homeless man laying on street draped in American flag
46 percent of Christians surveyed said that poverty stems from a "lack of effort". For white evangelicals, that number rose to 53 percent.

A recent study performed by the Kaiser Foundation and the Washington Post found that religion was a significant factor in how Americans perceive poverty. The study asked 1,686 different adults in the US the answer to answer a simple question:

"Which is generally more often to blame if a person is poor: lack of effort on their own part, or difficult circumstances beyond their control?"

The results showed that Christians (and white evangelical Christians especially), were far more likely than non-Christians to blame poverty on the failings of the individual, and not their circumstances.

46 percent of Christians surveyed said that poverty stems from a lack of effort. For white evangelicals, that number rose to 53 percent. In contrast, over 65 percent of atheists said that circumstances were to blame. Just 31 percent thought it was a lack of effort.

Painting of Jesus helping the poor Are Poor People Really Just Lazy?

It's certainly a convenient explanation. Far easier to write off poor and struggling people as lazy bums than it is to accept that larger forces might be at work issues that might require tough solutions. Seeing poverty as an individual problem allows us to ignore it outright: "Why should I do anything to help? It's that person's own fault, anyway."

But just because it's the easy road, doesn't necessarily mean it's the right one. Whatever happened to "love thy neighbor"? After all, Jesus said "blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Jesus dedicated himself to helping the poor escape their miserable circumstances. Apparently, today's Christians don't share that same compassionate energy.

Why Do Christians See It This Way?

It's hard to say for sure, but Biblical interpretation provides a possible answer. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, explains:

"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."

Mohler continues: "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."

Could Wealth Be to Blame?

But that's just one interpretation. Another potential explanation revolves around socio-economic structures.

A study in 2015 found that 55% of the total world wealth is held by Christians, as compared to 34% by atheists and agnostics, with the next richest religious group being Muslims at 6%.

This stark difference in terms of relative wealth could contribute to a large subset of Christians having never had to deal with many of the circumstances that could contribute to poverty. As a result, this might lead them to assume being poor is the result of individuals failings.

What are your thoughts? Why do Christians tend to conflate poverty with laziness?


  1. Rick Smith's Avatar Rick Smith

    Being a Christian and responding to economic questions is nothing more than an opinion based on circumstances and how they were handled in there own lives and very limited understanding of people and life events of those they pass judgement on . Spread love and hope to the world. Rich and Poor alike. We are all Gods Children.

    1. ordained mh's Avatar ordained mh


  1. John Eftimiades's Avatar John Eftimiades

    What an interesting study and equally interesting findings. Don't know what to make of it. One thing that does come to mind is from history. Back during the Great Depression, millions were penniless , out of work, and in need of the most basic i.e. food, shelter. Roosevelt came up with the New Deal, a huge government sponsored program to get people working and generate commerce. At the same time, religious leaders led by Minister James Fifeel were preaching that this government over reach was an attack on Christianity. The rational being that government taking and giving "God" given rights was against Christianity. The ministers secured the support of the big corporate leaders of the day (E.F. Hutton, J.C. Penny, Fred Maytag, Conrad Hilton) to spread the word that their God given right to succeed and be prosperous was under attack by The New Deal. Their feeling was that if you were a true, believing Christian, then God would reward you. No reward?, then you obviously do not have faith and were not worthy of God's grace. Roosevelt's position was the opposite. His followers would say that God would want us all to help our fellow man. It is by no means a stretch to suggest that this fundamental argument is alive and well today.

    1. ordained mh's Avatar ordained mh

      Very well said my friend Christ was peace and love unfortunatley many among us choose to live our lives for ourselves

      1. Elder Freddie Bell's Avatar Elder Freddie Bell


  1. Sam's Avatar Sam

    There are many factors to understanding poverty. However the 1% want to keep most of the wealth and keep putting people into poverty. Looking at all people in poverty as lazy and don't want to work is just not right. its not an easy solution, but treating all people with dignity and respect can go a long way.

    1. ordained mh's Avatar ordained mh

      I have lived well and homless I couldnt say what made the difference when i came back to society and living very good now. I believe God wanted me to do it not understand it

      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        Glad you're okay and back in society. You can be a positive force (and probably already are) in the lives of people you meet, and particularly in dealing with this topic.

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    I do not think it is possible for the wealthy in any of the western countries to keep others in poverty, except when aided by government to remove the incentive to be productive and frugal. If you take money from a hard-working person to give to one who does not work, for whatever reason, you take away incentive to work and be frugal. If you pay anyone to do nothing for a length of time, they come to rely on it and think they deserve it.
    Still, of COURSE not all poor people are lazy. Some are just really horrible at managing money. Some live in very depressed areas and have no place else, so there is no work. This is has become very widespread since the U.S. bought into the false globalist dream and so many factories are gone. Some poor people are habitual criminals and cannot get a regular job or if they do, cannot keep it because they get put in jail. Some just don't want to work so they steal. Some have to care for relatives and cannot work because they are dedicated to caring for that person. Others are emotionally or mentally unable to hold a job. There are too many reasons for poverty to even list them all. I'd like to know how well-balanced this survey was, how large a sample, what the exact questions were, and how scientifically and systematically the results were tallied. Too often we hear of a poll or survey and automatically believe it was performed in an unbiased and scientific manner, when we know nothing of the sort.

