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Jul 2003 / church and state :: email this story to a friend

Taking a Stand
By Dan Grandone

In a world where fear reigns, it has become easier to fall silently in line with the status quo than oppose the current power structure. People have become apathetic and accepting of the decisions handed to them by the leaders they have elected into office. It is time for the people to take back their power and communicate directly to our political leaders. We can and will work with a state and local power structure that reflects the values we believe in, but when those values are directly violated the question must be called.

Where will you stand?

Let me take this opportunity to call a question for you in addressing a current issue. Is it right that in this beautiful state of ours there are over 98 of our top corporations (making over $50 million dollars a year in profits) who pay nothing in state taxes, while our state legislature is cutting public education to the tune of $200 million dollars this year? Because of the existing corporate tax loophole structure, our top corporations are allowed to get away without paying their fair share in Missouri state taxes. What this equates to is the average hard-working Missourian pays more in state taxes than a corporation making over $50 million in profits. How does that make you feel? Is this right? What do you value? What is a higher priority — closing corporate tax loopholes or ensuring education for children throughout our state?

The 75 congregations representing over 100,000 people in Metropolitan Congregations United for St. Louis (MCU) believe it is our moral obligation to act out of our values and confront these glaring injustices within the system. MCU is a faith-based grass roots organization that has united people of all faiths, colors, and classes throughout the St. Louis region to stand strong. All for One, One for All!

Over the past several years MCU has been central to the fight of redirecting resources and investment back into the "core" of our region. MCU has organized itself to address issues at the local, regional, and state levels. Locally, through efforts such as project Holy Ground, the organizing process has proven to be effective in building relationships, closing drug houses, demolishing derelict buildings, and developing new affordable housing. At the state level we have fought and won 32 miles of city roads to be maintained by the State of Missouri, passed presumptive eligibility — a state health care program that will deliver services to 90,000 children throughout Missouri, saved vital tax credit programs such as rebuilding communities and historic tax credits when they appeared on the chopping block the past three years, and worked to reauthorize MC+. Our effectiveness has come in the ability to build relationships at all levels, to work in collaboration around common self-interest, and hold elected officials accountable to commitments made.

In 2003, MCU took on the issue of education and ensuring that state funding for education was adequate and equitable. We have now been led into a special session starting in September that will once again be focused on raising revenues in this state so that education can be fully funded. Although closing corporate tax loopholes will again be lifted up, the wave of resistance is significant. As our schools close in this city, teachers are laid off, and vital resources are withheld from the schools, our elected state legislators need to hear from you.

Will you be a part of the process and let your voice be heard, or will you sit back once again and allow someone else to dictate their values to you? I encourage you to join with us if you are called to take a stand. If you are interested in learning more about MCU or how you or your congregation could get involved, please call the MCU office at (314) 367-3484.

Dan Grandone is an MCU organizer.

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