The Archbishop of Wales, Most Revd Barry Morgan and the President of the Methodist Conference, Revd Steve Wild have among others, described the campaign by the Department for Work and Pensions as 'deeply disappointing' and called for full review of the benefit sanction system, using real evidence from real people.
"They [the government] did recognise that there had been a lot of complaints and a lot of issues about it. Now, this was promised before the last election and nothing has happened since, so we want to see that review taking place as soon as possible, and looking at real people with real examples," said Canon Carole Wardman, Bishops' adviser to the Church in Wales on Premier's News Hour.
The DWP leaflet featured one welfare claimant, "Sarah", who said she was "really pleased" a cut to her benefits had encouraged her to improve her CV.
But after a Freedom of Information request by website Welfare Weekly, the DWP said they were not real claimants.
The stories were for "illustrative purposes only", it added.
Writing in Thursday's Daily Telegraph, the open letter said: "It is astonishing that the Department for Work and Pensions fabricated testimonies to give the false impression that claimants, including disabled people, believe the sanctions system to be helpful and fair. It is also deeply disappointing that the DWP has chosen to defend its use of false stories as '"illustrative'.
"When claimants are allowed to speak for themselves, the stories we have heard are very different. The system has been described as "unjust", 'brutal' and encouraging 'a culture of contempt' towards sick and disabled claimants.
"We are among a broad range of faith groups, charities and professionals calling for a full review of the sanctions system, to examine real evidence from real people."
The Most Rev Barry Morgan - Archbishop of Wales, The Rev Steve Wild - President, Methodist Conference, Dr Jill Barber
- Vice-President, Methodist Conference, Paul Farmer - Chief Executive Mind, The Rev Lynne Green - General Secretary Baptist Union of Great Britain, Niall Cooper - Director, Church Action on Poverty, The Rev John Proctor - General Secretary United Reformed Church, The Rev David Grosch-Miller Moderator, United Reformed Church General Assembly.
Listen to Canon Carole Wardman, Bishops' adviser to the Church in Wales on speaking to Premier's Antony Bushfield on the News Hour: