And where does caring for the poor require the church and the corporate world to work together? How can religion and economics partner rather than spar or succumb?
I'm a regular reader of Imprimis: a publication of Hillsdale College. The May 2008 edition included excerpts from a speech given by the president of the Club for Growth, Patrick Toomey. In talking about the "greatest story never told" - the greatest period of prosperity in human history - he lists too many statistics to prove how the world's economy is expanding. I was struck by the statistics he shared about American families who live below the poverty line.
...in the early 1970's, less than 40 percent had a car, almost none had color televisions, and air conditioning was virtually unheard of; in 2004, 46 percent owned their own homes, almost 75 percent owned a car (indeed, 30 percent owned two or more cars), 97 percent had color TV's, and 67 percent had air conditioning. The poor in the U.S. have an average of 721 square feet of living space per person, as compared with 430 in Sweden and 92 in Mexico.
Who are the poor that the church is to care for? And what is the point of caring for the poor? Alleviating their causes of poverty? Lifting them out of poverty? Or caring for them whether they choose to stay in poverty or not?
What is the moral/religious obligation to end poverty? Does our spiritual call to care for the poor require economic saviness and sociological wisdom? How much of poverty in America is a moral problem, and how much of it is a sin problem, and how much of it is an economic reality? And what should the church do?