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Senate hold

"Senate hold" Continued...

Issue: "Praying for rain," Aug. 11, 2012

Food stamp bubble

A battle over the growth of food stamps has halted debate in Congress over the new five-year, $958 billion farm bill. With the current farm bill set to expire on Sept. 30, the Senate and House remain more than $12 billion apart on reductions to the farm bill's nutritional assistance program known as food stamps. With loosened eligibility requirements, nearly 46 million Americans are on food stamps today. That's a 64 percent increase from the 28 million participants in 2008. The cost of the program totaled $72 billion in 2011, a 70 percent jump from 2007. House Republicans originally called for $33 billion in cuts to the program, but now have advanced a bill that includes cuts of $16.5 billion. The Senate's farm bill includes just $4 billion in food stamp cuts.

The church & marriage

The Presbyterian Church (USA) in its General Assembly meeting in Pittsburgh last month voted narrowly to maintain a traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. (A marriage issues committee earlier recommended changing it to a union between "two people.") After the final vote, moderator Neal Presa acknowledged in prayer, "Some of us weep while some of us rejoice. We are a divided church."

The Episcopal Church in its General Convention took another step toward "full inclusion" of homosexuals, overwhelmingly approving a liturgy to bless same-sex couples. The rite does not actually use the words "marriage," "husband," or "wife"-The Episcopal Church still defines marriage as a heterosexual union-but dubbed the ceremony "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant." Priests may use the liturgy whether or not gay "marriage" is legal in their state.

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