St. Paul, MN – On February 25, 20 clergy and religious leaders from the Twin Cities and St. Cloud regions gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol to call for an equitable and forward -looking budget that puts children, families and communities on a firm foundation.
Religious leaders are well aware that many communities and families across this state are struggling. Poverty is increasing; the gaps between rich and poor, black and white are growing and now is the time to prepare for our common future.
“The people who I represent don’t have a voice. They don’t have trade associations to advance their interests, what they have is me, and people like me, and the others here today. Hundreds of others who hear this cry and bring them to the attention of our legislature,” said Pastor Stephen Cook, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud.
A recent article outlined the loss of an estimated $1.9B in revenue because of the tax havens and loopholes used by multi-national corporations in Minnesota and doing business in Minnesota. These corporations had record-setting profits in 2012 and paid a median income tax of $0, even as wages have decreased, homes are being foreclosed on and Minnesota families and communities are being asked to “sacrifice” and make “tough choices.”
“We are deeply disturbed and even shocked by this report. And we felt compelled to respond. So, today, we will deliver a clergy sign-on letter with over 100 signatures of religious leaders across the state,” said Pastor Paul Slack, New Creation Church in North Minneapolis and ISAIAH President.
The letter called on Governor Mark Dayton, our Legislative Leadership and the business community to act in ways that acknowledge that our economy rests on the investments we make in education, healthcare and transit.
Addressing the question of increased revenues, clergy leaders insisted that the ongoing public debate should be honest and fair –with everyone participating in the conversation about what will be best for the common good of all, especially those who are the most vulnerable.
“This is an urgent matter for people of faith. We are currently engaged in a 40 Day Vigil here at the Capitol. Over the remaining weeks of the session, we intend to engage 10,000 people through conversations, phone calls and mail,” said Pastor Dan Garnaas, Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.