By: Mitch Randall
While the U.S. stock market continues to soar upward, the down-and-out struggle more than ever before. Christians must advocate for a society that does not forget the poor and does not let the wealth gap widen.
For those of us with an abundance, it's easy to give away clothing we don't want to those in need. Instead of such thoughtless giving, we should seek to build genuine relationships.
Unless citizens express their opposition, we will soon see the toll on the poor of across-the-board spending cuts and at least 14 states opting out of Medicaid expansion.
The Odyssey, an ancient Greek epic poem, is the tale of one man's frustrated attempt to return home. Today in Greece, many Albanians endure their own personal odysseys.
The United States is a nation of plenty, yet some of our neighbors live with so little when we have so much. Why are the poor in our own back yards so invisible to us?
A pope's name has strong symbolic significance. For Cardinal Bergoglio, choosing the name Pope Francis reflects a vow of care for human beings and the environment.
Politicians and the media in Great Britain have misused statistics that reinforce myths that blame the poor for being in poverty, a new report says. The poor deserve the truth.
The Carnival cruise debacle ended on a generally happy note for all concerned, but don't miss the irony of the wealthy living for a few days in Third World-like conditions.
How can pastors address the U.S. national deficit and fiscal policy without resorting to partisan labeling? Scripture reminds us that moral leaders care for the vulnerable.
During Christmas, much emphasis is placed on acts of kindness, including giving to the poor. But we need a system of social justice that operates all year long, not just at Christmas.
Some eccentric people may seem to wander aimlessly, but they are actually on a purposeful path. And that eccentricity is good if they're making the world a more human place to live.
Debts need to be canceled when they are out of control, and measures put in place to stop future debt crises. It's biblical and has been done before. Will you join the call for justice?
Refugees sneak into Morocco on their way to what they hope is a better life in Europe, but they're not welcome and their lives are endangered. Is the church willing to help?
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama talk a lot about helping the middle class, but both of these men of faith are silent when it comes to plans to help the poor and disenfranchised.
True freedom is more than showing our patriotism. It involves establishing a society based on equal rights for all, economic justice, compassion and charity.
Eating less can substantially reduce global hunger, not to mention improve the health of those of us in the U.S., where obesity has become a national epidemic.
As Lebanon's poor and marginalized are endangered by a fractured social safety net, will churches step up to be true advocates for those most at risk?
By the time they're in fourth grade, 70 percent of low-income children can't read at a basic level. Sometimes, it only takes one person to inspire a child to read.
A coalition of Christian groups is launching a campaign to highlight global poverty and corruption, which keeps more than 850 million of the poorest of the poor undernourished.
To focus on the daily existence of the marginalized – as mundane as crossing a river with a bundle of banana leaves – is to critically analyze the good and bad that shapes and forms the daily life of the poor.
We often yearn for the way things used to be, but those days never existed. As one teacher reminded, the world always changes and is always the same. What matters is how we respond.
When churches provide aid to the needy, are they unwittingly helping governments abdicate their duty to poor citizens? Perhaps more churches ought to be crying out for justice for the poor.
We enjoy our middle- and upper-class lifestyles because of the poor. Yet we seldom consider the connection between our privilege and their economic disenfranchisement.
The myth that the poor get what they deserve has been around since Jesus' day. While too many Christians accept the myth, one group is taking steps to help poor women.
As we near the Fourth of July, how do Christians celebrate their true independence day? It begins by working for God's will on Earth, which means a place of shared abundance.
Whether it's Protestant Reformer John Calvin or Catholic social teaching, we are reminded that Christianity teaches us to care for the poor. Will we listen?
Disappointed you didn't win a Mega Millions windfall? Join the club. State lotteries have failed to deliver on repeated assurances that they would be a windfall for public schools.
In a dirt-floor hut in a Mexican village, a poor woman's simple action taught students and their professor more about divinity than all of their textbooks could.
Something innate in the human spirit drives us to reach beyond our boundaries. John Glenn broke one of those boundaries 50 years ago when he orbited the Earth.
Political conservatives and Catholic leaders criticized Mitt Romney's statement of disinterest in the well-being of America's poor, but few Christian conservatives voiced concern.
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama connected his faith with his policies toward the poor at the National Prayer Breakfast.
