Religious leaders urge Congress not to cut aid to poor

WASHINGTON (AP) - About a dozen religious leaders at a prayer rally on Capitol Hill have urged Congress not to cut programs that help the poor.

The clerics quoted scriptures in support of what they called a "compassionate federal budget."

Sister Simone Campbell said it would be a sin for lawmakers to reduce aid to the needy, but acknowledged that it might take a miracle to resolve the current debt impasse.

The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said the nation's children should be protected both from poverty and from "a legacy of rising debt."

Other religious leaders have warned that deficit spending amounts to theft from future generations.

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, says Christian compassion isn't necessarily measured by the "size and scope of the federal welfare state."