“Inequality is a New Testament headline” — NZCCSS President Lisa Woolley
As New Zealand Christians think about how to cast their vote in 3 months’ time the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) is encouraging them to evaluate candidates on their party’s commitment to the wellbeing of our country’s most vulnerable people.
That means recognising what lies at the root of key social problems including child poverty, inadequate housing and the state of our prison system. That issue is income inequality.
“Inequality is a New Testament headline”, says NZCCSS President, Lisa Woolley. “In Luke’s gospel we hear Mary, the mother of Jesus, speaking of filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty. Jesus himself challenged people to sell their possessions and give to the poor. He saw inequality as an affront, a disgrace.”
The terrible scale of child poverty exemplifies why. More than a quarter of New Zealand’s 1 million children live below the poverty line in families who have less than 60% of the average household’s income. Many of these children go to school hungry, or without decent shoes or a raincoat, because their parents simply do not have enough money left at the end of the week.
“For the biblical writers, the whole point of an economy is to sustain community and protect the most vulnerable”, says Ms Woolley. “The Old Testament prophets reserve some of their sharpest criticism for would-be rulers who are not committed to ensuring everyone can meet their basic needs. As our economy recovers, more and more New Zealanders will want to see its benefits being shared with those who are struggling the most.”
NZCCSS wants to make sure that when they come to vote this year New Zealanders within and beyond the churches make the connection between income inequality and its destructive effects and, as a result, support candidates committed to positive change.
For more information on the effects of inequality see NZCCSS’s information programme, Closer Together Whakatata Mai at www.closertogether.org.nz. The programme contains information and resources to raise awareness of the problem of income inequality, to promote debate about solutions and support action to reduce the gap between rich and poor.
For further information, contact:
Lisa Woolley, NZCCSS President – 027 664 5310
New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services is the umbrella organisation of the churches’ social service agencies in Aotearoa. Our members are Anglican Care Network, Baptist Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand, Catholic Social Services, Presbyterian Support NZ, the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army.