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White evangelical voters: poverty no. 1 moral issue

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The Great AwakeningI had always been a skeptic of the church of personal peace and prosperity … of righteous people standing in a holy huddle while the world rages outside the stained glass. But I’ve learned that there are many people of the cloth who are also in the world, and from debt cancellation to the fight against AIDS and for human rights, they are on the march. – Bono

Change is indeed in the air. As voters head to the polls (I write this on Super Tuesday, 2-5-08, in the USA), the main moral issue on the minds of white evangelicals is now poverty! That homecoming is nothing short of astonishing.

clipped from blog.beliefnet.com
[New York Times] columnist Nicholas Kristof quotes The Great Awakening, where Jim Wallis says, “Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty.” Kristof then adds that, according to a CBS News poll, this year white evangelicals consider the fight against poverty to be the top moral issue, displacing abortion to a distant second.
Kristoff quotes CARE’s Helene Gayle about evangelicals’ work against global poverty: they “have made some incredible contributions … We don’t give them credit for the changes they’ve made.” Similarly, Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp said, “Many evangelical leaders have been key to taking the climate issue across the cultural divide.”
Kristof concludes, “In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves, you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians.”
  blog it
More of Rick Warren’s story:

I could see this shift in action a few weeks ago in Davos at the World Economic Forum. I got to see Rick Warren in action, motivating business and political leaders to put poverty, disease, and peace-making higher on their agenda. Kristof tells a story about Warren, who for many years didn’t pay much attention to these issues of social justice and compassion. Then, during a 2003 visit to Africa, Rick came into a ramshackle tent where a little church was caring for 25 AIDS orphans.

Rick said, “I realized they were doing more for the poor than my entire megachurch. … It was like a knife in the heart.” Kristof recounts how Rick turned this heartbreak into action: mobilizing his church to constructive action in 68 countries, recruiting 7,500 members to pay their own way to serve poor people around the world – experiencing a transformation in their own values and priorities in the process.

Mm-mm. That’s renewal: hearts moved toward the priorities of Jesus.

OK, God:  Show me my place in it!


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Written by Monte

February 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Poverty, government, and the Bible

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[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This page is also saved as a post, under the title A Bible Argument for Government Aid to the Poor. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]



Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 12, 2008 at 12:24 am

Posted in

How did rich and poor people vote in ’08?

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UPDATE March 8: For another analysis of the same data graphed in a different format see Rich and poor still vote differently in red and blue states


Who would have won if only rich people had voted in the last election? Or only poor ones?
Check it out:
clipped from www.fivethirtyeight.com

pewmaps.png[W]e took the Pew pre-election poll data and broke it down by state and income […]

Here’s what we got (red and blue states are those McCain or Obama would’ve won) […]

The most striking pattern is our estimate that Obama would’ve won almost all the states, if only low-income voters were counted […]

Among rich voters, Obama won in California and some northeastern and midwestern states–“blue America,” if you will. […]

The five income categories I used in the analysis are: 0-20,000; 20-40,000; 40-75,000; 75-150,000; over 150,000. The graphs above show the estimates for the highest, middle, and lowest of these five categories. I assume the numbers represent family income (as reported by the survey respondent). […]

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I’m astonished. When poor voters are heard alone, every state but two (Idaho and Wyoming) becomes blue.

Since many of my readers are Christians, allow me a religious question:

Christian, with whom did you stand?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? […] You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – from The Letter of James, chap. 2 (NRSV)

Watcha think?


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Written by Monte

March 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Politics

Jesus, ooey-gooey, and The Onion (Sermon of Nov 23)

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Jesus paints the end of time over and over in the runup to Matthew’s version of passion week.  But, whew! The implications of these stories are startlingly controversial.

He tells of a great sorting of people (Matthew 25:31-46).  Goyim —gentiles—people, perhaps, like me.  The method of his sort, though, I never heard in Sunday School.

He's an Author and Homeless i...

He explains his choice to the group invited into his “kingdom:”

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.

“Say what?” they respond.  “We never saw you like that.”

His answer?

Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me-you did it to me.

Huh.  Wonder what that means.  To him?

Don Jail

Now the second group, whom he says are “good for nothing but the fires of hell.” And why?

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Say what?” they respond.  “We never saw you like that.”

His answer?

Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me-you failed to do it to me.

The “goats” go off to their doom, the sheep to their reward.  The end.

But wait, this is going to get very strange. Read the rest of this entry »

Pro-life, Pro-Obama

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Where can you find the lowest abortion rate in the whole world? See if this answer surprises you:
Western Europe
.

Douglas Kmiec

Douglas Kmiec

I found that figure on a website called Prolife ProObama, where I was greeted by a letter from Douglas Kmiec. And there a strong case is made that – well, obviously – pro-life voters may accomplish more for their cause by voting for Barack Obama rather than John McCain.

Douglas Kmiec is no fuzzy-headed liberal. He was Ronald Reagan’s legal counsel in the White House, also serving that role George H.W. Bush. Kmiec, a committed Roman Catholic, was dean and professor of law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and at Notre Dame. And he’s now a professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University.

And he writes:

  • The most frequent reasons given by women seeking an abortion are that a child would limit ability to meet current responsibilities and that they cannot afford a child at this point in their lives.
  • Unintended pregnancy has increased by 29% among poor women while decreasing 20% among higher-income women.
  • Women below the federal poverty level have abortion rates almost four times those of higher-income women.

Strange, eh? Abortion generally is slowing in the USA. So why would it be soaring among poor women?

Over at  God’s Politics, I came across Tony Campolo on the same subject:

More than 60 percent of all abortions are economically driven.  The reality is that without provisions for hospital coverage; pre- and post-natal care; maternity leave so that a woman giving birth will not lose her job; and nursing assistance to help single mothers transition into parenthood, millions of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term will not do so.

There you go.  Most women who have abortions do so because Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm