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미국교회지도자50인, 세계적인 부국에서 가난은 있을 수 없는 일

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2000-03-03 00:14
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Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
24 February 2000


50 US church leaders say poverty is unacceptable in world's
richest nation
ENI-00-0063

By Chris Herlinger
New York, 24 February (ENI)--A coalition of US religious groups
covering a wide political and theological spectrum has launched a
campaign to put the issue of poverty on the national agenda.

Announcing a decade-long plan of action - which includes a
possible ten-per cent "poverty tithe" by churches - 50 leaders of
churches and related agencies said it was not morally acceptable
that poverty persisted in the US at a time of unparalleled
economic prosperity and expansion.

"Just as some of our religious forebears decided to no longer
accept slavery or [racial] segregation, we decided to no longer
accept poverty," the signatories said in a Covenant to Overcome
Poverty, made public on 16 February to coincide with the launch
of the national anti-poverty campaign.

"In the strongest economy of the wealthiest nation in history,
too many people are still being left out and left behind," the
leaders said, pointing out that 20 per cent of children in the US
grew up in poverty. For non-white children, the statistics are
even more alarming - a third of them grow up impoverished,
according to the religious leaders. "The disproportionate impact
of poverty on people of colour is a further indictment of our
society," they said.

Those participating in the campaign include Robert Edgar, newly
appointed general secretary of the National Council of Churches,
the nation's most representative ecumenical agency, and Rich
Cizik of the more conservative National Association of
Evangelicals. Leaders of several Roman Catholic organisations -
including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops - have announced
their support, as have leaders of World Vision, an Evangelical
relief agency, and heads of several mainly black denominations.
Also supporting the campaign are officials from Baptist, Greek
Orthodox, United Methodist and many other churches.

The religious leaders said it was time to end partisan
differences and commit religious groups to helping end poverty by
working in concert with government, business and labour. As a
step towards such involvement, the leaders announced a list of
"moral imperatives", including evaluating public policies and
political candidates by how "they impact people who are poor".

While not claiming to present an anti-poverty "blueprint" and
pointing out that no sector - church, government or business -
could on its own end poverty, the leaders set goals based on what
they called biblical norms and Christian reflection.

These include: a living family income for all who responsibly
work; affordable health care for all Americans; good schools;
safe, affordable housing; safe and secure neighbourhoods;
"family-friendly" policies; and full participation by people of
all races.

The leaders said neither they nor their organisations and
denominations were committed "to any particular ideological
method or partisan agenda to achieve these goals, only that they
be achieved".

"Partisan divisions have for too long prevented real solutions
to poverty", they said, "and it is real solutions to which we
must all commit ourselves. Political disagreements can no longer
be allowed to justify public inaction while those in poverty
continue to be neglected."

The leaders said they would begin by seeking to increase the
commitment of their own churches and organisations. "In every
local church, God's command to overcome poverty must shape our
worship, our preaching, our core ministries, and our budgets."
The goal of a ten per cent "poverty tithe" would, they said, be a
first step in devoting an increasing percentage of church
resources to overcoming poverty.

The campaign is part of an effort by Call to Renewal, a
faith-based social action alliance.

Jim Wallis, a leader of the campaign and editor of a Christian
magazine, Sojourners, said the issue of poverty was "a
non-partisan issue and a bipartisan cause". Wesley
Granberg-Michaelson, chairman of Call to Renewal and general
secretary of the Reformed Church in America, told the New York
Times that the various churches and groups might disagree on
specific public policy solutions to end poverty, but were united
in the common belief that poverty must be given a higher social
priority.