    1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


      1. Questor's Avatar Questor

        So sad...

      2. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

        They're coming for you, Mr. Maher. Can you hear them? They're coming...

    2. Amber's Avatar Amber

      I think you are missing that there are a great number of employers not paying wages that cover minimum living expenses enough to even cover a small single or double apartment in many areas across the country. This is the way the wealthy keeps the lower income classes low. Tack onto that the fact big pharma keeps pumping up costs several hundred percent, and education to learn a new trade to earn is too expensive to most, especially if they are already working a full time job, sometimes two just to make ends meet... do you understand this?

      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        I will agree with you on big pharma, also the big chemical companies (which are often the same as big pharma), but where housing is too expensive, people should go elsewhere. If you move for a job to a place where everyone else is moving for a job, housing is going to be through the roof, because landlords are greedy, too. Lower income people keep themselves in low incomes as much or more than the wealthy do. Do the wealthy take advantage? Obviously they do, hence the term, "Human Resources." That shows what the big companies think of us. We are like cattle, or draft horses, only human. Still, there are so many factors that contribute to poverty it cannot be blamed on the wealthy unless all the other factors are eliminated first.

        1. Chris's Avatar Chris

          How much do you think it costs to develop a safe, efficacious drug?

          1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            R & D, wages, overhead, animal testing, clinical trials, human trials, licensing, patenting, bribing the FDA, production costs. Then there is marketing and delivery. I would guess the cost for a safe, efficacious drug would depend on that for which it is supposed to be safe, and what is considered efficacious. I'm sure it is substantial, either way, but a lot of the benefits are hyped, like with vaccines that are heavily sold to the public, but then the only people who ever get sick are the ones who have the vaccine. Then there is medicine that is sold relatively inexpensively in other countries, but outrageously expensive here.

            The pharmaceutical companies pay for the publishing of the textbooks used to educate medical professionals, so when the graduates go into business, all they know to prescribe is what is in the textbooks. I know a good medicine is a great benefit sometimes, but Health does not come in a jar and cannot be bought and sold. However, most doctors and most patients think it can.

          2. Chris's Avatar Chris

            With all due respect, that sounds a bit jaded. I know for an absolute fact that all drug companies do not 'bribe the FDA' as far as deciding on safe and efficacious, it's determined through the studies you mention, and because a drug has a side effect or sadly causes an addiction, does not make it a bad drug. Side effects are weighed agains benefits. As far as writing the books, reputable publishers use the science with and any needed disclosures... As far as vaccines, popular researchers like Jim Carey and Katy Perry (?) continue to drive these irresponsible conspiracies. Vaccines prevent diseases and save populations. Period.

          3. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            Chris, how in the HELL can you know FOR A FACT that drug companies do not bribe FDA inspectors? WHERE would you go to get the stats on that? And you are as brainwashed as any of these other people to NOT believe that vaccines are at best, a scam and human experimentation, and at worst, a means of population control.

          4. Chris's Avatar Chris

            Hello . I said 'all'...I've been involved with medicine and pharma for 22 years. I can assure you that my company does not. In fact, I will suggest they actually go out of the way in the interest of transparency. While I am not going to provide my pedigree to you, I will say I apparently know a great deal more on the subject than you. As far as you vaccine comments, visit the NIH websites. I also certainly would not consider myself brainwashed. The idea that vaccines have not improved human life and health across the globe is laughable.

          5. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            Oh, well, I don't suppose the NIH would have any conflict of interest, there, would they? And your company cares for the APPEARANCE of transparency. Since you are the naïve little soldier you are, they would not want to trouble you with knowledge of nefarious activity, so they WOULD keep it from you. They donate heavily to political campaigns? or parties? NO, of course they wouldn't do that. THAT'S a BRIBE! They don't give samples away either, do they? ANOTHER FORM OF BRIBE. Gee, I mean, you seem like a nice guy and all, but your own opinion of your worldliness is a little overinflated. Must be nice to feel like a part of something so noble. I remember that feeling about 35 years ago. Enjoy it while you can. I don't begrudge you that. You really do seem like a nice person. The conclusions you draw about people, though, you might be reading a lot of that into what you see here. For instance, I don't do very many long essays here, so you don't know how much I do or do not know. I find it is boring and patently useless to delve into deep explanations here. About 80-85% of the commentary here would put the people into two basic camps, and the rest are mostly quiet. They are the ones I want to reach. The ones in my camp are already in it, and the others are unreachable. Scholarly essays are a waste of time, because stats and studies can be fudged and outright lies, anyway, as any scientific journal has discovered more than once.

