Evangelical Alliance Poverty Report
Conservative Party

Evangelical Alliance spins its own research to attack Government over poverty

 

The recent report from the Evangelical Alliance on attitudes to poverty has caused something of a storm in a teacup. The press release accompanying the launch stated:

Evangelicals have issued a stinging critique of the last government’s economic policy in new research from the Evangelical Alliance.

The Good news for the poor? report shows nearly four out of five evangelicals thought the last government’s economic policy hurt the poor more than the rich, while two thirds said welfare reform policies had a negative impact on the sick and disabled. Overall, just 15 per cent of evangelicals said the Coalition’s economic policy worked well to produce a more prosperous future for all.

The research shows a very high level of concern about poverty among evangelicals. This is motivated by a belief that God is on the side of the poor and this leads evangelical Christians to support a more generous welfare budget.

Now let’s get one thing clear: God’s heart is for the poor. If you cut out every verse in the Bible relating to poverty, you’re going to end up with a large mess of paper fragments. Evangelicals, like anyone who calls themselves a Christian, should be living lives that demonstrate compassion toward the poor and needy, seeking justice for all. However, this is not necessarily best achieved by complaining about the Government and believing that increasing welfare benefits will solve the problem.

Once you delve into the EA’s report, it appears that the press release is actually drawing a couple of rather superficial conclusions. 78 per cent of respondents did indeed say that the previous government’s economic policy hurt the poor more than the rich, but, to be honest, it’s surprising that this figure isn’t higher. As soon as welfare was cut as a result of austerity measures – which the Coalition had no moral option but to implement – those with the smallest incomes were inevitably going to feel the pinch far more than those with plenty, unless the rich had been hit so hard that the wealth-creators and drivers of economic growth had been taxed to the point of emigration. The important question is not who has been hit the hardest, but how hard the hit actually is. The survey responses provided do not conclusively deliver a ‘stinging critique’, as hyperbolically claimed, though a level of concern is patently justified, particularly for some vulnerable groups including the disabled, as Tanya Marlow’s recent guest article demonstrated.

The EA’s biggest inaccuracy, though, is to say that Evangelicals support a more generous welfare budget. The report found that 28 per cent were in favour of such a move, but 22 per cent believed that the budget was too high and should be reduced. That’s anything but an overwhelming endorsement. Furthermore, the top cause of poverty in the UK was considered to be welfare dependency.

Too often poverty is talked about and measured in purely monetary terms, but this is far too simplistic and in many ways unhelpful. The Centre for Social Justice think-tank has produced vast amounts of research on the subject and has come to the conclusion that the five key pathways to poverty are family breakdown, educational failure, economic dependency and worklessness, addiction and serious personal debt. Throwing money at people in order to drag them out of poverty will only get you so far and – as we found toward the end of Labour’s last term in office – is financially unsustainable. Attempts to genuinely address poverty require a more complex, intelligent and sophisticated approach.

Bearing this in mind, it would appear that Evangelical Christians are actually a pretty discerning bunch when it comes to understanding poverty and its root causes. If the majority of Evangelicals don’t see the need to increase the welfare budget, it’s not due to a lack of conscience, but rather the opposite: it is an appreciation that there are more important issues that the Government needs to be addressing above and beyond benefits. The report finds that the priority intervention in the alleviation of poverty is a good education. This is followed by developing strong businesses that offer employment, debt advice and money management courses; preventing family breakup; training programmes that help people get decent jobs; the Church getting involved in social action, and sustained economic growth.

It’s hard to argue with this list. It offers answers that are far more astute than the one the press release presents. In fact, the EA’s promotion of their report is, sadly, a missed opportunity. Instead of using it to take a cheap shot at both the previous and current governments, it could have been used so much more effectively as an offer for engagement; to share ideas and present a mutual desire to collaborate in tackling poverty on behalf of all of the Christians they represent. If you look at the proposed solutions, some need to be addressed by our politicians, but others are already being delivered by churches more successfully than any government could hope to do.

Church and Government are really not opponents on this matter. Both have an interest in working toward building a strong and stable nation where poverty is set firmly on a course of terminal decline. Sure, the current Government, like every one before it, will get things wrong and make some bad decisions along the way. We might not like every policy, or despise the party that won the General Election, but in seeking to change the attitudes of our politicians, Christian leaders with a public role should be looking at themselves and considering whether a hostile ‘them and us’ approach needs to be reconsidered. There is a better way forward, and it starts with a bit more honesty and humility, and less grandstanding and spin. We might even begin with a comprehensive and courteous assessment of how we define ‘poverty’.

  • Orwell Ian

    There’s
    certainly lots to say from the Bible about a Christian concern for
    the poor, but there’s plenty too to say about the value of work,
    discouraging laziness and the value of earning a living. Encouraging
    those who can to get into work is good for them, for their families,
    for the economy and wider society. Breaking an unnecessary dependence
    on benefits and providing training, jobs and living wages is better
    and more Biblical than handouts.

    Government acquiescence in the EU policy of “free movement of
    people” is preventing us breaking the cycle of dependency. Many
    citizens cannot take a minimum wage job without becoming worse off
    through loss of benefits, whereas a migrant surviving on a £10
    weekly food voucher will gladly do so. Those with a vested interest
    in screwing wages down are the ones who profit from this. The
    enrichment of
    insiders, cronies, bureaucrats and lobby groups will continue to
    ensure that
    the poor will always be with us.

  • elizabeth sadler

    This is a brilliant article and so relevant.I have recently become frustrated with Christian friends who have bemoaned the fate of the “poor and vulnerable”with a conservative government in power.How true it is that you do not solve problems with “throwing money at people”. When working in Brent I learnt that it was a well known fact that many young girls would get themselves pregnant in order to obtain a council flat and have everything provided.No one talks about responsibility in relationships anymore,and the tax payer has to pick up the bill for marriage breakdown,and absent fathers.I come from a poor working class background but access to a grammar school education was my deliverance. My grandparents lived in a house where there was no bathroom or toilet,only a bucket in a shed outside.My father’s father died at 38 as a result of WW1 injuries;his widow brought up 5 children alone …..the youngest was 10 days old when his father died(he is still alive today at 92)and my father the eldest at 14. There was no NHS and no benefits, and my grandmother received no pension. There were no food banks.She scrubbed floors to survive.All children did very well;they were not alcoholics or drug takers ,and they all worked hard. Out of these impoverished roots came a grandson with a phD in History and my own daughter who has a BSc,MSc and phD. It can be done……

    • David

      That is a heartening story Elizabeth.

