Update: I’m joining in solidarity with others in expressing deep disappointment and anger over the recent news and decision by the House Agricultural Committee’s decision to cut the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) by more than $35 million over the next 10 years.
While it should not make it past the Senate, I’ve emailed my elected officials to express this disappointment and to take actions. Regardless, you have to wonder where our priorities are.
I am all for reducing our national deficit. It must be a priority but to do it at the expense of those who need food via this program is morally wrong.
Here’s a brief synopsis from Bread for the World’s blog:
Bread for the World is infuriated by the House Agriculture Committee’s decision today to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by more than $35 billion.
“Cuts to SNAP, particularly at a time of continued high unemployment and unprecedented need for food assistance, are a moral outrage,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “SNAP is working exactly as intended. It has grown to meet increased need and is expected to decrease to pre-recession levels as the economy recovers.”
WWJC? What would Jesus cut?
I have reasons to both like and dislike Tupac but his words when he was alive still hit the core:
“They have money for war but can’t feed the poor.” – Tupac
Original Blog Entry:
Several weeks ago (right before I left for my sabbatical), I joined with six other pastors from around the country – in partnership with Sojourners – to draft an open letter to Congress and President Barack Obama regarding the budget and the proposals to cut certain programs that aid the poor in our country. Our hope was to invite at least 1,000 pastors to join us in signing this document.
As of today, we’re had nearly 5,000 pastors & Christians leaders from all 50 states join us in signing this open letter and we hope to keep adding voices and signatures. As a pastor and Christian leader will you add your voice to let our political leaders know that you stand with the poor?
Read the letter below and if you resonate with our message, please sign your name.
I’m not interested in politics for the sake of politics.
But I care about politics because politics impacts policies which ultimately, impact people.
And by people, I mean that everyone matters. We’re all important but in a system where the poor are often without powerful lobbies, platforms, and megaphones, I believe that the Christian community has both the obligation and privilege to assist them and their needs to be heard. Let’s not be mistaken. God does take sides but they have nothing to do with the sides of liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats, but rather, God takes the sides of the poor and marginalized.
Here’s the letter:
We are local pastors. Our lives are committed to our churches and communities. Every day we work to preach and live the Gospel of Christ. We challenge our congregations and parishes to live lives of personal responsibility and encourage them to live good and righteous lives. This also means calling our communities and nation to live up to corporate responsibilities.
In every one of our congregations we have programs that help those in need with jobs, clothing, food, or counseling. We gladly take up the challenge of encouraging our congregation members to give more, but in these past few years, it has been difficult for us to watch the need around us rise while the resources we have diminish. We work, pray, and do whatever we can to remain faithful to the responsibility of every Christian to help the poor. Still, we can’t meet the crushing needs by ourselves. We do our best to feed the hungry, but charitable nutrition programs only make up 6% of total feeding programs in the country while the government makes up 94%.
In every one of our congregations we have members who receive much-needed support from government programs. We have seen this support allow young people to be the first members of their families to get college degrees, ensure mothers can feed their children a healthy diet, enable those with disabilities to live fulfilling lives, give much-needed medical care to those who can’t afford it, support seniors, provide housing for families, and help people in finding a job.
SNAP, WIC, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Head Start, Pell Grants, and Community Development Block Grants aren’t just abstract concepts to us; they serve the same people we serve. There are changes that can be made or efficiencies that can be found, but every day we see what government can do. There is more need today than Churches can meet by themselves. This is why we join in the “Circle of Protection.”
As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up–how it treats those Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected. We know from our experience of serving hungry and homeless people that these programs meet basic human needs and protect the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable. We believe that God is calling us to pray, fast, give alms, and to speak out for justice.
As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We want to support you in reducing the deficit. Small business and job growth are essential part of the path to prosperity for all Americans. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that threaten the well-being and, in some cases, the lives of the neediest among us. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad. We urge you to prioritize them, and we pledge our support and prayers for you in doing so.
Rev. Eugene Cho, Quest Church
Rev. Carlos Duran, Hombres de Palabra
Dr. Cynthia L. Hale, Ray of Hope Christian Church
Rev. Adam Hamilton, Church of the Resurrection
Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland – A Church Distributed
Rev. Rich Nathan, Vineyard Church Columbus