Withholding

The Word from Winkler – News and Views from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. – Word from Winkler

Withholding food

By Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society


My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

—South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) (The Greenville News, Jan. 25)


I prefer to think of impoverished people as sacred children of God. I read this stunningly uncharitable and unChristian statement several days after reading a posting on a United Methodist Web site that counseled people how and why not to give money to poor people who may approach on the street.

Surely, these are not among those he wants to stop feeding.

In Lt. Gov. Bauer’s own state, 58% of South Carolina school children participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program. Surely, these are not among those he wants to stop feeding.

One of The United Methodist Church’s focus areas is ministry with the poor. Many of our congregations support ministries for impoverished people. I doubt any of them withhold food in order to hold down the population, though.

When times get tough economically, some people always search for a reason to punish the poor. Years ago, the Reagan administration attempted unsuccessfully to classify packets of ketchup as vegetables in an effort to reduce school lunches for impoverished children.

The unfortunate news just arrived that President Obama intends in his “State of the Union” address to recommend no additional money be given to programs that help impoverished people. He’s also squeezing money to education, health and human services, housing and urban development, agriculture, environmental protection, national parks, nutrition and other non-defense spending.

At a time of great need, those in need will have to do without.

The military machine, as always, will be fed. Wars must go on. The merchants of death must receive their due. Regretfully, there will be scant opposition in Congress to the continually growing military budget. Anyone who questions money for war risks being portrayed as soft on terrorism, a charge that frightens many elected officials.

Lt. Gov. Bauer tried to clarify his faux pas by stating he just wants to end the “culture of dependency.” Me, too: I want to see an end to our dependency on military spending and violent solutions to solve problems.

Money spent on nutrition, education, and health and human needs is a wise use of our resources. Well-fed and well-cared for children and adults are more productive and valuable to society. Let’s care for all of God’s creatures.

Date: 1/27/2010
©2010

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