Acton Institute Powerblog

The Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty

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To truly understand what a conservative believes, you must know what it is they want to conserve. Like many other Christians who identify as conservatives, my own answer to that question would be the same as that of Russell Kirk: The institution most essential to conserve is the family.

Wherever you look—whether in the streets or the social science research—you’ll find confirmation that the breakdown of the family is correlated with societal ills such as children living in poverty. We know the cause and we know the cure. Yet rather than effectively encouraging marriage, our government pretends that welfare can be a suitable substitute for the absence of mothers and fathers in the home. As the Heritage Foundation reports:

The collapse of marriage, along with a dramatic rise in births to single women, is the most important cause of childhood poverty—but government policy doesn’t reflect that reality, according to a special report released today by The Heritage Foundation.

Nearly three out of four poor families with children in America are headed by single parents. When a child’s father is married to his mother, however, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.


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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • To me the fragmentation of the Church that has happened over a long period has diluted the values and religious bent of the Christian Community/ites all over the world.An effort to reverse the situation seems to be the only way to bring back Age-old traditional values back.A slow amalgamation must begin keeping aside all our egos and prejudicies.The aim ONE Church.ONE faith.After all our Lord and The saviour are the same.Why then so many many denominations?It would be like reworking the fertility to the soil after it has been devastated by over use of chemical and other non-natural inputs.It will be a tough ask but that seems the only way.Families have to be reunited and stay united even at the cost of economic considerations.Povety of both the soul and the body have to be handled and addressed simultaenously.Both the adult and the childs causes should be sought,to be taken care of, for they are two sides of the same coin.

  • Roger McKinney

    Yes, the decline of family is a terrible social problem, but not something government caused or can fix. It is the consequence of people rejecting God. God created mankind in such a way that society flourished when the people obey God. That was the original meaning behind Jefferson’s phrase “pursuit of happiness.” When people reject God, God’s judgment is to let them do what they want. One of the results is many homes headed by single mothers.

    All we can do is care for the children as much as possible and pray for revival before worse judgment happens.

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