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Today (Ash Wednesday) March 5th, 2014, the UK churches launch a campaign called End Hunger Fast against the increase of hunger in this land. Only recently we were described as “the fourth wealthiest country in the world” yet now we see that half a million Brits go hungry, as that is the number that have visited Food Banks in the last 12 months. These are often run by local churches.
I heard on the radio (though I have not seen it in print) that 10,000 kids were admitted to hospital in this country last year suffering from malnutrition!
According to the new campaign which is backed by bishops and leaders of other denominations who have signed a letter to the press, the British government should meet its duty of care to its citizens and take immediate action on welfare, wages and food markets, the 3 main areas of concern. The main causes of food-shortage are said to be low incomes, rising prices, and indebtedness; as well as cut backs to and failures in the Benefits system.
The number of hospital admissions for starvation in the year 2008/9 was 3161. In 2012/13 it was 5400 (Department of Health figures).
Evidently, even though this may be a rich country, the division of wealth is anything but fair and even. No wonder we had the Tottenham riots a couple of years ago. Tottenham is where I live, and it’s still pretty bleak down here. A re-run of the riots is still on the cards, which is probably why the Met Police are looking for water cannons to buy! Research has shown (i) that only a more even division of a country’s wealth can bring about a more contented population – no paupers, no millionaires. This is actually very biblical.
The well-known Christian-Anarchist cleric Rev Dr Keith Hebden, currently of Mansfield, Nottingham, has taken a very brave step – he is fasting for 40 days. He will only drink water to show how strongly he feels: in his words “I believe the church should stand in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable.” Now that’s what I call practical Christianity!
If you wish to know more of Hebden’s non-violent anarchist take on life see his excellent new book (ii). I am planning to write a Post on his Christian view of Gandhi before long, and I will insert a link at the foot of this Post when that happens.
(Even though we only lived a mile apart in Gloucester at one time, and we have friends in common, I have not yet had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of one of Britain’s most radical clergymen.)
I wish him well in this and all future campaigns and I urge Zingcreed readers to do the same.
April 4th 2014 is to be a national day of fasting. Find out what the churches are organising in your area and join in.
(i) Wilkinson, R. & Pickett, K. “The Spirit Level. Why Equality is better for everyone” Penguin (2010)
(ii) Hebden, Keith “Seeking Justice. The radical Compassion of Jesus” Circle Books (2013)
apinchofsalt.org (“Christianity and anarchism in conversation and action”)
Related Zingcreed Posts:
Now that’s what I call practical Christianity #8: No cuts!
Alphabetical index for other ‘Now that’s…’ Posts
[255, indexed & linked, t&c]