The Common Good

The G8 and global poverty: God is acting

Sojomail - June 30, 2005


God is Acting: SojoMail Special Issue on the G8 and Global Poverty 06.30.2005 www.sojo.net

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HEARTS & MINDS ^top

The G8 and global poverty: God is acting
by Jim Wallis

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For the first time the world has the knowledge, information, technology, and resources to end extreme poverty as we know it, but what is still lacking is the moral and political will to do so. We believe that generating such moral will is the vocation of the religious community. And today, we believe that God is acting on the issue of poverty.

First, God is acting among us as religious leaders and faith communities, drawing us together as never before across theological and political boundaries in a moral, spiritual, and biblical convergence. Three weeks ago, many of us joined an amazing procession of religious leaders from almost every major faith tradition in America in a service at the Washington National Cathedral. Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, South Africa, noted the moral convergence of such a wide spectrum of American religious life and pronounced this a "kairos" moment - when regular time ("kronos") gives way to a spirit-filled moment in history and a new sense of time takes over.

God is acting in our culture. Artists and musicians are playing a critical role and a new generation of young people are committing themselves to this cause.

God is acting through new leadership in Africa where democracies are taking responsibility and acting in new ways to end corruption and create more transparent governance that makes effective aid more possible.

God is acting through the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations - the G8. We are here at an historic moment of great opportunity, and the world needs a real breakthrough. The recent agreement to cancel $40 billion in debt for the world's 18 poorest nations is a very important step. We urge our leaders to finish the job by canceling all the debt for all impoverished nations.

We are pleased that wealthy countries in Europe and the U.S. are giving more in aid, and we urge them to increase it further. It is not a time for pilot projects or symbolic gestures. It is time for real substance - and many countries are now doubling aid. We urge the U.S. to provide an additional 1% of its budget - $25 billion over the next five years. It is a small price to pay for what is at stake - our security, our humanity, our faith. We call on the U.S. government to announce a new and dramatic increase in aid to Africa, and we urge President Bush to use his leadership with Congress to secure as much as $2 billion in the fiscal 2006 budget. If we do, it will be the best and most effective money we will spend this year.

At heart, I am a 19th-century evangelical; I was just born in the wrong century. The evangelical Christians of the 19th century combined revivalism with social reform and helped lead campaigns for women's suffrage and child labor laws, and to abolish slavery. One of the most famous revivalists, Charles Finney, developed the idea of the "altar call" in order to make sure he signed up all of his converts for the abolition movement. Today, poverty is the new slavery - imprisoning bodies, minds, and souls, destroying hope and ending the future for a generation.

God is acting, and the new altar call in our time is a call for faith, then a commitment - to Make Poverty History.

I urge you to respond to this altar call by signing a letter to President Bush organized by the ONE Campaign, asking him to lead in making poverty history. We are sponsoring this campaign along with an amazing group of individuals and organizations, including Bread for the World, Bono, Rick Warren, and many others. This is one of the most important things we have asked you to do. President Bush and our nation need to hear from as many people as possible.


Religious delegation in London

A delegation of American religious leaders organized by Sojourners traveled to London this week to meet with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, and participate in a religious forum on poverty with British church leaders hosted by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. SojoMail will have a full report next week.

Read news coverage about this effort:

A priority for U.S. churches: Africa's poor
+ Christian Science Monitor

Churches join to urge aid to Africa
+ Los Angeles Times

Religious leaders push for Africa aid
+ The Washington Times

Senior U.S. church leaders to meet U.K. archbishop and chancellor
+ Ekklesia

The ONE Campaign

www.one.org

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Brad Pitt signed. Nelson Mandela signed. So did Pat Robertson.

Join them in telling President Bush to take a stand against poverty at the G8 Summit on July 6. Help us reach 1 million supporters committed to fighting extreme poverty and global AIDS.

Click here.


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