The Common Good

As poverty remains stagnant, churches call for greater advocacy

Date: September 12, 2012

The plight of Americans living in poverty has not improved during the last year, according to newly released Census data, and Christian leaders said Wednesday (Sept. 12) that poverty must become a priority for Christians if it is not a priority for Washington.

“Across the political and theological spectrum, the faith community is putting aside differences and taking up the biblical vocation of protecting the poor and bringing their stories and struggles to light,” said Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, a progressive Christian group based in Washington.

According to U.S. Census data released Wednesday, in 2011 median household income declined and the poverty rate remained mostly unchanged from 2010, at 15 percent. The federal government defines poverty as annual income of $23,021 for a family of four.

Wallis said the new data indicate that the "Circle of Protection" around the poor that he and other Christian leaders launched last year remains necessary. Advocates asked both President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to state on camera how they plan to tackle poverty.