A coalition of community and faith groups is supporting an initiative petition to be placed on Missouri's November ballot to cap the rate of predatory lending at 36 percent.
Odds are Paola, an immigrant first-grade student, will suffer from poor nutrition, inadequate health care, an inferior education. But she teaches all of us to love our neighbors.
The micro-credit industry was once seen as the magic formula to end poverty. However, we now see that microfinancing isn't helping the poor out of poverty.
Even though past generations of Hispanics bought into the American Dream, the economic structures have been – and continue to be – constructed to maintain their disenfranchisement.
BALTIMORE (RNS) Twenty-five years ago, Catholic bishops issued a statement that became the touchstone for religious opposition to “trickle down” economics.
The Poor People's Campaign of 1968 has largely been forgotten. Yet as the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to widen, the need for a push for economic justice is greater than ever.
We now have 7 billion people on our planet. And as that number grows, we'll see increased struggles for dwindling resources, such as food, water and oil. How will we respond?
WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious communities are holding prayer vigils, phoning politicians and organizing letter campaigns in a bid to protect safety net programs.
Our current economic system transfers wealth from the bottom of society to the top, creating a growing income disparity between the rich and poor, many of whom are disproportionately people of color.
WASHINGTON (RNS) A city court dropped charges against a group of religious and civic leaders who were arrested during a prayer vigil for the poor.
The Circle of Protection says budget cuts shouldn't be made on the poor's backs. Christians for a Sustainable Economy says our focus should be on the economy. Which one reflects the authentic Christian message?
While attitudes change toward corporal punishment in the U.S., politicians who push for cuts in programs that benefit poor children practice another form of corporal punishment.
While budget-panicked governments in the U.S. and Europe take out their fears on the urban poor and lower-middle class with cutbacks to services, the super rich get away with tax evasion on a huge scale.
For nearly 40 years, Wayne Flynt has confronted the racism and accompanying poverty in Alabama with a courageous and informed passion. Yet he remains an unassuming and soulful individual.
Countering the voice of the anti-tax, anti-government crowd, those who believe government has a role in providing society's safety net think it is essential to give a hand to those whom society counts least.
Scripture is clear that greed is not only sin because we put wealth and possessions in place of God, but also – and perhaps an even greater sin – because it prevents us from sharing with others in need.
The economy continues to decline. Financial benefits shift to the wealthy. Charitable dollars continue to plummet. And those suffering the most will be the ones about whom Jesus was most concerned.
In the debt-ceiling debate, President Obama caved in to those who demanded drastic cuts to programs to help the needy, children and elderly. He needs to believe in social justice enough to fight for it.
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama agrees with religious officials’ concerns about protecting the poor, according to leaders who met with him this week.
What's the Christian response to the national debt? How do the debt and our weak economy affect the poor? Participants viewing the EthicsDaily.com documentary on faith and taxes wrestled with these questions.
Speaker of the House John Boehner's political actions are at odds with the Catholic Church's moral teaching, says an open letter to Boehner, a Catholic, and penned by a prominent group of Catholic academics.
(RNS) Christian leaders have formed a “Circle of Protection” against U.S. cuts to poverty-fighting programs.
About 16 million children in the United States live in poverty – an increase of 2 million in the last two years and "the fastest fall for the middle class since the government started counting 51 years ago," a news report said.
God has a bias toward the poor. With the cards of social resources stacked against the weak and the vulnerable, God tries to balance the scales by being on the side of the most vulnerable – the biblical widow and orphan.
Is it appropriate for people of faith to enter the political process and advocate for the poor? Jesus' entire ministry challenged the empire represented by the religious-political powers.
(RNS) Balancing the federal budget at the expense of the poor would be un-Christian, evangelical leaders warned Congress.
The current conservative resurgence of anti-government spending is focused on monies that are intended for the poorest and most vulnerable of our society. Is this what Jesus would cut?
The story of the widow's mite is generally idealized as an example of Christian behavior for the poor. Instead, Jesus is denouncing a religious social structure that cons the widow out of what little she has.
As long as their own dividends kept flowing in regularly, thousands of stockholders couldn't care less what the banks had been doing with their money. It's further proof that the rich live on the backs of the poor.