    • Phil R

      My mum was the same. From a family of 11 children with one wage from my Grandfather with a body still containing shrapnel from Gallipoli.

      I simply was not allowed to moan. Occasionally she would take us to the tiny terraced house with a yard and we could never imagine so many living there.

      As she said. Her circumstances were not the worst by far. She had a loving family and never felt she was hard done by.

    • Linus

      In them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.
      A cup o’ cold tea.
      Without milk or sugar.
      Or tea.
      In a cracked cup, an’ all.
      Oh, we never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.
      The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.
      But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.
      Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, son”.
      Aye, ‘e was right.
      Aye, ‘e was.
      I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
      House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, ‘alf the floor was missing, and we were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
      Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t’ corridor!
      Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would ha’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.
      Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.
      We were evicted from our ‘ole in the ground; we ‘ad to go and live in a lake.
      You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.
      Cardboard box?
      Aye.
      You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.
      Luxury! We used to have to get out of the lake at six o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of ‘ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
      Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o’clock at night and lick road clean wit’ tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit’ bread knife.
      Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
      And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.
      They won’t!

  • Sybaseguru

    Having given 2 people jobs and seen them both go from the gutter to being very “productive” and useful members of society (and the church) I cannot underestimate the value of giving people jobs. However there’s one other corollary – those jobs need to be self sustaining – real jobs that the people doing them see as being important. I’ve seen these two guys light up when explaining to people how even being a navvy is vital to getting the building done, and at the end could point to the building and say “I helped build that” .

    • IanCad

      All work is noble. It is a shortsighted government that allows low skilled foreign workers to perform work that should be done by the natives.
      Let no one tell me that we need the foreigners because the British won’t do the grunt work. That is just not so. Same story in the USA.

      • Phil R

        “Let no one tell me that we need the foreigners because the British won’t do the grunt work”

        They won’t by and large. Don’t forget, most of our unemployed have never done any work not schoolwork, not grunt work or whatever.

        • sarky

          Cant beat a sweeping generalisation can we Phil.

          • Phil R

            I can point out families who have never worked by choice.

          • sarky

            Of course, but they are the minority. Most would rather work, it’s a little thing called pride.

          • Anton

            They’re not stupid Sarky, they know very well that hard work is a curse – just like Genesis 3 says.

            If someone who has never worked is forced by finances to take a job then he won’t at first have a good attitude, but this can change with time. A major deterrent to employing such people is, however, the privileges of employment that they also get, which most Eastern Europeans don’t. Old-fashioned Trade Unionists who want full employment have shot themselves in the foot by their success in getting such generous packages into the Statute book.

          • sarky

            Are you advocating cutting hard won workers rights?

          • Anton

            I’m advocating a joined-up debate about employment, immigration and benefits which includes the issue of workers’ rights.

          • Phil R

            To put it bluntly they are unemployed for a reason it seems.

        • IanCad

          I disagree. Sure, there are skivers but offer a man or school leaver a job and they will jump at it.
          Problem is – mainly for the young – is the nanny state. Employers dare not hire them. I say scrap HSE for a start. Or, at least give it a good pruning.

          • Phil R

            ” Sure, there are skivers but offer a man or school leaver a job and they will
            jump at it.”

            Yeah right.

            Been there tried that.

          • Maybe if you offered wages for work Phil they might take the job! 😉

          • Phil R

            If I am paying real money I want real work.

          • sarky

            And in the real world……..

          • Phil R

            In the real world in the UK.

            So often it seems crap work is “good enough”.

            We have to learn to be the best again as country or get used to real poverty.

            The Germans and Dutch seem to do their best and always expect the best. We need to adopt their mentality.

          • I would say employees are only as good as their employers. If you want
            perfection then you have to be perfect yourself.

            I don’t know a lot about the quality of school leavers here these days
            Phil, only from my friends children and they have gone on to
            universities. But they can’t all be no hopers where you are surely?
            You maybe need to nurture the youngsters along a bit.

            In Germany they all do apprenticeships even for working in retail,
            horticulture or cleaning industries. Professional cleaning is a
            science and if you want to work in the local healthfood or chemist
            shop you need to complete the Chemist and Drugist apprenticeship
            where you learn about herbs, remedies, nutrition and the composition
            of mainstream toiletries and cosmetics (not to be confused with a
            Pharmacist for which a degree is necessary)

            The German firms encourage and nurture the young apprentices so that they mature into good, knowledgeable employees. I guess the British
            education system is sadly not nearly as thorough.

          • Phil R

            I was talking to a German Doctor a few weeks ago. He told me that he used to be a teacher. I seemed surprised, but he said he did it as part of his role as a doctor. I asked him who did he teach and he said hairdressers. When I seemed surpirsed, he told me it was very important and all German hairdressers need to pass the module he taught.

            It was to spot heath problems from hair texture skin and other clues. He said they often spotted problems before anyone else and saved lived.

            He asked didn’t hairdressers have the same training in England?

          • Phil R

            My point was not that that school leavers could not be trained, but it costs money to get them up to an acceptable standard.

            Since I can find good experienced staff I don’t need to train anyone and it involves real costs to train someone which is far more than the difference in pay between experienced and none.

            My view is that school leavers should be willing to work for free or pay for their own training.

          • sarky

            Pay peanuts you get monkeys!

  • MrsBurgin

    I agree that churches should work constructively with government. Under the last Labour government, there wasn’t much “constructive working” at all – certainly near the end. If we want “constructive working” we should want it under every colour of government – even if we don’t like it.

  • Anton

    The gap between rich and poor is indeed widening due to government policy, but not because of welfare cuts. The reason is that the rich are getting richer because of Quantitative Easing policies, ie unbacked money printing. These policies are designed to prevent deflation-and-depression in the short term. Whether they will do so in the long term is open to question; the government’s (unstated) hope is to eventually manage a generally tolerable rate of inflation that will reduce its own debt in real terms. For now, though, the money has to go somewhere and it artificially pumps up the stock market where people with spare money have their investments. The people worst hit by present policies are those with the lowest incomes who are not in receipt of any benefits.

