Poverty

British Churches Push for a Fair Economy

Get Fair, a United Kingdom-based coalition of religious and secular groups that launched in September, seeks to pressure politicians to end poverty in the U.K. by 2020. The alliance of more than 50 charities and faith-based institutions—including Oxfam, Islamic Aid, Iona Community, Caritas Social Action, and the Baptist Union of Great Britain, plus several denominations—cites survey data as evidence that politicians must do more to dramatically reduce domestic poverty.

According to a Get Fair poll conducted in August, “51 percent of [Britons]—evenly spread across gender, age group, social class, and region—say they would be more inclined to vote for a party that takes ‘serious measures’ to eradicate poverty.” Additionally, the data show that one in five Britons live in poverty.

“The U.K. is becoming richer but not fairer,” Get Fair’s Vanessa Stanislas said in a press release. “This poll suggests that they will reward the political party which has the confidence to tackle poverty.” While the organization draws ideas from previous anti-poverty movements, “Get Fair’s distinctiveness is in its breadth and overall political ambition,” Get Fair’s Niall Cooper told Sojourners. “Most other coalitions and umbrella groups in the U.K. focus on specific target groups, such as child poverty. In contrast, Get Fair is seeking to build a much broader coalition to mobilize opinion within civil society and the general public.” Cooper also noted that the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services is launching a similar anti-poverty campaign called “Made Poor in New Zealand?”

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine December 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Who is Worthy?

In her article “Changing Our Minds” (September-October 2008), Frances Moore Lappé suggests that the real barriers to an egalitarian society are the assumptions we have about poverty and its causes. Lappé is correct to say that our perceptions of poverty are all wrong. Conspicuously absent from her article is the term “welfare.” The U.S. welfare state has generally expanded and contracted as a countercyclical response to the economy. As Lappé points out, social policy succeeded in dramatically reducing poverty from the 1950s to the ’70s.

But our welfare state has always made a distinction between the “worthy” (working) poor and the “unworthy” (able-bodied and non-working) poor. A critical myth she did not mention concerns the image of the “unworthy” poor. In order to bust this myth, the non-poor in this country need to come to terms with the barriers that have given them unequal access to the opportunity structure. Fighting poverty must begin with our mistaken ideas about us as the “worthy.”

Ben Roth, Chicago, Illinois

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine December 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe