Acton Institute Powerblog

A New Poverty Poll from Barna

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There’s lots to digest and consider in a new Barna report on poverty:

A new national survey by The Barna Group regarding people’s perspectives on poverty shows that Americans are quite concerned about what they perceive to be a significant and growing challenge facing the nation. The survey also showed that most people are actively involved in trying to alleviate poverty, although they typically believe it is primarily the government’s job to do so. The religious faith of adults appears to have a limited influence on how people perceive and respond to poverty.

One of the sentences in that introductory paragraph that jumps out at me, of course, is the sense that most people “typically believe it is primarily the government’s job” to combat poverty.

But then I ran across this paragraph, which is rather more inspiring:

Worthy of note is the divergent perspective of evangelicals. They were among the groups least likely to see poverty as a job for the government (55%) and were the group most likely to see it as a matter for churches to address (14%). The only other group that was similar was Christian Revolutionaries – the people who indicate that their highest priority in life is living for God and who possess a worldview that is based on biblical principles. Barely half of the Revolutionaries (52%) assigned poverty primarily to government agencies, while 11% said it was predominantly a church responsibility.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I’ve given this report a closer read. Feel free to weigh in as well.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Thank you Jordan, a cite for the entire study would be interesting. Title IV-D is a significant portion of the welfare system after PWROA. Have a kid, allege someone’s paternity, file some paperwork and suddenly you have child support, food assistance, utility assistance,and cash assistance, on the contrary no kid – no help. Should someone desire a workfree life than there is a formula to attain it.
    Perhaps it is not the Churhes’ task to support those who profit on children’s backs.There are initiatives underway: West Michigan DADS, DADS of Michigan, National Center for Fathering, Catholic Charities USA and the National Fatherhood Initiative that work to educate young men as Fathers to be, and, Fathers themselves on life’s realities, effective parenting methodologies, and Brotherhood. Here then, IS, a place where the Church can constructively work to relieve impoverishing conditions.
    Bob Van Ee
    P.S. Before scorning, simply watch Montel Williams for a couple of weeks, or serach the archives: Mr. Williams runs entire episodes on Paternity Fraud. Yes there are good women and good Mothers: all women are not the same