  • len

    You cannot create’ a fair and just society’ through legislation.That is becoming increasingly apparent through all the attempts by various laws such as’ the Human Rights act’ and ‘anti discrimination laws’. Both of these have been taken and used against the concept of’ a fair and just society .’
    The problem we are facing goes much deeper than creating a new law to restrain a particular aspect of human nature we are trying to control.

    With the philosophical concept of’ ‘no moral absolutes’ who has the right to tell me what I can or cannot do?.
    The divide between rich and poor is apparent for all to see and it is the same ‘human nature’ and the obsession with’ self’ that will abuse the benefits or the Tax systems.
    In short we are running out of solutions to the problems afflicting humanity if we rule out God.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Indeed so. It is changing hearts that is needed. The Holy Spirit and the Gospel are thus what is needed, not legislation. Prayer, preach, not jaw, law.

      • sarky

        So how are you going to do that then?
        Its just that you don’t seem to be making much of an impact.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Patiently. We have till the end of time.

          • sarky

            Not really a constructive answer (either that or you havnt got a clue)

          • Anton

            We start with ourselves. Then we aim to stand fast against evil wherever we encounter it in our lives, and preach to others to do the same things. These are things we cannot do in our own strength but we find that help is given to us, even if the world does not recognise that fact.

            The temptation for Christians is to make the church into a political organisation. But England has never been a Christian nation; the new covenant is with the individual believer, the church is the collective of the faithful and has certain characteristics as such but is nowhere told to go political (politics = law, the gospel = grace), and only one nation has ever had a ratified national covenant and it isn’t England (or the USA). What we were is a relatively moral nation – I say relatively because there is abundant institutional injustice and cruelty in our history, but only since the War when secularism really took off have the statistics for family breakdown rocketed.

            We are in fact warned that the world will go to pieces even as we seek to stand against evil and introduce others to Christ. Does this dismay us? Not at all, for he will come back and do the political stuff in person himself. Anybody who has ever wished for universal and just government should long for that day.

          • sarky

            Hmmm, sounds like a dictatorship to me.

          • Anton

            Yes – it will be. But it will come as the overthrow of an evil dictator by the ultimate benevolent dictatorship.

          • sarky

            Is there such a thing?

          • Anton

            Not yet, because all dictators to date have been fallen – but you can compare what the gospels say of Jesus’ character with biographies of past dictators.

        • grutchyngfysch

          I could introduce you to people for whom the Holy Spirit has utterly transformed their lives. Prostitutes who are now upstanding mothers, drug abusers and dealers who are now free from their addiction and working with others to help them do the same, former criminals and (since this is Northern Ireland) former terrorists who have been saved by Jesus and now work with the very people they once sought to murder.

          That’s the impact of the Holy Spirit. Lifechanging.

          • sarky

            Having been brought up in the church I heard these sought of stories all the time, funnily enough I never met one of these people. However, I do concede that christianity can bring a bit of stability into an otherwise chaotic life. Is this supernatural? I doubt it, it’s just people responding to a bit of otherwise lacking kindness.
            christianity never seems to impact on people whose lives are already pretty good, why is that?

          • Phil R

            They left their old lives behind them Sarky.

            Would you as mum with kids stand up and tell everyone you used to be a whore?

            You are a mum now and a Christian and that is all that matters

          • sarky

            What about the ones who weren’t hookers?
            Anyway, doesn’t really answer my question.

          • Linus

            That’s a good point. No Christian has ever managed to explain to me what the advantage of Christianity is for people who have fulfilling lives and happy marriages and no particular worries or traumas to deal with.

            It’s like Christ is some kind of pain-killing drug being pushed by a pharmaceutical company trying to persuade us that we’re all sick and need to be treated. Only we’re not. I don’t swallow paracetamol tablets unless I have a headache, and I never have headaches. And even if I did, I’d think twice about putting some weird chemical symptom suppressor into my body just for the sake of dulling a little temporary pain. Much better to live with the headache until it passes rather than pumping myself full of a noxious substance that may do me more harm than good in the long run.

          • William Lewis

            Christ defeated death. He doesn’t offer anyone a better life here and now, in fact the reverse. He does offer the possibility of a truly fulfilling life that transcends the material questions of “shall I have another croissant?” or “shall I take one paracetamol or two?” and, of course, He offers a better future but you can take it or leave it.

            Bottom line: If your life is all about how best to navigate your next headache then Christ has nothing to offer you.

          • Linus

            That’s pretty much what I thought. In effect you’re saying that we should ignore this life, which we know to be real because we’re living it, and concentrate instead on a hypothetical afterlife for which no proof exists.

            The problem is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. And when the bird in the bush is invisible and all you know about it are wild tales recounted by people whose basic psychological equilibrium you doubt, and who offer no corroborating evidence with which to back up their eye-popping claims, you’d be a fool to let the bird you hold in your hand fly away in order to grasp at their mirage, wouldn’t you?

            Quite frankly, if God is real, I don’t see why he has to make believing in him so difficult. All this argument about whether he’s real or not could easily be resolved if he would only show himself. The argument that by doing so, he would so dazzle us that free will would be cancelled out is clearly spurious. Adam and Eve knew him personally and yet they still managed to act independently. As did Lucifer.

            The concept of God is so bizarre that it really can’t be accepted on faith alone. It flies in the face of everything we know about the universe and how it works. Giving up everything in this life for a promise of something better in a putative afterlife that nobody can prove exists is quite simply a bad bet. As investments go, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

          • William Lewis

            “That’s pretty much what I thought. In effect you’re saying that we should ignore this life …”

            On the contrary. I am advocating living this life to its fullest extent.

          • Linus

            Tell that to the gay Catholic closet case who’s decided to be celibate for the Lord and lives a peculiar kind of solitary half-life on the fringes of his religious community, alone most of the time, and otherwise hanging around straight couples like the eternal third wheel. He’ll crush on the husband in the world’s worst-kept secret, and demand emotional support from the wife, who can probably barely tolerate him (and only then because her religion demands it). What a miserable existence.

