Yesterday I got the below email from Sojourners with responses from both presidential candidates on how they will address the problem of poverty in America. Given that our current study is “our responsibilities to the poor” it came at a very appropriate time.
I am tempted to make some remarks about the two approaches but will refrain from doing so in this post. Click on any of the indicated spots in the email to see the videos (they are even closed captioned for those of us who are deaf).
What happened today was unprecedented. Christian leaders from across the theological and political spectrum came together to demand that the presidential candidates directly address the issue of poverty.
And because of the faith community’s witness, the candidates responded. Check out whatPresident Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney had to say.
Election seasons often sow deep divisions within our churches. The political pundits focus on the most contentious issues. Super PACs are spending millions of dollars on negative advertising. Sadly, we are often “One Nation, Divided Under God.”
But a new consensus is emerging. Poverty is the common moral concern of Christians in this election season. That is why I stood side by side with leaders from the Catholic Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches, Black and Hispanic churches, and other organizations to ask that the candidates address the economic hardships and hopelessness felt by far too many of our brothers and sisters. The newest poverty numbers came out today, the faith community responded, and, at our request, President Obama and Gov. Romney did too.
Thanks for all you’re doing to keep this conversation going.
Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners
Jesus clearly told us to be our brother’s keeper but somewhere along the way we Christians unapologetically shunned that responsibility. During the first three centuries Christians were very much their brother’s keeper. They often pooled their resources so that those most needy were taken care of. They not only cared for their own there is even documented evidence showing that they took care of those not even Christians. But, of course, this is what Jesus did so they were just following his lead.
The vast majority of Christian congregations today spend about 95% of what they gather on themselves or their organization’s hierarchy leaving little for kingdom of God work particularly in the brother’s keeper area. When that happened the moral goodness, which I believe to be also a gift from God to all humanity, dictated that the kingdoms of the world take over that task. Some do a much better job of it than others. The government of Sudan seems to totally reject the “brother’s keeper” mentality. Many thousands die daily of starvation and political genocide. Whereas, thank the Lord, the government of the United States has generally taken up this task in our absence, at least to a partial degree. Or at least one of our political parties carries that mantle.
Now I’m not saying that Christians do nothing in this area. Indeed some of the best humanitarian agencies in this area are Christian based. But, their total contributions is almost miniscule compared to the need. Having religious institutions take over all the care for the poor is probably now beyond the realm of possibilities so I guess we must depend on our governments to do that for us. They are instituted by God so I suppose you could say it is now their duty. To even suggest as some do that since we Christians won’t do it our governments should stay out of it also is a total affront to the teachings of Jesus. It is indeed a sad day that many Evangelical Christians seem to be saying that very thing today. Shame on us for shunning this compassionate responsibility!