Christian leaders in the U.K. are speaking out against an official's recent cuts to the welfare system, calling on the government to "be compassionate."
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb has come under fire from the U.K.'s Christian community for cuts to the welfare system that a leading group of Christians in the country called incompatible with his own Christian faith, according to the Mirror. A Christian group called Ekklesia wrote an open letter to Crabb, signed by the archbishop of Wales, three bishops, and 15 priests, in which they called on the Secretary to "reflect on the impact" of the welfare cuts.
In the letter, the group quotes a passage from the Book of James to help illustrate their point.
"If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food," reads the passage, "and one of you says to them 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?"
The letter also calls on Crabb to "think of benefit claimants as being no different to you or a member of your family," adding that the U.K. "can afford the support necessary for everyone to live a dignified life," according to Christian Today.
Crabb, who grew up in a council estate, a type of public housing in the U.K., has stressed the importance of the government's "mission to better support people making the transition into work."
"I saw for myself my mother going from being wholly dependent on welfare," recalled the Secretary. "Somebody in crisis, raising three boys on her own in council housing, making that journey — first working four or five hours a week, and that was her stepping stone back into a life of full economic independence."
Some of the cuts and policies that the letter urged Crabb to reconsider include cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, designed to help people who are unable to find work due to long-term illness or disability, and the bedroom tax, which adds a penalty to a family's benefits if they have one or more spare bedrooms that are not occupied.