            That’s what “living life to its fullest extent” means for gay individuals in your mean little religion.

          • William Lewis

            It’s a sad picture you paint and no doubt Christians struggle to live the life at times, both for themselves and for their brothers and sisters in Christ but we are, or should be, here to help one another and I am often astounded at how far members of my Christian community will go to help and care for one another, particularly when in need.

            We had a chap from a neighbouring church come and speak about his difficulties in dealing with his same sex attractions but he was determined to live out his Christian faith as best he could. Speaking about it clearly helped but it was also clear that we fellow Christians have a duty of care to acknowledge and help him in his particular struggles. Fellowship and loving him as a brother are key, I think.

          • dannybhoy

            “Having been brought up in the church I heard these sought of stories all
            the time, funnily enough I never met one of these people.”
            You were perhaps brought up in a non-expectational or non evangelical church?
            What grutchynfysch says is exactly my own church type background where people would be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and be “born again.”
            In fact it is only since attending a CofE church where by and large symbolism and ritual triumph over active faith, that we aren’t seeing people being born again..

          • grutchyngfysch

            There’s no universal testimony, but it is hardly the case that all who have been saved by Jesus have lacked in kindness – quite often people descend into hell on earth despite the fact that they have started out surrounded by people who care. One man I know, for instance, had a supportive family, supportive parents, a supportive employer(!), and despite all these things ended up in a very dark place. Plenty of others have had years of professional support through charities and government agencies, and yet are not saved by their efforts. When I wrote life changing, I meant it absolutely literally: I mean the Holy Spirit coming in power to transform a life, to clean it out, to restore and heal. Although the slow recovery through human kindness is a part of the mission of the Church, it is not its only work: I am talking heroin addictions broken in a single night. That is the power of the Gospel, and the work which God does in men and women today.

            The question you ask is an excellent one, though. I’d agree: it often seems that those who live a life of relative comfort are least moved by the Gospel. You may well be familiar through your upbringing with the parable of the royal wedding feast, but I think the simplest explanation is that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

            The Good News, sarky, is that someone saved by radical intervention is not “more saved” or more dear to the Father than the one who comes by assent of reason and quiet conviction in the power of the Cross to the new life which God will create in you.

          • sarky

            I think you have to be very careful in making such miraculous claims. I would like to see your evidence for heroin addiction being broken in a night.
            Being more or less saved is kind of irrelevant. Linus puts it pretty well above. Christianity has nothing for people with already good lives. (Apart from maybe a restrictive set of rules and a cut in disposable income due to tithing)

          • Phil R

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Pullinger

            Read her book —- Chasing the Dragon.

          • William Lewis

            “I think you have to be very careful in making such miraculous claims. I would like to see your evidence for heroin addiction being broken in a night.”

            A friend of mine used to work with heroin addicts and has seen it happen often.

            “Christianity has nothing for people with already good lives. (Apart from maybe a restrictive set of rules and a cut in disposable income due to tithing)”

            I became a Christian when my life was going very well. I had a fun, well paid job and a great marriage with a young, happy, healthy family. I wanted to know if I had just won the lottery of life and if, in fact, we are just the sum of our biological functions. It seemed to me that, in this broken world, love was the greatest aspiration for man. That was my first step towards Christ. It turned out that I also needed to feed my soul. You speak of restrictive rules but truly I could not imagine the freedom I have now.

          • grutchyngfysch

            What evidence would I provide? You want to come and touch the needle scars? You want to see the sallow-faces in the before photos next to the live and healthy after photos? As one friend has described their experience: a couple of months after becoming a Christian, having struggled (and not always succeeded) throughout that time to stay clean, my friend simply fell on the ground one night at home and confessed to God that they would need His help. In that night, the addiction was broken, and my friend has been clean ever since (now a number of years, throughout which time I have worked with, worshipped weekly alongside and spent time with them – so, yes, I am fairly certain that there was no deceit or secretive return to drugs). If you think that we are “miracle chasers”, you’d be sadly disappointed.

            We’re not daft: we know that people can claim things which transpire over time to be false. In the case of my friend, we actually supported going to a rehab centre a matter of days after the addiction was broken. My friend ended up coming home within the first fortnight when it became apparent to the people running the centre that there was no need whatsoever to be there.

            As I said, these are not stories passed onto me third-hand: these are people whom I know well who I can see and speak to at least every week, in whom a transformation which has lasted the years has taken place. All because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

            I know where you and Linus are coming from – I used to be there too. At best, I considered Christianity a social action plan explicable by psychology and social solidarity – I even used to spend time wondering if it might be possible to strip out God and retain all the “useful” benefits (a task which the Anglican Communion appears to be continuing to progress). In short, the only thing I cared about saving in Christianity was “what it could do for others (or, as the case may be, me)”. I can’t even fully explain to you how I ended up a believer: I just know that one day, I was presented with two paths: I could either stay as I was, and thereafter continue on my way, or I could accept that God was not only real but True, with all the consequences to that acceptance. I chose the latter, though I do not know how, since my mind was very much in bondage to the philosophy of use that’s been outlined. I do know that now the things that I once would have seen as the hallmark of a good life have grown strangely dim. And yes, I suppose from a worldly perspective I am in fact worse off – but I cannot count it a cost, because I know Jesus.

  • I think the problem is that so few pew-filling church goers actually encounter “the poor” (or C2DE’s in the demographers’ social gradings) that all the judgements they make are based on assumptions and left-wing propaganda rather than facts.

    A great deal of my working life has involved visiting the homes of families based in some of the most economically deprived parishes of England (at least according to this data. Not just once or twice, but the same families week-in and week-out over many years.

    Over the past 5 years I saw a number of dads who had never had a job forced to go for interviews or face sanctions on their income support & benefits. Now according to the socialists who seem to infest most of the poverty-industry seminars I attended over the years (… the buffets at some of those seminars are tremendous btw), sanctions are the devil’s tool for beating the backs of the poor & oppressed. Here’s the reality. Those dads were scared of going for those interviews and made all sorts of excuses – their self-esteem was rock bottom. But when they came back with jobs the change in their demeanour & self-confidence was palpable. It did them far more good than 10 years of “loving” charitable hand-outs, and “poor you” pity parties.

