Seventy-six leaders from across the evangelical Christian spectrum have petitioned President Bush to make antipoverty efforts a priority as he begins his second term.
Their letter, delivered to the White House on Martin Luther King Day, argues that evangelical concerns are not limited to abortion and family issues. Its prime author was Ron Sider of Philadelphia, chairman of Christians for Faith-Based Initiatives and a professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The statement urges Bush to pledge "to make the necessary improvements in the next four years so that all Americans who work full time responsibly will be able to escape poverty and enjoy health insurance."
The Bible, it said, teaches that "God measures societies by how they treat the people at the bottom."
For sure, as people give to help the poor there will be those mascrading as poor seeing opportunities to scam the givers. It's always been this way. The world has always been full of thieves. It always will be. Don't even expect that many people will be grateful for your help and just be itching to turn themselves over to Christ. It doesn't work that way. That not the reason to give anyway. You give to glority God not to be popular among men.
If givers get scammed once in a while so be it. Those who scam will have their rewards. No need to concern ourselves about them. They know who they are. Like you said it is easy to get pessimistic, but givers cannot allow anger to cause them to miss the opportunity to help those in real need.
Giving should not be tied to a rigorous religious conversion attempt. There should be no strings attached or gimmicks. People have grown weary, over the years, of suspected ulterior motives of well meaning organizations and find it hard to trust them. God will determine who comes to Him and who doesn't. We need not worry about that because that's His job.
Just to add, some guidelines that I follow here. There are always people who are just trying to get a free handout. The other day we saw a girl who was "really dressed down" begging in the metro. As my daughter and I were walking in the city later on, we saw the same girl going into the Kentucky Fried Chicken. One day as I was eating in a restaurant (rich gringo that I am) I saw a man in the parking lot washing cars. He only had one leg and he was doing it with crutches. Even though he didn't wash my car I did give him something. Most people can get a job, but they don't want to because they can make more money begging. Paul's words are apt--If any will not work, neither should he eat. Many people come asking for work too. When you offer them some small job, they say, "No, couldn't you just give me some money." No way Jose. People with disabilities are people I help normally. If they can help themselves, they should and not depend on someone else. That goes for anyone in the world. As a side note, our little church here wants to give an offering tomorrow for the Tsunami victims. We know some good missionaries in that area who won't just minister to physical needs but also the hearts of the recipients.
I agree with you also Ron & Don. I can also relate somewhat to what Mike says, having spent time in some third world countries the perception by the locals is often that any white / westerner is rich. Whilst it is good to support other Christians I am also reminded of the 'good Samaritan' who did not stop to ask the victims religious leanings first, he just helped.
I find the way the USA treats its poor to be a little poor (that's a good pun too) but we are probably a little too far the other extreme here but at least we don't have such a huge gulf between the rich and poor and a lot less beggars. I haven't read the book Don refers to but there is another good book on online:
The writer is an American who spends much of his time ministering in third world countries. What he writes in "Jesus on money" is very challenging.
Hey Ron, I also am from Ohio. What part are you from? I'm from a suburb of Cleveland. Anyway, we have much opportunity to help the poor in Mexico. However, it seems that most people just see us as rich americans who should help them instead of really trying to help themselves. We have been taken advantage of many many times. That comes with part of the territory of being a missionary and trying to trust people. It's hard not to become hardened and just write everyone off. We have found that it's best to help those principally who are of the household of faith. It is true that giving handouts doesn't really help anyone. The old saying is true: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
"I've watched this thread over the past few days and I'm little ditressed. Although I'm not the most die-hard poor helping person in the world, I have seen the way that God cares for them. In these comments what I've seen is not that concern that God has, but rather excuses and anger surrounding the ideas of care for the poor."
I couldn't agree with you more, Don. Unfortunately these type of posts ( you can actually feel the resentment for the poor in them) will result when religion and politics are mixed. The only thing that should "steer" christianity is the Word, not political anger and resentment. The adoption of the religous right adgenda ( ie.; Falwell, Robertson, etc.) by the Republicans only polarizes the Church along party lines. This could lead to the downfall of the independant churches in America. If the people start perceiving the church as a political party or institution the gloves WILL certainly come off. Churches will lose their tax exempt status. Along with Republican churches you will see Democrat churches, Libertarian churches and on and on. Thus, destruction begins with politics not unbelief in Christ. Oh, there will still be Christ centered non partisan churches but I am afraid that their voices will drowned out amid the confusion.
