Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

UPDATE: Marcie reminded me of another good piece of information on poverty-- see the Miniature Earth link below.

Today is “Blog Action Day” according to someone. The point is to bring awareness about poverty to those who read our blogs. I think it’s a good idea.

My friend
John Allen recently posted an amazing set of myths and facts on his blog (which he himself copied from the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana), and I’m shamelessly copying it here:

Myth: They are not hungry. They are fat!

Fact: This is called the Obesity Paradox. The population that is forced to live on cheap, starchy foods are, in many cases, fat. In some cases they are morbidly obese. They are getting a lot of calories and little real nutrition. The end result of this is all kinds of health problems.

MYTH: They do not need help– they get food Stamps.

Fact: According to studies done by America’s Second Harvest, 40% of the people eligible for food stamps do not receive them. And , almost 84% of the families contacted for the 2000 hunger study reported that the food stamps they receive last for three weeks or less.

MYTH: Low-income families who need help do not work.

Fact: Seventy-one percent of low –income families work. In fact, the average annual work effort for low-income families is 2,500 hours, equal to 1.2 full time jobs.

MYTH: The kids get enough food through school lunch and breakfast programs.

Fact: These programs do not provide an evening meal the vast majority do not provide food during the summer, school breaks, and holidays.

MYTH: Low income families are illegal aliens, or immigrants.

Fact: Seventy-two percent of the low-income families have American-born parents only.

I’ve heard some of these statements (complaints? excuses?) used to justify inaction toward addressing poverty. We’ve got to stop. We have to begin to own the fact that Jesus himself spoke far more frequently about loving the poor and needy than he did about marriage, homosexuality, abortion, or war (incidentally, Jesus didn’t speak directly to either abortion or homosexuality, though other parts of Scripture-- all God’s Word-- do address these). Jesus-- and the New Testament apostles-- were equally as concerned with right belief AND right practice, the latter of which James summarizes as caring for those who are marginalized and without means (James 1:27).

For another look at the reality of poverty and wealth,
this video from Miniature Earth is amazing.

Here’s my encouragement: check out these very helpful documents that the PCA offers, thanks to the amazing ministry of Randy Nabors:

Find more at
the PCA’s urban and mercy ministries page under “Resources.”

Fostering and Adoption: how we gave up the family a long time ago

There is an interesting overture before the legislature of Arkansas that, if it succeeds, would put a bill before the state that would outlaw adoption and foster care by unmarried people who live together.

I find it interesting because it is addressing the very problem that, I believe, ended the current debate about same-sex marriage before it started: when we (and by that I mean the “royal we”-- the culture of our nation) granted same-sex couples the right to foster and adopt orphans, we tacitly allowed them to also define themselves as a family. How, then, could we possibly deny them other similar legal rights as a family?

So the people of Arkansas have realized that-- or at least they have recognized that granting same-sex couples (and other unmarried couples as well) the right to adopt, they put the “traditional” understanding of family under threat. This is a pretty bold move, given the widespread acceptance of divorce and even co-habitation in our society.

At the same time, I have to say I’m sympathetic to the response from the “other side”-- in this case, including the social workers and others who want to see the huge numbers of orphans placed with families that can care for them better than the state. Is it not the case that ANY willing parent-- single, unmarried, homosexual-- who will offer love and care for a child is better than none, leaving children in state care?

And this is where the rubber meets the road: if the church dares to demand that such measures be taken (i.e., stripping same-sex couples of the possibility of adoption), we must step up to improve our participation in adoption and foster care ourselves. We are biblically mandated to do so (James 1:27) if we claim to take the practice of our faith seriously. How can we say that unmarried couples must not be allowed to adopt, when they are willing to do what we are not?