With its message about the wealth disparity in the early church, James is just as relevant today, with politicians ready to extend income tax reductions for the rich.
President Obama and Republicans in Congress appear willing to continue the national pastime of pandering to the wealthy at the expense of the needy. Their deal should offend anyone who cares about justice.
The biblical testimony has a clear word in favor of the poor. But too many people of faith negotiate away the biblical imperative to protect the poor in favor of the materialistic imperative to protect the rich.
Some believe the needs of the poor are draining away our meager resources and that people are poor because of bad choices or sinful lives. So why does Jesus tell us that the poor are blessed?
Why didn’t the rich man stop and help Lazarus? It’s not like he didn’t see him. Everyday, he sat at the rich man’s gate hoping he would receive just the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Why didn’t he at least give him something to eat and drink?
While many well-meaning influential people are spending time and resources to determine the best ways to help the world's poorest people, they're leaving someone out of the dialogue. The poor.
If we take Jesus' words and actions seriously, it's clear he championed the cause of the poor. While most of us aren't wealthy by U.S. standards, we are rich by global standards. That makes us complicit to the inequity.
Some 4,000 Baptists studied two verses in Luke 4 during the Baptist World Congress in Honolulu. Will the seeming insignificance of a few leaders in Bible study bring significant change for millions of others?
Christians, in their freedom from self-preoccupation and from the law, are to work for the common good of the whole human family. Now that our nation is no longer flush with cash, will we choose to sacrifice those most in need?
Lepers. Orphans. HIV patients. Prisoners. The elderly. Marginalized youth. They are among the poorest of the poor in India. And Leena Lavanya forges her own path to minister to all of them.
Unable or unwilling to create a fair and just tax system to provide for public services like education and health care, states have embraced the lottery as an alternative source of revenue. But it's a form of public tax evasion.
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man.
The world measures individual worth in dollars, and many of us buy into that lie. As a result, many of the poor lack self-confidence, self-esteem and initiative. And many who help them may be condescending or patronizing.
Nearly 20 percent of the U.S.'s largest churches preach some form of the prosperity gospel. Its enticing message thrives among those with lower incomes. But what is the purest form of prosperity?
What does it mean to do justice? Ask a nonprofit group like Alabama Arise. Its annual list of issues affecting the state's poor, coupled with strategies to address them, is a reflection on how to do justice.
Back in 2007, Barack Obama proclaimed Reinhold Niebuhr as one of his "favorite philosophers." But what the president took away from Niebuhr puts him at odds with the world's poor and oppressed.
Taxes often hit working families with low and middle incomes the hardest. And with Arkansas' unbalanced tax system, it's time for that state's citizens to fight for a fair and responsible tax system.
When Jesus looks at the earth at the time of year when many of us celebrate his birth, is he dismayed by the materialism and self-righteousness he sees? Maybe his thoughts would be something like this.
Many people of faith are acutely aware of God's stance toward the poor. However, our expressions of charity alone will not suffice. We must change the very structures that overtax the poor.
Grills will smoke and fireworks will pop as Americans celebrate Independence Day this weekend. Ten years ago, a poor family from Mexico celebrated a different kind of independence day.
In some Christian circles, there's a lot of talk about the "others" – a seemingly nice term for anyone different, from another country or a low socio-economic level or not from a middle- to upper-class Anglo background.
Our nation's divorce rate shows it's not easy for married people to stay in love. But what about those outside our immediate circle of love and care? It's easy to divorce ourselves from society's less fortunate when times were good.
The message from the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was clear: The poorest everywhere are the ones most at risk to the impacts of climate change. Will Christians be part of the solution?
Like the hired hands of Jesus' day who ran for safety instead of protecting the sheep from wolves, many politicians lack the courage to protect the growing number of people who are suffering.
Macarena and Eddie Aldape hold medical camps twice a month across northern India, helping people whose socio-economic status limits their access to healthcare, education and jobs with decent wages.
Environmental organizations, such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, are reaching out to churches and faith-based organizations for partnerships on issues of environmental stewardship.
The Missouri House has cut funding for social and mental health services. While all major faith traditions have a concern for the poor and vulnerable, we can't do it alone. We need the government to provide essential services.
