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Religious Organization Statement of Principles To Preserve and Strengthen Social Security
We the undersigned religious organizations come from diverse religious traditions, yet our communities speak with one voice on the importance of providing compassionate care for the elderly, widows, orphans, and persons with disabilities.  It is the birthright of each person to live a life with dignity and access to the basic necessities of life.

It is our common concern for the economic well being of future generations that brings our nation to its current discussion of the future of the Social Security system.  It is a timely and appropriate discussion.  It warrants careful reflection concerning the basic principles upon which the present system was founded and the moral values which bring us together in common purpose as a nation.  We seek to contribute to this discussion by offering the following principles, informed by our moral beliefs and religious experience, as a basis for evaluating proposed changes to the Social Security system.

Compassion.  As citizens and residents of this country, we have a collective responsibility to care for one another.  The federal government should continue its important, effective, and efficient role promoting a compassionate society through the Social Security system.

Economic security.  Social insurance should remain a basic part of our society.  Disability and survivor insurance must be maintained.  Security for the elderly, survivors, and persons with disabilities should not be left to the vagaries of fragile family support systems, voluntary charity, or economic cycles. 

Equity, fairness, and progressivity.  The present overall structure of the Social Security system --universal, compulsory employee and employer contributions, an earned right, wage-related rather than means-tested, and protected against inflation--should be preserved and strengthened.  Overall, the costs and benefits should be distributed progressively in proportion to each person’s ability to pay and level of need.  Care must be given to assure that segments of the population are not systematically disadvantaged due to gender, race, or marital status.

Savings and pensions.  Social Security is intended to be the third leg of a three-legged stool, the other two legs being personal savings and employer-provided pensions.  Congress should encourage personal savings and employer pensions in addition to (not as a substitute for) the current system, and, especially, it should explore ways to help low- and middle-income households save more for their future.

Stewardship of the public trust.  Congress has a moral obligation to fulfill its trust responsibilities to those who have contributed through their payroll taxes to the Social Security trust fund.  Congress must also assure that future beneficiaries will receive benefits sufficient to meet their basic needs, that trust fund revenues and expenditures balance over time, and that future generations will not be unfairly burdened by this generation’s debts.



Organizational sign-ons as of April 26, 2005

African Methodist Episcopal Church
Call to Renewal 
Church Women United
Episcopal Church USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of the Churches in Christ in the USA
National Council of Jewish Women
NETWORK:  A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society


For more information, contact: Karen Vagley, Director, Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 202-626-7942

Sammie Moshenberg, Director of Washington Operations, National Council of Jewish Women, 202-296-2588

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