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People of faith rally against cuts in education, programs for needy
rally for budget pic1
A crowd gathers in downtown Modesto on Wednesday for a rally of church leaders from across the Valley who are against state budget cuts to education and programs for the needy.

Church leaders from Fresno to Stockton gathered in downtown Modesto on Wednesday to rally for a state budget solution which avoids cuts to education and programs for the needy.

Joining them there were hundreds of churchgoers from across the Valley.

Some attendees were bused from Stockton, and some were self-driven from Bakersfield. The event was translated into four languages – Spanish, Laotian, Hmong and Khmer –and drew representatives from Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism and American Indian religions.

But despite their differences, all were cheering for fewer cuts to important services.

“We are gathered here tonight because we value our children and their education,” said Rev. Wayne Bridegroom, of Modesto’s Central Baptist Church. “Can I get an ‘amen’ to that?”

After a resounding amen, Bridegroom went on to detail other programs he said it would be “immoral” for the state to cut – those intended to help the disabled, poor, hungry and sick. He said that, despite the state’s severe financial crisis, there were alternatives to balance the budget with new revenues, rather than cuts on the backs of the needy.

“We are here tonight to call for a budget that is not balanced at the expensive of our young people and the most vulnerable in our society,” Bridegroom said.

Later in the event, organizers asked attendees to literally make that call, holding up posters detailing local legislators’ phone numbers.

Organizers expect to continue their campaign on June 14 on the Capitol steps. But, even 70 miles away from the Capitol, Modesto City School Board Member Cindy Marks said the event was having an impact.

“Your voice is being heard tonight,” Marks said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.