Are you ready to Pledge to Close the Gap?
“The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. Deeply etched in the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that are made in the image of God… In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. We are inevitably our brothers’ keeper because of the interrelated structure of reality.” Apt words from Martin Luther King, whose day was marked this week (17 Jan).
The UK remains the sixth richest nation on the planet – but one increasingly characterized by inequality between rich and poor. The total net household wealth of the richest 10% is now almost 100 times higher than that of the poorest tenth of the population – a gap higher than at any time in the past 30 years. When the highest-paid workers, such as bankers and chief executives, are put into the equation, the division in wealth is even more stark, with individuals in the top 1% of the population each possessing total household wealth of £2.6m or more.
But more than this, inequality harms us all. There is persuasive evidence in the Spirit Level of the “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption.” Whether in relation to health or social problems; drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, trust or community life, inequality harms the outcomes for everyone – not just the poorest.
As the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales said as far back as 1997: “There must come a point at which the scale of the gap between the very wealthy and those at the bottom of the range of income begins to undermine the common good. This is the point at which society starts to be run for the benefit of the rich, not for all its members.”
Our Christian faith tells us that another world is possible…. and for this reason, Church Action on Poverty is teaming up with several of the main Christian denominations and national partner organisations – to launch a major new three year campaign, with a challenge to both to the Churches and to politicians:
Are you prepared to give, act and pray to Close the Gap between rich and poor in the UK?
The campaign will challenge both individuals and churches to sign up to specific Pledges to Give, Act or Pray to Close the Gap. The specific target is mobilise up to 10,000 people to sign up each year to take part in actions, which will seek to make politicians and other powerholders accountable for their role in narrowing – or increasing – the gap between rich and poor. Overall, the aim is to build a more powerful movement within the churches committed to working for long-term pro-poor change within the UK.