            You focused on the bribe part of my answer to your query, and the vaccine part, but don't seem to have noticed any of the other parts of my answer. You MIGHT be a little hypersensitive in these areas.

        2. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

          Did anyone ever consider that a lot of people are content with less. Wealth doesn't buy happiness. I first heard poor, not impoverished, but even the impoverished can be content within themselves. And that makes them richer than a millionaire. Poor in this country can mean having less than a thousand dollars a month to live on.However,a lot of people are happy with that, and don't have a need or desire for more. Some of us are permanently disabled and can't work,& don't own a lot but are happy anyway.And I bet I have the best decorated efficiency apartment there ever has been. But I'm not codependent and it's not on tour. I'm also not of the variety who will turn the other cheek, which means if I don't invite you over for a visit you aren't welcome.I have'nt even owned a motor vehicle since 1991, but have a Schwinn bicycle,and live on a flat Island where everything I want to do is within a three mile radius. I'm also apparently not shy and have a lot of friends to hang with. I was in a bad motorcycle accident that put me on Social Security. So I go out for coffee and invest a dollar on a lottery ticket sometimes so I might someday have enough money to help poor people. I also do volunteer work at a Baptist church, even though I'm not vBaptist.As a matter of fact I'm not anything or anyone, but just simply am, and it's a great way to be. So if y'all ever find out for sure what causes poverty please don't tell me about it. I love being rich in being poor.

          1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

            Carl...beautifully said...i respect you...Tom

          2. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            Some people want to be homeless, but some people want us to build houses for them.

    3. Shane Scogins's Avatar Shane Scogins


    4. Chris's Avatar Chris

      No Offense, but it was probably a lot more carefully constructed and challenged than your assertions...I don't think Jesus qualified someone's straights before helping. Love the sinner...who needs a doctor more than the sick...?

      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        What are you talking about? I didn't say hate anyone. I really don't follow your reasoning. I never let anyone go hungry unless they insist that they are fasting. I carry first aid materials with me and know how to administer it. I studied up to EMT 2 level just for that reason. I carry a small amount of FOOD with me. Emergency blanket, stuff like that. I try to be a good and compassionate citizen, without being a pushover.

        I didn't make any assertions. I pointed out that we don't know how truly scientifically performed the survey was, and we don't. So how can we make assumptions on how well it was constructed.

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    In some instances lack of effort can lead to poverty, but the complete picture must take karma into consideration...no major life condition is solely predicated upon actions in this lifetime...

  1. Miranda Allison Young's Avatar Miranda Allison Young

    Unfortunately, a lot of people who say that they are Christians really are not. They do not behave the way Jesus wanted. He would be appalled by this. I am appalled.

    1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


      1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

        They're coming... THEY'RE COMING...

      2. Amber's Avatar Amber

        I've found this too. Most of what they do quote come from others, but not Jesus. By all accounts he was the passive, bleeding heart liberal type they seem to condemned as well.

    2. Donna's Avatar Donna

      Agreed Miranda. Folks get so consumed with labels and doctrine. Mother Teresa really walked the walk of true love and humanity. She said: " if u cannot feed 100... Just feed one" When we all help within our capicity...the love will expand and be far reaching, teaching, and multi- provisional. People need each other. All creeds together...helping one another. That is the foundation of humanity. Thank u for your comment.

    3. Elder Freddie Bell's Avatar Elder Freddie Bell

      I totally agree Jesus said the poor you will always have. Remember the rich man, Jesus told to give away all he had to the poor and then follow Him?

  1. James's Avatar James

    If we are to believe this to be true, and we are to comment on it based solely on this information. We could go to the old test. And say if a man don't work he don't eat. Or we could got to the new test. And say live as Christ did and you'll never be hungry. Yet none of this is accurate nor realistic. Many thing cause poverty. Here in the United States I could say that simple competition is the root cause. But then the lack of a competitive spirit could be argued too. So, why not compare what each dogma says about poverty and then what the people of each religion think about poverty. That might gain more attention. This sounds like a propaganda piece.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      I agree. More class warfare stuff to stir up strife, so we can ALL be subjects of the New World Order and suffer equally.

  1. Clayton Beardmore's Avatar Clayton Beardmore

    Some people (myself included) conflate poverty with laziness. I also conflate poverty with a not too high I.Q. - maybe I'm wrong, but that's the way I see it - no political correctness here. I agree also that God loves us all - rich or poor, bright or not.

    1. Royce's Avatar Royce

      I'm terribly sorry, Clay, but you are incorrect to conflate poverty with laziness. I know that the two are not equal, and I know it firsthand. When I was 12, my mom lost the house. Foreclosure. We had to live in a shelter while she did everything in her power to get us the heck out of there. Why did we end up in that position? Not laziness... Actually, mental health was the culprit. My mom was under so much pressure between having an autistic son (me) and the demands of being a truck dispatcher, and later an air ambulance dispatcher/911 operator, that she suffered a nervous breakdown. She still has trouble coping with day-to-day stress, and her doctors say she will never be able to work in that capacity again. She wants to, though. She tells me so often that she misses her drivers and "telling men where to go" (she makes a lot of jokes to cope with her mental health issues) so yeah, it's wrong to equate poverty and laziness as a blanket statement. A lot of times poverty is caused by personal/family struggles, mental health or physical impairment.

