As an organization founded by Lutheran congregations, LCFS is part of a concern for
the common good through public policy. The great church reformer Martin Luther insisted
that the community (including church leaders and civil authorities) care for those
citizens who could not care for themselves, to ensure the well-being of all people.
Take action today to be a champion for children in poverty, through the Illinois State Budget
Click here to ask lawmakers and the governor to stop the dismantling of critical state services by choosing revenue and passing a full funded, year-long budget.
The dismantling of critical state services is growing due to the lack of a fully funded, year-long budget. Children, seniors, and people with disabilities are among the hardest hit, according to a new report from the Fiscal Policy Center of Voices for Illinois Children.
While some services are being partially funded as a result of court orders or the availability of federal dollars – such as LCFS' foster care and intact family services — the lack of state appropriations has resulted in the deterioration and elimination of critical services.
Who is left standing at the end is completely in the hands of Governor Rauner and the General Assembly. To prevent further damage to children, families, and communities, lawmakers and the governor need to take responsibility for funding our state’s priorities by restoring the revenue we need to fully fund a year-long budget.
Thank you to our partners at Voices for Illinois Children and the Responsible Budget Coalition for the substance of this message.
Why act on the Illinois state budget?
Children in poverty depend on government funded programs for safety, nutrition, education and health care. We want to keep our elected leaders focused on the lives of our clients and communities and the real impact of tax and budget policy. See the Fiscal Policy Center blog of Voices for Illinois Children for excellent and timely analysis: https://www.voices4kids.org/category/blog/.
Take action today to support sentencing reform, for the sake of children of incarcerated parents.
More than 1.7 million children in the United States have a parent in prison, as the rate of incarceration has grown seven-fold in forty years. Mandatory minimum sentencing penalties are the driving force for the increases, rather than crime. Children of incarcerated parents face great risks and challenges.
Learn more by reading:
- A summary of the LCFS Annual Gathering of Stakeholders
- The Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Bill of Rights
Then, act to oppose mandatory minimum sentences:
- In partnership with Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), use FAMM’s action center to urge your senators to end inflexible, ineffective and expensive mandatory minimum sentencing and sponsor the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. More information
- In partnership with the FORCE initiative of the Community Renewal Society (CRS) – use CRS’s action center to urge Governor Rauner, your state senator and your state representative to oppose legislation that expands mandatory minimums or enhances Illinois’s already harsh sentencing policies. More information
- Tell your Illinois state senator and representative that new polling shows large majorities of Illinois Republican and Democratic voters think the state’s criminal-justice system needs a major overhaul. Tell them to support the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. Click here to find your state senator and rep.
Take action today to make the Adoption Tax Credit refundable
The adoption tax credit provides financial benefits to families that open their homes to children through adoption from foster care, intercountry adoption, or private domestic adoption. The adoption tax credit has helped to offset the high cost of adoption for hundreds of thousands of families since it was established in 1997. Legislation has been introduced to make the adoption tax credit refundable. With more than 100,000 children in U.S. foster care available for adoption and countless millions of orphans and abandoned children around the world, the continuation of the adoption tax credit is vital to providing love, safety, and permanency through adoption to as many children as possible.
Visit the “Save the Adoption Tax Credit” website (https://adoptiontaxcredit.org) to learn about the bills and find links to ask your United States Senators and Representative to be sponsors.
Why the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act? Although adoptive families vary, 62 percent of adopted children are adopted by lower and middle-income taxpayers. Almost half of children adopted from care live in families with household incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Right now the credit disadvantages low- and middle-income families and may prevent them from adopting children who need a family. Adoptive families who have low or moderate incomes receive no benefit or partial benefit from the non-refundable adoption tax credit. Families with annual incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 could only claim on average $1,148 of the credit annually ($6,668 over six years). This means the credit inadvertently benefits high income families the most. Some low- and middle-income families will not be able to adopt without the support of a refundable adoption tax credit. When the credit was refundable, many adoptive parents (both domestic and intercountry) also noted that accessing the credit for a first adoption enabled them to adopt a second child.
Public policy viewed through a Lutheran lens
Lutherans understand that God is in charge, not only ruling over the church with His grace, but also ruling over all things by His Word of power. This is why Lutheran citizens are involved in government and seek to influence public policy. Our approach is founded on one simple fact. We believe every human life is, from beginning to end, precious to God beyond measure. Created by the Father and redeemed in the blood of Christ, every human being receives from God Himself infinite value. The intrinsic worth of every human person is basic for us. God is the Creator of all, no exceptions. If you are human, Christ died and rose for you, and God desires that you come to faith in Christ by means of His Spirit in His Word. Therefore God also calls Christ’s church to bring His Word to the world and to serve others with love and mercy.
Both as a corporate body and as individuals, Lutherans see themselves in service to the neighbor. Because Christ has mercy, we have mercy. But no one is left out. All are precious to God, for all have been redeemed in the shed blood of Christ. Thus believers in Christ seek the good of all.
