Category: Poverty

missions-globeChristians have routinely accepted a range of false dichotomies when it comes to so-called “full-time ministry,” confining such work to the vocation of pastor or evangelist or missionary.

The implications are clear: Those who enter or leave such vocations are thought to be “entering the work world” or “leaving the ministry,” whether it be for business or education or government. To the contrary, God has called all of us to minister to the lost across all vocations, and to do so “full-time.”

With the rise of the faith-work movement, the problems with this type of vocabulary have been helpfully exposed, and the underlying attitudes and imaginations are beginning to shift. What’s less discussed is how such a view can trickle into the world Christian missions and global aid.

This is most evident in the realm of “short-term missions,” which have become a core focus of ministry for many churches and school. I recently highlighted some helpful tips on avoiding a “messiah complex” in such scenarios, a temptation that the broader culture continues to peddle and promote at every turn. As we enter and experience new cultures and socio-economic realities, particularly in short-term and limited timeframes, we should remember to be learners and disciples, even as we preach and bear witness to the Gospel. (more…)

publicdefenderThe Atlantic published an article by Dylan Walsh about the growing fight in many states for the right to legal counsel. This article focuses on the state of Louisiana, and looks specifically the Concordia Parish along the Mississippi river. Like many poor, rural areas of the country the Concordia Parish suffers from drug problems and the local courts see a high volume of cases involving illegal substances. The district’s chief public defender’s office handles around 3,300 cases per year, three times what the state recommends. Therein lies the problem.

The spiraling problem in the arena of public defense is the growing number of cases and the parallel need for more lawyers and more funds to pay them. One example given in the Louisiana case claims that some lawyers were being paid $1,000 for 100 cases, or just $10 per case. With this level of income, public defenders in his parishes often need more than one job to cover costs and cannot live on their salary as a lawyer. In one parish, the office stopped representing some accused of certain misdemeanors because of financial needs and understaffing. Walsh quotes the Louisiana Public Defender Board (that oversees each district office) which predicts the “systemic failure in the public-defense system” this summer. The failure began months ago when New Orleans public defenders office announced it would begin refusing certain cases, even serious felonies involving murder and rape.
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Poverty-Inc-300x300The Poverty, Inc. documentary continues to make waves around the world, including the land down under.  Acton Institute Research Fellow and director of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller was featured last week on Radio Adelaide in Adelaide, Austrailia in advance of a showing of the film there. You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.

Acton Institute Research Fellow and Director of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller made an appearance on Fox Business Channel last week to discuss how his documentary addresses the issue of celebrity efforts at poverty alleviation, noting that often, such campaigns can do more harm than good. You can watch the interview below.

Poverty, Inc. co-producer Mark R. Weber shares his commitment to discomfort as a necessary function of growth at the Jubilee Professional conference in Pittsburgh, 2016.

Poverty, Inc. is a critically acclaimed documentary that has earned over 50 international film festival honors and the $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award. It has been endorsed across the political spectrum, from Michael Moore to Russ Roberts, playing in over 100 universities including Harvard, MIT, NYU, Cornell, Stanford, Yale, and Northwestern.

Learn more at povertyinc.org and facebook.com/povertyinc.

man-stealing-breadFive year ago, Roman Ostriakov, a homeless Ukrainian living in Italy, attempted to steal cheese and sausages worth $4.50 (€4.07). Before he could leave the supermarket, though, Ostriakov was caught and convicted of theft. He was ordered to pay a fine of $115 (€100) and spend six months in jail.

But Italy’s supreme court has overturned the conviction, writing:

The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need.

“For the judges, the right to survival has prevailed over the right to property,” says Massimo Gramellini, an editor of the Italian newspaper La Stampa. He adds that in America this would be “blasphemy.”

Gramellini is partially right. While the court was right to show mercy to Ostriakov, they’ve essentially set of precedent for legalized theft. While it may seem compassionate for the judges to allow those in need to have access to other people’s property, the result is likely to lead to greater harm of the poor.
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Kris Mauren, executive director of the Acton Institute, kicks off the second season of the Free Market Series, a television program for American and Canadian audiences produced by The World Show in partnership with the Montreal Economic Institute and broadcast on PBS affiliates. In Episode 1, Mauren takes apart the “fatally flawed poverty industry” and talks about Acton’s Poverty Inc. documentary. Interview notes:

Many people imagine that free markets are synonymous with self-interest and greed, but for Kris Mauren, freedom is a necessary condition of a good society. As he describes in this illuminating interview, when he co-founded the Acton Institute, the errors of rejecting markets were becoming undeniable. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and of real communism, he says, “we could see the results of generations of socialist experimentation, and the results were not good. And people of good will have to be concerned with results, not just philosophy.” (more…)