by Ray Downs
Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Jones is listening to special interest groups instead of Jesus, says members of Metropolitan Congregations United. That's why they held a prayer service to help the speaker see the light.
"We're concerned that Mr. Jones, despite being vocal about his faith being a guide in his life, is really listening more to special interest groups," says Mary Chubb, chair of MCU's South County cluster of congregations, in a press release. "We know he has higher political aspirations but the well-being of Missourians should drive him. It will mean more at election time if people know he acted on their behalf."
Rev. Susan Sneed, organizer for MCU, tells Daily RFT that there are several reasons the group has decided to call out Jones, but the impetus to hold a prayer meeting was the speaker's decision to hold up a bill that would lift the lifetime ban of food stamps for people who have a drug felony.
Missouri is one of the only states to have such a ban, which affects more than 10,000 women.
"We've been involved for almost two years in an effort that's been going on for eight years," Sneed says of the movement to lift the ban. "It's very punitive and it hurts people."
By the time Sneed and approximately nine other congregants -- all of whom have been active in petitioning politicians to lift the ban -- gathered in front of My Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Eureka, where Jones is a member, the speaker had already signed off on allowing the bill to move forward. But that didn't prevent the group from praying for Jones, who they disagree with on other issues, as well.
They hope he also sides with Jesus on education, Medicaid expansion, and payday lender reform.
In regards to the payday reform bill that passed the House this week, Sneed is passionate about her views.
"Legislators say it's reform, but it's not reform for the consumer at all," she says. "It just makes it easier for payday loan providers to put the loans out there with no caps on the interest, no relief for people who get these loans -- it's a sham."
So the members of MCU are praying for Jones in hopes that he works for the people. And for politicians to do that, it just might take an act of God.
"I think as the Speaker of the House, he always has somebody whispering in his ear about which bills should be forwarded," Sneed says.
She adds: "So we want to just offer up some prayer for him. We don't want to be his enemy. We know it's a hard job. But we want him to think about the decisions he's making and do the right thing for the people."
Daily RFT reached out to Jones for comment. His office has yet to respond.
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