DIANE WINSTON, Knight chair media & religion, USC Annenberg.
This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
That was the command William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, gave his son upon seeing homeless men huddled under London Bridge. Booth was a man of action who, in his zeal to save souls, valued deeds over creeds.
What would the 19th century Christian evangelist have done about the growing number of poor today, huddled in American cities, suburbs and on farms? According to a recent Associated Press article, economists expect that when the 2011 census figures are released this fall, they will show that poverty has climbed to 15.7%, its highest level in 50 years. Heavily mortgaged middle-class families, out-of-work laborers and debt-ridden college graduates have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly joining the ranks of the poorest poor.