We are all called to care for the least among us | Guest Columnists


Seventy-nine percent of Iowans are Christian, Jewish, Muslin, Buddhist or Hindu and 21 percent are atheist or agnostic. “Loving our neighbors as ourselves” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the generally accepted protocol for anyone to follow.

Unfortunately I’ve ignored the person who looks unkempt and downtrodden. I have avoided eye contact with the person standing at a busy intersection with a cardboard sign that reads, “Homeless—will work for food.”

Many who worship in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples vow to follow their religious teaching are the same ones who ignore the destitute. As Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a Polish-born Jewish-American rabbi once said, “How dare we come before God with our prayers when we commit atrocities against the one image we have of the living: human beings.”

I am troubled by the lack of public outrage against state and national poverty. Far-right religious conservatives cheer our president, who wants to cut back on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) expenditures by 25 percent for the 15 percent of our population that is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level; 76 percent of basic food subsistence benefits go to households with children.

I wonder what the Supreme Being thinks of people who endorse any of the USA’s reported 64 white supremacy groups? I’m sure bigots view witch burnings (1450-1750) and tickets sold in church to watch lynchings (1890-1940) as “alternative facts.”

It’s reprehensible for people to tolerate without a word xenophobia, racism, homophobia, bullying, misogyny, nationalism and the current voter identification witch hunt solution that’s in need of a problem.

Please put two and two together for me. Explain how religious-touted politicians claim to be pro-life on one hand and support the death penalty or permit toddlers to use guns?

How can Iowa politicians with faith eliminate successful family planning programs, cut worker’s compensation benefits for injured workers and continually support Iowa’s privatized Medicaid debacle at the peril of 568,000 poor or elderly?

De-mystify for me the logic behind God-fearing politicians who knew two home-schooled children died from parental abuse and then had the audacity to cut $8 million from Department of Human Services and eliminate 800 field operators who protect children from neglect. In 2013, Iowa’s politicians permitted 15,000 children to be home schooled with no periodic health-care check or examination of academic progress; despite home-schooled children deaths, no changes to the 2013 law were made during the 2017 legislative session.

Hatred-laced Twitter statements from political leaders while mature adults don’t even say “boo” are concerning.

Every person, regardless of creed, color, culture and faith, has eight common needs: food, drink, clothing, shelter, health care, education, jobs and friends. And, everyone is called to care for the least among us.

The Rev. Dave Kebschull, St. John Lutheran Church, Cedar Falls, asked of his congregation: “What would happen if elected leaders who have heard the words ‘care for the least among us’ would take those words seriously as they establish their party platform, make campaign and donor promises and embrace the ‘care message’ through explicit actions at their respective Capitol? If they did, our world would be quite beautiful, and our Lord would smile upon us and say well done.”

Heschel writes, “The prophet’s word is a scream in the night.” At age 69 I’ve been awakened by that scream; my mind and heart are not clean.

Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

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