In January of 1964, President Johnson declared "unconditional war on poverty in America." In response, the Census Bureau created a methodology for establishing an "official poverty line," determined the number of people whose incomes fell below the line, and calculated the poverty rate. The formula for determining poverty was based on the assumption that food costs consume one-third of a family's after-tax income -- an assumption that is still used today, though food now constitutes [...]
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So how do we help people who have been hurt so much psychologically and emotionally that they don't believe in themselves and don't believe they deserve better? How do we help children who have never heard a parent say, "I love you, you are special, talented, and will do great things one day"? Or those who watched their parents harm themselves through substance [...]
During this election cycle, we have heard candidates talk about ways in which we can work to end poverty. John Edwards has a new initiative to cut poverty in half in 10 years. These and other initiatives are certainly admirable ideas and much-needed programs that could help millions of men, women, and children.
In additions to programs and needed policy changes from our elected officials, we are also hearing about personal responsibility. And yes, inasmuch as [...]
My great-grandfather was one of the first Christians in a village near Pyongyang. God's grace was poured over his entire family, but they experienced intense persecution because of their faith. As a result, he "escaped" one night with his entire family from what is now known as North [...]
It's clear that one cause of the current food crisis is that poorer countries have been pressured into dismantling their food policies, leaving peasant farmers and eaters alike to bear all the risks of the extremely volatile world market. This has left corporations free to ship factory-farmed food to those countries, peasants free to migrate to urban slums, and corporately-dominated economic [...]
I grew up in a working-class, African-American neighborhood in Detroit. I was fortunate to have two college-educated parents who knew how to set my brother and me up for success in school. They also knew how to navigate the public school system to ensure we got the best education possible. That support helped me gain entry into a competitive college prep public high school. My path to college was clear: 99 percent of the graduates at my high school went on to four-year colleges and [...]
As you were singing carols, placing the last presents under the tree, and worshiping at a Christmas Eve service this past year, Indian Christians halfway across the world were being victimized by the largest attack on the Christian community in India's democratic history. The complex and combustible layers of caste-based oppression and religious persecution came to a head on Dec. 24, 2007, through a spate of violence in the Kandhamal District of Orissa state. During the course of [...]
In the wake of Sen. Obama's proposals on faith-based initiatives, I listened to political pundits characterize this as simply another shift by Obama toward the political "center." All this knee-jerk analysis totally misses the point.
I've followed the development of this idea for years. In September 2000 I was at a breakfast for religious leaders at the White House when President Clinton [...]
As our motorcade approached the Dalit village of Nayagarh, we could see the bright and brilliant image of 500 Dalit women gathered to welcome us, their saris forming a kaleidoscope of color. Cheers and whistles erupted from the crowd of women as we approached. I felt like a presidential candidate as I passed through the crowd, shaking as many hands as I could reach, wanting to make human contact with women whose dignity is so often demeaned and whose worth too often dismissed. These women [...]
In the shadow of India's economic miracle lies a people often deemed untouchable, largely impoverished, and seemingly invisible. Bubbling beneath the shimmering image of a new India is a cauldron of inequality, caste-based subordination, and religious tension that could boil over into even greater civil strife and violence. At the center of these forces lies the Dalit struggle. While Dalit rights are often denied and hopes are crushed, growing political, economic, and spiritual empowerment [...]
Beliefnet invited Jim Wallis to participate in a "blogalogue" with David Klinghoffer, author of How Would God Vote? Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative. Here's Jim's response to David's latest post, "What Are God's Real Politics?"
You asked for specific issues from a [...]
I won't even try to describe all of the maddening details of finding a HUD apartment for a homeless, no-income family that consists of a mother, five kids under the age of nine, and a nurturing father. It suffices to say that after three weeks of slogging through that kind of absurdity and ugliness, I began to understand why the mother, our friend Jaleena, tried to kill herself when her original building got condemned. Even with all that, we barely managed an awful apartment, and by the time [...]
This Training for Change conference was a good experience, one that I did not expect and that challenged me deeply. One of the tools we practiced was learning to tell our personal stories to build relationships with each other. I'm not very good at that, and I have a hard time finding the desire to open up to strangers.
But the more the ideas of "relationships" and "stories" were [...]
I, like most, have multiple tribes of which I consider myself a part. This weekend I ate with, spoke with, worshiped with, learned from, and was amazed by a new tribe of people. There was kinship, and a sense of shared experience, struggle, fear, and hope among this new tribe.
I was glad to hear something in Brian McLaren's session on "scared to talk politics in church?" It wasn't something Brian said but rather something from someone who doesn't look like me, and [...]
Yesterday I was in a class where we were trying to frame up the story of ourselves--not just an idealistic fluffy tale--but one that when you told it, others would understand in their gut why you felt the way you feel and maybe even get a glimpse of the "real" you and move a little bit closer to you as a person. A gentleman shared with me his negative feeling of experiencing that vulnerability. I do believe that most people feel this way...scared to go deeper....scared to really talk about [...]
A few years back 50 Cent starred in the movie "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" about a young drug dealer who leaves his dealing to pursue a career as a rap star. The contrast is stark: utter poverty or incredible wealth. No matter the level of material poverty or wealth, believing that more "toys" is the goal will never overcome widespread poverty.
I ran into an acquaintance here at Pentecost 2008 who reminded me of how this "get rich or die trying" message is ingrained in our psychology at [...]
As I attended Pentecost 2008 I was reminded that Dr. King's Poor People's Campaign is celebrating its 40th anniversary. On Friday, Mary Nelson (Board Member of CCDA) and I facilitated a workshop on "Building the Beloved Community." Building the Beloved Community was one of the central messages of Dr. King's ministry. The Poor People's Campaign of 1968 [...]
Beliefnet invited Jim Wallis for a "blogalogue" with David Klinghoffer, author of How Would God Vote? Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative. Here's Jim's response to David's first post, "Let's Clarify the Politics of the Bible."
Thanks for your post, David. I'm looking forward to this discussion with [...]
I'll be attending Sojourners' Pentecost conference this weekend. Why am I excited? What am I expecting? I'm looking forward to honesty about the challenges we face when we are serious about overcoming poverty.
One of my greatest struggles around large issues like poverty is that I either feel like I'm not informed well enough or that I'm not doing enough. On one hand, I talk in [...]