As the state budget debate enters its final weeks, Harrisburg faith leader Stephen Drachler is abstaining from solid foods to draw attention to the impact of budget decisions on Pennsylvania's most vulnerable — children, seniors, people with disabilities and families living in poverty.
Last week, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Amy Worden profiled Drachler, who once served as a spokesman for state House Republicans and now leads United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania:
Once the consummate political insider, Drachler has adopted the mantle of outsider, sending letters and e-mails to lawmakers, holding news conferences on the Capitol steps.
Most recently, he made a personal sacrifice, giving up solid food to protest proposed state budget cuts that he says will harm the most vulnerable citizens.
'People get so embroiled in the numbers they forget it's about people,' Drachler said of his fast. 'Those line items represent hundreds of moral decisions.'
Drachler explains in more detail on the United Methodist Advocacy web site the reason behind the "Fast for PA's Vulnerable":
Fast for PA’s Vulnerable is our expression of deep concern through prayer, for our elected leaders during the budget process. We believe these are moral decisions, moral choices they are making. We believe it is important to tell our leaders to enact a moral budget.
Government’s top priority must be caring for the most vulnerable in our midst. That means making sure they are not pawns in this highly politicized environment.
We pray for God to touch the hearts of our elected leaders. We pray they find solutions to protect the vulnerable. We pray they set side today’s extreme partisanship and do what is right for the poor, the sick, and the homeless.
We pray that concerned citizens will join us, and will contact their leaders to express their concerns.
The fast, now in its fourth week, will continue until a 2011-12 state budget is passed. It is punctuated each legislative session day with a one-hour prayer vigil from noon to 1 p.m. on the Capitol Steps or in the East Wing Rotunda. Everyone is welcome to join the prayer vigils. Here's the schedule:
Monday, June 6 – Top of Front Capitol Steps
Tuesday, June 7 – Top of Front Capitol Steps
Wednesday, June 8 – Top of Front Capitol Steps
Thursday, June 9 – East Wing Rotunda
Friday, June 10 – East Wing Rotunda
Monday, June 13 – East Wing Rotunda
Tuesday, June 14 – Top of Front Capitol Steps
Wednesday, June 15 – East Wing Rotunda
Thursday, June 16 – East Wing Rotunda
Friday, June 17 – East Wing Rotunda
Monday, June 20 – East Wing Rotunda
Tuesday, June 21 – East Wing Rotunda
Wednesday, June 22 – East Wing Rotunda
Thursday, June 23 – East Wing Rotunda
Friday, June 24 – East Wing Rotunda
Monday, June 27 – East Wing Rotunda
Tuesday, June 28 – East Wing Rotunda
Wednesday, June 29 – East Wing Rotunda
Thursday, June 30 – East Wing Rotunda