As a fellow sinner who worships at Asbury UMC (Birmingham), this SNAP budget-kill effort frankly makes me sick and afraid. I have looked more closely at the data. Research suggests that there are about 350,000 "congregations" (Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish -- ALL together) in the U.S., and, according to what Congressman Paul Ryan stated when he introduced this last time, it will be the job of those congregations to pick up the slack if this budget goes into effect.That is, after all, what churches are expected to do.
We know that this proposal will cut $40,000,000,000 (i.e., $40 BILLION) from the "food stamps program," so I did a little math. Assuming that there are 350,000 congregations, that means that every single one of them will need to increase their mission budget $114,285.72 just to maintain the current level of food assistance.
Asbury UMC is a large church, blessed by God with an abundance of resources. But to increase our budget to feed the hungry by $115,000, we would have to suspend support for a number of missionaries, health care facilities, homeless program support, prison ministries, and the like. I wonder if small rural churches could come up with $114,285.72? I wonder if financially strapped urban churches can come up with $114,285.72?
It is my understanding that approximately 90% of congregations in the US are under 350 congregants, and 50% are 75 congregants or fewer. How many of the 90% of congregations in ALL denominations and ALL religions in the US -- those with 350 or fewer congregants -- will be able to meet their newly found obligation of $114,285.72?
I keep hearing that we need to, as a nation, "return to the Bible," to be "one nation under God." While I am not going to mix politics and religion in this blog, I will note the irony present in those sentiments when they are expressed by the advocates of cutting the SNAP program to ribbons. If we truly want a government based upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, then we want a government that DOES something when it sees hunger: "When I was hungry, you fed me." So said the One who redeemed us all.
Asbury UMC, Birmingham
The Advocacy for Social Justice Blog is produced by the North Alabama Conference Advocacy for Social Justice Team to help people think about justice issues through the lens of faith. It is intended to be a place where United Methodists can listen and learn from each other with mutual respect and understanding. (For the purpose of this blog see the the post “The work of justice is the work of the church”.) Please join the conversation by adding your comment below. If you have an idea for a blog topic or would like to make a submission to the Advocacy for Social Justice Blog please contact the Team Convenor Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons at email@example.com.