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Clergy arrested in Capitol budget protest

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Rabbi Arthur Waskow is arrested as he participates in a group prayer to protest the proposed budget cuts that will threaten programs for the poor and needy on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28, 2011. The group was arrested after refusing to leave. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Rabbi Arthur Waskow is arrested as he participates in a group prayer to protest the proposed budget cuts that will threaten programs for the poor and needy on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28, 2011. The group was arrested after refusing to leave. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- Eleven religious leaders were arrested staging a sit-in in the Capitol rotunda to protest budget cuts, U.S. Capitol Police said.

The Christian and Jewish leaders urged the administration and Congress not to "balance the budget on the backs of the poor" as they propose trillions of dollars in cutbacks, they said in a statement reported by The Hill.

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On Thursday afternoon, they joined hands and sat down in the middle of the rotunda, surrounded by supporters chanting "Amen," a witness said.

Capitol Police said they were charged with demonstrating within a U.S. Capitol building and taken away for processing.

"Our elected officials are protecting corporations and wealthy individuals while shredding the safety net for millions of the most vulnerable people in our nation and abroad. Our faith won't allow us to passively watch this travesty unfold. … Today, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice," wrote the Rev. Michael Livingston, a past president of the National Council of the Churches of Christ (USA).

The protesters included Jim Winkler, general secretary of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society; Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia; and the Rev. Jennifer Butler, head of Faith in Public Life.

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