck
Summit United Methodist
Edmond, OK

Rev. Derrek Belase,
Prague and Arlington United Methodist Churches
Prague, OK

Rev. Patrick McPherson
First United Methodist Church of Kingfisher
Kingfisher, OK

Rev. Dr. Rex B. Wilkes
United Methodist Church (retired)
Oklahoma City

Rev. Jann Osborn
First Christian Church
Yukon, Oklahoma

Rev. Andy Nelms
Acts 2 United Methodist Church
Edmond, OK

Rev. Anna Holloway
Director of InterReligious Understanding
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK

Rev. Jenny Wynn
Southern Hills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Edmond, OK

Rev. Glenda Skinner-Noble
Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Jon Middendorf
Senior Pastor
OKC First Church of the Nazarene
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Jason K. Smith
Associate Pastor
OKC First Church of the Nazarene
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Brittany Bolerjack
Assistant Pastor
OKC First Church of the Nazarene
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Aaron Bolerjack
Assistant Pastor
OKC First Church of the Nazarene
Oklahoma City, OK

Rev. Paul W. Calkin
Luther & Wellston United Methodist Churches
Luther, OK

Rev. Kirt E. Moelling
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church
Broken Arrow, OK

Rev. David Spain
First Christian Church of Norman
Norman, OK

Rev. Lynn E. Brack
First United Methodist Church
Weatherford, OK

Rev. Melinda Foster
Open Table Community Cafe
Owasso, OK

Rev. Jeff Staton
Credo / Centers for Spiritual Living
Tulsa, Oklahoma