To make sure her followers got her message loud and clear, Sister Simone Campbell had them repeat it:
“Reasonable revenue for responsible programs.”
That’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the federal budget proposition put forth by the group of women traveling through nine states, calling themselves Nuns on the Bus for their mode of transportation.
“There’s an alternative. It’s called the Faithful Budget,” Campbell said Wednesday afternoon following the nuns’ stop to speak with staff members at the Mt. Lebanon office of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair. “It has 55 pages. That’s a little daunting when you’re trying to do a sound bite, but I can it to you in five words, and we’re going to learn real fast.”
Many of the 150 or so who showed up in support of the nuns chanted the message, which correlates with the opinions expressed on the signs many were carrying: “Fighting for the middle class,” “Do corporate prophets (sic) help all people?” and “Jesus loves the poor,” to name a few.
The Nuns on the Bus’ mission is to make elected officials aware of the group’s opposition to the budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“We cannot stand by silently when the U.S. Congress considers further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families,” states the Nuns on the Bus website.
Campbell reiterated the position outside Murphy’s office Wednesday.
“The Ryan budget is bad for the United States; it’s bad for Pennsylvania; it’s bad for each one of us,” she told the crowd. “Basically, it shifts money to the top 1, 2 percent by cutting tax rates. And they say, oh, we’re going to fund ‘job creators.’ But for the last 10 years these ‘job creators’ have had significant tax cuts, and we have yet to see their jobs.”
Campbell said the nuns met with Lou Lazzaro, deputy chief of staff for Murphy's Westmoreland County office, and she expressed optimism about the outcome.
“I have hunch, because we had this whole posse out here having our backs, that he’s very interested and willing to help us set up a personal meeting with the congressman, which we have never been able to get in D.C.”
The nine-day bus tour started Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, and wraps up next Tuesday at the nation’s capital.
Among those on hand to support the nuns was the Rev. Gregory Switerski, chaplain for Sisters of Divine Providence in the North Hills. He was carrying a sign quoting Isaiah 58:6, a call “to share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor.”
“Some people like to call this a Christian nation. If you say it, then the Gospels become what you should measure yourself to, and the Gospels are very clear about the concern for the poor and the powerless,” Switerski said.
“If it’s a Christian nation, if you say that, I think you need to be concerned about the poor and the powerless, because the Gospels certainly did.”