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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Faith Community Leads Vigil at Capitol Calling for Humane Budget

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011   

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota became the 32nd state in the union, 153 years ago today. To honor Statehood Day, Minnesota's largest faith communities are calling on the public and elected officials to create a more just and compassionate budget solution.

Brian Rusche, director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, says the anniversary provides an opportunity to take stock of what it means to be a Minnesotan.

"Citizens need to be part of a whole and to help govern this state, and not to think of government as something separate and to be divorced from your citizenship - but rather as a policymaker and somebody that contributes to the common good by participating in government, and expecting government to do its job well and take care of the basic services that make Minnesota a great place to live."

To balance the budget more humanely, they say, faith leaders from across the state will gather at the Capitol for an "Interfaith Vigil for the Common Good," asking that lawmakers include revenue-raising options rather than only cuts.

Minnesota historian Hy Berman, a featured speaker at the vigil, says that in 1934 Gov. Floyd B. Olson faced a similar political climate as does Gov. Mark Dayton today. Olson passed a landmark progressive income tax that helped alleviate the Great Depression's devastating effects, Berman says.

"Very simply, he did that by pointing out that the alternative was, in fact, a complete collapse of the economy of the state. Unlike contemporary times, even though he had conservative legislators, he had legislators that believed government does have a role to play in society during crisis times, and did not take the view that government is the problem."

For Rabbi Yonatan Sadoff of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, the day underscores the religious directive shared by all faiths to care for those less fortunate. He believes government has a role in making the very core beliefs of its people happen.

"As it says in Deuteronomy, God asks us to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow, to love the stranger, and to provide food and clothing for each and every person among us. This is the basic religious directive and responsibility, and so I can't think of too many things for a local community that would be more important than this."

The concept of caring for the most vulnerable is spelled out in Minnesota's law books, says The Rev. Cathy Schuyler of Duluth Congregational Church - and that's one message the faith community would like Minnesota lawmakers to reflect on today.

"We're pulling our basis from the constitution of the state of Minnesota - 'government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people.'"


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