Faith Groups Rally as Poverty Issue Gains Momentum

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders and members from a broad array of faith traditions gathered at Washington National Cathedral this week for a colorful convocation dedicated to reducing hunger and poverty throughout the world.

Nearly 1,000 worshippers from 45 states sang and prayed under the cathedral's soaring arches as Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and Muslim leaders took to the pulpit and urged an abiding commitment to bring "bread to those who are hungry, and hunger for justice to those who have bread."

Drawing deeply on the Gospel of Luke, the Rev. William J. Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, challenged: "Who will bring the poor in this nation and around the world to the attention of ... the people of plenty?"

Organized by Bread for the World, a Christian anti-hunger lobby, the interfaith service Monday (June 11) was part of a four-day gathering devoted to harvesting grass-roots activism in the nation's capital. On Tuesday, nearly 700 Bread for the World organizers fanned out across Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers not to slight the poor in the pending Farm Bill and other legislation, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Coulter Stapleton.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, Politics

14 Comments
Posted June 12, 2007 at 7:42 pm

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1. DonGander wrote:

This is a good means to create more poor people; expand poverty.

Jesus has a different idea for reducing poverty.

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

DonGander

Please forgive my atrocious spelling.

June 12, 9:27 pm | [comment link]
2. AnglicanFirst wrote:

There is no way that the developed agricultural nations can feed all of the world’s poor.

What can be done is to teach the impoverished nations to govern themselves in an uselfish manner.  To eschew leadership that distracts an impoverished country from its own responsibility to feed itself.  That is, ‘promote representative democracy in the third world.’

Second, we can help them to be more effective in growing their own food through education and material assistance that will have an agricultural multiplying effect.

Beyond that, except in temporary extremis situations, they are going to have to solve their own problems.

To do otherwise will be to create a “third world underclass” constantly begging for hand outs. 

I believe it is very arrogant and very wrong to be part of creating such an underclass.

June 12, 10:03 pm | [comment link]
3. bob carlton wrote:

don gander, how can you concieve this expanding poverty ?

June 12, 11:48 pm | [comment link]
4. Militaris Artifex wrote:

#3 bob carlton,

how can you concieve this expanding poverty ?

I am not sure how Don Gander will answer, but perhaps I can shed some light on the problem. First, #2 (AnglicanFirst) has something of a clue. It is not actually true that

There is no way that the developed agricultural nations can feed all of the world’s poor.

However, it would be a very close thing to try to do that, and there wouldn’t be much, if any surplus. If we did it, the obesity problem in western society would instantly reverse itself (unless the domestic overate and consumed some of what was intended for the domestic poor).

The problem is that government can’t do it. Only one of the reasons, although a very big one, is that the overwhelming majority of the impoverished nations have cultural and social institutions that preclude their being anything but impoverished. First, they lack the rule of law. This is a precisely defined “term of art”, but can be thought of as applying the rule that all laws apply equally to every citizen in the nation. Second, they lack property rights, so that whenever anyone from the “underclass” manages to build an asset that has noticeable values, the lack of strict adherence to a rule of law allows the attractive asset to be expropriated by someone else who has the appropriate credentials (whether those credentials be ethnic, political, cultural, or other). Those two factors are probably the overwhelming reasons that poor countries that have land, population and resources are still grindingly poor. Giving foreign aid to the (essentially corrupt) government of any of those countries is not

bring(ing) “bread to those who are hungry, and hunger for justice to those who have bread.”

If the rule of law is not quite strictly adhered to, when you have our Caesar deliver money to their Caesar, the result is always little to no improvement—<u>because</u> you have “set the fox to guard the hen house.”

What in God’s green earth have you been doing all your life about hunger, and where on God’s green earth have you been. We (the U.S. and other western “Christian” nations) have been pouring foreign aid into the impoverished countries for five decades of which I am aware (I am 61 years old, laddie or lass, as the case may be), and the result is, essentially, no improvement. It is time to wake up and look at the abject failure of social programs, not just to poor countries but even in the U.S.  About a decade or so ago, the average per “household” Federal welfare benefit was around $40,000 per year. This number was derived by looking at the total direct cost of the Federal welfare programs and dividing that number by the number of recipient “households”. I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that no welfare household received even 50% of that amount at that time.

So, it is not only easy to conceive, it is very difficult to come to any other conclusion.

Finally, where in scripture are we instructed to “petition Caesar” to care for the poor. If you think you can cite chapter and verse, I would suggest that you are not reading the Bible.

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

———————-
“The common belief that whisky improves with age is true. The older I get, the more I like it.”[Ronnie Corbett]
“Si vis pacem, para bellum.”[classical adage, believed based on a quotation from Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus]
—[i[]If you can keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs, you obviously don’t understand the gravity of the situation!”—[author unknown]

June 13, 12:23 am | [comment link]
5. Cousin Vinnie wrote:

There was plenty of talk about using the force of government to take other people’s money, and use it for the activists’s purposes.  This confers merit on neither the one who is doing the taking, nor the one from whom it is taken.

I didn’t see how much these 1,000 worshipers raised of their own funds.

June 13, 2:04 am | [comment link]
6. Reactionary wrote:

“For God’s sake, please stop the aid ...” (Spiegel interview with a Kenyan economist)

June 13, 10:45 am | [comment link]
7. DH wrote:

To me grandiose meetings like this are like how an Egyptian government minister once described to me the effect of US AID in building successful agriculture…. “You could dump all that money in the Nile River and let it flow out to sea and do as much good.”

