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ISSUE 115 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 3/22/2002

Budget cuts angers pastor: Peters addresses national problems in chapel

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 22, 2002

Pastor Mark Peters, executive director of the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota (LCPPM), addressed world, national, state, and local problems when he spoke at chapel on Tuesday.

"My heart is heavy today," said Peters, an advocate for the Lutheran Church of Minnesota at the State Capitol.

Lately, his efforts have been concentrated on the recently passed state budget proposal, which makes 85 percent of its cuts in health and human services.

"I have never seen a more disturbing budget proposal than that recently adopted by the Minnesota House," said Peters. He quoted colleague Brian Rusche: "It decimates the emergency safety net for the poorest among us, deeply cuts health care programs for poor adults, and repeals progress toward providing health coverage for children."

Peters asked the chapel congregation to "think globally, act locally," as he made reference to a number of serious worldwide problems.

Currently in Africa, "35 million people are affected with AIDS and 20 million have already died," said Peters.

Nationally, Peters commented that the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in its pre-Sept. 11 study that "33 million Americans live in families that suffer from hunger or live at the edge of being hungry."

In Minnesota the numbers are no better. "Currently, 3050 Minnesota kids are homeless and more than 16,000 Minnesotans live in shelters," said Peters.

"There is a situation right now in Minnesota where school buses pick up students at homeless shelters."

This crisis has also reached into Northfield.

After speaking with the Northfield Food Shelf, the LCPPM reported that 130 families, compared to 70 the year before, qualify for food shelf services.

Making reference to the budget cuts, Peters said, "Instead of building a bridge to the future we will have to look under bridges."

After revealing these problems, Peters challenged the audience to consider the question, "What does your faith compel you to do?"

As an advocate, Peters sees it necessary to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Peters concluded his talk with an illustration of concerned college students at Concordia College of Moorhead who took the initiative.

Students there attained 400 signatures from concerned students about this state budget proposal and brought that petition to the State Legislature and the governor.

"What’s an acceptable number of homeless children in Minnesota?" asked Peters.

If concerned about these budget cuts in an already troubled world, Peters said that the college community should call Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum, 651-296-2273, at the Capitol on Mar. 25-26 to speak out against the budget cuts.

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