    Meanwhile, many of my well-meaning but hopelessly misguided Christian friends would lobby the government for more welfare, more handouts, and more money for more glossy leaflets and vegetarian buffets for the poverty industry drones.

    Work not welfare is the solution.

  • David

    The path out of poverty is by means of trade and work.
    Those who, often through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times need compassionate help upwards through training.
    Governments should obviously adopt policies that encourage employers to prosper and create more jobs.
    But taxing everyone up to the hilt, be it income tax, stealth taxes or excessive taxes on companies, simply depresses economic activity, pushing the country’s economy downwards.
    Everyone, be it individuals, families and countries prosper if they follow God’s advice for our lives.
    Happiness, ultimately, comes not from hand-outs, which must be a temporary bridge back to work, but from pursuing trade, work, productive reinvestment of profits, and heeding God’s laws which are there for our guidance and which lead us into wholesome living.
    The vast majority in our sadly beleaguered country have set their face against God. They have been led, tricked into this by false teachers, including many in the Churches who have failed to challenge ungodly ways, as they have found it easier to “go with the flow”, the grain of our society.
    The results are disastrous.
    A Church that follows society, and fails to point out the true path, is useless, as it doesn’t challenge evil.
    That is where we are at present. I see no prophets in any of the Churches.
    The ones that do preach the gospel, in churches that are growing, are sidelined by the “liberal” media, led by that disgrace of a corrupt, self-serving organisation, the BBC.
    We can only continue this slide downwards, short of a national turning again to God.
    But amongst all this those individuals and families that continue to conform to God’s pattern prosper and live productive, socially useful and satisfying lives.
    So hope springs eternal for those who acknowledge our human need of God.

  • Watchman

    First, we have to define poverty if we are to have any chance of having a reasoned debate on the subject. Who are the poor and how are we defining what makes them poor? Why do the highest crime rates seem to attach themselves to those defined as poor? Would Jesus, when He walked this earth, define it in the same way as we do and wouldn’t it be a good idea to answer that question before we launch ourselves after the same definitions of mammon?

    Those who plead for the poor always seem to be negative about the rich, as though all that the rich have obtained is by illegitimate means rather than hard work and shrewd business acumen. Drawing comparisons in this way does not lead to healthy debate but leads towards assuming that those drawing the comparisons that they are envious and somehow the rich are responsible for others being poor.

    How dare the church use the material standards of the world to define poverty when the spiritual poverty of the nation is so palpable? Shouldn’t they be addressing this spiritual poverty as the real poverty?

    I was brought up in extreme poverty, but we were the happiest of families: I simply assumed that everybody was brought up in the same circumstances. Would I have been unhappy if I noticed that everyone else was rich? I think not, our happiness was contained in the knowledge that the Love of God provided us with all the good things that we had and to this day I am grateful for that blessed upbringing which taught me that poverty is in no way related to my material circumstances.

    • dannybhoy

      Well said Watchman.

    • not a machine

      I think Jesus was living in a highly legalised jewish state overtaken by roman power , although crime clearly did exist (based upon the law so interpreted at the time) , but I agree with you this position of talking about the poor and simultaneously blaming the rich , isn’t that good an interrogation of the problem .The rich will face god just the same as the poor on judgment day , I doubt there is a VIP lounge version of peguatory.
      However I perhaps distinguish what sort of help do the poor need ? and in my view that is education and work . What should you do with a teenager who despite being poor , puts two fingers up at teacher and education , when if they could see there ignorance they would want to study ?? .
      What do you do with the rich kid , who puts two fingers up to teacher and education , saying I can buy my grades ??.
      I think we are perhaps defining the righteous and un righteous poor , and something of greed who are in power to so twist economics as to deny a fair playing field , or fair play .
      but I think we should end up in socialism in thinking these ideas through which is easy to do .

      • not a machine

        Ahem I meant ,I don’t think we should end up socialism in thinking these ideas through which is easy to do …

      • dannybhoy

        You’ve hit the nail on the head there. People are often unaware that Israel was a nation with a clearly defined (revelatory) religious system which affected everything in everyday life. They knew what their obligations were to God and to each other. There was no democracy, no welfare state, no human rights legislation. Everything they needed to know in order to function as a society was contained in the Scriptures and interpreted by the priests.
        So to use ‘theocratic Israel’ as our role model today just isn’t going to work. The Jewish people were called into a Covenant relationship with God, and were called to both separate themselves from the Gentiles and to teach the Gentiles about the one true God.

        • Watchman

          Too true, Danny. The Torah does contain a perfect system of economic and civic management for a theocratic state. But as we all know they were a “stiff necked” people and insisted on doing things their own way. I’ve often thought it would be an interesting experiment for any nation to try to implement the “teaching” of the Torah. God chose a difficult people to love and gave them the best possible chance of success with laws only for their good – and if they were good for them they would be presumably good for any nation.

          • dannybhoy

            They eventually wanted to be like other people with a king, they failed to drive out all the peoples God told them to, and some ended up being corrupted by them.
            I think it would be possible to outwardly conform, but as God Himself said,

            Isaiah 29:13

            Then Adonai said:
            “Because these people approach me with empty words,
            and the honor they bestow on me is mere lip-service;
            while in fact they have distanced their hearts from me,
            and their ‘fear of me’ is just a mitzvah of human origin —
            I don’t think any people would have done better simply because we are all essentially selfish anyway.”
            Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

            This is what outward conformity leads to, and the same thing can be seen everywhere. The Catholic and CofE churches are but two examples.

          • Watchman

            Firstly, thanks for quoting from the CJB, it’s my bible of choice and David Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary gives real insight into the customs and idioms of the New Testament world. Conformity comes from mans desire to emulate the world so churches become organisations in the manners of worldly organisations; they are not led by the Spirit but by committees etc. one of the best articles on the true nature of christianity is by James Fowler at http://www.christinyou.net/pages/anomxnty.html.

          • Anton

            I am all for the Hebraic roots movement but while the CJB might translate Galatians it does not take its message seriously. St Paul tells the Corinthian church that he will abide by the Law for tactical reasons when preaching to Jews, though “not being myself under Law” (1 Cor 9:20; this is a word-for-word translation of Paul’s Greek). In contrast,
            Stern renders this phrase as “not under a perversion of Torah” – sheer eisegesis, which holds ethnic Jewish Christians under the yoke of the Law.

          • Watchman

            Thank you, Anton, I am taking seriously your comments and am now having doubts about the translation. I came across and article written by him entitled “Torah Incognita” in which he seems to be suggesting the same approach. For all its good points I shall now treat this translation with a good deal of caution.

      • Watchman

        Your reference to education is an interesting one because it forms part of the genre of mantras that defines a liberal/left culture. There seems to be a lack of joined up thinking in governments that provide free-at-the-point-of-delivery services. When the great acts of Parliament were passed in the 1940s did anybody ever consider the effects that this legislation would have on the culture and the expectations that they would engender in the populace. Free education, free health care, and free money for those couldn’t work must have appears beyond their dreams,,,,, except that it wasn’t free, it just appeared to be; someone had to pay but as we all know easy come, easy go! Things that we don’t have to pay for or are paid for by someone else stop being valued; education that has been paid for isn’t used, health services are abused with inappropriate demands made on it and the benefits system is abused by those who simply don’t want to work.

        To attempt to define poverty in such a culture poses huge difficulties because real poverty, poverty that exists in most third world countries, simply doesn’t exist. It is so short-sighted of the EA to talk of poverty in this country when there is so much abuse and waste in the safety net system,

        • not a machine

          I perhaps am thinking of education in the sense of science over moral story , which I think is more of a necessity in a technological world .
          That said I think an overly technological world is rather damaging , even if we need to go beyond mars in the next billion or so years

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    Both [church and government] have an interest in working toward building a strong and stable nation

    The study by Robert Putnam, E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century, finds that the more diverse a community, the less successful it is; The Boston Globe has an article about the study. Similarly, the paper, The Nature of Civil Conflict, finds that conflict within a territory increases with genetic diversity.

    As political leaders have chosen to make Britain racially and religiously diverse, and as church leaders have chosen to give their blessing to diversity, both church and state are deliberately creating a weaker country. Those rose-tinted spectacles you’re so fond of—throw them away and judge the world by how it is, not by how it ought to be.

    • Anton

      A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand – Mark 3:24.

  • Phil R

    I agree with Watchman here. (It must be a first time) That we need to define poverty.

    We have poverty in this country, too much poverty in fact and we seem keen to blame everyone else but ourselves for this “poverty”.

    Far better for the Evangelical Alliance to promote something positive for once rather than negativity that we constantly hear from our Christian Leaders.

    Time to take responsibility for ourselves. A good start for the EA to promote is this Resolution from Courageous the movie.

    I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.

    I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.

    I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.

    I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.

    I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

    I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.

    I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.

    I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.

    I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

    I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.

    I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.

    I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

    As the woman in the poor family said in the movie to her out of work husband.

    “You are a rich man, you have two children that love, you, a wife that adores you and you live God with all your heart. YOU ARE A RICH MAN”

    She is exactly right.

    Now it is time to stop moaning and get doing.

    If you are serious about eradicating poverty, repeal 90% of the laws made in the last 40 years, 100% of the red tape and free people from taxes.

    Church Leaders, please give people some standards to live by and reduce the power of the state and so give people something to hope for and strive for.

    • sarky

      So how’s that going to work for the 96% of non christians?

      • Phil R

        It works for non Christians also that is the point

        • Linus

          I doubt it even works for you. Sure, you want to put up a front of being the perfect Christian husband and father, but perhaps we should hear what your wife and children have to say before we accord you that title.

          In my experience, those who sing their own praises the loudest are generally trying to hide something. Their entire self-image is bound up in being perfect at whatever they do or believe, or at least in convincing others that they’re perfect. They may believe it themselves, but more often than not it’s just a façade. And pity the poor loved ones trapped behind it with them. It isn’t easy living up to your husband or father’s demand that you reflect his self-proclaimed perfection in everything you are and do. More families crack apart under the pressure exerted on them by a tyrannical patriarch than from any other cause, I think. Especially nowadays when women and children have voices that can be heard.

          Let’s wait and see how your perfect Christian plan works out in reality, shall we? Whatever trials await you, none of them will be your fault, will they? How could they be when you’re such a model of Biblical perfection?

          Honestly, it’s this kind of self-delusion and utterly unfounded blind faith in a fictional paradigm of perfection that’s brought Christianity to the brink of collapse. We can all see that the theory just doesn’t work out in practice. A system that demands perfection from flawed people (and even if they fool themselves into thinking that faith makes them perfect, they’re still just as flawed as anyone else) can only end in tears. Generally those of the family members and other loved ones crushed under the jackboot of a despotic Christian father’s sociopathic certainties.

          • Phil R

            Yes and No Linus

            Yes Linus we sometimes don’t live up to the standards we set ourselves.

            You know what we should expect to fail occasionally. That does not make the aspirations wrong.

            No Linus having moral standards and aspirations of integrity is not what has brought collapse on the Christian Church. It is a great number of Churches saying that virtuous behaviour is unnecessary, that has brought collapse, upon themselves.

          • Linus

            Such a home as you describe is run solely for the benefit of the man. His wife and children are clearly subject to his will and exist only to serve and obey him.

            Good luck holding that together. If your wife doesn’t rebel first, one or other or all of your children will. And then we’ll see where all this Christian “virtue” gets you.

            It takes real force of character to bully an entire family into submission in this day and age. There are just too many opportunities for wives and children to free themselves from the authority of overbearing husbands and fathers. Nothing in your posts speaks of any particular talent for manipulation and browbeating. They’re much more expressive of a classic Christian male entitlement whine.

            “I’m a big he-man so respect and obey me or I’ll sit in a corner and sulk!” doesn’t quite cut the mustard these days. There’s just no social pressure on wives and children to submit themselves to such petulant behaviour.

          • Phil R

            Utter rubbish.

            The whole point of the Resolution is that the man is the servant of his family.

