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Evil, Politics and the Poor

Will evildoers never learn – those who devour my people as men eat bread. . . You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge. – Psalms 14:4, 6

There is an Arapaho legend that speaks of cannibals, a people that devours psychologically and physically those who cross their path.  They have no pity for those they devour. – Arapaho from the Wind River Reservation

The Budget Session of the Wyoming State Legislature is over for 2016.  Some good news is that SF 86 was never considered in the House, I believe in part because House members heard from you (Thanks!) that SF 86 was not a good bill.  It would have closed Medicaid expansion as an option until after a two-year or longer study was completed with the study designed to fail the estimated 20,000 low income adults who fall within the Medicaid gap and ineligible for the Affordable Care Act insurance premium subsidies as well as rejecting the federal funds that much more than paid for it.

Calling the opponents to the poor “cannibals” seemed harsh to me until I heard the Arapaho legend.  Then I discovered the passage in Psalms 14 that refers to evildoers as cannibals, using similar language as in oral Arapaho legend.  While we as Christians are to love our enemies, we are to stand against evil.  Our churches must lead as gospel Christians (a term I recently heard on NPR from a seminary professor who decided to no longer call himself evangelical because the word evangelical has taken on a secular cultural meaning detached from Christian values, and thus is calling himself now a gospel Christian).  But however we identify ourselves, as people of faith we are united in serving the poor and oppressed.  So let’s do it.

Churches have an opportunity the next few months to become a proactive voice for the poor and oppressed by taking advantage of 2016 being an election year.  There are some rules with churches being nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations and exempt from federal income taxes.

Churches (Houses of Worship) may:

  1. Discuss moral and public issues.

  2. Learn about how legislation or lack of legislation is affecting your community.

  3. Encourage voting as good civic behavior and help people get to the polls as long as it is non-partisan and not on behalf of a specific candidate or candidates. (In Wyoming, people can register to vote on Election Day at the polls.)

  4. Sponsor candidate forums as long as all candidates are invited and a broad range of issues are discussed.

  5. Urge people to communicate with legislators and candidates to make their concerns known.

  6. Circulate petitions and sponsor rallies advocating for justice.  You may advocate (lobby) for or against legislation, as long as it’s not a substantial part of what the church does.

Churches (Houses of Worship) may NOT support candidates or political parties:

  1. Issue statements endorsing or supporting candidates, including voter guides that indirectly support specific candidates.

  2. Donate money to a candidate or solicit contributions on their behalf.

  3. Offer church space or equipment use to one candidate and refuse it to another.

  4. Sponsor campaign rallies for candidates.

  5. Donate to or set up a Political Action Committee (PAC).

  6. Use a substantial amount of your resources to lobby for or against legislation.

Justice Opportunities:

  1. Learn how the state budget cuts will affect your community beginning July 1 (local governments, schools, and other services).  Let me know the results.

  2. Host a “Doing Justice in a Red State: Recognizing Racism; Embracing Diversity” workshop at your church or in your community led by the Wyoming Association of Churches.

  3. Inquire about a mission opportunity at the Wind River Reservation:  “Building Understanding and Cultural Bridges” for this summer in coordination with the Wind River Native Advocacy Center.

  4. Save the Date:  Wyoming Association of Churches 40th Anniversary Celebration in Casper, October 14-15, 2016.

  5. The Wyoming Association of Churches relies on donations from  individuals and congregations to carry out our work.  Please donate now.  A repetitive donation is especially appreciated. Donate

Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.



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