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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Religious leaders sound 'moral alarm' on poverty

Gathering out of "concern for millions of our fellow Americans who live in poverty," 17 religious leaders sounded a "moral alarm" to the crisis that persists despite a booming economy.

"While our nation enjoys unprecedented prosperity, fully 21 percent of America's children live in poverty," the group noted in a joint statement. "Even in these good economic times, the growing disparity between rich and poor is evidence that all is not well."

The interfaith group, convened by former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University­Carbondale, included Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders ranging from televangelist Pat Robertson to Imam Wallace D. Mohammed. New Jersey Synod Bishop E. Roy Riley Jr. represented the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at the March 24-25 meeting.

The group noted the importance of strengthening and preserving families: "In particular, we must foster parental responsibility for their children." The concluding statement also offered suggestions for governmental and congregational actions to combat poverty.

Riley said the interfaith effort is a "real opportunity to reclaim our sense of the God of Scripture — the God of both righteousness and justice." Jesus referred to poverty "all the time, not as what God intended but as a result of human sinfulness," he added.


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July issue

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Economic inequality

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