The President of the Methodist Conference in Britain has condemned MPs who laughed and joked about foodbank users in a parliamentary debate last week.
The Rev Ruth Gee said that, "We must challenge and rebuke those who laugh in the face of people sufering poverty, hunger and injustice."
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has since launched an extraordinary attack on foodbank provider the Tressell Trust, a Christian charity, was among those who appeared to be grinning and laughing as harrowing stories of suffering and misery were recounted in the House of Commons.
The occasion was a debate on the growth and reasons for foodbank use, an opportunity created by a 142,000-strong public petition.
Government-supporting MPs, both Conservative and Liberal Democrat, voted to oppose an inquiry into hunger in the UK, and denied that cuts in welfare were creating hardship.
Writing on her presidential blog, the Rev Ruth Gee, whose Christmas message had been about generosity (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19728), said that "having taken some time to reflect in the wake of the debate about Food Banks, I want to emphasise that generous love is a love that is responsive and active. Jesus challenged those who could not, or would not see the plight of those who were in poverty and those who were stigmatised and excluded."
She continued: "We too must challenge those who will not, or cannot see that the rapidly increasing need of food banks across the UK is scandalous. We must challenge and rebuke those who laugh in the face of people sufering poverty, hunger and injustice.
"The generous love of God requires us to work unceasingly for justice and to challenge policies and social structures which are unjust. The generous love of God is a costly love, a challenging love, a reconciling love and a healing love. Our calling is to repond to the challenge, bear the cost and work for healing and reconciliation.
"I thank God for those who provide the food banks and I long for the time when they will no longer be needed," said the Methodist President.
* Methodist President and Vice President blog: http://methodist-presandvp.blogspot.co.uk/