  1. Minister Norman's Avatar Minister Norman

    What would Jesus do and say? He certainly would not, and did not, blame the poor for their lot in life.

    Greed creates poverty, and OBVIOUSLY a lack of compassion.

    That some hoard and are given undue, uneven advantages, means that others, by default (in this finite World), go without or have no opportunities or advantage at all.

    During this last WORLD BANKING SYSTEM ENGINEERED GLOBAL ECONOMIC "CRISIS", Politicians used Public Money to bail out Private Enterprise, in "OUR" supposed "Free Market Economy". And many Financial Institutions failed anyway and were then adsorbed (gobbled up) by "Too Big To Fail" institutions, that are now too big to even comprehend. Or has everyone already forgotten that gigantic SCREW?! THEY, those International Banks, along with the US FED and CENTRAL BANKS Globally (all tied to the WORLD BANK & The Bank of Economic Settlements) set, and then abused their own rules, and then use OUR Tax Dollars to bail themselves out.

    They only bothered to help struggling families AFTER bailing themselves out, and their Bankster Buddies Globally!

    Because these are not OUR BANKS, just as the US Federal Reserve is not a US institution. These are "Bankers without Borders"; Multi-National Banks and Credit & Financial Institutions!

    On top of all that, the US Government still gives multi-national Oil Corporations over a trillion dollars a year in tax breaks and subsidies, under the guise of "Exploration", while those Globalist Corporations keep Billions in profits each and every year. Wall Street is now nearly all "Insider Trading" and Vegas Style Gambling, with Bank and Corporate SCAMS purpetrated on an unwitting Society now regularly.

    The World Bank, and their global reserve system CENTRAL BANKING SYSTEM control EVERYTHING.

    Funny how everyone we've gone to war with in the last 50 years were all Independent State Run Economies, but are now, Post-War, signatory or beholding to the Globalist World Bank and their "Central Banking System" SCAM! NOW, all interest rates and world commerce, and all global Economies are "Fixied" Markets within this Globalist's wet dream. And as such, too many emerging Economies have no chance at all; they are literally owned, and their State's existence, and thus sovereignty is controlled by this Golbalist Banking System.

    Correct all that corruption and Injustice before you start calling the POOR and disadvantaged "Lazy". Just how "LAZY" is a rigged Globalist Economy?

    1. Minister Norman's Avatar Minister Norman

      Correction: That Should have been "Bank of International Settlements"...

      ...But addressing a few comments here: Sadly, too many still blame the poor and disadvantaged for their lot in life (in this RIGGED ECONOMY), and for economic manouvering they didn't create.

      Our GLOBAL Economy now serves the Super-Rich and Multi-National interests ONLY; and by design!

      Yes, some of us still (marginally) thrive (but not by Globalist Standards), but stand on shaky ground that, sadly, only the poor cannot deny. We're "Hoodwinked"!

      Independent State interests are no longer a consideration by "Bankers Without Borders" and other money grubbing "Globalists"; who seek to dominate and control the WORLD!

      As a result, too many good paying jobs have left our Economy, and far too many have been left behind. So "Shoving shit, and raking leaves" is all that's left for far too many (especially, former High-Wage Earners in US Industry), who are now relegated to low paying dead-end jobs in this "Globalist (Wet Dream of an) Economy".

      On top of that, we just witnessed the largest REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH from Public to Private hands, during this last Engineered "Global Economic Crisis", in the History of the World; and it cleaned out the Savings of far too many hard working Individuals, and further advantaged the already powerful and super rich.

      Wall Street was bailed out with PUBLIC MONEY and thus recovered, and exactly what kind of "FREE MARKET ECONOMY" is that supposed to be?

      Main Street, on the other hand, was "allowed" to FAIL! Much as Obamacare is being "Allowed to Fail" rather than fixed, and because the Powers That Be can't decide how to FIX it to better serve their Special Interest Masters and their "Profit Margins"!

      So ALL the "Winners & Losers" were and are now engineered (the only Manufacturing we seem to see in the good-old USA anymore), all manipulated, and not because of their own actions, or in line with their own efforts or hard work!


      "Our" FED" (Federal Reserve Bank), is a Private Central Bank Corporation tied to the World Bank and Bank for International Settlements, and its run and owned, not by the USA, or WE THE PEOPLE, but by International Bankers! And "our" FED even bailed out (many) foreign banks (and at ZERO Interest Rates) during this last (manufactured), "CRISIS", and while American's lost jobs and homes, and property, and savings, and in too many cases, hope!

