Poverty and the Election: Listen in on What Some NCC Leaders are Saying

Kathryn M. Lohre,  President, National Council of Churches

Jesus worked and lived with people on the margins of society, and our call as a church is to continue that ministry. We are called as God’s church to build a kingdom of God where all are fed and community shares with each other. God’s church is at work bringing offerings of food to share with hungry people, sheltering those without homes in our fellowship halls, and creating support networks like job clubs and employment ministries. Yet, that is not enough. We must also create a society that provides for those in need. Senior religious leaders from the National Council of Churches joined with other religious leaders through the Circle of Protection, calling on our presidential candidates to address poverty. In response, Presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle have articulated how they plan to exercise their leadership in order to alleviate poverty. We, as the church, join them and encourage the nation as a whole to make eradicating poverty a national priority.

The Rt. Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, Bishop 

Office of Ecumenical and Urban Affairs, African Methodist Episcopal Church

We must not be misled into believing that the recession is the primary cause of increased poverty in America, for while poverty has increased during the recession, poverty was also increasing before the recession. A decade before the recession, while the nation’s economy was booming, poverty was on the rise. The gap between the middle class and the poor was widening and more and more people and families were falling out of the middle class. This is especially true among African Americans and other minorities.

The people of God, regardless of political party or affiliation, must raise our voices and call upon our political leaders to face and address the issue of poverty, and do it now. Leadership demands it, and the hurt and suffering of the poor, especially children, requires it.

Dr. Sharon E. Watkins

General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

The Biblical vision of wholeness (shalom) includes a world in which there is enough for everyone. As people of faith who are committed to this vision of wholeness, the members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are deeply concerned about the poverty that currently plagues so many of God’s children. We therefore support all efforts to end this poverty, from the courageous compassion of our local, regional and general ministries to the public policies that affect all of us. We are pleased that the Presidential candidates from both major parties are giving time and attention to the issue of poverty, and we look forward to hearing more from them about their specific plans to address this problem.

Nathan Hosler
Advocacy and Peace Witness Ministries, Church of the Brethren

The Church of the Brethren has firmly believed that as followers of Jesus we are called to serve one another in the way that Jesus demonstrated by washing his disciples’ feet. We urge all leaders to support programs that care for persons in poverty. We recognize that as individuals and families are assisted they will not only lead healthier lives but will be able to assist others in need.

 Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, Sr., President

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (PNBC) is the denominational home of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” Organized in 1961, the PNBC has a rich and lavish history of championing the cause of social justice issues and public policies for the voiceless and the most vulnerable of our global society.

The scriptures tell us that the poor will always be with us. But, we are not to neglect caring for the poor. The measure of our society and humankind in particular, is how we address the least of these. People who are destitute have no lobbyists or any media machine to advocate for them. That is why the Christian faith community is called upon to constantly bring this issue to our politicians. This is the first step to feeling the discomfort that is necessary to make a change. We must lift the veil of denial and neglect that keeps our nation from confronting poverty.

In this election year, the PNBC calls on our politicians and elected officials from the local and federal government entities to break the silence in dealing with issues of poverty. We can do better as a nation. It is unjust and immoral to constantly ignore the issues of poverty and push the least of these aside as if they do not exist. We must make the issue of eradicating poverty a top political and social agenda in this decade.

Rev. Geoffrey A. Black
General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ

Our faith calls us to place the poor and most marginalized in our communities at the forefront of concern.  Those who struggle economically in our society, the most vulnerable  — children living in poverty, people living with chronic health issues, seniors, women trying to escape violence in their homes – do not have a voice at the policy-making table or a hand in influencing political campaigns. The United Church of Christ has a long history of actively serving the needs of vulnerable populations in our communities and advocating for systemic solutions that lift people out of poverty and uphold the common good. We urge all people to let your voices be heard through your vote. As our faith teachings remind us, nations are judged by how they treat the poorest and most vulnerable people.  Our faith calls us to consider how our choices this election affect the “least of these.”

Rev. Michael Livingston

Former President, National Council of Churches

National Public Policy Director, Interfaith Worker Justice

“Since the current recession began in 2007, only two congressional districts in the entire nation have seen poverty decrease significantly. In 388 districts, poverty has deepened. We cannot fix a problem we don’t acknowledge exists. There is precious little conversation about the millions of Americans living in poverty and the swelling numbers of children and families falling into poverty. Our presidential candidates can lead the way in a broader and deeper wrestling with our moral obligation to care for the poor. These videos are a good start on a much needed, much avoided national conversation. Next, let’s get to work repairing our safety net, putting people to work in good jobs and caring for the most vulnerable among us.”



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