Why I Hate the Middle Class But Love Working Americans

Statue of Liberty illustration, Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

Statue of Liberty illustration, Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

“Middle class” is the chemical weapon of political warfare. We know applying the “middle class” label broadly works and can help us win in the short term. But those victories come at a cost to who we are … and tend to result in long-term (and not insignificant) casualties for those we are supposedly fighting to defend.

Republicans are the Party of the Rich. Democrats now fashion themselves the Party of the “Middle Class.” Can anyone think of a group left with no champion? Here’s a hint:  20 percent of Americans with a full-time job are getting paid so little that--even with both parents working full time—their family of four is still living in poverty. But when’s the last time you heard a Democratic politician even mention the word “poor?"

David Barton: You’re Poor Because You Don’t Read the Bible

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Janet Parshall and David Barton (right) interview Sen. Rick Santorum. Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Those who wish the see the wall of separation between church and state burned down have a rather colorful – if not exactly truthful – spokesperson on their side these days. Evangelical preacher, founder of “WallBuilders Live” and perennial headline grabber David Barton is known for his “out there” claims, but his most recent is a keeper.

Barton is fairly well known for his argument that the notion of separation of church and state is a myth. He, like many fellow conservative Christians, believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, and that our founding father intended for this to be a country governed by Christian values, if not specifically Christian leaders.

This, by itself, is not particularly outrageous, at least in the sense that his views are not unique to him. But one of the foundational claims he makes to support his advocacy for Christian nation status is his claim that the Constitution of the United States quotes directly from the Bible.

Come again?

Illinois Bill Allows for Free Hospital Care for State's Poorest

CBS reported yesterday:

Illinois hospitals would be required to provide free surgeries and other inpatient care to many uninsured poor people under a bill the Legislature passed Tuesday, a mandate already on the books in eight other states.

The Illinois Hospital Association supported the bill. Spokesman Danny Chun said patients affected already are being cared for in hospitals.
"Many hospitals are now voluntarily providing charity care that would meet the requirements of this proposed legislation," Chun said. "However, there are some hospitals, which would have to do more charity care."
Read the full story here

Tackling Hunger a Moral, Security, Economic Imperative

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This weekend, amid key discussions on the future of Afghanistan and media attention on the strained relationship between the United States and Pakistan, members of the Group of Eight (G8) announced its commitment to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which will seek to “lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.”

In a speech given at the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security last Friday (May 18), President Barack Obama laid out his vision for what the Alliance could achieve, in co-operation with the private and non-profit sectors, in terms of seeing global hunger eradicated in the next decade.

And we are not going to let him forget this moral duty.

Poverty 101: A Poem

"Bogota Boy." Photo by David Feltkamp/Wylio.

"Bogota Boy." Photo by David Feltkamp/Wylio.

A note from the poet: Two years ago, our church opened its doors and began serving meals to our community. The immense and overwhelming feelings I felt scared me and so I penned them in this poem. Working with the poor among us has been eye-opening and has really pushed me to re-evaluate my thinking and life, for which I am immensely grateful.

~ The Rev. Dr. Martha FrizLanger

Can Rich Folks Go to Heaven?

(Camel photo by Tatiana Belova /Shutterstock.com)

(Camel photo by Tatiana Belova /Shutterstock.com)

That whole camel through the eye of the needle thing: What is that about?

And, yes, the eye of the needle means exactly what you’re thinking. Not some gate in Jerusalem. Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle that you used to stitch that Noah’s Ark for your child’s bedroom — than for a rich guy to get to heaven.

Let. That. Sink. In.

Unless some freakishly unexplainable phenomenon occurs where camels all of the sudden start popping out of needles (imagine the Discovery Channel documentary on that one), I have to conclude that no rich person will be in heaven.

Except that’s not the end of the story…

I Continue to Fail “The Poor”

By Geoff Wong (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

By Geoff Wong (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

I’d like to think I’m pretty consistent in my advocacy for the poor. I have worked with numerous poverty-related nonprofits over the years, preached about it and worked on it in church, written about it, and so on. But in general, all of that remains at a large “macro” level. It is a nameless, faceless group known broadly as “the poor,” or worse, it simply becomes an issue.

Sometimes making it more real than that is emotionally overwhelming, if not paralyzing. When I worked in Fort Worth at an AIDS housing facility, seeing the multiple challenges first-hand that some of our residents faced was heartbreaking. In some cases it seemed they had little, if anything, on which to hang a shred of hope. At the Pueblo nonprofit I work with now, we have to turn away more than one thousand people a month when we run out of emergency assistance.

The Gospel According to Charles Dickens: Lifting Up the Lowly

Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Photo by Tim King.

Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Photo by Tim King.

Scrooge calls Christmas a “humbug.”

When his nephew tries to convince him otherwise, Scrooge responds:

“Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

The nephew retorts:

“What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

The nephew concludes with this famous line about the holiday:

“Therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say God bless it!”

The Immigrant Days of Christmas

The Holy Family by Margret Hofheinz-Döring via http://bit.ly/rK5376

The Holy Family by Margret Hofheinz-Döring via http://bit.ly/rK5376

I noticed this Christmas season, for the first time, that not only were Mary and Joseph forced to migrate under Rome’s census; not only was the Incarnate God born into a humiliating space — but, as they fled to Egypt, they never registered in Bethlehem with the census. A dream, an angel, told the migrant father to gather his family and run from the authorities. Unaccounted for in the empire, baby Jesus’ first movement in this world was a government-evading trek through the desert by night.

I think about this as, right now, my friend Estuardo is probably crouching in the dark somewhere in the desert along the Mexican border. At the same time my wife and I hang electric Christmas lights on our tree, get out our nativity sets, and read familiar illustrated books about the stars in the sky above the shepherds. Estuardo has told me, from previous voyages across the border by night, how clear the stars are when hiding from the border patrol lights.