Do Poor People Have an Easy Life?

Sam Rainer

February 5, 2008

The Pew Research Center reports:

Fully a third of Americans (34%), in a January 2008 Pew survey, agree with the statement that “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return,” a number that has remained relatively constant in recent years… Overall, however, the number in the public taking this view has declined since the last decade; in 1995, a majority (54%) agreed with the statement. Today, however, a majority (52%) agree instead that “poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently.”

The emphasis on “government” is mine. I wonder what results the survey would uncover if we replaced “government” with “church?”

Obviously, anyone who has seen poverty at its worst would never claim that such a life is easy. It’s a ridiculous premise. But the point I desire to make is that many times we automatically think of the government and not the church when providing help to the poor. And I pray for the day when this general perception shifts.

What do you think about this statistical snippet?

4 comments on “Do Poor People Have an Easy Life?”

  1. Susan says:

    It bothers me when I think how little of my church’s budget is designated to help the poor. We just worked on our taxes and it is sobering to realize that my tax dollar will help the poor with their immediate needs more than my tithe dollar. I think American churches reflect our American heritage (pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stop looking for a handout) rather than a Christian heritage. We’re also a nation of extremists. We’re afraid to help the poor for fear we’ll be taken advantage of, so we don’t help them at all. Do you really think American churches will one day replace our government as the source for relief of poverty? I don’t know.

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    Susan – your point about tax/tithe dollars is sobering. As for American churches replacing the government in aiding the poor and needy, I don’t know that the shift will ever occur in totality. But it is what we are called to do.

    James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

    We should all begin working towards this goal.

  3. Josh says:

    “Do you really think American churches will one day replace our government as the source for relief of poverty? I don’t know.”

    That is where the responsibility used to be. There was actually a shift in the other direction – and is far less efficient and effective, not only in a monetary sense, but also a bureaucrat sending a check doesn’t have the love behind it that a Church staff member (and volunteers who assist) in helping those in need.

  4. Tommy says:

    I don,t know of any church that reaches out to the poor in any community to help the poor when it comes to helping them money wise.
    They would rather have it coming in than going out to the poor that are really in need. Pastors should preach to the poor that you give from the heart not from the pocket.

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