Don’t balance the U.S. budget on the backs of the poor and sick, religious leaders said, suggesting that their churches’ charity work is already overstretched and social havoc could result if the government’s social safety net is abandoned.

Representatives from Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and interfaith groups and churches expressed their collective disappointment with the tone of blame in the debt debate between President Obama and congressional negotiators.

The faith groups have organized a vigil alongside the U.S. Capitol and released a letter appealing to the president and Congress to consider the poor and vulnerable in their negotiations.

“The middle class are being crushed. The poor see no hope from getting up from the doldrums of despair and whole communities are facing struggles with joblessness, crime, addictions, violence, and  lack the basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing, and adequate education.  While these struggles exist in communities, we are witnessing our president and Congress engaging in political posturing, while bickering for power and control,” Rev. Herbert Nelson of the Presbyterian Church USA said.

“It’s time for people of faith to step up and say we as Americans can do better,” The Reverend Canon Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches said. She could not believe Americans would abandon the poor to “maintain tax loopholes,” illustrating the support among the faith leaders for more revenues favored by Democrats. However, they also pointed to the need to examine the defense budget for savings.