LWR urges Lutherans to voice support on tsunami issues

Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Baltimore, is urging Lutherans nationwide to contact their senators and President Bush to voice their support of two tsunami-related issues:

  • Extending the charitable-deductions deadline for 2004 — The tsunamis struck on Dec. 26, giving donors just a few days to make donations to help victims by Dec. 31, 2004, the cutoff for deducting charitable contributions on 2004 taxes.  As a result, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have introduced a bill that would allow taxpayers to make donations through the month of January and still claim the charitable donations on their 2004 returns.

    “Not everyone needs the tax deduction to be moved to donate — thousands of people already have given generously,” reads a news release from LWR.  “We believe, however, that an added incentive to give may be just what some people need to give a first, second, or even third gift to the charity of their choice.”

    For information on contacting your senators, visit the Web site www.senate.gov and scroll down to your state.

  • Debt relief for tsunami-affected nations — Great Britain, with U.S. support, has called for a “freeze” on foreign debt repayments owed by the countries hit by the tsunami disaster.  “While a freeze on debt repayment would be helpful,” according to LWR, “the reality is that the countries affected by the disaster cannot afford the debt repayments even under normal circumstances.”

    Instead, LWR supports total debt relief for the most indebted nations because “the world’s poorest people do not have access to clean water, adequate housing or basic health care.  Their countries are paying debt service at the expense of providing these basic services to their citizens.  When a poor country, like Indonesia or Sri Lanka, is hit by a massive disaster, it can ill afford recovery and rehabilitation, much less a crippling debt repayment.”

    That sentiment is echoed by Rev. Matthew Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief/Human Care.  “The international debt of developing countries remains a serious impediment to the long-term well-being of peoples around the world,” Harrison said.  “LCMS World Relief urges LCMS people to give serious consideration to this issue.”

    LWR is asking Lutherans to call or fax the White House and the Treasury Department, calling for “100 percent debt cancellation” for the tsunami-affected nations of Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.
    For President Bush, please call (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-2461 or send an e-mail to president@whitehouse.gov.  Send a fax message to Treasury Secretary John Snow at (202) 622-6415.

For more information on how to contact the White House and U.S. senators, go to LWR’s “Advocacy Tips and Tools” Web site at www.lwr.org/advocacy/lettertips.asp.

Posted Jan. 14, 2005

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