The Common Good

National Poverty Rate Rises for Third Consecutive Year

Source: Sojourners


September 13, 2011


Carrie Adams

(202)745-4654 (office);

Jack Palmer

(202) 745-4625 (office); (202) 460-5328 (cell);

Link to the Census Bureau’s Press Release Here.


Rev. Wallis: Poverty Numbers Should Be Top Religious Issue in 2012 Elections

Census Bureau Releases Update of National Poverty Levels, First Revision Since Recession

Report Shows Significant Increase in Child, Southern Poverty

Washington, DC, September 13, 2011 – The Census Bureau released national poverty numbers this morning, citing that 15.1% of the general population now lives in poverty, compared with 14.3% last year, making 2010 the third consecutive annual rise in poverty. Statistics were from the “the first full calendar year after the December 2007-June 2009 recession,” and conclude that national poverty is at its highest rate since 1993. The rise in the rate of child poverty was the most statistically significant change of any age group, rising to 22.0% in 2010, up from 20.7% in 2009.

Upon the release of the numbers, Rev. Wallis released the following statement:

The results aren't good. After making progress in domestic and childhood poverty in the 1990's we are headed in the wrong direction and the recession made it worse.

So let's talk about the issue of religion and upcoming election. These new poverty numbers should be the number one religious issue for the 2012 presidential election. While there is no religious test for office in this country, if a candidate campaigns on their faith they should be held accountable. Jesus was clear to his followers that his concern was for the poor and the vulnerable. The God of the Bible is a God is justice; and the Bible talks about the poor more than any of the other concerns that the media and some candidates regard as "religious issues."

If a candidate for president claims to follow Jesus, then their concern should be for the poor. If they profess faith in God, they should faithfully observe God's concern for the oppressed. It's up to voters to evaluate how the candidates respond to these numbers and it's up to the media to hold leaders accountable to their professed beliefs. We know what campaign bundlers, special interests, and big business are watching for in this election; and it is not the poor. Regardless of religious identity, Christian candidates, Jewish candidates, Muslim candidates, and Mormon candidates should be watching out for the poor.

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Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit, and

Jim Wallis is the president and CEO of Sojourners, the largest network of progressive Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World, Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.