God Hears the Cry of the Poor

Woe to the legislators of infamous laws,
to those who issue tyrannical decrees,
who refuse justice to the unfortunate
who cheat the poor among my people of their rights,
who make widows their prey
and rob the orphan.
-Isaiah 10:1-2

Recently, a delegation of members of Congress visited a church not far from where I live. Many had never visited the inner city or spoken to a homeless person before. The pastor gave them an afternoon tour of his church's ministries and of other church-based projects in our area.

The legislators were all very impressed, especially with the after-school programs for children, the housing construction for low-income home buyers, and an array of new community-based economic development initiatives in our section of Washington, D.C.

"We are really supportive of all these wonderful efforts," one of them exclaimed after the tour was finished.

"No, I don't think you are," answered the pastor politely. Startled, the politicians asked him what he meant. The inner-city minister told them that they had voted against the very tax credits and other funding that helped make these hopeful community gains possible.

"What we opposed goes to support all this?" they asked incredulously.

"Absolutely," replied the pastor.

"Well, I guess we had better re-examine our policies then," said one of the Republicans.

"Absolutely," said the preacher.

A policy war between political elites is occurring at the top levels of power in Washington, D.C., and the primary casualties will be poor children who live at the bottom of this society. Republicans and Democrats are locked in a bitter political confrontation in which few are really looking for a way out of the impasse regarding what to do about poverty in America.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1996
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