I didn't know Sider was in an executive position of the US or any government? He is therefore not responsible for any initiatives, socialistic or otherwise. I wonder whether he would be flattered or embarrassed by the suggestion?
Poverty ? where ? They can pay for many fruitless endeavors with our tax money , but when it comes to using it for something worth while , like feeding or sheltering someone that is truely in need , I bet it makes them break out in a cold sweat . Very sad ,but oh so true .
In Ezekiel, the prophet is speaking to the people of God and he says "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen." Do you see any parallels with our situation?
The prophet here is speaking a warning to the people of God, and this isn't the only one to God's people regarding the poor.
Drafting the poor? That would be an economic injustice even if it would be drafting into an auxilliary military. Imagine yourself as a poor or illegal imigrant when war comes and you may understand the consequences of what you're saying.
Also, Ron Sider is not the kind of person who advocates just 'throwing money' at problems of poverty. In his book "Rich Christians in a World of Hunger" he advocates first a change in the heart, one that would spark deep concern for our fellow poor neighbors, not just guilt. Second, he doesn't call for blind charity. He outlines methods for finding different ministries and operations that not only provide charity to those in need but also offer economic empowerment that help people get out of poverty such as small loans.
I've watched this thread over the past few days and I'm little ditressed. Although I'm not the most die-hard poor helping person in the world, I have seen the way that God cares for them. In these comments what I've seen is not that concern that God has, but rather excuses and anger surrounding the ideas of care for the poor.
My suggestion is, is to draft all the poor and illegal aliens and at least make them part of the military auxiliary. ;-) I'm somewhat suspect that this group that wants Bush to help the poor, really want to help themselves at the pork barrel. :-( tossing money had anything -- except me of course -- rarely helps anything, without attendant change in beliefs and attitudes. Money for work and education is the only thing that can even partially work.
Military intervention is cut from the same cloth as domestic welfarism - solve diplomatic or social problems BY FORCE. Soldiers are being used as armed social workers. Large police forces are another form of this.
33K, yes, the USA is a welfare state - just not as consistent as more scientific countries.
The Bush administration is seeking about $80 billion in new funding for military operations this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, pushing the total for both conflicts to almost $300 billion so far.Administration and congressional officials said the new request, expected to be announced on Tuesday, would come on top of the $25 billion in emergency spending already approved for this fiscal year. That means funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will total nearly $105 billion in fiscal 2005 alone -- a record that shatters initial estimates of the cost.The progress of our nation over the past four years is undisputed.
More Americans are in poverty. Fewer Americans have health insurance. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Fewer Americans have jobs. Middle-class income has fallen. Costs of higher education are rising. More Americans are homeless. Personal bankruptcies have increased. The national debt is the largest it has ever been. Nearly every state government is in debt. Pollution controls protecting our air, land, and water are being dismantled. World opinion and respect of the U.S. has lowered tremendously. Acts of terrorism and victims of terrorism is on the rise. Fear and hatred of the U.S. by the people of the world is on the rise
I haven't read either Chilton or Sider, so let me pose this instead until I can get ahold of them:
Argument: I help the poor already just by holding a job in a welfare state - part of my pay is taken by the gov't and spent on various forms of poor relief. Far more than 10% is extracted from my pay. Ergo, I owe no tithe for the poor, only for church property or staff.
I thought I would jump in here before the right wing fanatics and judaizing reconstructionists do.
My political and economic views are left wing, but I would recommend for a little counter balance to peruse (at least the introduction of) David Chilton's Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators.
Ron Sider is my new hero. He wrote a great book called "Rich Christians in a World of Hunger" that changed the way I look at poverty and also brought more understanding to the scriptures that talk about the poor. The book is an excellent read that is full of hard teaching specifically for many of us Americans.