In short, Lutherans value each human life for one reason. God does and calls us to do the same. Everything else we say and do flows from this fact.
– Rev. Herbert C. Mueller, Jr.
Former President, Southern Illinois District
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Advocacy: Why Lutherans take action
Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles on True Religion and Its Practice
God’s covenant with His people, established at the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, had two aspects to it. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:5); and, “You should love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18) The prophets Amos and Micah, writing during the last days of the Northern kingdom of Israel, (the middle of the eight century B.C.E. to the early seventh century) equated the love of God with the love of the neighbor in very telling language. Their words of judgment and instruction provided the basis for evaluating godly living in this world.
Amos, chapter 5, is a crushing indictment of the House of Israel. “For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins – you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.” (Amos 5:12) The day of the LORD is coming, and it will be darkness, not light. Religious observances won’t turn God’s anger away. He hates the feasts and solemn assemblies, the offerings and the dances, with which the people try to appease God.
Rather, they are to “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live;…Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious…”(5:14 and 15) “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an overflowing stream.” (5:24)
Micah strikes much the same note: “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high?” With burnt offerings, or ten thousands of rivers of oil? “He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6 and 6:8)
With this background Jesus is able to turn a lawyer’s question, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” into the lawyer’s answer “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:25 and 27) Jesus then responds, “You have answered right; do this and you will live.” (10:28)
The lawyer has a follow-up question, “And who is my neighbor?” (10:29) Jesus then tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan to explain. As with the prophets, he does not present the ritual or “religious” example, the priest’s and the Levite’s behavior, as the godly action. It is the supposedly irreligious Samaritan who is neighbor to the man in need.
This most familiar parable sets before us in the words of our Lord an example of godly living, which carries with it the promise of salvation, “Do this and you will live.” Is it godly living done so that salvation might be earned? Or is the Samaritan’s compassion an act of love that comes naturally from a man of God?
The answer to that question might readily be found in what is often called the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46. The scene is the Son of Man coming to judge his kingdom, gathering all nations before himself, separating people to his right and to his left. “Come, O blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (25:34)
The basis for judgment in the parable is the response given to those who were hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, or in prison. The believers who responded by giving aid to those in need, even the “least” who were there, are welcomed into the Father’s Kingdom. For they had given aid to Christ the King himself, even though they did not know it. And those who failed to give aid are sent into eternal punishment. They, too, did not know the opportunities that were before them, and they did not respond in love either to Christ or their fellow human beings.
In capsule form, these passages from the Law, the Prophets, and our Lord are the basis for loving Christians in this world. The Apostle Paul states in Romans 13:8 “Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” And James writes about the royal law in 2:8, “If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.” And he adds, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (2:17)
We know we are not saved by doing the Law. But we, also, know that our faith in Christ compels us to live in the freedom of the Gospel, to do those things by faith, which proclaim our love for God and the neighbor. Religious ritual, (I’ll pray about it), or an over-emphasis on purity or correctness of doctrine, when it hinders us from acting compassionately, is not a positive factor.
A Lutheran Ethic of Compassion
Martin Luther, who could say, quoting Romans 3:28, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law,” could also, distress his wife by being generous with his own money to those in need, and would encourage his fellow Christians to be concerned for one another, to be involved in the world around them, and to give alms.
In the days before governments became widely involved in health care, it was the churches that cared for the sick, the orphans and the widows, and others in need, through hospitals and other agencies of compassion. Lutheran congregations regularly had almoners who were in charge of the welfare of their members as a regular part of congregational life.
Where Lutherans tended to differ with other Christians in the field of social welfare was in the results we believed could be attained by Christian action in the world. Whereas Friedrich Schliermacher and other proponents of the so-called Social Gospel attempted to transform this world into the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Lutherans generally tended to take a less-optimistic approach.
Can evil and hardship be totally or mostly eradicated in this life? Those who believe that our sinful human nature continues to do battle in all of us against the power of the Spirit, believe that evil and hardship can be battled and ameliorated, but not conquered. Yet we do not stop trying to do the good that we can do, and we rely upon God for results.
We do not believe that a cheery word, “Be happy and healthy and well-fed” to a hungry, sick person is a word of grace, unless accompanied by Christian action to relieve those needs. We do not see a separation between loving God and loving the neighbor, nor an ordering of priorities that allows love of the neighbor to be an option for us, as God-pleasing. Jesus kept them together in his teaching and life, with his death on the cross as the ultimate demonstration of his love for His Father and his love for all of us. God announced to the world that this life was exactly what He willed by raising Jesus from the dead.
The “other side of the Gospel” is what I like to call Christian compassion and action. We are not doing good for the sake of our own salvation, for that would take away from the once-and-for-all work of Christ Jesus for us. We are responding by grace through faith to a loving God by the power of the Spirit, for the benefit of others, and for this life and the life to come.
– Rev. Dr. Paul E. Bacon
Bible quotations: Revised Standard Version