An Imperative to Overcome Poverty

As churches and faith-based organizations around the country work with people moving from welfare to work, we are becoming acutely aware of needed changes in government policy. On February 1-3, 1999, Call to Renewal’s National Summit on the Churches and Welfare Reform will bring together hundreds of key people from faith-based organizations actively involved in community-level work to make and build on these experience-to-policy connections.

Building toward the National Summit, the Christian Roundtable on Poverty and Welfare Reform convened its third meeting on September 16. Nearly 50 leaders of diverse constituencies joined in an exciting day of information-sharing and consensus-seeking on these critical policy questions.

Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action opened with a presentation on the theological imperative of new policies to lift the bottom 25 percent of our society out of poverty. Analyst John DiIulio discussed the current state of efforts to overcome poverty. He noted that since 1993, it has become respectable in the public debate to assert that poverty no longer exists as a persistent problem. Call to Renewal, he said, is in a uniquely powerful intellectual and moral position to make the case that there is still serious poverty in this country. And, through our links with faith-based anti-poverty organizations, we are able to facilitate a process of developing new policies to overcome poverty.

Building on the poignant observation of one participant that we don’t view all children in our society as our children, DiIulio proposed a simple but profound challenge: Can we make a shared commitment to develop and support a genuine safety net which would ensure that no child in America goes without the basic needs of life--food, shelter, health care? Such a safety net has never before existed in America.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 1998
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