The Bible, the vote and Pan African hunger justice priorities

Lament and Hope

By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

Moses’ father-in-law said to [Moses] … You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Look for able [people] from all the people, [people] who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such [persons] over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. Exodus 18:17-21

This scripture reminds us that our communities need trustworthy leadership to govern. 2020 brings the opportunity for us to identify such persons nationally, statewide, and locally. The election of trustworthy leaders can make the positive difference for all people, including those affected by hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. In a season of political polarizations, this urgent and noble mission can bring us together.

This was recently seen in our advocacy that resulted in a final FY 2020 appropriations bill that included $150 million for global nutrition programs under USAID Global Health Programs, which is a $5 million increase on the fiscal year 2019 enacted level! This impactful example of advocating together should inspire us to push our potential government leaders to prioritize ending hunger, eliminating malnutrition, and alleviating poverty in 2020.

Our 2019 Hunger Report states that these issues are priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been adopted by the governments of 193 countries, including the United States, with support from their civil society and business sectors. The report not only points to the challenge of malnutrition but to the challenges of livelihoods (jobs), gender, fragility, climate change, and systemic racial inequities as well.

Bread understands that the issue of racial equity is inextricably connect to the root causes: enslavement and forced immigration. It is also connected to historic land, wealth, and income disparities—as well as contemporary issues such as mass incarceration and immigration. The SDGs also name these challenges as intersecting issues contributing to hunger and poverty.

So how do we repair the wounds of historic and contemporary racial inequities that inform these hunger-related issues? Our two Bread for the World Pan African devotionals in 2018 and 2019 explored these questions through biblical inquiry and public policy engagement. The 2020 election year provides a timely opportunity to probe this question more deeply as we consider the election of trustworthy leadership to govern us.

Therefore, this year’s monthly columns will focus on the racial equity lens of Bread’s related hunger issues as 2020 election priorities. Certain Pan African devotionals in 2018 and 2019 will also serve as sources these reflections. In sum, the column will serve as a 2020 devotional election primer and timely resource for our campaign to end hunger from a Pan African perspective. We look forward to providing this supplement as a partner resource as part of our 2020 Bread Election Campaign.

Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World.

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