Unabashed Christian Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Ivy Taylor, who is the current front runner in her race for reelection next month, has come under fire for blaming poverty on humankind's broken relationship to their creator.
The controversial comments on poverty, a video of which has since gone viral, comes from an April 3 mayoral candidate forum. In the video where she appears with fellow mayoral candidate Councilman Ron Nirenberg, she is asked by Megan Legacy, director of SA Christian Resource Center: "What do you see as the deepest, systemic causes of generational poverty in San Antonio?"
"Oh God," she responds with a wry chuckle at about the 1 hour 8-minute mark on the video. "I mean we could be here all afternoon talking about that."
She then continued: "Well I mean, since you're with the Christian Coalition I'll go ahead and put it out there that to me it's broken people ... People not being in relationship with their creator and therefore not being in good relationship with their families and their communities and not being productive members of society. So I mean I think that's the ultimate answer."
Taylor, who is a registered Democrat, further explained, however, that while that was her personal opinion, "That's not something that I work on from my position as mayor of the community though I try to be an example."
She then went on to list policy issues such as education and teenage pregnancy as among the causes of generational poverty.
"I am a born again Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ. I draw very heavily on that as far as the strength to do this job," she also added later in the discussion highlighting Philippians 4:13 as a Scripture she leans on "on a daily basis."
When some media reports highlighted that she blamed poverty on the lack of a relationship with God, she attracted much criticism on social media from critics.
"In short, the mayor responded by claiming generational poverty is caused by 'broken people' who don't believe in God, essentially making the ludicrous claim that atheism causes poverty," the Progressive Secular Humanist, a blogger at Patheos, wrote. "Adding insult to injury, she concluded her answer about poverty by claiming that the 'deepest systemic cause of generational poverty' is not part of her job description."
Taylor argued in statement on Facebook that the "video clip" which is more than 1 hour long "is a dishonest, politically motivated misrepresentation of my record on combatting poverty. It was intentionally edited to mislead viewers."
She also stood by her decision to discuss her faith in her response.
"I have devoted my life to breaking the chains of generational poverty – as an urban planner, the District 2 Councilwoman, and now Mayor. I've done so because of my faith in God and my belief in Jesus's ministry on Earth. I believe we are all called on to help lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty," she said.
"I also believe in Original Sin, and that was the context for my comment in the YouTube video clip. We're all 'broken,' from the richest among us to the poorest, until we forge a relationship with our Maker. I could have expressed myself more clearly in explaining my belief at the forum," she said.
Taylor was elected Mayor of San Antonio on June 13, 2015. Prior to her election, she earned an appointment to the seat from her City Council colleagues in July 2014 to replace then-Mayor Julián Castro, who had been tapped to oversee the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This made her the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a city with more than one million people and only the second female mayor of San Antonio.
On Monday, despite the criticism over her comments, she was endorsed by the San Antonio Express-News.