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Census Bureau reports 43.6 million Americans live in poverty,
and NCC urges the government to take 'direct measures'

Washington, September 16, 2010 -- The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that the number of Americans living in poverty has climbed to 14.3 percent, and the National Council of Churches called upon the government to take action.

"Direct measures need to be taken to assure that even after economic prosperity is restored that vulnerable populations aren't left behind in the recovery," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary.

The rise in the number of persons living in poverty has been attributed to the economic downturn of the past two years. The Census Bureau reported that about 43.6 million people, or 1 in 7, were in poverty last year -- up from 39.8 million, or 13.2 percent, in 2008.

But Kinnamon pointed out that too many lived in poverty even before the economic collapse in 2008, and that government leaders have been preoccupied with supporting the middle class and the rich at the expense of the poor.

"Our political leaders' calculated neglect of the poor while courting the votes of the comfortable offends the creator of the universe," Kinnamon said. "Any measures taken should not only stimulate the economy but benefit everyone, especially those living on the economic margins."

As campaign 2010 continues, Kinnamon urged politicians to "push aside partisan politics and instead identify initiatives for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with the God who loves the poor."


The full text of Kinnamon's statement:

Despite two years of historic measures to rescue the U.S. economy from the Great Recession, government figures released today show that millions of adults and children still live in poverty. Thousands of verses in the scriptures of many faiths, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, express Godís concern for the poor and Godís wrath at the injustices that cause poverty to exist. When Jesus was asked for Godís greatest commandment, he said, Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. 

Even before the economic collapse of 2008, too many lived in poverty.  Direct measures need to be taken to ensure that even after economic prosperity is restored that vulnerable populations arenít left behind in the recovery.

There is little indication that our political leadersóregardless of political party--are taking the need to address poverty with fervor. Most recently, the campaign rhetoric between Republicans and Democrats has focused on tax cuts for the Middle Class and not on helping lift those in poverty out of their plight. Our political leadersí calculated neglect of the poor while courting the votes of the comfortable offends the creator of the universe. Any measures taken should not only stimulate the economy but benefit everyone, especially those living on the economic margins. 

Speaking on behalf of the 36 member communions of the National Council of Churches, who join together in a shared concern for our brothers and sisters in poverty, our hope is that leaders of both parties will recognize that their greatest responsibility is to uphold those who do not have the means or power to support themselves. Let the debate of this campaign season push aside partisan politics and instead identify initiatives for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with the God who loves the poor.                       


Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 36 member faith groups -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell), pjenks@ncccusa.org

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