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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive 2005 Humanities Advocacy Day, April 6-7

On April 6-7, Society representatives Bruce Birch, Joel LeMon, Kent Richards and Verna Sodano-Richards joined more than 150 scholars from across the country to petition congressional representatives for increased federal funding for the humanities research in fiscal year 2006. To follow up these efforts on Capitol Hill, the Society urges its members to contact Congress to show support for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

At a Capitol Hill reception for legislators and staff, the Society's book series Writings from the Ancient World was displayed as one of seven exemplary projects funded by NEH. The Society's exhibit demonstrated how NEH funds launched the successful series by underwriting the first six volumes. These books generated enough revenue to fund more than a dozen additional titles in the series. The success of Writings from the Ancient World spawned a new series, Writings from the Greco-Roman World, which already has more than a dozen books published or in press.

Highlighting NEH support for biblical scholarship has never been more critical than in this lean budget year as lawmakers face mounting deficits. The President has requested $138.1 million for NEH, exactly the amount which Congress appropriated for the agency last year.

Given the President's pledge to cut the federal deficit in half by the end of his term, this request shows a commitment to the humanities. Factoring in inflation however, a frozen NEH budget amounts to a damaging cut, limiting the ability of NEH to provide funding at the current modest levels. Furthermore, humanities advocates are concerned that Congress may slash the appropriation for NEH, since, over the last decade, legislators have established a pattern of funding NEH below the President's request (see accompanying table).

To counteract this threat to the humanities for fiscal year '06, the National Humanities Alliance is urging Congress to increase the NEH apportionment by an additional $15 million over the president's request. This revised appropriation of $153.1 million constitutes a conservative figure given the size of the overall federal budget and the value of humanities research for education and cultural life. Advocating this funding increase, the SBL representatives lobbied the offices of Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.); and Representatives Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga. 4th), John Lewis (D-Ga. 5th), and Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md. 6th), in addition to several others outside Georgia.

SBL support for NEH continues beyond these recent efforts on Capitol Hill. We urge all members to write or call their Senators and Representatives, especially now as Congress reviews the President's budget request. Specifically, ask your Representative to endorse an NEH appropriation of $153.1 million for fiscal year '06, joining with Reps. Jim Leach (R-Ia. 2nd), David Price (D-N.C. 4th) and nearly 40 others who have signed a letter of support for increased NEH funding. Also, encourage your Representatives to join the newly formed, bipartisan House Humanities Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Leach and Price.

Humanities programs promote and sustain the vitality of our democracy. Please let your legislators know how much you value NEH funded projects. If you are interested in attending Humanities Advocacy Day in 2006 please contact Joel LeMon at

Citation: Joel LeMon, " 2005 Humanities Advocacy Day, April 6-7," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited April 2005]. Online:


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