Leaders of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the state of Michigan have issued a pastoral letter calling on the U.S. Congress to consider the parable of the Good Samaritan as it consider a financial bailout of the Michigan-based auto industry.
Executives of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors were on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on December 4 for the second time in a month, attempting to convince Congress to give them $34 billion to stem their slide towards bankruptcy.
Noting that the state's 9.5 percent unemployment rate is the highest in the U.S., the church leaders told Congress that "now is not the time for our country to continue walking on the other side of the road, ignoring the plight of our economically-battered workers."
"This is the time to reach out as the Good Samaritan did to care for another even at our own expense," they wrote.
Bishops from three of the state's four Episcopal Church dioceses and the three ELCA synods that cover Michigan and parts of northern Wisconsin signed the letter along with the president of the Diocese of Northern Michigan's standing committee. That diocese has been without a bishop since the June 2007 death of Bishop Jim Kelsey.
"There are hard decisions to be made, but we hope that any assistance given to the automakers will attempt to balance the immediate needs of workers with the long term viability of our economy by concentrating on long term stability through restructuring and on the strength of the company as a whole," the letter said.
The complete text of the letter, signed by Diocese of Western Michigan Bishop Robert Gepert, Diocese of Michigan Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, Diocese of Northern Michigan Standing Committee President Linda Piper, Southeast Michigan Synod Bishop Kenneth Olsen, North/West Lower Michigan Synod Bishop John Schleicher, and Northern Great Lakes Synod Bishop Thomas Skrenes, is available here.