The group behind the Nuns On A Bus tour that highlighted the harmful effects the U.S. House Republican budget would have on the nation's poor have now set their sights on the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, inviting Mitt Romney to spend a day with the nuns to learn about the needs of struggling families and low-income communities.
Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby, sent their invite directly to the Romney campaign's communication director on Wednesday, according to Stephanie Niedringerhaus, the group's communications coordinator. The idea was proposed a day after the Romney campaign released a misleading advertisement about welfare reform that "demonizes families in poverty and reflect the woeful ignorance about the challenges faced by tens of millions of American families in these tough economic times," the lobby said.
Simone Campbell, Network's executive director and the leader of the Nuns On A Bus tour, said in a statement that she particularly hopes Romney will be willing to work alongside the nuns as they serve the people she said would bear the brunt of his proposed budget cuts.
The Romney campaign has not responded to the invitation, Niedringhaus said, although the group is still "hoping for one."
Is Romney Demonizing Poor Americans?
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Network isn't the only religiously affiliated advocacy group that has objected to how Romney's economic policies would negatively impact the poor. On Thursday, the Franciscan Action Network, or FAN, also criticized Romney's recent welfare ads -- in addition to his and the GOP's rhetoric regarding welfare reform and recipients -- and urged him to spend time in low-income communities.
"Our Christian tradition teaches that we are to treat the poor with dignity and to prioritize the poor in our policies as a society," the organization said in a press release. "At a time when millions are struggling financially, it is degrading to talk about the 'dependency' of people hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently."
The group was referring to a recent statement by Romney where he accused President Barack Obama of fostering a "culture of dependency" by removing a long-standing work requirement for welfare recipients -- a charge that multiple organizations have pointed out is blatantly untrue.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
While many religious groups have generally been supportive of both Romney and Republicans on social justice issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, several groups that focus on social justice and advocacy -- such as FAN, Network and the Interfaith Alliance, a national organization devoted to "challenging the bigotry and hatred arising from religious and political extremism infiltrating American politics" -- have objected to a GOP platform they say goes against Christian principles that call for aiding the poor.
Romney has endorsed U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's, R-Wisc., austere budget plan that includes deep cuts to food stamps, Pell grants and other programs that primarily aid the poor and middle class. The plan, which was targeted by the Nuns On A Bus tour, has also been criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In April, the bishops wrote a series of letters to congressional lawmakers objecting to the Ryan budget and asserting that fair budget solutions "must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military spending and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs."