On the Poor and Politics

Last November brought a heat political environment, particuarly in evangelical spheres. As a follower of Christ who leans more to the left than right, I found myself in debate after debate with groups from the religious right. I would advocate for a government that takes care of the poor and fights for justice. My counterparts on the right would typically explain that that was not the role of the government, but of the Church.

Honestly I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Obviously they are two very different entities, but caring for people and fighitng for justice ought to be one area that they can overlap.

The Declaration of Indepence states that all mean are created equal and have the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.” The role of the government is to protect these rights. Social justice has everything to do with unalienable rights being infringed upon.

Likewise, the call to the Church to be agents of reconcilation and justice in the world rings true through the Bible. Micah 6:8 says

And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Amos 5:24 says

But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

So it doesn’t appear that Church and Government have to be mutually exclusive in this area. By all means, they shouldn’t. There is no shame in the combined efforts of the American government and American Church in taking care of the ‘least of these’ and fighting for justice.

Now, let me regroup. Many conservative voices were insisting that it is not the role of the government to take care of the poor but the church. Six month later, I wonder why I haven’t heard loud bellows from the right exclaiming that it is the church’s job to take care of the poor? 

My point: don’t leverage the poor to make a political point. If you believe in November that the church needs to take care of the poor, then you need to believe in May that the church needs to take care of the poor.


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