I spent fifteen years developing private agricultural projects in developing countries.  We paid our workers way above prevailing rates and developed a local management cadre that spread into native agriculture and even other businesses….and we tripled the per acerage production.

Nations need intelligent and moral leadership, not only at the top, but all the way down the management chain.

Real help comes through successful PRIVATE agricultural management programs, not from handouts.  Government sponsored programs don’t develop management discipline, individual and corporate incentives, and intelligent use of scarce money.

I developed plans for one project on an island in SE Asia that also included everything from a clinic, an ice house (the island had no ice), to a landing strip to fly fresh vegetables to markets hundreds of miles away.  It never was completed because American do gooders got with the politicians and decreed that the all farm land would be divided into seven hectare plots, which of course is an uneconomical agricultural structure.  Our answer was to form a land cooperative and pool individuals parcels and pay not only rent, but a portion of the profits.

I wish I had the ability to write a book on all the stupid ways I have seen money wasted on “feely good” programs that have squandered huge resources.

June 13, 10:49 am | [comment link]
8. Militaris Artifex wrote:

#6, Reactionary,

Thank you for providing the post to the Der Spiegel interview. I had seen the quote before, but had not actually found the URL.

———————-
“The common belief that whisky improves with age is true. The older I get, the more I like it.”[Ronnie Corbett]
“Si vis pacem, para bellum.”[classical adage, believed based on a quotation from Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus]
—[i[]If you can keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs, you obviously don’t understand the gravity of the situation!”—[author unknown]

June 13, 12:05 pm | [comment link]
9. DH wrote:

Thank you Reactionary!  That article was an eye opener for many…..I hope.

One of the best example in my experience is Zimbabwe which had a modern extremely advanced agricultural system that was a huge net exporter of fresh vegetables to Europe and countries in Africa.

After the British left, the system continued to thrive until Pres. Mugabe (I think that’s who it was) ran the British farmers out and divided the land into inefficient small parcels whihc were donated to cronies.  Now the country is desperate for food.

Africa is a marvelous place for farming, but dictators, western influence, graft and corruption prevent many of it’s countries being able to feed themselves.

June 13, 1:00 pm | [comment link]
10. libraryjim wrote:

The US tried to send grain to starving ‘third world’ countries many times in the past.  In Ethopia the grain rotted at the docks because the government couldn’t be bothered to distribute it.
In Rwanda, the grain was used as a lure to imprison, rape and kill countless numbers who had promised food if they came to “thus and such” a place, only to find soldiers waiting instead.
The examples could go on.  The problem is not availbility, but rather the abundance of dictatorial governmental systems bent on oppression rather then freedom.

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

June 13, 3:25 pm | [comment link]
11. Karen B. wrote:

Ah DH, your comments in #7 are so timely.  I’m spending the better part of my week trying to help untangle a huge bureaucratic and administrative nightmare with officials of USAID and World Vision related to the close out of a long-running feeding program for malnourished children (actually quite a success in a lot of ways, but yes, dependency-creating, and we’re trying to move away from that to an entrepreneurial model and focusing also on training local leaders…)  Anyway, the big fiasco today is that World Vision’s reporting system is set up to produce monthly reports from the 26th of one month to the 25th of the next month.  USAID wants the reports to coincide with the calendar system.  So, I’ve been having to rework a whole bunch of databases so that the reports can be produced either way to make both WV and USAID happy.  Joy joy joy. 

Working in International Development for 15 years does not make me a fan of the MDGs!  Top-down development is most of the time doomed to failure & waste.

June 13, 3:42 pm | [comment link]
12. DH wrote:

Karen B.  What is it going to take to make governments and NGO’s change course and become realistic about the real cause of food shortages and people’s hunger?

It was so sad to me when we opened a several hundred acre field of tomatoes for harvest, but made harvesters stay out until the neighboring kids (some from quite a distance) could eat all they wanted to.  Their craving for the vitamins in the tomatoes was astounding.  Most ate nothing else, but dried beans and pita bread.

June 13, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
13. DonGander wrote:

Mar 9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
^^^^^^^^^^^
Jesus defines the means to reduce hunger in this single verse. The process He lays out is as follows:

“Water” (or whatever), is obtained. Dig a well or buy it, grow it, make it, or get it from somewhere.

“Gives” The owner yields up and gives over his rights to another.

“In My Name” This means that we don’t steal water from one and give it to another. This means that we are acting in faith and faithful to Holy Scripture. This means we are doing what we are doing for God’s benefit and not our own. It also means that we are acting in the best and highest interests of the one we give to.

It is in the producing that needs can be met. It is in the giving that that production can be utilized. The reason there is so much dairy products in this country is because there were masses of people who believed that if they worked hard and produced dairy products that God would bless them and feed many, many people. God did both. I honor those farmers and am thankful for the steeples with crosses that rise in abundance among the towns and fields.

Government can destroy this good action but they can not create it.

DonGander

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

DonGander

Please forgive my atrocious spelling.

June 13, 6:31 pm | [comment link]
14. libraryjim wrote:

Notice, though, that He says “gives a cup of water in my name” not “blessed are the governments who force you to give a cup of water in the name of the UN or the MDGs”.  In order to meet His word, we have to give willingly. Personal Charity not governmental regulation.

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”—Albert Einstein

June 14, 3:22 pm | [comment link]


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