Religious leaders call for end to shutdown

Responding to the shutdown
Religious leaders gather on the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on July 12, 2011, to address the continuing state government shutdown. They brought along milk, honey and loaves of bread to invoke the Biblical story of "feeding the multitude with very little," and to symbolize "the abundance available to everyone when all participate fairly."
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel

Leaders of several religious faiths gathered outside the State Capitol Tuesday to call for an end to the government shutdown, and to endorse a budget solution that includes new tax revenue.

Members of the clergy group ISAIAH said state leaders must ask those who have done well to make small financial sacrifices.

Rev. Grant Stevenson, president of ISAIAH, said Minnesota is a wealthy state, but that wealth is not shared equally. Stevenson said Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to raise income taxes on top earners is a good start toward equity.

"The deficit that we're facing is a moral deficit," he said. "It's a deficit of clarity on are we brothers and sisters? Are we in this together, or are we creating a place where we're really kind of in it for ourselves?"

Stevenson said ISAIAH will continue pushing the equity issue, even beyond the government shutdown. About 200 clergy members have signed a letter to state leaders in support of new revenue.

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