North Dakota could be the first state in the nation to enact a prenatal anti-discrimination law to protect unborn children with genetic abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome. All the legislation needs is Governor Dalrymple’s signature.
Tomorrow, March 21, is World Down’s Syndrome Day. Celebrate the lives of people with Down’s Syndrome by contacting Governor Dalrymple and asking him to sign HB 1305.
You can contact the Governor by following this link:
or calling at: 701-328-2200
or direct email at: Governor@nd.gov
House Bill 1385 would deny applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program assistance if they fail a drug test.
While drug use may interfere with a parent’s ability to obtain and keep a job, denying the parent needed assistance and returning him or her to the streets benefits neither the individual nor society. It is especially counterproductive and unwise to deny and delay benefits to a parent willing to immediately enter treatment.
As Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us, even government aid programs must be informed by the spirit of charity. This means that we must meet the person’s needs, whether or not we think he or she deserves it.
Contact your Representatives and ask them to vote NO on HB 1385. Drug testing recipients may have a purpose, but it should not be used to refuse a family their basic needs.
Contact by email or phone: 1-888-NDLEGIS (635-3447) or 701-328-3373 (local).
One of the early Christian Church Fathers, Saint John Chrysostom, addressed head-on the tension between our call to care and our human tendency to judge a person’s worthiness. Drawing on Abraham, Paul, and Christ himself, Chrysostom reminded his flock that when it comes to addressing a person’s need, all that matters is that person’s need. To judge a person’s worthiness is not an act of charity. Here’s some of what he said:
“Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.”
“The poor man has one plea, his want and his standing in need: do not require anything else from him; but even if he is the most wicked of all men and is at a loss for his necessary sustenance, let us free him from hunger.”
“For if you wish to show kindness, you must not require an accounting of a person’s life, but merely correct his poverty and fill his need.”
“When you see on earth the man who has encountered the shipwreck of poverty, do not judge him, do not seek an account of his life, but free him from his misfortune.”
“Need alone is the poor man’s worthiness . . .”
“We do not provide for the manners, but for the man.”
“We show mercy on him not because of his virtue but because of his misfortune, in order that we ourselves may receive from the Master His great mercy . . .”
Every public assistance program should be informed by charity and as St. John Chrysostom reminded us as far back as the Fourth Century: “Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.”
On Monday the North Dakota Catholic Conference joined legislators, administrators of social service programs, and child advocates to oppose legislation to mandate drug testing for all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the conference stated: “A fundamental criterion for our state’s welfare policy should be protecting human life and human dignity in the spirit of charity. We feel House Bill 1385 fails this test.”
“While drug use may interfere with a parent’s ability to obtain and keep a job, denying the parent needed assistance and returning him or her to the streets benefits neither the individual nor society. It is especially counterproductive and unwise to deny and delay benefits to a parent willing to immediately enter treatment,” Dodson told the House Human Services Committee.
The most important reason to defeat the bill is that it violates the spirit of charity that should guide any public assistance program. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Dodson stated: “If any government assistance exists, however, the dignity of the human person requires policies in conformity with principles of charity rather than paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.”
Bishop Blaire, Bishop Pates Urge Congress To Protect The Poor, Future Generations As Sequestration Looms
Congress should avoid measures that harm at-risk students, low-income families and people currently benefiting from poverty-focused international assistance, according to a letter from the bishops who oversee the justice and peace efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“As you work to avoid sequestration and enact responsible deficit reduction that protects poor persons from cuts and future generations from unsustainable debts, we hope longstanding moral principles and values will inform your decisions,” wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a November 13 letter to the House and Senate. Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates chair the USCCB Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The bishops said Pope Benedict XVI warns against “downsizing of social security systems” and emphasizes “solidarity with poor countries” and asked Congress to weigh the “human and moral consequences” of numerous policy choices, including:
- Section 8 housing vouchers, the Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) program and community health centers, which “help to keep children and families with a roof over their heads, with food on the table, and in good health.”
- Title I-A, which supports struggling low-income students, Title II-A, which supports the professional development of teachers, and IDEA, which supports students with disabilities.
- Poverty focused international assistance, which comprise less than one percent of the federal budget and “save lives, treat and prevent disease, make farmers more productive, help orphans, feed victims of disaster, and protect refugees.”
- The Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pell Grants, which assist “people living in or near poverty.”
“We have great concerns that sequestration would negatively affect many important domestic programs that meet the basic needs of people and communities in poverty,” the bishops wrote and urged Congress to “act in a bipartisan manner to address the impact of long-term deficits on the health of the economy and on future generations, and to use limited resources efficiently and effectively. However, this important goal must not be achieved at the expense of the dignity of poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad.”
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/sequester-letter-house-2012-11-13.pdf
Be sure to check out NCRLC’s faith-based study guide on Food Security & Economic Justice.
|Urge Your Senators: Ensure our nation feeds the hungry, preserves God’s creation, supports small family farmers and rural America
Every five years, the U.S. Congress decides how our federal government will help feed hungry people here at home and overseas, support growth in U.S. rural communities, assist farmers, and promote environmental conservation. The legislation that includes all of these important objectives and many more is called the “Farm Bill.” It needs to be renewed before the current version expires at the end of September 2012. The Senate is expected to introduce its version of the Farm Bill soon. Your voice is needed now to make sure that the new Farm Bill feeds the hungry, preserves God’s creation, and supports small family farmers and rural America.
