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Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort

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I found this article very troubling, yet it also explains a lot. I had long had the impression that my husband and I have been expected by church culture to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" or that we were suspected of being guilty of some hidden sin, thus God was refusing to bless us. This confirms the thinking behind the attitudes we have both encountered over the years. I think it is also a call to rethink the effect of sin on culture and the economy...




Which is generally more often to blame if a person is poor: lack of effort on their own part, or difficult circumstances beyond their control?


The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked 1,686 American adults to answer that question — and found that religion is a significant predictor of how Americans perceive poverty.


Christians are much more likely than non-Christians to view poverty as the result of individual failings, especially white evangelical Christians.


“There’s a strong Christian impulse to understand poverty as deeply rooted in morality — often, as the Bible makes clear, in unwillingness to work, in bad financial decisions or in broken family structures,” said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The Christian worldview is saying that all poverty is due to sin, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the sin of the person in poverty. In the Garden of Eden, there would have been no poverty. In a fallen world, there is poverty.”


In the poll, which was conducted from April 13 to May 1 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, 46 percent of all Christians said that a lack of effort is generally to blame for a person’s poverty, compared with 29 percent of all non-Christians. The gulf widens further among specific Christian groups: 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants blamed lack of effort while 41 percent blamed circumstances, and 50 percent of Catholics blamed lack of effort while 45 percent blamed circumstances. In contrast, by more than 2 to 1, Americans who are atheist, agnostic or have no particular affiliation said difficult circumstances are more to blame when a person is poor than lack of effort (65 percent to 31 percent).


The question is, of course, not just an ethical one but a political one, and the partisan divide is sharp: Among Democrats, 26 percent blamed a lack of effort and 72 percent blamed circumstances. Among Republicans, 63 percent blamed lack of effort and 32 percent blamed circumstances. And race mattered too: Just 32 percent of black Christians blamed lack of effort, compared to 64 percent who blamed circumstances.


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It makes me wonder who was behind that poll, and why it was made a subject of a poll in the first place--what good is going to come out of knowing the answers they received? When it mentioned politics, that's when I thought perhaps that was what was really at the root of asking such a question. That, and maybe hoping to find more ways to put down Christians, should 'they' receive the answers hoped for from those polled.


It's not an easy thing to be able to understand, as to why so many Christians seem to believe a lack of effort is behind poverty situations, but perhaps by knowing the results of such a poll it might help more of us take the time to consider just why it might be believed that the poor are just more lazy than the rest of us, which is why they are poor. Why the non-Christians believe the direct opposite of Christians, though, is telling to me, too--non-Christian views on most subjects are directly opposed to Christian views, or so it seems. They don't wish to blame 'the victim' for their plight, while we can often see right through excuses to the root of the problem, which just might be a bit of 'let the govt. support me' within the attitude of those in poverty. But, I dislike generalities, yet there I am making generalities on this subject, myself--sorry!


We've been on the verge of poverty ourselves for the last 20 years, but I know we're not lazy! So, I try to keep the words of the apostle Paul in mind, each time I begin to grumble about our financial situation:


"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."[Philippians 4:11 KJV]


As well as I hold close to my heart the words of Christ as to our being of far more value to God than sparrows, so He will fulfill all of our needs as He sees fit--He will give us what we need, not necessarily what we want or even think we need, and so far, that's been exactly right. Each time we've needed something somehow we've managed to obtain it--it might be transportation, and it might not be a new car, but it's a car that runs, and is in decent shape--if it's food, somehow the money is there to buy it--a job might show up right on time--things like that--and, it's been wonderful to see my faith rewarded like that, when I can actually see God keeping His promises to us, to never leave us, or forsake us, and how He will provide us with what we need to live, so we need never worry as to what we shall eat, or drink, or what we shall wear--just as Christ said!


"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life,what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"[Matthew 6:25 KJV]

Amen. :)

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