Call her a warrior for justice or call her a problem. Either is fine with Sister Marge Clark.

Clark is coming to Butte this weekend to speak. (See breakout.)

She will talk about social justice issues related to the budget impasse in Washington, D.C., as well as her experiences touring with Nuns on a Bus. The activist nuns visited federal lawmakers and poverty ministries in nine states and Washington, D.C. earlier this year in an effort to drum up support for the poor.

“Jesus spent his entire life taking care of the sick, the poor, people needing help of any kind,” Clark said in a telephone interview with The Montana Standard. “In that way, he was considered a problem. Nuns on the Bus want to be considered a problem.”

Clark works for Network, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C., members of which are concerned about the possible effects of spending cuts to social programs in a budget passed by House Republicans in 2012. That budget slashed domestic spending on Medicaid and food stamps, while leaving in place the Bush tax rates.

“Aspects of that budget would be extremely devastating for children and low-income people, while the (Bush) tax rates continue,” Clark said. “We consider that unfair. We consider this an issue of social justice.”

Clark said she’s worried about the effects of that budget, as well as the current situation in Washington as Congress and the president try to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. A centerpiece of President Obama’s budget is eliminating those Bush rates by returning the income tax rates on those making $250,000 or more to 39.6 percent, up from the current rate of 35 percent. Many Republicans in Congress, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, refuse to consider changing these tax rates.

“(The situation in Washington) is tenuous, frightening, and extremely polarizing,” said Clark. “People who want to maintain those tax breaks to the top 2 percent are those who benefit politically.”

Before becoming a lobbyist in Washington, Clark worked for 30 years in the field of education at both the college and elementary level. She is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and has a doctorate in education.

Mary Kay Craig, a parishioner at Holy Spirit who has served as the chair of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, was instrumental in getting Clark to come to Butte.

Craig feels the issues Clark will address are vital to the people in Butte.

“People in this town are extremely at risk for what’s going down,” said Craig. “This so-called fiscal cliff might be a ploy to make people frightened to accept these cuts. It’s not something that has to be done.”

— Reporter Francis Davis may be reached via email at francis.davis@lee.net

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