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Morality in America

Morality in America

When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.

Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage.  After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.

Poverty and the Welfare System

Morality in America

The open wound in America

By Carol Hatcher

“Is the glass half-empty or half-full?” Your answer to this may also reflect your answer to the question, “Are we headed for another recession?” It depends on your perspective. While construction of new homes and businesses across America is on the upswing, many economists predict a recession in the next year. Another recession means more citizens falling below the poverty line, and dropping below that line means a greater strain on government aid. {MORE}

For a family of four, the federal poverty level is a gross annual income of $24,250 or less. And according to the 2014 U.S. Census, over 45 million Americans live in poverty and rely on government assistance. If that number shocks you, there’s a good reason. Not many are talking about it. During a total of eight presidential debates, both Republican and Democrat, no one was discussing the poor. While Bernie Sanders spoke briefly about it, none of the moderators were asking questions on the topic. Instead the focus was on ISIS and terrorism. A quick look at the buzz words used on MSNBC shows the media isn’t focused on it either. But perhaps it deserves a greater look.

A study in 2011 showed 133,000 people died each year due to poverty related illnesses. That’s only slightly less than lung cancer at 156,000 deaths per year, but way more than the number of Americans killed by ISIS. The poor cost the government well over $1 trillion a year. Shouldn’t this be cause for notice?

Whether to create a stronger bandage or stop the source of the problem – that is the question. The last welfare reform happened twenty years ago this month when Bill Clinton signed a law requiring states to push welfare recipients into jobs. This became known as “workfare.” Many were skeptical of the idea and predicted failure, yet after the introduction of “workfare,” poverty rates dropped. More single mothers found jobs and stayed in them.

But when the Great Recession hit in 2007, many lost jobs and poverty rates rose again, along with the number enrolled in welfare. Now the Census Bureau shows that most families in poverty have no one in the work force.

Since welfare and poverty weren’t a big discussion in the debates, where do the candidates stand? Hillary said of her husband’s 1996 welfare reform, “I agreed that he should sign it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage—though he and the legislation were roundly criticized by some liberals, advocacy groups for immigrants and most people who worked with the welfare system.” Yet those around her at the time disagree with her claiming to be on board. They don’t remember her pushing for the vote at all. Trump supported the “workfare” system of the 1996 welfare reform but thinks there is a lot of fraud in the current Medicaid, disability insurance, and food stamp programs.

But again, this particular topic is not a hot one for either candidate. There is more discussion on immigration and terrorism. While the media may not have the poor on the top of the list for programming, the Bible has 446 mentions of “poor” or “poverty” in 384 separate verses.

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs 19:17

“But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’” Matthew 19:21

As a Christ follower, what can you do about the hurting welfare system and the poor and needy? Consider the stance of the candidates before casting your vote for president. Reach out to the people around you. Buy groceries for someone in need. Offer free babysitting to a single mother working to provide for her family. Give your time and resources to your local food pantry and clothes closet. You may not be able to fix the American welfare system, but you can help do something to help the poor.

And most importantly, pray. As the Lord leads, pray:

Carol Hatcher is a former elementary school teacher turned speaker and writer. She has contributed to many books and magazines and is a regular contributor to the Vantage Point devotional series. This southern belle lives with her husband and three children in Commerce, GA.

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