Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, says goodbye to Reverend David Beckmann, President of Bread For The World, after meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington regarding the World Trade Organization's upcoming Doha talks Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005.

On eve of a federal shutdown, Rev. David Beckmann is fed up with government brinksmanship — and he’s far from alone.

Beckmann, president of the faith-based anti-hunger organization Bread for the World, moderated a press conference Monday to announce he and 32 other religious leaders have signed a letter asking Congress to avoid any shutdown or debt default because of the harm those actions would ostensibly inflict on workaday Americans.

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“As people of faith we find it morally irresponsible to blockade the process by which we provide for our nation’s shared needs in a bid to force any individual legislative priority,” the letter states. “It would likewise be reckless to propel the United States into financial default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling for spending that Congress has already approved. Shuttering the federal government or defaulting on the nation’s financial commitments is likely to reverse our fragile economic recovery, punish the middle class, and deeply harm our most vulnerable neighbors.”

At the press conference, Beckmann said that the faith leaders have been careful not to side with any one party, but “in fact, the Tea Party caucus is mainly responsible for our political dysfunction.”

“We pray for a spirit of cooperation among the leaders and citizens of our nation,” he added.

Representatives from Church World Service, Sojourners, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Islamic Society of North America joined Beckmann at Monday's press conference.