The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, issued the following statement in reaction to the Census Bureau release of new figures that show poverty growing in the United States:
Despite two years of historic measures to rescue the U.S. economy from the Great Recession, government figures released today show that millions of adults and children still live in poverty. Thousands of verses in the scriptures of many faiths, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, express God’s concern for the poor and God’s wrath at the injustices that cause poverty to exist. When Jesus was asked for God’s greatest commandment, he said, Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Even before the economic collapse of 2008, too many lived in poverty. Direct measures need to be taken to ensure that even after economic prosperity is restored that vulnerable populations aren’t left behind in the recovery.
There is little indication that our political leaders—regardless of political party--are taking the need to address poverty with fervor. Most recently, the campaign rhetoric between Republicans and Democrats has focused on tax cuts for the Middle Class and not on helping lift those in poverty out of their plight. Our political leaders’ calculated neglect of the poor while courting the votes of the comfortable offends the creator of the universe. Any measures taken should not only stimulate the economy but benefit everyone, especially those living on the economic margins.
Speaking on behalf of the 36 member communions of the National Council of Churches, who join together in a shared concern for our brothers and sisters in poverty, our hope is that leaders of both parties will recognize that their greatest responsibility is to uphold those who do not have the means or power to support themselves. Let the debate of this campaign season push aside partisan politics and instead identify initiatives for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with the God who loves the poor.