Recently published poll results of small-town and rural Americans has shed light on American Christian feelings towards poverty.
The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post, asked 1,686 Americans to answer the 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?”
Religion emerged as a significant predictor of how Americans would feel about poverty. Christians, most notably, white evangelical Christians, are much more likely to view poverty as the result of the individual being lazy or failing in some other way.
The poll, which was conducted this spring, showed that 46 percent of Christians surveyed blamed poverty on the individual. Only 29 percent of non-Christians responded the same way. Looking at specific Christian groups widens the gap: 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants blamed the individual and Catholics were at 50 percent.
Among atheists, agnostics, and other religiously unaffiliated people, the majority (65 percent) said that poverty was due to difficult circumstances beyond a person’s control and only 31 percent blamed the individual.
The divide was also present among political lines. 72 percent of Democrats blamed circumstances, while 26 percent blamed laziness. Among Republicans, 63 percent blamed laziness, while 32 percent blamed circumstances.
While statistical analysis showed that political partisanship was the most important factor to determining a person’s belief about the causes of poverty, religious affiliation was another very important factor.
These poll results once again show just how far conservative evangelical Christians in America disregard many of Jesus's teachings in the New Testament. I think these Christians need to reread Matthew 19:16-30 where Jesus tells his followers that no one with any material wealth will get into heaven easily. And where he exhorts them to sell everything they own and give everything to the poor.
I do not see many wealthy, Christian conservatives doing that. It sure is convenient when you can cherry-pick which parts of the Bible are the ones you actually need to adhere to, and which you can ignore.