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LETTER: Religious or not, all people should help poor, marginalized, Langley writer argues

In response to a recent letter, a local woman counters with her views on philanthropy

Dear Editor,

To expand on John Abelseth’s letter [Choose path, Langley Advance Times, Dec. 20], studies indicate that social problems worsen particularly as economic inequality escalates. This includes declining health, child well-being, violence, bullying and lower literacy and math scores.

Before “trickle-down economics” of the early 1980s, full-time minimum wage could keep a family of two above the poverty line, in 1968, three.

During a congressional hearing on the status of War on Poverty, Sister Simone Campbell was asked if the blame for ongoing poverty is “the fact we’ve lost our family values? We’ve got single parents and so forth?”

She replied: “I practiced family law for 18 years in Oakland. I found with low-income families that the biggest cause of family break up was economic stressors. So I think the most important piece we could do to support families would be to raise the minimum wage.”

Phil Zuckerman, professor of Sociology and Secular Studies concludes “It is the highly secularized countries that tend to fare the best in terms of crime rates, prosperity, equality, freedom, democracy, women’s rights, human rights, educational attainment and life expectancy. (Although there are exceptions, such as Vietnam and China, which have famously poor human rights records.) “

A most wonderful aspect of Christianity (including many other faiths) is that caring for the poor and marginalized is generally considered a core mandate. Yet data indicates that the average church today spends most of its revenue on salaries, buildings, with some to programs, allocating an alarmingly small percentage to the poor, marginalized etc.

I agree with John that all of us, religious or not, could contribute to a better society and a better world. We can do this best by examining root causes, prevention and effective solutions balancing compassion with pragmatism. I am my brother’s keeper.

Michelle Matich, Langley

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