Monday, August 04, 2014

Is there a Christian consensus on child poverty?

Scoop has a notice about a child poverty forum tomorrow evening in Wellington:

Forum on Child Poverty
The extent to which Aotearoa New Zealand turns a blind eye to children who suffer the effects of economic deprivation is the extent to which we fail to live up to our claim of being a just and caring society.
A forum on child poverty on 5 August will look at this political issue that is set to become key in the parliamentary elections on 20 September.
Living up to their prophetic calling, the two religious leaders of the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Bishop Justin Duckworth and Archbishop John Dew, have taken the initiative to bring together a panel of leaders and leading figures of all the major political parties in our country.
This may be one of the few times such an event will take place during the present election campaign.
Neither Bishop Justin nor Archbishop John wishes to dictate how people should vote. But they are calling on people to vote responsibly and for political leaders to clearly state where they stand in regard to the various issues that demand clear and decisive political action.
Among those issues, and a matter of crucial concern at this time, is the right of all children to adequate nutrition, proper housing, good education and a happy and healthy family lifestyle.
Speakers include Attorney General Chris Finlayson (National), David Cunliffe (Labour), Peter Dunne (United Future), Hone Harawira (Mana), Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori co-leader), Jan Logie (Green) and Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First) .
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills will be the first to address the forum. Then the Anglican Bishop Justin Duckworth and the Catholic Archbishop John Dew will highlight the Christian perspectives on child poverty.
The event will end with a Young Voter Forum from 8.15 to 9.30pm.
The forum is in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral on Tuesday, 5 August. Snacks and drinks will be provided at 5.45pm and there will be a formal welcome at 6.30pm.

Are there no Christians who believe in individual responsibility? Who don't think that child poverty remedies automatically involve, "... clear and decisive political action." Are there any Christians who suspect welfarism has created more child poverty than it has solved? Do these guys really speak for all Christians?

The churches increasing preference for and advocacy of state solutions is very depressing.


Berend de Boer said...

As the Anglicans recently decided that gay marriage and women bishops was now required by society, and the definitely didn't get that from the Bible, it suggests to me that they have been completely hijacked

"Christian" is not a protected trademark, so anyone can call themselves that.

The Roman Catholics never read their Bible much, for them it's the pope who defines truth, and they have been fairly left-wing on social policy.

Obviously these are large groups. So if we define Christian as groups tagging themselves with that name, you may be depressingly right.

I'm sure there are thousands of Christians who have a different view, but you won't see them in the media, unless they can be ridiculed.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Lindsay

Yes, there are thoughtful Christians who believe in individual responsibility, who believe that the State has over-reached its mandate in the provision of entitlement welfare, who understand the law of unintended consequences, who believe in family centric welfare and the legitimate role of voluntary and intermediating institutions in helping the poor.

I am one of them.

Consequently I am frustrated and appalled at the willingness of the Christian church and its leadership to outsource its God given responsibilities to the State, with all the attended consequences.

Unfortunately, most Christians are no different than the general electorate when it comes to welfare and poverty. They appear to respond to their emotions more readily than to Biblical theology.

I have often thought of re-writing the passage of Scripture known as the “Lords Prayer” for them along these lines…

Our Government, which art in Wellington
Hallowed be your name
Give us this day our daily bread….

I have had conversations with the Salvation Army leadership and others, but many of the major denominations are heavily dependent upon the Government to support their own welfare programs, often to the extent that they have become just another service delivery arm of the State.

It will not end well for either party.

Jim Peters said...

Under Major (General) Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army, the long absent militant Christian wing of the Labour Party returns, marching as to war.

Berend de Boer said...

One more remark, let me just quote three key Bible verses:

On being on the dole:

2 Thessalonians 3:10: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."

And verse 12: "Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."

Obviously when you live in a society where you are forbidden to work unless the employer gives you some arbitrary minimum wage is not making this much easier. But this indicates to me that minimum wage laws are hurtful, and if we have the dole, people should work for them.

On our current super system, 2 Corinthians 12:14: "... for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children."

So clearly indicates that what we currently do is most likely to go wrong.

On whom to support with social security, the Bible doesn't give any particular command to governments (as the Bible is mainly for the Church), but it is interesting to note that the church is not under obligation to support any widow unless they are at least 60 years old: 1 Timothy 5:9,16: "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, ... If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."

The phrase "taken into the number" means that they would be supported by church offerings. So again not directly targeted at the government, but the church is clearly allowed to make a clear distinction between those who can (and should!) support themselves, and those who simply cannot.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said Berend. We are out here Lindsay!

david said...

they have a lot more chance of getting help from the government than from their prayers, so one has to applaud their realism, however misguided.