Thursday, February 23, 2006


In his series addressing the purpose and methods of Bono and the ONE Campaign, Pastor Mark Roberts has been very supportive of the goals of this organization while questioning some of the methods. I have been a little surprised by his reluctance or unwillingness to make definitive statements regarding the methods of ONE, but I have been very impressed by the way he has thought through most of the major issues regarding this cause and by the questions he has asked his readers to consider.

Today however, I was disappointed to see him making definitive statements about matters I consider to be very debatable since he has shown reluctance in the past to make definitive statements regarding matters that are far less debatable. In his latest entry titled Why the ONE Campaign is So Important, Pastor Roberts makes some assertions that need to be scrutinized, and not just digested as truth.

Pastor Roberts starts his piece by making the claim that poverty is the most horrible problem in our world today and that the suffering caused by poverty is greater than the suffering caused by all other global problems. Terrorism and the differences between Muslims and the rest of the world are the two other problems he lists. He bases this belief on a claim by a United Nations organization that hunger and malnutrition are killing almost six million children each hear and a claim by a Christian lobbying organization that two billion people throughout the world are chronically malnourished.

For three straight pieces Pastor Roberts has questioned the wisdom of using tax money to combat world hunger, but today he didn’t see a problem in using a figure supplied by an organization that has a sole purpose of extracting tax money from tax payers to support the cause of global hunger.

He then goes on to make the following statement:

Of course we can and should debate the root causes of poverty, and work on eradicating these. But I would add my small voice to chorus of people who are saying that, no matter what causes poverty, the fact of widespread poverty in our world is unacceptable. It's simply wrong that there are so many poor people on this earth. The wrong is made even more obvious by the fact that many of us live in relatively luxury, often with very little awareness of or concern for the poor.

Following this statement, Pastor Roberts credits the ONE Campaign with reversing the lack of awareness of poverty and he also praises Bono for using his fame and influence to force us to think about that which we’d rather avoid. Pastor Roberts then states his belief that global poverty needs to be a much more prominent feature of American concern and conversation and he finishes with this paragraph:

I realize this might sound overly idealistic. Okay, fine. I admit that most of us are self-centered, and that we'd rather not bother about poverty on the other side of the globe, especially if taking it seriously might require us to make certain sacrifices, like paying more for imported goods, or buying fewer designer shoes (not my weakness) or electronic gizmos (my weakness). Nevertheless, I believe that it would be possible for millions upon millions of Americans to become committed to the cause of eliminating global poverty. I say this, in part, because I believe many Americans have, underneath a shell of selfishness, generous hearts. The more they realize the human cost of poverty, the more they will want to help. Moreover, around 150 million American claim to acknowledge biblical authority. This means, in principle, that there are a whole lot of folks in our country who could be persuaded to join the war on poverty with their prayers, their activism, and their giving.

In my next few pieces, I will have some questions for Pastor Roberts regarding some of his statements and claims as well as a few definitive statements of my own.

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