      Foreign Banks, were Bailed Out with US Tax Dollars, while Main Street suffered and Wall Street celebrated, and while so many lost everything. Our lot is now stifled wages and DEBT, while these BANKSTERS profit even off our loss, and further gamble and profit with our (stolen) M?NEY!

      Wake the hell Up!

      Globalists want us to blame each other; to turn on one another; while also turning a blind eye to THEIR excesses and abuse!! This Con Game is as old as the world itself; so are the reasons why there are SO MANY POOR!

      Benjamin Franklin said it best (in the face a tyranny, and that is what this is): "We can either hang together, or then we will surely hang separately!

      Stop blaming, scapegoating, the Poor and Powerless!!!

      WE THE PEOPLE need to unite and we must DEMAND BETTER!

      1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Minister Norman...well summarized...i wonder how many people have heard of the Rothschilds, who continue to control the world economy for generations...Tom

        1. Minister Norman's Avatar Minister Norman

          Thanks Tom! Exactly ...And the Rothschild family continue to control the London (Corporation) Gold Market to this very day also; "Fixing" Global Standards and Prices.

          Sadly, too many buy into the lies propagated by the very people controlling our global economy, and don't bother to read History and inform themselves about what's actually going on... The way the Rothchild's accumulated their vast wealth is a particularly informative read, and a lesson in Market Manipulation... Norman

          1. JOHN MAHER's Avatar JOHN MAHER


  1. Barry's Avatar Barry

    There are unlimited opportunities in this Country.To lay back and not work at anything is discusting.Shovel shit,rake Leaves,paint a garage. Do something and don't whine about Woe is me.

    1. Minister Carey's Avatar Minister Carey

      A so-called black man was selling single cigarettes in front of a store in order to make money. His life was ended by police when he was chocked to death. Even when he kept saying "I can't breathe". So I'm not sure if one can just "do something". Was this an instance of "competition" and he needed to sell somewhere else I don't know, but just doing something (that is not a crime) can cause a loss of life.

      1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

        Minister Carey, I'm not trying to excuse or condone what the police did to the "so-called black man." (Why "so called"? Was he black or not? Not that it's relevant. It just doesn't make sense to say "so-called black man.") Selling single cigarettes like that is illegal, and you can't do something illegal to make money. The loss of his life was tragic and totally unnecessary, but that's not the point of the discussion. Doing something LEGAL to earn money to live IS the point.

      2. John Eftimiades's Avatar John Eftimiades

        But the story doesn't end there Minister Carey. The family filed a civil suit against the city and won millions. The cash is payed out by the taxes collected from New York City residents. The cop continues on, getting a reprimand (maybe) and of course getting his pay. His wages aren't garnished, his pension not touched. In short, the family of this man is bought off so that the present system can remain in place unchanged. In my view there are two crimes here.

  1. Lee Conner's Avatar Lee Conner

    My husband and I are really poor. We work our behinds off. I'm skilled with the computer and he is skilled with his hands in carpentry, painting, laying brick paths, and gardening among other things. He is a guy that believes in getting it done basically, and so do I. I do videography, blogging, art, and I'm even taking courses through Alison.com. We just can't seem to come out ahead. We were homeless for a short time. Eventually, a Christian man gave us a break and gave us a job caring for his office that doubles as a home. Then a Christian church gave my husband and myself jobs. We aren't broke, but we aren't making a lot of money either. We make enough to just make ends meet. Not all poor people are lazy. sometimes it is a matter of circumstance.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Exactly, Katie. People can be poor for a lot of reasons, and I reject the notion that Christians are more likely than others to think it is because of laziness. It was Christians who helped you and your husband. It wasn't moon worshippers or disciples of Gaiia or Beelzebub or Allah. I hope your circumstances will improve, and they WILL, with hard work, honesty, and application of principles of money management. I know you need to have money to manage it, but if you have any at all, managing will make it buy more.

  1. Ed's Avatar Ed

    How about some non-biased groups, when you make such allegations. Kaisers: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000039180 so they are strongly favoring supporting Clinton, Dems, Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte, DNC Services Corp, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte, groups that are VERY biased against Christians/Conservatives, and WaPo is also notorious for that, as well. They also tend to be race-baiters, and as this post shows, if something goes wrong, blame whitey...never mind that people are their own problems, like the countless black on black gang violence in Chicago.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Exactly. Good point.

  1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

    Interesting comments. I've enjoyed reading most of them. I think some go quite a bit off topic by going too far in discussing global economy and such. I think the article tries to address a simpler question of why are poor people poor. To blame it on laziness is perhaps a bit too specific. I think there are two basic causes for poverty in America. One is mental illness. There are some that simply can't function in society. If you live in a major city, I'm sure you've seen homeless people walking around talking to themselves. Just a few decades ago there were institutions for people like this. Many offered substandard care and living conditions, and nearly all of them were forced out of existence, leaving family members responsible for trying to care for these people. In many cases this didn't work, and the mentally ill people wound up on the streets. But this is not the point of the article.

