Majority Of White Evangelicals Believe Poor People Are Lazy

Christians show contempt for the poor: A new poll shows a majority of white evangelicals believe poor people are lazy and irresponsible.

A new poll from The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that when compared to non-religious Americans, Christians are not sympathetic to the plight of poor people. According to the report, the poll finds that:

Christians are much more likely than non-Christians to view poverty as the result of individual failings, especially white evangelical Christians.

Newsweek reports on the details:

The survey, conducted between April 13 and May 1 with a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, indicated that 46 percent of Christians believed that a lack of effort is generally to blame for a person’s poverty, compared with 29 percent of non-Christians.

The survey, conducted between April 13 and May 1 with a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, indicated that 46 percent of Christians believed that a lack of effort is generally to blame for a person’s poverty, compared with 29 percent of non-Christians.

For white evangelical Protestants, that number rose to 53 percent, with just 41 percent attributing other circumstances to an individual’s poverty. Fifty percent of Catholics blamed a lack of effort for poverty.

Newsweek explains the difference between Christians and “atheists, agnostics or the religiously unaffiliated,” noting:

Yet while a large percentage of Bible-reading Christians indicated they felt poverty was self-inflicted, 65 percent of atheists, agnostics or the religiously unaffiliated responding to the poll said that difficult circumstances are more to blame when a person is poor.

In other words, atheists, agnostics, and the religiously unaffiliated have a more compassionate, more charitable, and more accurate view of poverty than their religious counterparts.

Trying to make sense of the embarrassing poll results, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said:There’s a strong Christian impulse to understand poverty as deeply rooted in morality — often, as the Bible makes clear, in unwillingness to work, in bad financial decisions or in broken family structures. The Christian worldview is saying that all poverty is due to sin, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the sin of the person in poverty. In the Garden of Eden, there would have been no poverty. In a fallen world, there is poverty.

There’s a strong Christian impulse to understand poverty as deeply rooted in morality — often, as the Bible makes clear, in unwillingness to work, in bad financial decisions or in broken family structures. The Christian worldview is saying that all poverty is due to sin, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the sin of the person in poverty. In the Garden of Eden, there would have been no poverty. In a fallen world, there is poverty.

Mohler conveniently neglects to mention Christ’s teachings concerning the poor. It is odd, and remarkable, that so many people who identify as Christians simply ignore the teachings of Christ.

Recall: Christ was a friend to the poor, and taught that the poor were chosen people, to be met with love, not contempt:

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person

– 1 John 3:17

And

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

– Luke 6:20

Bottom line: Many evangelicals simply ignore Christ’s teachings concerning the poor. Perhaps even more ironic, godless heathens are often more Christlike than Christians.

And so it goes.

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