Wanted: 1,000 Pastors For the Poor

By Jim Wallis 06-16-2011

We are looking for 1,000 pastors to debunk a myth based on the political assertion that government doesn't have any responsibility to poor people. The myth is that churches and charities alone could take care of the problems of poverty -- especially if we slashed people's taxes. Both this assertion and myth contradict the biblical imperative to hold societies and rulers responsible for how they treat the poor, and ignore the Christian tradition of holding governments accountable to those in need. Faith-based organizations and government have had effective and healthy partnerships, and ultimately, the assertion and myth have more to do with libertarian political ideology, than good theology.

This is why six pastors recently launched an "Open Letter from 1,000 Pastors" to let our political leaders know this isn't true. (Pastors can click here to join them.) These pastors believe that churches must provide strong leadership in responding to poverty, and they are doing so, but the government also has responsibilities -- vital ones. The letter reads:

"We are local pastors. Our lives are committed to our churches and communities ... We work, pray, and do whatever we can to remain faithful to the responsibility of every Christian to help the poor. Still, we can't meet the crushing needs by ourselves. We do our best to feed the hungry, but charitable nutrition programs only make up 6% of total feeding programs in the country while the government makes up 94%."

"We have seen this support allow young people to be the first members of their families to get college degrees, ensure mothers can feed their children a healthy diet, enable those with disabilities to live fulfilling lives, give much-needed medical care to those who can't afford it, support seniors, provide housing for families, and help people in finding a job."

 

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