7 Effective Ways for Faith to Connect With the Politics of Poverty

Poverty, God, Politics

The six-part seminar, led by the Rev. Dr. David Beckmann, the Dean’s Advisor for Political and Economic Justice at Virginia Theological Seminary, will explore effective ways to connect Christian faith to the politics of poverty. David sees progress against poverty in recent decades as an experience of our loving God and cause for hope.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 1

I am now leading a Lifelong Learning class. In this introductory video, I share three ideas that I consider foundational in the connection between faith and the politics of poverty.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 2

We spent the first session of my VTS course on Poverty, God, and Politics introducing ourselves and the experiences and insights we bring to this topic. This video summarizes what I heard from this group of committed Christians and suggests ways we could more effectively connect faith to the politics of poverty.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 3

This is about the power of the Christian gospel to change the politics of poverty.  I reflect on a book titled Jesus by Marcus Borg and on survey data about how different experiences of God affect support for government policies to help people struggling with poverty.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 2

We spent the first session of my VTS course on Poverty, God, and Politics introducing ourselves and the experiences and insights we bring to this topic. This video summarizes what I heard from this group of committed Christians and suggests ways we could more effectively connect faith to the politics of poverty.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 4

This video shares my current thoughts about seven effective ways to connect faith to the politics of poverty: (1) Legislative advocacy; (2) Active involvement in elections; (3) Building advocacy into organizations; (4) Support organizations of low-income people; (5)Faith and justice work in faith communities; (6) Connections across the divides in our country; (7) The gospel of God’s forgiving love for the world.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 5

I’ve worked mainly at the national level, but have always made it my business to engage in my own church and community too. This video shares my own experience of grassroots organizing. It’s been challenging, but impactful.

Faith and Politics Course, David Beckmann: Episode 6

My sermon at Riverside Church on May 27, 2022, drew deeply from and, in effect, sums up the Lifelong Learning course I’ve been teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary. 

The 12-episode webcast highlights ways to effectively connect faith to the politics of poverty. It is clearly feasible to reduce hunger, poverty, and disease in the United States and worldwide; doing our part to make this happen is sacred work; and for serious change, we need to get our government to do its part. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 13: Paul Froese

Dr.Froese at Baylor University has done a series of surveys on how Americans experience God. His book on this is called America’s Four Gods. In his remarks to David Beckmann’s class, he shared newly available data on how our images of God affect support for public policies that reduce poverty. Click here to purchase his book. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 12: Eugene Cho

Rev. Cho, president of Bread for the World, explains that sustained change on poverty issues will require support from within both parties. Bread for the World has always worked in a bipartisan way, but doing so has become increasingly difficult. To help navigate through this time of tumultuous controversy, Rev. Cho has been leading Bread’s staff in the development of a statement of Bread’s values. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 11: Dave Miner

Miner is a full-time hunger activist from Indianapolis. He explains how he and his co-workers in Indiana’s Bread for the World network have been able to help win big changes for hungry people across the country and around the world. Miner has provided national leadership as chair of the board of Bread for the World and now the Alliance to End Hunger.

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 10: John Carr

Carr is the Founding Director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Teaching and Public Life at Georgetown University. He previously served for many years as director of Justice, Peace, and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Carr focuses on the 2020-2021 debate in the Catholic community on whether to deny communion to President Biden and other Catholic public officials who support legal abortion.

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 9: Bishops Lawrence Reddick & Thomas Brown

Reddick is the Senior Bishop and bishop of Texas in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. Thomas L. Brown, Sr. is the CME bishop of Georgia and a key leader of nationally pivotal voter mobilization efforts there in 2020-2021. Bishops Reddick and Brown provide a long-term perspective on the “tremendous journey” of faith and justice work in the Black Church - the impact of discrimination on them and their families, personal advancement through education and church leadership, ongoing participation in coalitional efforts for civil rights and social justice.

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 8: Rev. Walter Kim

Rev. Kim is president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). His parents were refugees who then immigrants to the United States. His family was assisted by Christians of different denominations, and he became an Evangelical during high school so he understands from personal experience the importance of lifting up Christ in both word and deed. He explains that the NAE was founded in 1942 as a “third way” between fundamentalist and progressive Christians, firmly grounded in Scriptures, but also fully engaged in the life and problems of society. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 7: Anwar Khan & Jihad Saleh

Khan, president, and Saleh Williams, senior advisor for government affairs, explain the remarkable evolution of faith and justice work within Islamic Relief over the last 15 years. Islam provides a clear mandate for anti-poverty advocacy, including a verse from the Koran which calls on Muslims not only to feed the needy but to “urge the feeding of the needy.”

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 6: Dr. Lisa Kimball

Dr. Kimball is the Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary. She provides an exceptionally clear outline of Christian formation - how people experience the love of God and how Christian communities can help them grow in faith toward sacrificial, world-changing commitment. It starts with hospitality and affirmation of everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. It continues with opportunities for people to connect with a church, get to know church members, and experience the Christian community and service opportunities. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 5: Eric Sapp

Sapp is a leader in the use of digital technology and artificial intelligence for social purposes. He is the founder and president of Public Democracy. Early in his career, he helped Democratic candidates win support among faith-based voters. He later did similar work for progressive causes and, in the process, developed a valuable bank of data on what millions of Americans most value: not yet more data on what Americans will buy, but data on our aspirations for society. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 4: Ralph McCloudp

McCloud is director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an important funder of the faith-based community organizing movement over the last 50 years. In hundreds of communities across the country, diverse faith congregations and other local organizations work together to address pressing issues such as housing, transportation, police-community relations, and voting. Faith-based community organizations provide leadership training and opportunities to many low-income people - and foster relationships across racial, economic, and religious divides. 

