Freethought Today · September 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Christians are more likely to blame poverty on effort

Nearly half of all Christians in the United States think that a person's poverty is due to lack of effort.

A poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 46 percent of Christians see poverty as the result of individual failings.

"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," Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the Washington Post. "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."

Those who are atheist, agnostic or unaffiliated were more than twice as likely than Christians to claim that difficult circumstances are more to blame for a person's poverty than lack of effort (65 percent to 31 percent).

In the poll, 29 percent of all non-Christians said that a lack of effort is generally to blame for a person's poverty, compared with 46 percent of all Christians.

Among specific Christians sects, the numbers widen: 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.

The question is also highly political, not just religious. Among Democrats, 26 percent blamed a lack of effort and 72 percent blamed circumstances. Among Republicans, 63 percent blamed lack of effort and 32 percent blamed circumstances.

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