            He is the leader but he his role is to love cherish his wife and children, to to serve the family.

            It is the exact opposite of what you describe.

            Also the whole point of this being in a church setting is that it is done in conjunction with other Christian men, who are charged with holding him accountable as a Christian.

            In reality, it changes a man from one you describe, to a loving father.

          • Linus

            More self-serving propaganda from the usual suspect, I see.

            This “resolution” you speak of is nothing more than a smokescreen for tyrannical behaviour. You get together with other Christian men engaged in the same kind of Biblical bullying and justify yourselves to each other by calling yourselves noble and inspired by Christ. But the truth is that you’re really motivated by a desire to impose your beliefs on others and control their every move. Pity your poor wives and children, they’re in for a rough ride.

            Let’s see how it all turns out, shall we? How many wives and children will end up being beaten into submission? How many children once they’re old enough to be free of their fathers’ controlling tendencies will never want to see them again?

            The most extreme example that I’m familiar with of a religious maniac wreaking incalculable damage on those around him is to be found in the infamous Phelps family, but there are many others out there too. Psychologically unbalanced fathers wreck their children’s lives. It’s a good thing we have social services that can step in when it gets too extreme and do something about it. I guess they’ll have their work cut out for them dealing with religious nutters who make “resolutions” to impose their vision of God on their children, whether the children like it or not. But the good news is that a quick word to a sympathetic teacher from a downtrodden child is all it takes to put an end to a child’s suffering.

          • Phil R

            What you don’t like is that it is a direct challenge to your worldview of no morals and no dicipline. This real child abuse and abuse of your wife and family

            The Resolution is not imposed. It is discussed with wives and children and only if there is agreement is it implimented.

            BTW the resolution is a self imposed on the man. Not imposed on the family

            I don’t think social workers or teachers would have any issue with it

          • Linus

            What I really don’t like is the correlation between the kind of views you express and the utter inability to string a sentence together in correctly spelled English. Or any other language, come to that.

            Religious bigotry almost always goes hand in hand with an inadequate education. Talk about the sins of the father being visited on the children…

          • Phil R

            Grasping at straws now Linus

          • Linus

            No straws, merely pointing out that on any scale of academic achievement and intellectual dicipline (sic), the more fundamentalist a Christian you are, the less highly you’re likely to score.

            Apparently God likes ignorance. He recommends that we should have faith like children and just believe without seeking to understand. It would seem that the less knowledge we possess, the better he likes it.

            If the Church really is the bride of Christ, then we have to suppose that he’s the divine equivalent of a modern footballer who marries a dumb and obedient blonde. If you can barely string together a coherent sentence in your own language, perhaps the peroxide has seeped through your hair follicles and started to attack your brain. Let’s hope it doesn’t compromise your physical coordination next. I mean, if a WAG can’t totter about on towering heels, what good is she to anyone?

          • Phil R

            There are two things to say.

            Atheists seem pretty stupid (e.g. Dawkins) on the whole

            You cannot intellectually analyse God.

            The proof is overwhelming but you have to cast aside predudice

          • Linus

            The proof is not only underwhelming, it doesn’t exist at all. Show me a single verifiable and repeatable experiment, the results of which can only be explained by the existence of God. There isn’t one.

            And as for Dawkins, well the man certainly has his problems. But just as certainly, he’s clearly not stupid. Arrogant and dismissive perhaps, but not stupid. To call him stupid is an act of pretty breathtaking stupidity itself. So it seems to me that the pot is calling the kettle black, only it’s evident to everyone but the pot that the kettle isn’t black at all. It’s probably evident to the pot too, but it doesn’t want to admit as much because it’s embarrassed about its own limitations, so insulting others is a good way of deflecting unwelcome attention.

          • Phil R

            No Dawkins is stupid.

            There are numerous videos to prove it.

            One stating that life originated by “some evolutionary process” in outer space.

            “experiment, the results of which can only be explained by the existence of God.
            There isn’t one”

            Life

          • sarky

            Got to agree with Linus on this one. I saw many of my peers growing up subject to this type of parenting (though luckily not to me). Apart from one or two, the majority rebelled and continue to this day to have nothing to do with christianity. Many had problems growing up as they were subject to basically psychological abuse and also had to watch their mothers brow beaten into submission.
            This has caused them problems in theirown relationships and with their own parenting.
            Sometimes when you grip too tight, things end up slipping through your fingers.

          • Phil R

            You are fitting this to some sort of fictitious family that has no basis in reality

            Lets take the free and easy , divorce and have sex when you like parenting approach.

            The figures are quite startling. 5 times more likely to fail at school, 6 times more likely to commit suicide. 4 times more likely to be hooked on drugs and 20 times more likely to end in prison.

            You are missing the point, the bedrock is accountability and every families Resolution could be different as it would need to be agreed and reviewed.

            There is a resolution for women also. Note the section on not tolerating evil influences. Tollerating an abusive man is tolerating evil influences.

            I DO SOLEMNLY RESOLVE to embrace my current season of life and
            will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or
            circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of
            contentment.

            I WILL CHAMPION God’s model for womanhood in the face of a
            profeminist culture. I will teach it to my daughters and encourage its
            support by my sons.

            I WILL ACCEPT and celebrate my uniqueness, and will esteem and encourage the distinctions I admire in others.
            I WILL LIVE as a woman answerable to God and faithfully committed to His Word.

            I WILL SEEK to devote the best of myself, my time, and my talents to
            the primary roles the Lord has entrusted to me in this phase of my
            life.

            I WILL BE a woman who is quick to listen and slow to speak. I will
            care about the concerns of others and esteem them more highly than
            myself

            I WILL FORGIVE those who hav e wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

            I WILL NOT TOLERATE evil influences even in the most justifiable
            form, in my self or my home, but will embrace and encourage a life of
            purity.

            I WILL PURSUE justice, love mercy and extend compassion toward others.

            I WILL BE FAITHFUL to my husband and honor him in my conduct and
            conversation in order to bring glory to the name of the Lord. I will
            aspire to be a suitable partner for him to help him reach his God-given
            potential.

