ELCA Advocacy Update for May

On Monday, May 21, we join with the Episcopal Church in our monthly commitment to #PrayFastAct. This month, we center to focus on assistance to veterans and their family members. New investments and policies in recent years have helped to expand veteran access to education, labor opportunities, healthcare and housing. Yet too many veterans, active service members and their families still struggle with complex challenges, ranging from barriers to benefits and increased mental health risks, to the impacts of the opioid crisis and more. Each returning service member has unique needs—and this month’s action supports effective public policies to meet those needs.

Many ELCA rostered leaders have long served as chaplains in medical centers and on bases across the world. In addition to advocating with and for veterans, congregations can play very important roles in direct engagement. Hosting local events, such as 12-step recovery groups, are often an essential and much-needed service in communities. Training videos and resources for clergy and churches interested in engagement can be found on the Veterans Affairs webpage, and ELCA-specific resources for ministers and chaplains can be found at ELCAchaps.com.

FARM BILL TEXT RELEASED: The House Agriculture Committee marked up the first version of the 2018 farm bill in mid-April, sending it to the floor of the House of Representatives. The proposed bill, which would make significant changes to nutrition and anti-hunger programs such as SNAP, was cleared on a strict 26-20 party-line vote.

The farm bill covers a wide-encompassing set of policies, including rural development, international aid, conservation programs and more. Policies that curb hunger and malnutrition, support vibrant agricultural economies in rural communities, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources are critical values to the faith community. Interested advocates can learn more by reading the ELCA Farm Bill 101 fact sheet on the Advocacy Resource Page.

Numerous food banks, faith groups and service providers voiced concern over newly added work requirements and changes to SNAP eligibility in the bill, which could displace over a million people currently eligible for hunger assistance. ELCA Advocacy shared an action alert for advocates to take action on the Farm Bill shortly after the draft legislative text was released. Advocates are strongly encouraged to take action this month as Congress advances the bill.

EARTH DAY AND ADVOCACY BLOG SERIES: In celebration of Earth Day, ELCA Advocacy is pleased to share a blog series on faith and the environment. The series, written by Deacon Laura Heller of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, covers topical issues from relationships in our ecosystem, clean water, trees, lead pollution and more. Heller, a minister of Word and Service, serves as a Creation Care Ministry coordinator for the synod and makes compelling connections between faith, public policy, and God’s creation. Interested advocates can take action today on environmental programs at the ELCA Action Center.

HUD RENT REQUIREMENTS: The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a rent-reform bill in late April. The proposal would increase the amount low-income households pay for their rent, from 30 to 35 percent of their income, as well as add convoluted work requirements to various programs. For the lowest income people, the proposal would also triple the minimum monthly rent they must pay. Nearly all faith traditions support policies that enhance dignity and economic opportunity for all. Increasing rents will do much more harm than good, and could make it even more difficult for millions of families to find good-paying jobs. ELCA Advocacy will send updates on the bill as it proceeds to Congress for approval.

Lutheran state advocacy efforts across the country
Find out all about the vast and incredibly important work and top priorities of Lutheran state advocacy networks across the country by visiting the ELCA Advocacy Blog.