Two thirds of Americans surveyed in a new poll say their churches are doing enough to help the poor despite the latest United States Census Bureau statistics showing consistent year-to-year increases in the numbers of Americans living in poverty. This, combined with poverty indicators such as rising food stamp usage, points to increased demand for a complacent church to do more to help the poor.
Conducted by Faith in Action and Harris Interactive, the national survey revealed that sixty-seven percent of respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement, “My church already does enough to help the poor in my community.” Yet current data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals the national poverty level has increased from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 13.3 percent in 2005, or 38 million Americans.
Additionally, demand for food stamps during 2007-08, a key economic indicator provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, is up significantly in 43 states, increasing the need for significant help among more than 28 million Americans.
“These results, when combined with current census and economic data, expose a discrepancy between Christians who believe they are doing enough and the reality that Christians are just scratching the surface in our communities,” said Steve Haas, vice president for church relations at World Vision.
The study also reports that 60 percent of respondents “would support their church if it occasionally canceled traditional services in order to donate that time to help the poor in their community,” indicating a willingness to participate in the bold premise at the center of Faith in Action, which is celebrated on April 27.