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 3: Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

Rev. Dr. Theoharis is a biblical scholar and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. A powerful way for faith communities to change the politics of poverty is to support organizations of low-income people, and the Poor People’s Campaign is now the strongest organization of low-income people in the country. Dr. Theoharis starts this presentation with Bible teaching. She then recounts the dramatic rise and impacts of the Poor People’s Campaign since its launch in 2018. They aim to build “a sustained moral movement led by those who are most directly impacted by injustice” that convinces the nation to address the intertwined evils of poverty, racism, ecological devastation, militarism, and religious nationalism.

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 2: Rev. Eli Valentin

Rev. Valentin is both a Pentecostal pastor and a political operative. He has made it clear to his congregations that he will work during election seasons to help candidates who share his Christian passion for justice. “Being partisan is not a vice,” he says. Valentin is also an academic with deep ties to Union Theological Seminary, and he talks about a book he is writing on the involvement of Reinhold Neibuhr (a historically important American theologian) in electoral politics. Finally, Valentin describes his work with Faith Forward, which works to win the support of faith-grounded voters for progressive candidates.

Poverty, God, Politics | Ch 2, Ep 1: David Beckmann

Beckmann introduces the fall 2021 chapter of the “Poverty, God, Politics” series. Legislative advocacy is effective - and especially urgent right now as Congress negotiates legislation that would dramatically reduce hunger and poverty. But this series will also discuss a number of other effective ways to translate faith into change in the politics of poverty - beginning with contributions of time and money to help good candidates get elected.

The 12-episode webcast highlights ways to effectively connect faith to the politics of poverty. It is clearly feasible to reduce hunger, poverty, and disease in the United States and worldwide; doing our part to make this happen is sacred work; and for serious change, we need to get our government to do its part. 

Episode 13: Webcast Series Conclusions from David Beckmann

Poverty, God, Politics | 12: Eugene Cho, President, Bread for the World

Rev. Cho, President, Bread for the World, discusses how congregations and people across the country repeatedly convince Congress to do the right thing on issues of importance to hungry people.

Poverty, God, Politics | 11: John Carr, Founder, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought & Public Life

Carr, Founder & Director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought & Public Life at Georgetown University. The resources and liabilities of the Catholic community for this work. Catholic social teaching and Pope Francis.

Poverty, God, Politics | 10: Tom Hart - North America Director, ONE Campaign

Hart, North America Director, for ONE Campaign, talks about how faith-based and other advocacy groups have helped to increase international aid and support progress against global poverty.

Poverty, God, Politics | 9: Amy Reumann, Director of Witness & Society, ELCA

Reumann is the Director of Witness and Society for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) In this episode, Reumann explains why and how her church influences Congress and how they work with other faith partners.

Poverty, God, Politics | 8: Anna Eng, Senior Regional Organizer, Industrial Areas Foundation

Eng serves as the Senior Regional Organizer for Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). She describes how faith-based community organizations build the capacity of low-income Americans to speak for themselves.

Poverty, God, Politics | 7: Galen Carey, Vice President of National Association of Evangelicals

As the Vice President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Carey strengthens the Evangelical movement and the NAE’s poverty-related advocacy.

Poverty, God, Politics | 6: Eric Sapp, Tech & the Faith-Based Voter

Sapp addresses how technology and artificial intelligence can be used to strengthen support for progressive causes among faith-based voters and strengthen the voice of low-income voters. He is the founder and president of Public Democracy. where he 

supports communities all over the world in their efforts to promote the common good.

Poverty, God, Politics | 5: Henry Brady, Dean of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy

Brady served as the Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy from 2019-to 2021. He received his Ph.D. in Economics and Political Science from MIT in 1980 and has written on electoral politics and political participation, social welfare policy, political polling, political polarization and trust, and statistical methodology. Brady explains how churches foster democratic participation but often shy away from needed conflict.

Poverty, God, Politics | 4: Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition NALEC

Salguero is pastor of The Gathering Place, a Latino-led multi-ethnic Assemblies of God congregation in FL. He is also the president and founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NALEC), a national coalition of several thousand evangelical congregations in the United States. In this episode, he shares his thoughts on examining the extent of support among Latinos for policies to reduce poverty and church efforts to encourage more support.

Poverty, God, Politics | 3: Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner & U.S. Representative Barbara Lee

Dr. Williams-Skinner is the head of the Skinner Institute and Co-convener of the African American Clergy Network. She speaks from the heart about how the Black Church has helped to build African American electoral power. It’s a powerful story with practical lessons for present times. 

Poverty, God, Politics | 2: Josh Dickson, Former National Faith Engagement Dir., Biden for President

Dickson previously served as National Faith Engagement Director for Biden for President and was Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Commerce during the Obama-Biden Administration. This episode explains how effective outreach to faith communities helped win the White House and what this has already achieved for people in and near poverty.

Poverty, God, Politics | 1: David Beckmann, Getting Started

Dr. Beckmann introduces the first chapter of the webcast series.