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Diane Randall speaks at Build Back Better 12-hour vigil at U.S. Capitol
Eric Bond / FCNL
Diane Randall kicks off the press hour at the Build Back Better vigil.

FCNL joined more than 20 interfaith organizations on Capitol Hill for a 12-hour vigil on Oct. 20. Together, advocates urged Congress to “build back better” by passing robust recovery legislation. Several lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), joined faith leaders in lifting our calls for action on child poverty, immigration, the climate crisis, and more.

FCNL General Secretary Diane Randall summed up the spirit of the vigil well: “While the members of the faith communities assembled here disagree on some issues, in this we are united: We believe the provisions of the Build Back Better Plan must be enacted in a way that reflects the humanity of every human being.”

Interfaith advocates pray for a just recovery in front of U.S. Capitol
Rev. Jennifer Butler leads advocates and lawmakers in prayer for a just recovery.

Speaker Pelosi echoed the importance of the moment. “Whether or not you are a person of faith, we can all agree that we have a moral obligation to our children to pass the planet on in a responsible way,” she said. “As Speaker of the House, it was an honor to highlight [our] work to Build Back Better alongside this group of interfaith leaders who represent a beautiful tapestry of traditions – and who are keeping the faith in this fight!”

The vigil, starting at 7:00 a.m., was broken down into hour-long blocks, each focused on a different legislative issue. Speakers came from a wide variety of faith groups, including Faith in Public Life, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Sisters of Mercy, Bread for the World, Sojourners, and the Religious Action Center for Reformed Judaism.

FCNL staff spoke on the need to respond to the climate crisis, create a pathway to citizenship, and make the expansions to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit permanent.

Speaker Pelosi speaks at Build Back Better vigil.
Speaker Pelosi addresses the media in front of faith leaders.

Other highlights included:

  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) expressing support for the expanded Child Tax Credit: “I have been honored to fight side by side with all of you to implement the expanded and the improved child tax credit, a groundbreaking and transformative policy achievement.”
  • Rep. Donald McEachin (VA-4) calling for environmental justice: “We know that we cannot address the climate crisis without helping environmental justice communities. There is still more to do. There is environmental justice for all.”
  • Reverend Jim Wallis, leader of the Center on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University and founder of Sojourners magazine, said: “To end the Child Tax Credit now would be pulling the rug out from working families just as many of them are finally getting back on their feet after a long and painful pandemic. We have a moral obligation to ensure that every child—all made in the image of God—has the chance to grow and thrive.”

With negotiations ongoing in Congress, the vigil was a powerful reminder of the broad base of support behind the historic recovery legislation.

“As Congress deliberates crucial recovery packages, our values will power our engagement with lawmakers,” said Randall. “And we take comfort in the fact that we’re joined by other faith groups who seek a more inclusive economy, a more just society and a more sustainable earth.”

More from the vigil: