At a forum broadcast live on CNN last spring, Sojourners editor-in-chief Jim Wallis asked then-Sen. Barack Obama if he would commit to the goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years. Sen. Obama responded, “I absolutely will make that commitment. Understand that when I make that commitment, I do so with great humility because it is a very ambitious goal. And we’re going to have to mobilize our society not just to cut poverty, but to prevent more people from slipping into poverty.”
Too often, poverty becomes just a post-election afterthought, but President Obama’s answer provides an unprecedented political opening—one that requires even greater leadership from the faith community.
Now the threat facing low-income families has become even more acute, with the economic crisis devastating many families across America. Our new president must pay attention not only to the current struggles of the middle class, but also to the nearly 37 million people who were already below the poverty line and struggling to make ends meet before the recession started. Increasing hunger represents just one warning sign of the troubles to come: The number of people on food stamps went up by 2.6 million from August 2007 to August 2008.
From April 26 to 29, Sojourners is convening a gathering of thousands of people of faith in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate our support for the goal Obama articulated and to hold the new Congress and administration accountable to that vision. The Mobilization to End Poverty, aided by sponsors including World Vision, The ONE Campaign, Oxfam, and others, has the potential to be a historic moment in the fight against poverty at home and around the world.