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Letter to the Editor: Great effort is called for to address refugee crisis

Letter to the Editor: Great effort is called for to address refugee crisis

On occassion, we will publish letters to the Editor addressing recent stories or events.  These letters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Episcopal Cafẻ.


Dear Episcopal Bishops and other Church Leaders:

The recent earthquake in Nepal and the intensified fighting in Yemen have reminded me of the magnitude and extent of the expanding humanitarian disasters metastasizing all over our world today.  In each of these two additional countries, there are reports of about two million people being made homeless, having great difficulty in finding, or being unable to find, safe drinking water, food, shelter, medical care, clothing and other basic necessities of life.  Then last month the fall of Ramadi to ISIS resulted in more than 50,000 more displaced persons fleeing to Baghdad.


Many sites show information about the stark, drastic, urgent nature of the intense suffering and need for aid to well over fifty million innocent displaced persons and refugees world-wide who are valiantly struggling to live at just a subsistence level (see here, here, here or here and here for a firsthand account). These are the impoverished neighbors whom Jesus commanded us to love.


My parents taught me that it is one’s responsibility to help those in need who are less fortunate.  In Vacation Bible School, additionally, I was taught that we children are the hands and feet of Jesus.  Based on these two simple instructions, I conclude that it is the duty of good people, especially Christians, to immediately provide substantial, tangible aid to their domestic and foreign neighbors when either nature or evil men create homelessness, hunger, sadness, injury, trauma, abject poverty, death, constant fear of danger, heartbreak, disease, family separation, terrible stress and hopelessness for them and their children.


Our Episcopal Church has acknowledged the existence of this serious, inhuman, and cruel situation.  To illustrate, I recently have received two letters from Episcopal Relief and Development, which I support, asking for “a generous donation today… to support all we must do to heal our hurting world today.”  The Episcopal Church has thus announced its “ambitious $400,000 target for the 2015 Annual Fund…to expand our reach and effectively respond to calls for help.”


Based on my calculations, a more appropriate target for the Annual Fund of The Episcopal Relief & Development Organization would be $199,998,000 in 2015.  This amount is based on the following assumptions and calculations:


  1. Assume that 1,000,000 U.S. members of the Episcopal Church take their faith seriously.
  2. Assume that the families comprised of these religious people average 3 persons per family. The result would be a total of 333,330 Episcopal families who take Christianity seriously.
  3. Assume that each of these families spends $100 per month on cable TV or their satellite TV service, which I have read is the average TV subscription cost for a family in America.
  4. Assume that each of these families is persuaded that they have a Christian responsibility to make an additional humanitarian contribution of just half of their cable TV cost, $50 per month or $600 per year, in order to aid our broken neighbors, i.e. the refugees and displaced persons who have been crushed economically, physically, psychologically, culturally, and spiritually by natural disasters and by some of the most evil forces in today’s world.
  5. Multiplying $600 per year by the 333,330 religious Episcopal families produces a $199,998,000 Episcopal Relief Fund contribution target for 2015. This amount would provide some meaningful help to many of the most vulnerable people in our world who need life-saving assistance.


Urgent action is desperately needed, an AP story published in February, 2015 says Iraqi refugees in Beirut are receiving only “50% of their needs” from the United Nations and other Non-Governmental Organizations.  Information in this article had been obtained from the Chaldean Diocese in Beirut.  The size of the humanitarian aid shortfall world-wide really cannot be measured, but it is truly massive.


Bishops of the Episcopal Church, my hope is that you will agree with me that each of us has a Christian duty to contribute much more this year to alleviate the massive, extreme human misery which now truly does exist in the real world.  I believe that each of us easily can make additional contributions of just half of our cable TV expense, in order to help our desperate, broken neighbors.


I also hope that, by your assuming the full responsibilities of the spiritual and administrative leaders of the Episcopal Church, you will help keep both this organization and Christianity relevant.

Sincerely yours,

Clifford Baum


Clifford B. Baum, originally from Quitman, Georgia, and now lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is retired from the banking industry and now spends his time reading, primarily about economics, investments, politics, and world affairs.


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