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Clergy for Justice Declare ‘Victory’ after Campfield Withdraws TANF Bill

Press release from Clergy for Justice; April 11, 2013:

Clergy for Justice Declares Victory “For Now” as Campfield Withdraws “Starve the Children” Bill; Comes After Author of Bill Runs from Child Who He Dismissed as a “Prop” as She Tried to Explain How Bill Hurts Kids

Thursday, April 11, 2013 – A group of almost 100 citizens, thirty ministers, a children’s choir, a mother and her daughter all came to the state capitol today to deliver over 2,500 signatures and a message to State Senator Stacy Campfield, Republican of Knoxville:

“Don’t starve the children,” said Aamiria Fetuga, the eight year old daughter of Rasheedat Fetuga.

“My daughter came home with tears in her eyes after playing with a couple of friends whose parents receive government assistance to ask me if we our power would be turned off if she didn’t pass her test this week,” said Fetuga, Director of Gideon’s Army which is a grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of children. “As a mother that was heartbreaking and then to have Sen. Campfield just dismiss her and her concerns as a ‘prop’ was just a slap in our face.”

Campfield, whose bills have recently become fodder for late night comedians nationally, condescendingly spoke to the girl and her mother saying that if her mother was “decent parent” she didn’t have anything worry about.

Link to video of Sen. Campfield, Child Encounter

“This goes against everything that people of faith believe,” said Kathy Chambers, Organizer for Clergy for Justice. “It casts judgment solely on lower income families and implies that only their children are struggling in school, thus only those families should be held accountable for their children’s academic performance.”

“Jesus calls those who follow him to feed those who are hungry (Matthew 25:35),” said Rev. Matthew Kelly of Arlington United Methodist Church. “If we as a society take food out of the mouths of those who are already struggling, when we know that children who are undernourished have greater difficulty in the classroom, then we are loudly and clearly saying “no” to the call of Jesus to care for those whom our world has identified as ‘the least of these.’”
“We acknowledge that parents play an integral role in student achievement, but they are not the sole influencer of their child’s performance,” said Taylor Hummell, Acting Nashville City Director for Stand for Children. “This bill is based on the incorrect assumption that parental involvement is the only factor that determines student outcomes.”

The event, which featured a Children’s Choir that sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” outside the Senate chamber as Sen. Campfield’s “Starve the Children” bill was withdrawn.

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