Evangelicals and Celebrities Join Hands to Make Poverty History

What does Brad Pitt, Jars of Clay, U2, The Dave Matthews Band and Rick Warren have in common?

All have joined and have lent their support to “ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History.”

The campaign, founded by a diverse group of faith-based and humanitarian organizations such as World Vision and Mercy Corps, is an effort to rally Americans – one by one – to fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty.

According to an early June press release by the Baptist World Alliance, Warren – pastor of the Saddleback mega-church and author of the best-selling purpose-driven series – has joined the anti-poverty effort and called on President Bush to do the same.

Warren said his reasons for joining the ONE campaign is to “rally Americans to fight the emergence of HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty,” and to “transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries at a cost equal to one percent of the United States budget,” in a June 3 letter.

Warren has been best known for founding the 16,000-member Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and for leading an international movement of churches under his purpose driven program.

However, in recent months, the Baptist pastor began spearheading efforts to end poverty and AIDS in Africa.

In April, 2005, Warren launched a new initiative, dubbed the “PEACE Plan,” during his church’s 25th anniversary celebration. While the five-step PEACE effort is separate from the ONE campaign, both address the critical issues of global poverty and debt.

“I’ve never been involved in partisan politics….and don’t intend to do so now,” Warren said. “But global poverty is an issue that rises far above mere politics. It is a moral issue…..a compassion issue, and because Jesus commanded us to help the poor, it is an obedience issue.”

According to Warren, evangelicals will lose credibility if they remain silent in the fight against hunger.

“I deeply believe that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God’s love and Word, “Warren said.

The ONE campaign has also received support from other evangelicals such as John Stott and Billy Graham.

For more information on the ONE campaign, visit: www.onecampaign.org