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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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To prez hopefuls: 'Walk the talk'

Religious leaders asked presidential candidates for more than just talk about Jesus. About 100 leaders, including ELCA officials, want the candidates to fight poverty. At a January news conference held in the shadow of the White House, speakers proposed a federal requirement that all agencies meet a living wage standard to receive any federal funding. Speakers also urged candidates to address the nation's affordable housing shortage.

The ELCA, too, is trying to do more than talk about poverty. Last year, with the Church Council's authorization, Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson appointed four work groups to distribute $3 million to beef up the church's ministry among people living in poverty.

"When Christians enter the political debate and decision-making process, we have the opportunity to witness to Jesus' special concern for those who are poor and live on the margins of society," says Bonnie Jensen, who heads the work groups. "When we evaluate the specific positions of presidential candidates, we do that on the basis of the impact of those positions on people living in poverty."

Perhaps presidential hopefuls might consider the question Anderson asked ELCA leaders last fall: "What does God require of us in a world that is sinking in a sea of debt, a nation that is pulled apart by an economic gap which grows wider every year and is already wider than any other industrialized country in the world?"


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