Prominent Christians call on Congress to protect the poor through Child Tax Credit

On May 26, a coalition of more than two dozen prominent Christians called on the nation’s political leaders to prioritize poor children by making the Child Tax Credit fully available to low-income families on a permanent basis. In a letter to all 535 members of Congress and the White House, as well as a paid ad in Politico, the Christian leaders unequivocally agree: “To pass a reconciliation bill without including a permanent and fully refundable Child Tax Credit would be morally indefensible.” The letter, Politico ad and list of signatories is below.

This advertisement ran in the May 26 edition of Politico.

The full text of the letter reads:

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

As Christians, we serve a God who commands us to care for the poor. The Bible contains over 2,000 passages instructing us to protect the poor and we must be obedient to our holy scriptures.

As you work to craft an economic reconciliation bill, we would like to lift up one preeminent priority: making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable and available to low-income families on a permanent basis. The expanded Child Tax Credit has been a remarkable success at reducing child poverty and making strides toward racial and geographic equity. Before the expanded credit roughly half of Black and Latino children, and half of children living in rural areas, got less than the full credit because their families’ incomes were too low. If the credit is made fully refundable, these children would receive the full credit amount.

Inflation has dramatically increased the cost of food and housing. The failure of Congress to extend the expanded monthly Child Tax Credit last December has hurt millions of families. Child poverty increased 41% in January 2022, after the expanded credit expired. Children in families with the least financial means are hurt most. In addition the loss of the expanded tax credit practically means that a family of four with moderate income and two children would get at least $2,600 less.

Recently the Senate indicated its strong support for research and development tax cuts. While we support investments in critical research and development, it is simply wrong to prioritize tax breaks to corporations over tax breaks for poor and middle class families.

If Congress were to make the current $2,000 Child Tax Credit fully refundable and available to all low-income families, the number of children experiencing poverty would fall by an estimated 20 percent. This could help families afford things like food, shoes for their children, or decent housing. Congress cannot leave ”the least of these” (Matt 25) behind.

The experience of the expanded Child Tax Credit demonstrated that Congress has the power to alleviate the hardships faced by poor children. We dearly hope that all lawmakers will search their conscience and follow the call of all our faiths, and pass a reconciliation bill that makes the Child Tax Credit fully available to all low-income families with our poorest children. It is the right and wise thing to do for a decent nation. To pass a reconciliation bill without including a permanent and fully refundable Child Tax Credit would be morally indefensible.

Respectfully submitted, 

Ms. Rachel Anderson, Center for Public Justice 
Mr. John Ashmen, Citygate Network
The Reverend Jonathan Avendano, National Hispanic Pastors Alliance
Rev. Dr. David Beckmann, Circle of Protection
Rev. Dr. Galen Carey, National Association of Evangelicals 
Mr. John Carr, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Georgetown University
Rev. Dr. Iva E. Carruthers,  Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.
Rev. Eugene Cho, Bread for the World
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
Ms. Elise DeGooyer, Faith Action Network
Mr. Anthony Granado, Catholic Charities USA
Rev. Dr. Walter Kim, National  Association of Evangelicals 
Rev. Carlos L Malave, Latino Christian National Network
Mr. Ralph Middlecamp, National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Dr. Bridget Moix, Friends Committee on National Legislation 
Ms. Mary Novak, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Mr. Stephen Reeves, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
The Rev. Amy Reumann, ELCA
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Ms. Stephanie Summers, Center for Public Justice
Rev. Lori Tapia, Obra Hispana-Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada
Rev. Adam Taylor, Sojourners
Rev. Jim Wallis, Center on Faith and Justice, Georgetown University
Rev Cecilia Williams, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, National African American Clergy Network