So long as we persist in holding on to the idea that government is some sort of alien power, is in fact our adversary, we will live as a nation divided against itself.
Jan Chapman asks, "I'm wondering today if it's possible to develop a muscle memory for our compassion response."
The Mohawk haircut on the shepherd gave it away. This wasn�t going to be a typical Christmas nativity depiction.
Shallow roots will not yield authentic community with poor and suffering people. I can only offer what I have first received. The watching world needs to see deeply rooted faith.
I recently wrote a column suggesting that as Christians we could do a better job finding ways to collectively provide assistance to the least of these among us. The responses were swift and angry. I was accused of distorting the Bible in order to advance a liberal socialist agenda. I thought I was just quoting Jesus.
We recant our faith in practice when we fail to love our neighbors and our enemies, when we neglect the poor and oppressed, and when we use abusive power against others.
How can it be possible that so many people who claim allegiance to Jesus can be so complacent about the plight of the poor? How can they ignore what Jesus said about loving our neighbor?
Many of us who seek to minister to "the least of these" do so by giving our time, talents and funds. Sometimes we work in or donate to soup kitchens, clothes closets or other charitable ministries. Seldom do we realize that our compassionate response may be undermining the road to recovery for an individual or a community in need of redevelopment.
While Baptist World Aid observes World Hunger Month during October, the world's hunger crisis is a daily disaster. This year's awareness campaign seeks to drive home that point with the worldwide Baptist community under the theme, "Hunger Crisis: A Daily Disaster."
Payday lenders are like McDonald's and dry cleaners--good businesses that want good locations to provide ready accessibility to customers who need good financial services. Payday lenders offer a popular product in economically tough times for which customers express overwhelming satisfaction. Only a few complain, according to a payday lending spokesperson.
Surging food prices could push 100 million deeper into poverty, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Sunday at the close of the International Money Fund-World Bank spring meetings in Washington.
A British Bible society is launching the first-ever study Bible highlighting more than 2,000 verses that emphasize God's concern about injustice and the poor.
The expression, "there at the beginning," took on special meaning for me this past week. I was witness to the birth of a new movement in Alabama, a movement which has the potential to redefine the way faith communities confront social concerns in our state. The movement has a name: the Alabama Faith Council.
Do a Google search for the words "Baptists" and "payday." You will be surprised by what you find and disappointed by what is missing. You will find abundant references to the Baptist preacher R. G. Lee, who preached over 1,200 times the same sermon--"Payday Someday." You will find little evidence that Baptists care enough about predatory lenders to take reformatory initiatives.
The predatory practice of payday lenders flourishes in the Bible Belt, the very place where one would think that the piety and morality of church goers would oppose such ventures that charge the poor exorbitant interest rates exceeding those of "the old mafia loan sharking syndicates." That is not the case, according to a new study that maps the correlation of payday lenders and conservative Christians.
Last week the International Rescue Committee released its latest mortality survey for the Democratic Republic of Congo. They do a survey every 2-3 years; the methodology is as sound as it can be given the circumstances, and these surveys are widely acknowledged as the best estimate of how many people have died as a result of Congo's wars.
The great modern-day theologian--Steven Colbert of the popular Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report"--recently began accepting applications for the position of his very own "black friend."
The power of our communities lies in the ideals of our common humanity. To continue to live in separate villages whose cohesiveness is ephemeral at best, or in gated communities of homogeneity, will only enhance everyone's poverty.
A faculty member at Baptist-related McAfee School of Theology appears in a new television ad critical of Wal-Mart.
EthicsDaily.com recently carried a Religion News Service story about a new church movement called the "Advent Conspiracy."
The Old Testament story of Jonah is more than a fairy tale about a man being swallowed by a whale, and even more than an evangelical call to preach the gospel to those in foreign lands, but instead a model for reconciliation between the haves and the have-nots, says a new book.
Two weeks after President Bush vetoed a children's health insurance bill claiming he wants to put poor children first, the White House is threatening to veto legislation to boost funding for a program that helps low-income families pay their heating bills.
In September 2006, I was asked to lead a Bible study on children and poverty for the all-staff gathering of National Ministries (American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.) The purpose of the study was to help staff explore the biblical mandates related to the Children in Poverty Initiative, which was adopted in 2005 as denomination-wide issue of concern.