In 2007, I endorsed Barack Obama when he was 30 points behind in the polls because I believed he had the vision and moral character to move our nation forward. Despite inheriting a wrecked economy, President Obama has indeed moved our nation in the right direction -- by creating jobs and reforming our health care system -- in ways that advance the common good. We need Barack Obama to continue the hard work of repairing our nation.
As a minister, my politics are deeply influenced by my faith. Like many religious leaders, I opposed the war in Iraq and applaud President Obama for having the wisdom not only to also oppose that war from the start but for ending combat operations and working hard to provide for returning veterans. All Americans look forward to the safe return of our troops from Afghanistan sooner rather than later.
As a husband and a father of two young daughters, I know President Obama is standing up for families. He has fought powerful financial interests to reform Wall Street, worked to help families refinance mortgages at lower rates, provided better opportunities for Americans to pay off student loans and expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit to keep more working American families from failing into poverty.
The health care crisis is one that has defined our modern age. Presidents since before Harry Truman -- Republican and Democratic -- have worked to find solutions. Finally, we have real reform that will provide coverage to 30 million Americans that have not been able to afford it before -- many of them working Americans who have been forced to choose between paying their rent or for medicine. President Obama's Affordable Care Act has been supported by the National Council of Churches in Christ USA and many other Christian denominations and bodies, along with interfaith communities.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden offer a vision for our nation that stands in stark contrast to what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan hope to achieve. Gov. Romney has called for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and Rep. Ryan's budget proposal would pay for those tax breaks by ending "everything from veterans' programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, (and) nearly all programs for low-income families," according to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
President Obama's sees the world differently. He said earlier this year at the National Prayer Breakfast:
...when I talk about shared responsibility, it's because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it's hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required." It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.
When I talk about giving every American a fair shot at opportunity, it's because I believe that when a young person can afford a college education, or someone who's been unemployed suddenly has a chance to retrain for a job and regain that sense of dignity and pride, and contributing to the community as well as supporting their families -- that helps us all prosper.
It means maybe that research lab on the cusp of a lifesaving discovery, or the company looking for skilled workers is going to do a little bit better, and we'll all do better as a consequence. It makes economic sense. But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother's keeper and I am my sister's keeper; that as a country, we rise and fall together. I'm not an island. I'm not alone in my success. I succeed because others succeed with me.
There is still more work to do, of course. The poverty level is too high (and would be higher without the President's Recovery Act). We need to do more to protect our environment. Our communities would be safer with strong, sensible measures that reduce gun violence. Congress needs to pass the President's American Jobs Act to help put more people to work. No one knows these issues better than Barack Obama. That's why we need to keep him in the White House. The alternative is a return to the policies that nearly brought this nation to the brink of collapse.
As a minister, I trust deeply in the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state and my endorsement is therefore a personal one and does not reflect on the churches I serve or my denomination. There is no "ordained" candidate in this race and good people of faith can come to different conclusions as to how they will vote. But as a citizen, I believe that all Americans must engage in the political process as individuals for democracy to thrive. So I choose to add my voice today with millions of other Americans concerned about the direction of this nation.
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