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Fighting Poverty with Faith

September 24, 2010, 10:12 am | Posted by Nick Sementelli

According to last week’s census data, one in seven Americans is now living below the poverty line–a fifteen-year high. These federal numbers are supported by the experiences of social service providers on the ground, who are seeing demand for assistance rise across the country.

In many places, religious groups are stepping up to meet these growing needs. As this article from the Center for American Progress’s Marta Cook and Brian Thorn shows, houses of worship of all faiths are expanding food pantries, medical services and housing to thousands of families in need.

These services are a testament to the positive role faith communities play in the lives of their neighbors, but on their own they are not enough. As Pope Pius XI reminds us, “charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into account.” With a jobless recovery, foreclosures, a decade’s worth of wage stagnation, and other structural problems sending more and more Americans into poverty, we should keep our focus on both charity and justice.

This is a lesson faith-based organizations know particularly well, and, as Cook and Thorn note, they’ve joined together to bring it to the forefront. With the Fighting Poverty with Faith campaign, religious organizations around the country are dedicating the month of October this year to education and advocacy around poverty and justice issues with the goal of cutting poverty in half by 2020. Bolstered by their direct experience fighting poverty in their communities and by their prophetic moral voices, faith groups are in a unique position to help make that happen.

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