Poverty is a faith issue

By The Rev. Chuck Currie “Woe to him who builds his house on unrighteousness, and his upper room by injustice, … Continued

By The Rev. Chuck Currie

“Woe to him who builds his house on unrighteousness, and his upper room by injustice, who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages.” (Jeremiah 22:13)

President Obama’s tax compromise with the GOP will mean that by and large the economic policies of George W. Bush that drove the United States of a cliff will remain in place through the president’s term. Most importantly, without the president keeping his election year pledge to reduce poverty by 50% over ten years the compromise over taxes has the potential to increase the divide between rich and poor and force millions more into poverty.

The Bush presidency saw poverty and hunger in America grow to historic proportions after declining in the 1990s (once President Clinton reserved the economic policies of the Reagan-Bush years). According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, millions more would have fallen into poverty (or fallen deeper into poverty) without President Obama’s stimulus package.

The compromise the president reached with congressional Republicans even includes some positive measures: like an expansion of the earned income tax credit, provisions that could spur job growth, and an extension of unemployment benefits.

But as deficits continue to grow under the new Obama-GOP compromise tax plan you will see many in Congress calling for further reductions in programs that help lift working people, families and children out of poverty.

This is an issue of paramount concern to Christians in the United States. After all, we are now in the season of Advent where we wait and reflect on the coming of the child, born homeless, who would one day teach us that how we treat the least of these in society is akin to how we treat God. Jesus has harsh words for those that would ignore this fundamental teaching:

“You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ (Matthew 25 NRSV)

A case can be made we are already living in that fire Jesus spoke of. We cannot allow this reality to continue. In 2007, Barack Obama said:

It’s been four decades since Bobby Kennedy crouched in a shack along the Mississippi Delta and looked into the wide, listless eyes of a hungry child. Again and again he tried to talk to this child, but each time his efforts were met with only a blank stare of desperation. And when Kennedy turned to the reporters traveling with him, with tears in his eyes he asked a single question about poverty in America:

“How can a country like this allow it?”

Good question. As

The president could help reclaim leadership in the fight against poverty if he used his upcoming State of the Union Address to outline how he intends to fulfill his pledge of reducing poverty by 50% in the coming decade. We’re now two years into his presidency without the president either reaffirming that commitment or outlining an agenda for moving us toward that lofty goal.

How can a country like this allow it?

The Rev. Chuck Currie is a United Church of Christ minister in Portland, Oregon and a former member of the board of directors of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    Let’s examine the verse Currie uses out of Jeremiah. Does he cite a single example of where a worker was not given his wages? What does the extension of these tax cuts have to do with that? Nothing!And if Currie finds Jeremiah to be the word of God, how does he rationalize his extreme pro-abortion views when reading a passages like this: Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Chuck is so pro-abortion that he wants taxpayer-funded abortions, where citizens have to pay for abortions whether they like them or not).And Currie is on record for saying that Jesus is not the only way to salvation (despite that teaching appearing 100+ times in the New Testament) and that other religions are just as valid paths to God as Christianity. Why does Chuck quote one passage from Jeremiah as the authoritative word of God (even though it has nothing to do with his larger point) yet ignore passages like Jeremiah 1:16–17? (“And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands. But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.”)And how does a pro-abortionist use the “least of these” passage from Matthew 25 with a straight face? He doesn’t lift a finger to defend the truly least of these.And since when did Currie believe in the doctrine of eternal punishment explicitly taught in Matthew 25? Or is he still picking and choosing what verses he likes?Why does Chuck want the government to take money from neighbor A by force to give it to neighbor B? Why doesn’t Chuck persuade his congregation to give more to help? So many questions . . .

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    And aside from his ignorance of basic Christianity, Currie doesn’t understand economics any better. Does he not realize which party took over Congress in 2006? Does he not realize the impact of Fannie / Freddie and how the Democrats fought those reforms?

  • Liutgard

    You know 4simpson, you spend an awful lot of time personally attacking Chuck, most of it unrelated to the subject at hand. Don’t you have something better to do?

  • grasshopper1

    This “deal” is indeed a bitter pill. Rev Currie’s remarks are right on concerning the realities in Washington right now. Indeed we are in a crisis of morals when so many people across the country live outside with no home of their own. The idea that a nation like ours turns it’s attention from such suffering and want is condemning. Vets, who make up a quarter of the homeless population, return home to struggle with their injuries (physical and mental) ridiculed and spat upon as laggards. Children wash up for school in service station rest rooms and have no bed of their own in which to sleep. This is a moral crisis in our nation, as well as a power struggle between those who have so much and those who cannot enter into the discussion for lack of resources. This must be a fight against poverty, and Obama must make good somehow on his pledge. This is not an easy battle, and it may ultimately be lost. There is so little reasonableness, so little perspective on the common good. The ground keeps slipping from beneath the feet of the people of this country.

  • firstclass1948

    I thought this was a place to voice your opinion, not berate another contributor…I am sure you can do this…I would think that your views are important without attacking the good Rev. Currie. I am not a personal friend of Chuck’s but I do know who he is. If it weren’t for the Democrats and their policies, my Grand daughter and myself would be part of the homeless population. I do not know much about politics, but I can read and if you go back a few years and READ, and pay attention, it was the REPUBLICANS that got us in this mess….remember when the HMO’s came into being? Good example. And as far as no child shall be left behind, the US is # 23 and 25 in math and reading in our schools.

