While much progress has been made toward poverty alleviation, many well-intentioned efforts have led Christians to actions that are not only ineffective, but leave the most vulnerable in a worse situation than before. Is there a better answer?
That’s the question panelists aimed to answer during a special panel discussion of IFWE’s recently released book, For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty, at The Heritage Foundation yesterday.
Dr. Art Lindsley, co-editor and IFWE’s vice president of theological initiatives, spoke first, reminding the audience of the need to promote biblical flourishing and “spread shalom in every direction” by working for the peace, prosperity, and well-being of the poor.
One of the best ways to spread that kind of peace and prosperity, argued Anne Bradley (co-editor and IFWE vice president of economic initiatives), is to stimulate economic progress and job growth. This is done by “unleashing the creativity that is written on the human heart,” Bradley explained. She went on to explain how a framework of political, economic, and religious freedom makes this possible.
Bradley’s presentation emphasized the importance of human dignity in fostering sustainable economic development, a point first mentioned by moderator Jennifer A. Marshall of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity. Marshall pointed out how effective, compassionate answers to poverty require a thorough understanding of human nature and human dignity.
Continuing with the theme of human dignity, Michael Craven, chairman and CEO of The Good-Works Company, talked about how his company is alleviating poverty in South Dallas by providing jobs and working to see the restoration of the whole person. He said The Good-Works Company is working to “bring them [the poor] into relationship with a collaborative community of people” who can help them realize their creative gifts and work their way out of poverty.
What’s been rewarding, Craven shared, was that in finding meaningful work, The Good-Works Company employees are rediscovering the “muted Imago Dei” within themselves.
Tomorrow on the blog you’ll get to learn more about The Good-Works Company and the work they’re doing in South Dallas in an interview IFWE conducted with Craven.
Derrick Morgan, vice president of the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation, also spoke about how economic freedom is key for having safer, healthier, and more productive lives, and that the whole world has a stake in the war against poverty.
Watch the panel discussion here.