WASHINGTON — Religious leaders frustrated by the federal budget deadlock are staging what they call a "faithful filibuster" across the street from the U.S. Capitol, reading the more than 2,000 Bible verses they say express God's concern for the poor.
The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said the partial government shutdown and looming financial crisis hurt the nation's poor and vulnerable most of all.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, said the rhetoric in Congress reminds him of the Tower of Babel, where no one can understand what the other is saying.
Galen Carey, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says they hope wisdom from the word of God will help lead the nation's leaders out of the current crisis.
The Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance in Washington, told KSL News the shutdown is not just a political issue, but also a religious one.
"This what's difficult to understand in a town like this: There are people, if you listen to them on the floor of the House or in the well of the Senate, you don't know whether they are there as evangelists or as politicians," Gaddy said.
"They become pure politicians, forgetting what their religion taught about fairness and equality, and about generosity and economics," he said.
In a city where politics seemingly always comes before religion, the solution to this shutdown might just come down to a matter of faith.
"We see democracy being threatened because we're in the situation where the examples of the people who are leading the shutdown are either confusing people or disgusting people," Gaddy said.
Inside the Capitol Building, Senate Chaplain Barry Black continues to appeal to God in his daily invocations.
Before Tuesday's Senate session, he prayed, "May the tirades of majorities or minorities be equally impotent to sway our lawmakers from doing what is best for America." He also prayed that the senators will be ethical "as they strive to match their words with deeds."
On the other side of the Capitol, House Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy prayed that lawmakers will use the power they have to help their constituents "who possess little or no power, and whose lives are made all the more difficult by a failure to work out serious differences."