People of faith must support I-185

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As people of faith, we believe we have the moral obligation to take care of our neighbors. Often that means helping individuals by donating clothes after a house fire or providing dinner after the loss of a loved one. However, sometimes we have the rare opportunity to help thousands of our friends and neighbors across the state. We have that chance now by voting for I-185.

This ballot initiative will help us live fuller, healthier lives in three ways:

First, it increases the tax on tobacco products. Every year, we lose 1,600 Montanans to tobacco related illness. This isn’t just a statistic. These are moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, friends and coworkers. These are real people effected by tobacco use.

Second, it will finally tax vaping and e-cigarettes that are aggressively marketed to our youth with candy flavors and packaging that make it look harmless. You don’t have to look hard to see a new generation becoming addicted to vaping.

Third, this initiative will protect Montanans from losing their access to health care coverage. Nearly 100,000 Montanans finally have health care when they didn’t have access before 2015. They are getting the care they need and catching health concerns before they become life threatening and expensive.

God calls us to take care of our health so we can live fully and serve God and our neighbors completely. However, we are not always good stewards of our health. We can help each other be healthy through supporting those who provide all forms of health care services and by discouraging the use of substances which cause harm. Our health is not only our individual responsibility; our health is a good we cultivate as communities and as a state.

Our faith calls us to recognize our shared humanity and serve the common good. As Christian leaders and simply as humans and members of our communities, we whole-heartedly support I-185. We ask the citizens of Montana to recognize the needs of our fellow citizens, and join us in voting yes on I-185 this November.

This letter was sent by Gloria Soja of the Montana Association of Christians and signed by Bishop Jessica Crist; The Right Rev. C. Franklin Brookhart, Jr. D. Min., Bishop of Montana, The Episcopal Church; Rev. Kendra Wilde, president, Montana Association of Christians; The Rev. Donna Gleaves, St. Peter’s Episcopal Cathedral, Helena, The Episcopal Diocese of Montana; The Rev. Valerie Webster; David C. Andersen, PhD; Marc Stewart; The Rev. Dan P. Krebill; Candida Quinn.

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