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For many years I worked in a bipartisan way to pass legislation to reduce hunger. But I’m no longer the primary spokesperson for Bread for the World, so I’ve been able to take sides in this election. I’ve been actively supporting Biden and the Democrats.


As a Lutheran pastor, my thinking about this unique election is grounded in my understanding of God - the love of God for all people, Jesus’ mandate to help poor and vulnerable people, and biblical faith that God is alive in our world.


God’s love for the entire human family is the main message of Christianity. But President Trump is exceptionally self-centered. Right now, he is downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 crisis to help himself get elected, and he is clear that he will try to overturn the election results if he loses. More generally, his policies have favored people like himself (affluent, white American men), and he has come to dominate the entire Republican Party.


On the other hand, Biden clearly has a sense of God’s love for all people. I met him for the first time when Bread for the World was working to secure Congress’ support for a Bush foreign aid initiative, the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Biden led the two parties in developing the legislation together.


Biden is clear that he will govern for the benefit of all Americans, including those who don’t vote for him. He is also intent on taking full advantage of our current opportunity for progress against structures of racism that have long plagued our nation.


A second religious reason to favor the Democrats in this election is Jesus’ insistence on the importance of feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger (Matthew 25).


Trump policies have been harsh toward immigrants and Black people. He and his party have consistently pushed for deep cuts in programs that help people in need. Over the last five months, they have stalled efforts to negotiate continued COVID relief, even though millions of families are struggling and child hunger is alarmingly widespread.


What Senate Republicans are now doing to block COVID relief is a clear demonstration of why it’s important to elect more Democrats to the Senate. Moderate Republicans are bound together with the 20 Senate Republicans who want zero COVID relief.


World hunger has also surged, mainly due to increased conflict, climate change, and loss of trade opportunities - all problems that the Trump administration has aggravated. The spread of COVID-19 is now further increasing world hunger, and the United States is not leading a global response.


In contrast, Biden-Harris are committed to help and opportunity for poor and vulnerable people. They will support safety-net programs in this country and effective aid programs around the world. Health care for all, child care, and elder care are important planks in their program. Racial justice is a major theme of their campaign.


My thinking about this campaign is also influenced by a biblical sense of God’s active presence in human life, not only in our personal lives but also in what’s happening in the world. I celebrate decades of progress against world hunger and poverty as a contemporary exodus - a demonstration of God’s saving power in our time.


But we are now experiencing economic hardship in this country (especially among people of color) and around the world. Our country is suffering more than others from COVID-19. We are living through extreme weather events, while our president continues to deny the reality of climate change.


The Hebrew prophets would call our current predicament God’s judgment. Pope Francis puts it differently. He says that God is calling us to use good judgment.


In my judgment, Biden’s “Build Back Better” program gives us a chance. He and his party will lead a science-based program to bring the global pandemic under control. They will focus on creating good jobs through investment in U.S. manufacturing, infrastructure, minority businesses, and the business of addressing climate change.


This election is indeed a struggle for the soul of America, and the health of our collective soul has enormous practical consequences.


So I invite you to join me in doing everything we can in the next eight days to help Biden and other Democrats win on November 3.





  • David Beckmann

My friend Devry Boughner Vorwerk focuses her new podcast on my “new venture” to connect politics, spirituality, and social justice. I hope you will listen in as Devry and several other super-knowledgeable people help me explore ways to get out of the complex crisis our country is in. You will see that this podcast was a learning experience for me, and I hope that you too will find it thought-provoking.


Devry is now leading DevryBV Sustainable Strategies, a consulting group whose mission is to “inspire businesses to courageously serve humanity.” In her last job, as a corporate vice president of Cargill, she showed that social purpose can contribute to business profitability. She introduced Vice President Biden at a Bread for the World event at the end of 2018. You can find her other podcasts at www.crisisIbility.com.


You will also hear:


Michael Wright. Based on success as an executive of semiconductor companies, he now advises businesses on changes in technology and society (www.interceptinghorizons.com);


Steve Young, one of the pioneers of the corporate social responsibility movement, now executive director of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism;


Johanna Mendolson Forman. Her career has focused on conflict and stabilization around the world, with a growing focus on food as an instrument of peace. Now a distinguished fellow at American University.


At the beginning and end of this discussion, I stressed that victory for Vice President Biden and defeat for President Trump and Trumpism are crucial to recovery from the health and economic crisis and, even more clearly, to spiritual vitality and social justice in our country.


The election is in 12 days. We might each make a list of things we can still do in the next 12 days to help achieve a good outcome - and then get those things done. Prayer should be on our lists.


To watch the podcast, click here.



  • David Beckmann

Vice President Biden has charted a course to put us on track toward ending poverty in America.


A diverse array of church leaders have worked together as the Circle of Protection since 2012 to urge presidential candidates to address poverty issues. They have now published a speech that Vice President Biden made to the Mass Assembly of the Poor People’s Campaign last month.


Biden’s speech is the most ambitious statement about poverty policy that any general-election candidate for president has made in many years. It begins with the biblical message that we are all created in the image of God and have a right to live in dignity. This moral truth is reflected in our country’s founding documents.


Biden shares his boyhood experience of near-poverty when his father’s job disappeared.

“I remember my dad going to bed at night. I could hear him rolling back and forth on his bed, because he didn’t have any health insurance, wondering what in God’s name happens if we get sick.”


He recalls the biblical “message from the wilderness” about service and good news for the poor. He describes our country’s current “wilderness” of disease, widespread economic hardship, and economic inequality. It has “ripped the blinders off the systematic racism that still plagues this country,” he says.


Biden explains how his Build Back Better program will put us on track to end poverty in America. His first priority, he says, will be a national, evidence-based program to bring the pandemic under control and provide relief to the tens of millions of Americans who have been flattened economically by the pandemic. Looking beyond the pandemic, he focuses on a strong safety-net and good jobs for low-income workers.


“If I am president, ending poverty will not just be an aspiration, it will be a theory of change -- to build a new economy that includes everyone, where we reward hard work, we care for the most vulnerable among us, we release the potential of all our children, and protect the planet.”


Biden explains that he will push for an increase in the minimum wage, plus sick leave and affordable child care for all workers. He also proposes major investments in economic development -- infrastructure (including infrastructure for communities of color and low-income communities), the transition to a green economy, and educational opportunity at all levels. These public investments will generate good-paying jobs.


Biden emphasizes preschool for all children, including three-year olds, because three-year old boys and girls who get preschool education are much more likely to finish high school and be able to make a decent living.


Finally, Biden stresses that protecting the right to vote is important to progress against poverty. He urges everyone to vote.


Biden directs his remarks to the 140 million Americans who are poor or have virtually no savings. He affirms the efforts of the Poor People’s Campaign to promote and protect voting among these 140 million people.



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