    The other main reason is simply poor choices. And I think it is significant that it be phrased this way. Laziness is not a condition, it is a choice. Choosing to do drugs or drink excessively instead of getting a job is a poor choice. Sure, you can make the argument that when a person is addicted it stops being a choice, but that's a cop-out argument. Have more children than you can afford is a poor choice. And no, there are no accidental pregnancies. If two people choose to have sex, a pregnancy is a real possibility, not an accident.

    Sometimes life style can be the poor choice. We've all heard about the family that had a great income, so they bought a McMansion, brand new BMW's, a boat, and so on. Then due to job loss for whatever reason, the big income is gone. They lose all they had because they lived well beyond their means. Poor choices. Now they live in a station wagon they bought after their cars were repossessed for failure to make payments.

    Do you smoke? If you smoke a pack a day, you're probably paying more than $2,500 per year for those coffin nails. I hear people talk about how tight money is. I ask what they pay for cable TV. They look at me like I asked them if they beat their kids. Invariably they all pay more than $200 a month because they have to have HBO, the NFL package, the NASCAR channels, and so on. I pay $60 per month for limited basic cable and internet access. (If I only had internet, it would cost $50 per month, so I splurged and got the cable TV for an extra $10.) There's another $1700 plus per year they could be saving. Does everyone in the house have smartphones? $80 per month per phone assuming you don't go over your minutes and data plan. Flip phone cost $25 per month. Poor choices.

    I know a lot of this sounds harsh. And I feel for Katie Conner and her husband, who both work hard and feel like they get nowhere. But I would like to ask her if any choices like these apply to her. Katie, I'm not blaming or shaming you. I point these things out so that you and others in situations similar to yours might examine the choices being made. Another choice that may not be working well for you is your choice to stay where you are. You have computer skills, and your husband has a construction background. Maybe you just need to relocate to where those skills are more marketable. Yes, moving is not easy, but it's not impossible either. I hear South Dakota is clamoring for people with all kinds of skill sets due to a boom in population caused by the shale oil industry. And Katie, videography, blogging and art do not translate into a high-paying, recession-proof career. That's more the stuff of avocation than vocation. However, data entry and programming are skills that will take you much further.

    As for those who go a bit off-topic and want to blame rich people for hoarding all the wealth, remember that rich people get rich by investing in something and expecting a return on that investment. Regardless of what industry in which they choose to invest, those industries only make money when consumers buy whatever it is they make. And consumers will only spend money when they have it to spend. So it benefits the rich when those below them on the financial ladder have money to spend. A rising tide raises all boats, and it doesn't matter if it's a yacht or a canoe.

    I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for suggesting that the choices we make are responsible for our situations. But we live in a society where we are not held accountable for what we choose to do. Personal accountability is dead, and until it is resuscitated, we will go on looking for other things to blame.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Good, rational comments. Most of the people here don't have the attention span to read it all, but it is really good and thoughtful. Some of them will hate you for being rational and honest, but I applaud you.

      1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

        Thank you, John. Sorry for being so long-winded, but it was a really rich topic.

    2. Rick's Avatar Rick

      I certainly agree Him.

    3. John Eftimiades's Avatar John Eftimiades

      Ditto on John's comments. An extremely well thought out response that should be read by all.

    4. Brian H's Avatar Brian H

      Rich people get rich by investing in.... you might want to reconsider how much truth there is in that statement. I am considered upper-middle class. I work / associate with some of the 1%'ers. The majority of them are old money. They were born to be rich. Say about 60%. Then comes the "was smart enough to be ready for when luck shined on them" money. While I give kudos to their preparation I must point out that many of them had the backing of good schools, good friends, good neighborhoods... all things they did not create or choose. They were born into it. And, for every 10 of them only 1 will actually become rich... pure luck, not skill. Just probability of the universe. That's another 30% or so. Finally comes the unexpectedly wealthy. This is a mixed bag. Sometimes it is pure luck with no preparation. Sometimes it is connections to circles they were not brought up in but they new just the right guy. And, sometimes, a person comes up with a good idea, effort, and luck to see it succeed. I hate to point out that being a self-made man is typically horse manure. A very self-serving biography that sounds great & sells even greater. But... it's still crap and is getting to be a tired story with very little evidence to support it.

      1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

        Brian H, you may want me to reconsider my point on how rich people get rich by investing, but I don't think I will because I'm right, and, well... you're not.

        First, you presented quite a few statistics that, and I'm guessing on this, you pulled out of thin air. "60%", "1 out of 10", 30%". Where did those numbers come from?

        Second, I never differentiated between old money and new money. And it really does not matter based on the point I was making. Old money doesn't just sit there, and people who have it don't live high on the hog spending it until it's gone. That old money keeps working for them. It doesn't matter if your last name is Rockefeller, Carnegie or Getty, Their wealth was reinvested back into the industries that made them rich, and also invested in new industries in an effort to generate new sources of wealth. Sometimes it paid off, sometimes not. But that's the point of diversification of funds. As for new money, yes, it often comes down to a guy with a good idea and doesn't quit until it works, like Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg. Then there are people like Warren Buffet, who never created a thing. He just invested wisely... VERY wisely.

