On December 9, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns joined 31 other faith-based organizations and 70 faith leaders in an open letter to all the 2020 presidential candidates urging them to call for significant cuts to the nation's military budget and for a renewed investment in domestic programs, diplomacy, and peacebuilding.
December 9, 2019
Dear 2020 Presidential Candidates,
As faith-based groups and local faith leaders, we see the challenges that our communities face up close.
We also witness first-hand the growth and joy that can be nurtured through wise investments of our
bountiful national resources. Our faith and daily experiences tell us that our nation does best when our
taxpayer dollars are spent on proven interventions that help make our communities healthier, safer, and
stronger—like educating children, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and building peace in
communities torn by violence.
We are therefore deeply troubled by our federal budget’s increasingly distorted emphasis on spending
to fight and equip for war, at the expense of investments in our communities at home and our pursuit of
peace abroad. We call on you to reverse this harmful trend and reduce military spending, reinvesting
our nation’s resources in our communities and peacebuilding instead.
We represent a diversity of faith teachings on the question of when—and whether—the organized
violence of war is morally acceptable. Where our faiths all agree is that war must never be a first resort
or a mindless preference. The immediate effect of war and military violence, even when pursued with
the aim of protecting others or ending wrongs, is to wreck, wound, and cut short lives. Faith calls on us
to build, heal, and nurture.
With the July 2019 budget agreement, Congress voted to spend over half of the discretionary federal
budget on war and today’s military. With this decision, we see even more clearly how distorted our
national priorities have become. Today the federal budget allocates over $2 billion each day—more than
$1 million every minute—to spending on war, weapons, and the military. The budget agreement will
increase spending on the military by at least $20 billion over last year; just that increase is more than
double the entire annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, and fully one-third of last
year’s total foreign aid and diplomacy budget.
While roughly 40 million people in the United States are not sure they can afford enough food for their
family, Congress and the president have agreed to spend more than $70 billion of our nation’s resources
on another year of fighting overseas wars. Salaries for the nation’s teachers have fallen by 4.5% over the
past decade, yet our latest budget devotes another $9 billion for F-35 war planes. Veterans of our
nation’s wars are dying of suicide and drug overdose at alarming rates, yet Congress is poised to spend
well over a trillion dollars to refurbish a nuclear weapons arsenal for a type of war that Ronald Reagan
once said “cannot be won and must never be fought.”
This misallocation of our tax dollars is a gross misrepresentation of our values. Our faith insists that
spending ever more resources on the tools and threats of violence will not bring us true security. In
order to be truly secure, our communities need a just peace built on the dignity and strength of education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sustainable employment, and lasting conflict resolution.
Instead, Congress has repeatedly put our tax dollars towards weapons and war—tools and actions that
harm communities, rather than build them.
Over half a century ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower reminded us of what our nation loses when it
wastes its resources on the tools and business of war:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a
theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the
genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
Our faith calls on us to choose a better path today. Though varied in practice and theology, all of our
various faith traditions call us to honor the sacred dignity of each person and to attend to the needs of
society’s most vulnerable people both in the United States and abroad. It is immoral to spend
excessively on the weapons and conduct of war, especially at the cost of food for the hungry, healthcare
for the sick, education for our children, and prevention of and recovery from violent conflict.
We urge you to call for significant cuts to our nation’s military budget, for major reinvestments in our
communities at home, and for a more peaceful approach to the world beyond.
Alliance of Baptists
American Friends Service Committee
Berkeley Friends Church
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Church of the Brethren
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic)
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Dominican Sisters of Sparkill
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province
Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice
Marquette University Center for Peacemaking
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Mountain View Friends Meeting Peace & Justice Committee
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
National Council of Churches
Passionist Solidarity Network
Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
Pax Christi USA
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Sisters of Mercy NH
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Justice Team
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Pastor Adam Ulm
Rabbi Alexis Pearce
Rev. Amy Yoder McGloughlin
Pastor Andrew Duffey
Dr. Anne S.Nash
Fr. Bill Remmel, SDS
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Bruce Hodel Thron-Weber, Quaker Minister
Rev. Christy Dowdy
Claire M. Cohen
Rev. Daniel Dale
Rev. David J Poirier, SA
Rev. David J. Theroux, SSE
Brother Edward Driscoll,CFX
Sister Eileen Gannon
Rev. Emily Heitzman
Mr. Eric Wright, Quaker
Rev. Gregory Davidson Laszakovits
Rabbi Hannah Spiro
Reverend Ignatius Harding OFM, Saint Francis of Assisi Parish,Triangle
Rev. Jay Wittemeyer
Rev. Jennifer Hosler
Rev. John Converset
John G Deikis
Rev. Dr. John Patrick Colatch
Rev. John Peeters, CSV
Fr. Joseph Monahan, T.O.R.
Fr. Joseph P. Keenan, S.T.
Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
Ms Judy Danielson, Quaker
L B Parker, M.Ed, MA
Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen
Liz Baker, Clerk of Sacramento Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Lucia Kalinosky, Quaker
Lucille Mostello, M.D.
M. Elizabeth Ullery Swenson, Pastor
Br. Michael Gosch, CSV
Rev. Michael Neuroth
Rev. Dr. Nathan Hosler
Niels de Terra
Rev. Paul L. Boling
Dr. Paula R. Rhodes
Rev. Amanda North
Rev. Sandra L. Strauss
Minister Sarah Nahar
The Rev. Scott Lipscomb
Rev. Shawna Bowman
Rev. Timothy Heishman
Rev. Timothy J Hickey
Rev. Valerie Showalter