As a member of the Montana Association of Christians, our organization recognizes the inherent dignity of each person, regardless of economic status. Our mission is to make visible our unity in Jesus by educating and advocating for justice and compassion, in our communities and our world.
We believe that hunger is not an issue of charity; it is an issue of justice. Food is one of our most basic needs as people and yet one in eight Montanans, including 45,000 children, live in homes that struggle to keep food on the table.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the most effective and important anti-hunger program in America. SNAP provides a lifeline for adults and families who may not be earning a living wage or have fallen on hard times, while also providing support for people with disabilities and seniors living on limited fixed incomes.
This fall, our elected officials have the opportunity to protect and strengthen SNAP, in both the federal budget and upcoming Farm Bill. Instead, the federal budget currently being considered in the U.S. House includes $150 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next decade, along with drastic cuts to other safety-net programs. This budget would be devastating to our friends and neighbors who are struggling, and will push more Montanans into hardship.
Within our congregations, we discuss the importance of upholding the dignity of all people: the poor, the disabled, the hungry, the sick, the elderly, and so on. Because our faith calls us to advocate for justice and compassion, the Montana Association of Christians finds the House GOP budget plan completely indefensible.
In our congregations and in our communities, we are there to help our neighbors. We do the very best we can to help each other during hard times. But we can’t do it alone. The government has an important role to play and must develop a federal budget that reflects our values as a country, including the ideal that no one in this nation should go hungry. Congress should reject the current House budget resolution and work towards a bill that protects SNAP from harmful cuts, restrictions, or proposals to change the program structure – and instead, continues to invest in and strengthen our nutritional safety-net.
We call on Representative Gianforte to be a voice for justice on behalf of Montanans and vote against the current House Budget resolution. We hope that you will find guidance in your Christian faith as you make these crucial decisions, impacting the most vulnerable populations in Montana.
The Rev. Donna Gleaves, with the Episcopal Diocese of Montana, lives in East Helena.
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