Use wealth to fight poverty, says church action group
Britainís leading Christian anti-poverty action group, Church Action on Poverty (CAP), has produced hard-hitting internet resources to provide an opportunity for churches to reflect on one of the most pressing questions facing us as a society: What is the purpose of our prosperity, and how can we find ways to share it more justly?
The material is deliberately timed to coincide with the launch of a major report from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), ëProsperity With A Purposeí, which will be published on 28 February. Media reports indicate that the study will call on the churches to take a more positive approach to wealth creation.
As a nation we are more prosperous than ever before, says Church Action on Poverty, which has a broad base of support and counts Labour MP and prime ministerial ëfaith czarí John Battle as its former chief.
CAP say there are record numbers of millionaires in Britain, record numbers of people in work, and unemployment is at the lowest level it has been for more than 25 years.
Yet, in spite of the governmentís efforts, they point out, there has been only limited success in reducing child deprivation. Over 3 million children continue to live in poverty. In spite of record levels of employment, 70% of people in poverty continue to rely only on state benefits for their income. And in spite of growing equality, almost half of all women have total individual incomes of less than £100 per week.
CAP direct Niall Cooper, who was on the CTBI working party, says that poverty in Britain continues to disproportionately affect members of black and ethnic minority communities, disabled people, older people and those living in the major urban centres.
Cooper quotes famous Christian social thinker R. H. Tawney, once a key figure in the Labour movement: ìWhat thoughtful rich people call the problem of poverty, thoughtful poor people call with equal justice a problem of riches.î
Many churches marked Poverty Action Sunday last weekend (6 February), but many more will be using the Church Action on Poverty materials over the coming months, says Cooper.
The online resources include biblical and theological reflections on the question of wealth and poverty, a subject addressed at greater length in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Jesusí teaching than any other subject.
In past years, Church Action on Poverty has used the Lenten period to encourage more affluent Christians in Britain to try living on the minimum wage for 40 days ñ in order to see what hardship is like, and in order to be able to donate any money saved to anti-poverty action.
CAP is a national membership organisation founded in 1982 as an ecumenical response to poverty in Britain. It has over 1,200 individual and organisational members from all the Christian denominations and beyond.