Your faith and your Church bring deeply rooted principles to this debate. As Catholics, we believe that each person’s life is a sacred gift from God and that it must be protected. Since food is required to sustain life, the Church teaches it is a basic right for all people. We believe that we must support those who grow our food in their times of need, to care for God’s creation, and ensure our brothers and sisters who are poor and hungry have access to nutritious food.
Your Church also brings tremendous experience to the debate around the Farm Bill. Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) feed and assist millions of people living in poverty at home and overseas. Our National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) has been serving rural people and their communities for 80 years. Your Church knows from personal experience how the Farm Bill affects us all, but most significantly, how it impacts those who are hungry, living in poverty, and struggling to keep farming a viable way of life.
That is why your Church, led by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with CRS, CCUSA, and NCRLC, is united in support of a Farm Bill that provides for poor and hungry people in the United States and around the world, offers effective assistance for those who grow our food, ensures fairness to family farmers and ranchers, and promotes stewardship of the land.
Join us in our call to the Senate to put hungry people first, to support small family farms here at home and poor farmers overseas, and to promote environmental conservation. Your voice is powerful and can make change happen. For all of us, for our brothers and sisters, and for God’s creation.
Visit this website or call 1-702-577-2339 to contact your Senators now.
SAMPLE LETTER TO YOUR SENATOR
As a supporter of the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative of Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [or Catholic Relief Services, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and Catholic Charities USA], I urge you to support a Farm Bill that provides for poor and hungry people in the United States and around the world, offers effective assistance for those who grow our food, ensures fairness to family farmers and ranchers, and promotes stewardship of the land.
In the face of budgetary constraints, the 2012 Farm Bill is an opportunity to address our nation’s broken and outdated agricultural policies. In particular, I urge you to:
Thank you for your consideration of these policies and programs that save lives and improve nutrition, support family farmers and rural communities, and help preserve God’s creation.
Call or email your Member of Congress and urge them reject any proposals that would exclude immigrant working families from the Child Tax Credit, a vital source of security for many working poor families.
Current Situation: The House Committee on Ways and Means may vote on legislation Wednesday that would exclude immigrant working families from claiming the Child Tax Credit. The tax credit helps millions of working families escape poverty.
USCCB Position/Church Teaching: Our Tradition teaches that all workers have a right to a wage that allows them to raise and support a family in dignity. The Child Tax Credit helps low-wage workers support their children.
Today, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the Ways and Means Committee in opposition to proposals that would exclude immigrant working families and their children from the Credit.
Contact Representative Rick Berg Now
323 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515
Bismarck Phone: 701-224-0355
Fargo Phone: 701-235-9760
We want to share with you an important breakthrough in our common work to protect those who are poor and vulnerable at home and abroad in the ongoing budget process. The Conference has led an effort to build a common voice within the Christian community to promote the moral principle of a priority for the poor. Attached and pasted below is an unprecedented common statement calling for a “Circle of Protection” around the “least of these” in the ongoing budget battles.
The leaders who have signed this statement and committed to this principle include not only our USCCB Chairmen, Bishop Howard Hubbard and Bishop Stephen Blaire, as well as the leaders of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, but also the leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Salvation Army, the American Bible Society, Bread for the World, the National Council of Churches, Sojourners and many other heads of denominations and other Christian organizations.
This effort complements the ongoing advocacy of the USCCB led by Bishops Hubbard and Blaire. They have sent a series of strong letters to the Congress on these matters and will continue their advocacy as Congress reconvenes. Comprehensive information on our advocacy can be found here:
http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/foreignind.shtml (USCCB Foreign Aid)
http://www.usccb.org/globalpoverty/ (Catholics Confront Global Poverty)
http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/globalpoverty/ccgp_issues_foreignassistance.shtml (Catholics Confront Global Poverty-Foreign Aid Resources)
We believe this initiative is an important sign of unity and a commitment to common action, but also a very useful tool in our ongoing work on the budget, deficits and national priorities. Please use it to help advance our common work to protect the poor in these difficult times. We attach the statement in English and Spanish. The USCCB press release can be found here:
For complete information on the initiative, including the list of signers and a sample listing of programs in the Circle of Protection, visit: www.circleofprotection.us
House Bill 1199, to study the state’s guardianship services and provide limited funding for professional guardians during the interim has passed both chambers. Thank you for the calls and emails.
House Bill 1229, the abstinence education bill is still stalled. Keep the emails and calls coming in favor of including abstinence until marriage in public school health curricula.
More and more North Dakota citizens are in need of professional guardianship services. House Bill 1199 would establish a study to determine the best model for delivering guardianship services in North Dakota. This bill would also provide guardianship services for some vulnerable adults during the next biennium. These services would cost only $64,000 for the two years – a small amount to pay to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Action needed: Contact your House Representatives and ask them to support the conference committee report on House Bill 1199 and vote yes on the bill.
When: Now. The House could vote on the bill as early as Monday afternoon.
Where: House of Representatives