Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis is the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, and Co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Liz is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans , 2017). She is co-author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing (Beacon), 2018). Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Posts By This Author

Food Lines in The ‘Land of Plenty’

by Liz Theoharis 01-26-2021
A biblical look at the crisis of poverty today.
Aerial view of cars waiting in a food line in a parking lot in Texas.

Vehicles lined up in a stadium parking lot for a San Antonio Food Bank mega-distribution. Photograph by Tamir Kalif / The New York Times / Redux Pictures

SINCE I BEGAN to help organize a movement to end poverty, people have said to me that our goals are too ambitious—that demands for human rights and human dignity are both politically inconceivable and impossibly expensive. They quote the Bible, arguing that since Jesus said, “the poor will be with you always,” it can’t be God’s will for everyone to share in the abundance of our world.
 
But when I read the Bible, including and especially Jesus’ statement above, what I see from Genesis on through the New Testament is a constant revelation of God’s will that no one should be made hungry, sick, homeless, underpaid, indebted, or bereft by the violence of social injustice. I read an ongoing indictment of those who would take and keep the wealth of our world for themselves and cause others to suffer. I hear the biblical command to “fill the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53), not simply as “caring for the poor” as an end result but by advocating for policies and structures that lift the load of poverty—admonishing nations to “do no wrong to the immigrant, the homeless, the children. And do not shed innocent blood” (Jeremiah 22:3).
 

Biblical roots of justice

The founding story in the Bible tells of a diverse group of freedom fighters who have been on the march since the burdens of Egyptian slavery and scarcity got to be too much, since leaders like Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and many others—named and unnamed—came forward to say, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” And God sent plagues and pandemics that only hardened the heart of the ruling authorities, who doubled down on misery, dispossession, and militarization.

America's Wannabe Caesar

Trump’s daily press briefings resemble the kind of public idolatry that ancient Caesars engaged in.

In this Kairos Time, Will We Embody Church?

The church is called to meet Jesus in the streets with the homeless — for in a time when people are called to shelter in place they have no place to go. The church must also meet Jesus in places like Flint, Mich. where poor people who are already suffering from respiratory conditions related to contaminated water are amongst those at highest risk.

Plagues Expose the Foundations of Injustice

by Liz Theoharis 03-18-2020

Ditlev Blunck. "The Vision of the Prophet Ezekiel." Via Wikimedia Commons

Before a plague, God always sends prophets, often sick and impoverished themselves, to tell the powerful to reject wickedness. 

Fifty Years After the Poor People’s Campaign, Another Call for Moral Revival

by Liz Theoharis 07-31-2017

Image via Jana Shea/Shutterstock.com

Just like poverty stunted the lives of the people of Jesus’ day, poverty hampers, circumscribes the lives of millions of God’s children in our day. 1 in 2 people living in the United States are poor or low-income; 43 percent of US children live in families that struggle to feed, clothe, and house them. There are 28 million people without health care, 65 million workers who get paid too little to sustain themselves and their families, and a record 14 million (1 in 9) U.S. homes are vacant. 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year and 39 percent of them are children.