            I WILL DEMONSTRATE to my children how to love God will all their
            hearts, minds, and strength, and will train them to respect authority
            and live responsibly.

            I WILL CULTIVATE a peaceful home where everyone can sense God’s
            presence not only through acts of love and service but also through the
            pleasant and grateful attitude with which I perform them.

            I FULLY RESOLVE to make today’s decisions with tomorrow’s impact in
            mind. I will consider my current choices in light of those who will
            come after me.

            Pray for me as I begin this journey.

          • sarky

            This is absolutely not fictitious and these families were/are very very real. As for your figures, they are meaningless. Even if everyone signed up to your ‘resolution’ the figures would be the same – your plan doesn’t take into account human nature.
            To me it just sounds like another set of restrictive rules on top of already restrictive rules. Thankfully there is more chance ofhell freezing over than anyone taking them seriously.

          • Phil R

            Without both a biological father engaged in their families we have

            20 times more likely to end up in prison…..etc

            This is “meaningless” only if you don’t care about children’s outcomes and well being.

            BTW it is not a set of a restrictive rules. It is a statement about what the father will do for the family.

            In fact the exact opposite of what you are suggesting..

          • sarky

            Of course I care about children’s outcomes. It’s just that your thoughts only apply to a small percentage (you would have to ditch the god bit to make it inclusive), also having the father as the head of the family is an outdated and unwanted proposition. The families I know that work the best (and I include mine in this) are ones where patenting and all major decisions and tasks are split 50/50 down the middle.

          • dannybhoy

            ” A system that demands perfection from flawed people (and even if they
            fool themselves into thinking that faith makes them perfect, they’re
            still just as flawed as anyone else) can only end in tears.”
            It is true that a religious system which requires outward abedience and conformity to ‘the rules’ always leads to hypocrisy, harshness and despair. Perhaps even mental illness.
            The Christianity I and most evangelicals believe in centres on a relationship, whereby the emphasis is on the ‘father-child’ relationship rather than the ‘taskmaster -must do better’ model.
            Having lived in a Christian community with people from all kinds of backgrounds from around the world (brag..) you know that guilt, failure and condemnation can wreck a person’s life.

          • Phil R

            “guilt, failure and condemnation can wreck a person’s life”

            Also having nothing good to aspire to, wrecks lives.

        • sarky

          Take out the ‘god’ stuff and there’s not much left is there?

          • Phil R

            Never is.

            Watch what happens to the Girl Guides and the Scouts now that God is taken out.

          • sarky

            What’s happened to girl guides and scouts? ….. waiting lists! !

          • Phil R

            Think about why that is

          • sarky

            The offputting ‘god’ bit has gone?

          • Phil R

            Nobody wants to be a guide or (especially) a scout leader anymore.

            Child protection is stupid and for a man, there is so much sick nonsense written in the media. You motives are constantly suspect.

            I wouldn’t do it, but I wholeheartedly support the few left that do. They are swimming against a tide that wants to destroy all that is good.

  • Phil R

    It has occurred to me that perhaps MPs would like to set an example in this “time of austerity”.

    They could reduce their own “pay” by 50% (I would like to see it removed completely). This would be a good “One Nation” move.

    How about it Dave? …………… Dave?

    I am serious. They want to cut welfare, that is fine and perhaps even good, but they are there as an example and are supposed to be leaders, or have they forgotten that?

    No don’t answer, I think I know.

    While we are at it Church Leaders, can you afford to live on less? Perhaps give up your stipend if your spouse is working? Live on 30% if you are not married with a family?

    You see Leadership is not just about making speeches.

  • Inspector General

    Japan has an interesting way of buying homes. The place is so crowded and so expensive that when a house purchase does take place, the parents pay the mortgage until the children are in work, and they help pay off the rest. Mortgages of 50 years, then. With uncontrolled immigration to the UK, this must be coming to South East England very soon.

    Now, the UK has similar in a different area. We pay benefits in the here and now, and accumulate a debt because the benefits are far too grand, and we just can’t afford it. So what we do is pass the debt onto the as yet not born and say “This is yours now. Try and pay it off for us. We didn’t have the moral integrity to do the right thing back then. Sorry. Truly, sorry.” It’s a form of child abuse, it could be contested.

    Benefits are indeed so grand, that there are, again seemingly, enough jobs going in the UK, or at least parts of it, that a few million immigrants are gladly doing what the British won’t. Indeed, to communicate with the cleaning team at the Inspector’s day job, a good spattering of Polish would once have been necessary although now they’ve really picked up our lingo quite well of late.

    See the problem?

  • Politically__Incorrect

    I think this country suffers from poverty of faith. That is a problem that is equal to, or possibly greater than poverty of money. When things are tough, there is a tendency to bring out the nations favourite weapon; the blame-thrower. It is after all, much easier to point at scapegoats than to actively seek resolution of one’s problems. Blaming gains the individual nothing except a brief feeling of self-rightousness.
    A few years ago, a youing man came to my door selling household cleaning items. I diodn’t really need to buy anything from him. He showed me his ID card and explained he was on an ex-offenders rehabilitation programme and was trying to get into the habit of doing a normal job. That took some courage on his part to say that to a stranger. I was impressed with this young man’s sincere attempt to help himself and so bought a several items off him. His attitude is the kind that will (ands hould) draw support from those able to provide it.
    I would much sooner help such a person than someone who just complains and tells me the rich have too much and it should be taken from them. Taxing people out of existance solves nothing and is ultimately self-defeating.

  • jawjaw2013

    I agree there is a huge problem with the benefits system – which was used by successive Tory and Labour governments to cushion the impact of de-industrialisation, and shamefully under Labour coupled with mass immigration to supply the service sector rather than “rescuing” the indigenous working class from dependency – but I disagree that there was some kind of “moral imperative” to cut welfare following the crisis, caused by the banks (and not, as the Coalition successfully spun, Labour over-spending). As a conservative, I know why you seek to perpetuate this myth, but you could spare us the spin, not least because as a Christian you must know it is dishonest.

    In our developed economy, poverty is indeed relative – the government’s Troubled Families initiative (started under Labour, but continued under the Tories who then claimed credit for it) is an excellent illustration of its multiple causes, as echoed by the EA.