The percentage of Americans in poverty and without health insurance grew in 2003 for the third straight year—to 35.9 million people (one out of every eight) in poverty and 45 million (15.6 percent) without health insurance, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty threshold is $18,660 for a family of four. Those numbers do not tell the whole story, said Joseph C.
When has a master’s thesis in theology ever spurred a governor to try to amend his state’s constitution?Perhaps only in the case of Susan Pace Hamill, whose concern for justice and knowledge of tax law led her to write The Least of These: Fair Taxes and the Moral Duty of Christians, a biblical critique of Alabama’s tax code.
When Abraham Smith retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1996, the last thing on his mind was preaching from a storefront in one of the most depressed areas of the nation’s capital. But an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church asked the lieutenant colonel and ordained minister to create a new congregation in the district’s troubled Petworth neighborhood.
Edgar lived alone in a welfare motel among prostitutes and drug abusers. He was a bit rough around the edges and would sometimes get loud and demanding. But for all his rough edges, Edgar was the only person who passed for a pastor in that backwater parish of broken souls. And there could be no more fertile soil for biblical "church growth" than the concrete motel parking lot and those waiting children of God with their wisdom "from below."
"The past is not over,” said Odessa Woolfolk of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Speaking to my divinity school class, Woolfolk spoke of systems that continue to oppress and seriously limit access to resources that are basic to any human being. With slavery a thing of the past, with segregation banned, with the right to vote for everyone, what is the problem? It is access.
Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, former president Jimmy Carter remarked that the “growing gap between the rich and poor” is the most elemental problem facing the world economy. But the gap between the rich and the poor is also a very old problem.
Alice O’Connor, a historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says that her students laugh when she talks about how Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in the 1960s. Apparently the idea strikes them as quaint.
Are the poor blessed or lazy? The prevailing answer in America is lazy. The welfare revolution of the past decade put the poor to work. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 changed the social support system. As the name of the law implies, people are held personally responsible for getting out of poverty by taking advantage of work opportunities.