Methodist President: Poverty is not the fault of the poor

Published 02 April 2013
The Methodist President has used his Easter message to challenge the assumption that poor people are responsible for their own poverty.

The Reverend Dr Mark Wakelin said the notion that poverty is the fault of the poor was a "great untruth" perpetrated by some politicians and parts of the media.

He said many social ills were the result of being poor rather than the cause of poverty.

"Being poor isn't good for you. How can someone be well when basic human needs are denied; when access to everyday life is denied and the power to change is removed?" he said.

"Poverty is a bad thing. It causes social ills. Ills do not cause poverty any more than spots cause measles.

"But blame is always a way out of feeling uncomfortable about injustice. We'd prefer to think that others "had it coming" and we try hard to distinguish between the worthy and unworthy."

Instead of blaming others, he said individuals should consider the part they play in the existence of poverty in the world and the responsibility they have to care for others.

"Who is to blame for poverty? That is possibly an unhelpful question, so put it in a God-centred way. Who is responsible for poverty? And the God answer is: 'I am, you are, we are'," he said.

"This is the 'cross' solution: a unilateral acceptance that God has given us a challenge and a gift, and by being responsible we side with God in the only way we can: to end misery and extend his rule of love and joy.

"Wesley put this in a practical and uncomfortable way: 'Every shilling which you needlessly spend... is, in effect, stolen from God and the poor.'"


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