The Church of Scotland has defended people living in poverty, and those who need benefits to live, against the lies regularly told about them by some in the media and politics.
The Vice Convener of the Kirk's Church and Society Council, the Rev Dr Chris Wigglesworth, speaking following the publication of statistics about welfare costs if there is a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s Scottish independence referendum, tackled the issue directly.
He declared: “In public debate there are plenty of lies and myths about poverty – in politics, the media and even the church – that the poor are poor mainly because they are feckless, workshy and liars.
“We know this is untrue and unjust – the evidence is clear. Instead of seeing welfare as a problem that needs to be managed, politicians have to be fair in addressing unemployment and low pay.
“Social security is much more than a safety net that benefits all of us by being there, in case we ever need it, and which makes a real difference.
“The stigma of poverty is a blight on our society and on Scotland’s future, independent or not. For the family relying on food banks, or the household struggling to manage tighter budgets thanks to the so-called bedroom tax, we say this is unjust.
“When Jesus said ‘the poor will always be with you’ he did not then add ‘so that’s all right then’," said Dr Wigglesworth.
The Church of Scotland is collaboration with other major church bodies, including the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in speaking out about myths concerning welfare, benefits and poverty.
The work has been galvanised by the churches' Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT), and backed by agencies like Church Action on Poverty and the Christian think-tank Ekklesia.
* Truth and lies about poverty, benefits and welfare: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18086