Michael O'Connell of Rossville, Georgia, said he hears plenty about the need to help the poor at his evangelical church on Sundays.
They just rely too much on other people helping them, rather than just going out and doing it themselves," he said. They talk more about people in need in church than people who are just lazy." Regardless of their personal beliefs about what makes a person poor, almost everyone who discussed the question with the Post said that their church teaches them to help individuals who are in need, and that their congregations works hard at putting those teachings into action.
Churches of every denomination and political persuasion run food banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
To the premillennialists, Rhee said, "The world is already lost. She said that her pastor has preached about people who try to earn money through criminal activity rather than hard work, and about people who go through financial difficulties but don't turn to the church for spiritual support.
"Not to say that if they come to the church everything will be perfect," she said.
Still, when asked if he thought people were poor because of circumstances beyond their control, O'Connell replied that they were more often poor because of their own lack of effort.
"There's just too many that just rely on government or they rely on family."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," said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary."The Christian world view is saying that all poverty is due to sin, though that doesn't necessarily mean the sin of the person in poverty.The postmillennialists, who thought it was their responsibility to work toward a better epoch on earth, focused on dismantling harmful economic structures to create a more just world. Mohler, a conservative evangelical, said, "There's a rightful Christian impulse to consider poverty a moral issue. "I think conservative Christians often have a very inadequate understanding of the structural dimension of sin." Julisa Reed, 25, in rural Orangeburg County, South Carolina, answered the question, "I believe it's mostly lack of effort on their part.The premillennialists, who thought the world might end imminently, wanted to save as many souls as possible to spare those individuals from the torment soon to come for nonbelievers. Because, I mean, it's very seldom that people put forth great effort only to receive no type of opportunities." That's a view she has developed in her church, a predominantly African-American Baptist congregation.The gulf widens further among specific Christian groups: 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants blamed lack of effort while 41 percent blamed circumstances, and 50 percent of Catholics blamed lack of effort while 45 percent blamed circumstances.