What Christians Think About 1 in 10 People Living in Poverty
New US Census Bureau 2014 Poverty Report Shows No Improvement
Each year, the U.S. government spends billions ($746 billion in fiscal year 2010) on welfare and safety net programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which are designed to assist low-income families.
But the findings in the U.S. Census Bureau's poverty report spurred Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, to criticize the White House's approach to tackling the issue of poverty.
"Our current approach to fighting poverty, though well-intended, is failing too many Americans," Ryan said in a statement. "This disappointing data, five years into an economic recovery, underscores the need for a new effort to modernize our country's safety net programs."
One Christian organization says, however, that eradicating poverty is mainly the responsibility of local churches, not the government.
"We have government programs that provide help for those who need it here in the United States … But God didn't call on government to rescue the poor. He called on us, believers," said Tim Glenn, Compassion International USA's communication director.
The Christian child sponsorship organization partners with over 7,000 local churches in 26 countries to help 1.7 million children living in poverty worldwide.
"So while I believe government should play a role, I believe it's the Church's God-given responsibility to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide safe water for the thirsty, shelter for the vulnerable, care for the sick," said Glenn.
"God made it clear that He's expecting us to do those things. That's why I'm excited to be working for an organization like Compassion. We don't partner with government entities to provide our Christian child development model. We partner with churches because we believe that is God's plan for ministry to the poor."
Ken Isaacs, vice president of Programs and Government Relations at Samaritan's Purse, agrees. The international relief organization works in more than 100 countries around the world and seeks to combat poverty by focusing on income generation projects to establish long-term solutions.
"I do not believe it is the U.S. government's or any government's role to meet all financial needs, which is why it is so important that the Church step in to help those who are struggling and provide them with the education and skills to be able to support themselves," said Isaacs.