        Third, you said getting rich is pure luck, not skill. There is no such thing as luck. That's like believing in The Force. I don't believe it is so much skill as it is investing your time and energy into research, learning how a given industry operates, the relationships it has with other industries, following world politics, current events and the global economy. Having a working knowledge of these things makes a person a smarter investor. Yes, there are the Paris Hiltons and the Kim Kardashians of the world, but just because they were born with silver spoons between their collagen enhanced lips does not mean they are as dumb as they appear. They play to their strengths, using the family money to market everything from perfumes to emoji's. And they make a butt-load of money doing it.

        For most of us, being "rich" could simply mean investing a portion of your paycheck in to retirement funds (401K, IRA, etc.), and choosing your funds wisely with the hope of being able to retire at a relatively good age and being able to live comfortably on those investments.

        Your comments make you sound bitter and more than a bit envious of people born into money. You shouldn't be so concerned about what others have and focus more on what you do have.

        1. The Doctor's Avatar The Doctor

          The Force is far more real and scientifically backed then any other form of faith or spirituality.

          Life creates it! Makes it grow!( current science suggests many of the elements found on or world only came about through the process of biochemical reactions due to early organic plant life like algae.)

          Its energy surrounds us, and binds us.( We have known for a few decades now about the Strong Nuclear Force that binds all atoms together. this is actually where GL got the idea for the term The Force!)

          Luminous beings are we! Not this crude matter( Quantum Physics has made it pretty clear for a while that at a sub atomic level we are all just masses of little pin pricks of energy held together by more energy in the form of vibrating bonds.)

          To finish this up, nothing is more magical, more miraculous on our world then how little seeds can grow into mighty trees using little more then chemicals drawn from the soil and air, and pure light radiation. every day tons of physical plant matter grows. From plant life all other life begins and depends upon. When you look up at the night sky and see the stars and vast empty spaces know that you see a celestial window into the microscopic world where all things look much the same.

          The Force is very much real. Its far easier to prove exist then any invisible spaghetti monster in the sky.

          1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

            Holy crap! It's Luke Pudwhacker! I was wondering if you were going to catch my reference to The Force. Dude, grow up for goodness sake! Your parents are crying over the failure you turned out to be. Half of your comments above are quoted directly from the movies. And they were not uttered by a real Jedi. They were read from a script for a little green puppet by a man who also provides the voice for Miss Piggy. It's a movie, you loser! Stop basing your life on it!

            There is no such thing as luck, The Force, karma, or any of that crap. It is only our ignorance that attributes our perceptions of events to those nonsensical concepts.

            Now, stop wasting your time and money making your Darth Jackoff costume for the next Comic-Con, go back to college or a trade school, learn how to do something fruitful, and get out of your parents' basement. They would like to spend what's left of their already-ruined lives without wondering how you'll survive after they're gone.

            "Hmmm...judge me by my loser life, do you?" LOL

  1. William's Avatar William

    Christians failed to take care of the poor. Now, we are upset because the government had to step in and do the work of the "Christian".

    1. Rick's Avatar Rick

      Part of the problem is the government has stepped in a little too much and made so many expect the free handouts.

      1. William's Avatar William

        Rick I must respectfully disagree with the government stepping in a little too much in most cases. It is the job of the government to protect the very people they govern which includes passing some unfavorable laws otherwise the rich would constantly take advantage of the poor. I agree that some do expect handouts, however, there are some like me that do NOT seem to get a break no matter how hard they try to improve their circumstances. I have an MBA, and I cannot get anywhere with it. I have applied at numerous jobs, and nothing ever comes out of them. I do not receive a handout from anyone or the government, but my income is very small, just barely enough to support myself, and if my spouse was not working, we would be on the streets.

      2. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        Yeah, feeding them makes them dependent. Then their children learn to be dependent. Then the grandchildren. There need to be limits and requirements, not just, "to each according to his or her needs." That is Karl Marx talking, and that kind of charity only works well during times of prosperity. I also think if you have two children on the dole, you should be fixed so you don't have any more. That way you aren't encouraging the poor to have more children they cannot afford to feed and clothe.

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    Let's take a break and sing the hymn. "Jesus loves me, but He can't stand you."

  1. Bill Fox's Avatar Bill Fox

    Most unemployment is caused by government regulation. The minimum wage and requirements that FICA be paid eliminates millions of jobs and billions of dollars worth of work for teenagers. I would have spent thousands of dollars every year, for decades, for yard work and having the car washed by teens, that I simply because government regulations make it to costly. I made plenty of spare cash as a kid, washing and waxing cars and cutting lawns for friends and neighbors. I had summer jobs the last four years of school because the law allowed employers to pay less than the minimum wage and exempted students from the minimum wage law. Blame government regulations. I did however, have to get out and hustle for jobs. They didn't come bite me on the bottom. Alcohol, drug addiction, having served in the military in combat, and multiple issues in school, did not keep me from pursuing jobs. Work ethic is not strictly a Christian value. That said, work ethic is a sadly lacking component in Western Society today. It has been replaced with self-pity and prescription/recreational drug addiction.