  • AliceSmith

    Rev. Currie speaks eloquently some simple truths. The Tax Code is disproportionately against the poor. With sales tax applied regardless of income, the poor are already taxed unfairly. To cut taxes on the very rich who got rich at the expense of workers who did not gain equally from their efforts, or from inherited wealth which came generations ago from those who explicitly exploited the land and the workers in the USA and elsewhere, the poor get poorer and our standards of living and education continue to plummet. For shame, Republicans for ransoming the poor and exploiting the political process to help so few.

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    “You know 4simpson, you spend an awful lot of time personally attacking Chuck, most of it unrelated to the subject at hand. Don’t you have something better to do?”You know Liutgard, you spend an awful lot of time personally attacking me, most of it unrelated to the subject at hand. Don’t you have something better to do?See how easy that was? And how pointless?How about addressing any of the very specific claims I made. Using your reasoning, Chuck “attacked” the Republicans. I made very simple points tied to scripture that the “Reverend” uses. How about addressing those instead of attacking me? Start with Jeremiah 22 and work from here.

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    “And as far as no child shall be left behind, the US is # 23 and 25 in math and reading in our schools.Do you think that qualifies as reasoning about the problems with our competitiveness with other nations? How about the horrible scores in the inner cities, where Liberals have dominated politics and schools for over 50 years? Go visit Detroit, a Liberal petri dish — if you dare. Then let me know how well those policies worked there.

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    “We’re now two years into his presidency without the president either reaffirming that commitment or outlining an agenda for moving us toward that lofty goal.How can a country like this allow it?”I actually agree with Chuck on this. Obama made many, many promises and obviously had no desire to fulfill them. They were empty words read from a teleprompter that people like Chuck believed without thinking carefully. His supporters didn’t carefully examine his background, lack of leadership capabilities, etc. Obama will “fix” poverty at about the same time he closes Gitmo. He ran as a uniter and exposed himself as a fraud from the beginning with his “I won” comment. President Bush was much more gracious and actually reached across the aisle. Elections have consequences, as does electing a wildly unqualified person to the office of President. Still waiting for Chuck or anyone else to explain what his Jeremiah passage has to do with any of this . . .

  • thebump

    I stopped reading at the following preposterous statement:

  • grasshopper1

    That’s your problem bumpy. That’s where you need to START reading, not stop. The statement is true.

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    One of the farcical elements of this post is that it assume the president can fix all things related to poverty. Dig into the statistics. How much poverty is due to single parent households that the Liberals’ easy divorce helped cause? How much is due to the rampant out of wedlock births cause by Liberal policies that discouraged marriage? If you get a high school diploma and don’t have sex outside of marriage you are much, much less likely to be poor, let alone homeless. The Liberals like Chuck keep advancing Planned Parenthood-style sex education and government policies (e.g., bailouts and Fannie / Freddie) that have failed miserably. But the poverty keeps people like Chuck in business.

  • grasshopper1

    In response to the statement that Obama has done nothing, and certainly nothing he promised or that the American people wanted, and that his words are empty, you might want to check this:

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    “So I have to conclude that 4Simpson is either uninformed or does not let facts get in the way of slandering the Rev Currie. I believe one of the ten commandments is about that sort of thing, is it not?”LOL re. slandering Chuck Currie. First, slander is verbal and libel is written. Second, I have done no such thing here.Third, and most interestingly, Chuck is guilty of libel against me. He falsely accused me of writing things on his blog that I did not write and despite numerous requests he has never provided documentation. Why? Because he lied. See Speaking of commandments, I’m pretty sure “don’t murder” is one of them, and Chuck is as pro-abortion as they come. It is a scientific fact that the unborn are innocent human beings, and abortion kills them — over 3,000 times today, for example. Are you opposed to abortion except to save the life of the mother, or do you skip that commandment?

  • 4SimpsonsDotWordpressDotCom

    Here’s a really good link about Liberals and giving – Chuck uses a gross misinterpretation of a Bible verse to rationalize taking from neighbor A to give to neighbor B. That isn’t Christian giving, or any kind of giving. Giving is when you give your money.Liberals who don’t give generously should not even be listened to. Their foundational hypocrisy proves their untrustworthiness. And Obama has been a cheapskate with his own money.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Do you think that qualifies as reasoning about the problems with our competitiveness with other nations? How about the horrible scores in the inner cities, where Liberals have dominated politics and schools for over 50 years? Go visit Detroit, a Liberal petri dish — if you dare. Then let me know how well those policies worked there.

  • RevChuckCurrie

    Thank you, DETROITBLKMALE30, for bringing us back down to reality. And thank you as well to others who have left comments – both supportive and challenging. This is a time when we need to find common ground. I’m pleased that on the issue of poverty that so many people of faith – with the exception of a few on the far fringes – see that poverty needs to be addressed both by economic policies that lift people out of poverty and by a spiritual awakening where we see each other as children of God deserving of compassion and justice. – Rev. Chuck Currie