Religious Groups Don't Want Scott Walker To Drug Test The Poor

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin created a proposal to implement drug testing for certain recipients of government aid, but several religious leaders are calling on the state legislature to reject the proposal. A letter, endorsed by a number of religious groups including the Interfaith Council of Greater Milwaukee, the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Council of Churches, says:

“In our respective religious traditions poverty and joblessness are not indicators of bad character. We do not believe it is just to craft policies that punish those who face these trials while also suffering from the illness of addiction. Nor is it fair to treat those who seek employment, health and nutritional assistance differently than those who need financial help with educational costs, starting a business or obtaining child care. Drug abuse occurs at all income levels. Tying drug testing only to certain forms of public assistance unjustly holds those applicants to a higher standard of accountability than the rest of us."

Walker wants to drug test recipients of FoodShare, BadgerCare Plus health care, and Unemployment Insurance programs. Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, the head of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, said “All of our faith traditions teach that human beings are made in the image of God and need to be treated with dignity. When you subject people to these shaming procedures that have no efficacy … its only purpose is to shame the poor. That robs people of their dignity and inner godliness. We’re putting up barriers that are keeping people hungry and in poverty, and not addressing their needs.”

Photo: Steve Deace

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