    1. Amber's Avatar Amber

      I don't know about that. I've seen 2 constructions companies in my area go under in the last 3 years due to mismanagement, not by regulations. Both went under at a bad time of the year and the workers involved were out of work a few months because it was mid winter, lay off time of year. I've seen a number of people lose work and have a hard time finding it again due to company mismanagement not related to regulations. I can't discount government regulations entirely, especially in mega corporation levels, but I can't see it being the only real reason either. There is never only one reason.

  1. Lyn Anton's Avatar Lyn Anton

    Since the Regan administration, I have watched the theory of "trickle down economics", the hobby horse of the Republicans, fail in every way. (I actually donned it the pee on the poor philosophy early on. The truth is that Republicans consistently advocate for tax breaks for the rich. The rich do NOT contribute more to the economy. They invest and make themselves richer. Their windfalls from tax breaks do not lead to a more vibrant economy.

    I think that many Christians these days rely too heavily on the Old Testament. Every time they come out with a condemnation it is based on the Old Testament, not the word of Jesus. Eye for an eye, etc. I think the "love" Jesus propounded is too soft and ambiguous for them. I cannot accurately Jesus's statement, but He did say that He had come not to abolish the Judaic law, but to refine it. IOW, people should pay a great deal more attention to the New Testament than the Old.

    It seems that the poor are simply dumped on by the Christian world. Excluding Pope Francis, of course. The economy. Lacking decent jobs. Little help from the government who creates these horrific circumstances are totally out of reach for the poor to change. The irony is that these folks are not desirous of being wealthy. They simply want to be part of the middle class. And our present economy holds them back at every turn. The very few fortunate do manage, with huge effort, to cross that bridge. The vast majority find brick walls all the way in their attempts to make headway.

    Bear in mind that all of congress does not want to increase the minimum wage. A living wage. A wage that would move the poor to a state above poverty. Interesting, eh?

  1. Sarah's Avatar Sarah

    I am surprised to hear that such a large percentage of Christians apparently believe this. I hope my comments make sense. I have been poor and homeless and worked my tail off going backwards and only got out because somebody helped me.

    This is from Matthew 25 (I’m not sure of what Bible version, however, the sentiment is the same in all versions I have read):

    35 For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? 39 Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and came to you? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.

    The Righteous, perhaps not all of whom are Christians, do not need to look for opportunities to serve God directly. They look to live exemplary lives, as did Jesus. In my belief and understanding, taking care of the least of God’s children is part of the natural order of things. Even when I was homeless, there was always a way to provide something for another in need. Even if all that was was encouragement or a “good morning.”

    I believe that some poor people are lazy and some poor people have made poor choices and some are victims of circumstance. But I don’t believe that the circumstances of their poverty changes the charge to “true” Christians to take care of them. Jesus doesn’t say that we should take care of certain disadvantaged persons, simply the “least” of His brethren. Because there are a large number of us who will not take care of others voluntarily, it becomes the job of society as a whole to care for “least.”

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Who helped you, Sarah? Was it a Muslim?

  1. Leslie Gray's Avatar Leslie Gray

    I am not in any sense of the word a Christian. I am Wiccan. That said, I have been on both sides of the income conundrum, having gone from able and gainfully employed to totally disabled and grievously poor by virtue of the appearance of a microscopic blood clot in the passage of a single day. While I was healthy and employed, the evangelicals and other Christians I knew at the time showed me a degree of respect. As soon as I was nolonger able to work, those same evangelicals and almost all of the Christians pointedly disrespected me and called me lazy. The way I see the kind of attitude displayed by those judgmental individuals compares to the real sin of Sodom.

    Ezekiel 16:49 "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

  1. Eric Medcalf's Avatar Eric Medcalf

    One of the supposed reasons why Britain had an "Industrial Revolution' in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was something called the 'Protestant Work Ethic' - so what is missing in this analysis is 'what kind of Christian?' - if Protestant, what kind of Protestant?; what about Anthroposophists, Quakers etc? Many poor people go to work for money, others work in other ways - being a parent, voluntary worker. Are they too lazy to get a high paying job?

  1. Michael's Avatar Michael

    I am no stranger to poverty. I always appreciated any help I received. However it was always my choice as to what I did with that help. I try to help when I can. However at what point does my help become enabling. At that point what sin do I live with. I have learned that some times people become comfortable in their situation and fear change. It is easier to fear something and complain about it than it is to try and change it. If Jesus showed up at my house as a stranger looking for help, I would feed him, cloth him, give him a place to sleep and then we would need to talk about what he plans to do to get his life together. On the second day he's gonna be running a mower and helping with the chores or he can sleep at the shelter. A hand up not enable. I believe that is what God would want.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Bravo, Michael. Good words.

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