To the members of the Alaska Legislature who have not yet supported the override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes:
As faith leaders in Alaska, we believe you to be people who want the best for our state. That is why we are writing on behalf of the vulnerable and voiceless, in hopes that you will consider, deep within your conscience, the devastating results of your vote.
According to widespread reputable sources such as Catholic Social Services and the Coalition to end Homelessness, the budget as it stands will reduce operations for women-and-children shelters, causing domestic violence survivors to stay in their abusive situations. It will push thousands into poverty and despair through cuts to early childhood education, Medicaid funding, and agencies that operate food pantries. It will create a 40% increase in homelessness and a 500% increase in unsheltered homelessness.
These situations are lethal. These cuts will result in deaths. This is a fact that should be felt in your conscience: There is a direct line between your vote and those deaths.
We remind you of God’s message through Isaiah, that the true act of faith is “to loose the chains of injustice… to share your food with the hungry and to provide the homeless with shelter. If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
It is ethically wrong to send sick and struggling seniors and children out into the cold Alaskan night. It’s not a question of right and left, it is a question of right and wrong. Protecting the vulnerable, feeding the hungry, serving the poor… As people of conscience, these are not things we DO, they are things that we ARE.
We pray that you will override these vetoes and take a stand for Alaskans who are depending on you to do the right thing. These Alaskans just need a good night’s rest, food and personal security, peace of mind for their own well-being, or care for their children so they can work. Overriding these vetoes is protecting the most vulnerable by continuing to give Alaskans the tools to become the least vulnerable.
You still have time to weigh the direct moral consequences of this budget. You are the last chance to prevent widespread despair, abuse and death. The choice is yours, and will spend a lifetime on your conscience.
With resolute hope,
Reverend Matthew Schultz, pastor, First Presbyterian Church
Reverend Elizabeth Schultz, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rabbi Abram Goodstein of Congregation Beth Sholom
Deacon Mick Fornelli, Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage Assigned Chaplain, Brother Francis Shelter
Rev. Dr. Curtis Carnes, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of the Yukon
Bishop Shelley Wickstrom, Bishop of the Alaska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Youssef Barbour, Islamic Community Center Anchorage
Rev. Jamez Terry, Chaplain, Providence Alaska Medical Center
Rev. Ellen Johnson-Price, pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Michael Burke, Rector, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Pastor Joel Kiekintveld, Crosspoint Community Church / Anchorage Urban Training Collaborative
Rev. Jacob Poindexter, Minister, First Congregational Church
Rev. Nico Reijns, Girdwood
Nora Ortiz Fredrick, Christians for Equality Steering Committee
Rev. Susan Halvor, ELCA Pastor, Alaska Synod
The Rev. Gayle Nauska. St Mary’s Episcopal
Rev. Dr. Denise Sudbeck, MCC Last Frontier
Rev. Rachel Simpson, Unity Spiritual Center of Anchorage
Pastor Dave Kuiper - Crosspoint Community Church
Rev. Lisa Talbott, Homer United Methodist Church
Eric Treider, Soldotna United Methodist Church
Rev Lisa Smith Fiegel, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Dr. Jill F. Bradway
Fr. Scott Medlock. pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Anchorage
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