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As We Get Caught Up In Christmas Remember the 1 in 2 Americans In Poverty
There is a magical transformation that happens every year during the holiday season that begins with beautiful lights, decorated Christmas trees, and songs of joy and good cheer. The worldwide Christmas phenomenon is firmly entrenched in Americans’ psyches and for many folks, it is the time to be generous and cheerful towards family, friends, and co-workers. For Christians, it is the time to celebrate the birth of their religion’s namesake, but the actions of some Christians throughout the year belie Christ’s teachings.
It is easy for those who are able to afford all the holiday trappings to forget or ignore that one-in-two Americans are at or near the poverty level, or that 1.6 million more are homeless. There are, of course, several people to blame for increased poverty and growing number of American children going to bed hungry or suffering from food anxiety, but instead of listing each person responsible for the plight of the poor, the list can be summed up in three letters; GOP. This is not an indictment of just Republicans in Congress and statehouses across the country, but a condemnation of every single American who voted for Republicans or teabaggers who mercilessly cut funding for safety nets, senior’s healthcare, and every other program Christ would support without hesitation.
It is amazing how people spend the entire year supporting policies that ensure millions of American are hungry and homeless, and then sing and preach about peace on Earth and good will toward men during Christmas season. These same people who claim America is a Christian nation spend their time preaching that health care is a privilege and that Medicare and Social Security are entitlements regardless that retired seniors paid into the program their entire working lives. However, there is a bigger travesty that should sicken every alleged Christian in America.
In every city in America, there are church buildings that sit unoccupied on all but two or three days a week that could serve as shelter for the homeless who often spend freezing winter nights huddled in alleys and side-streets to avoid being assaulted. The bigger travesty is that the same churches do not contribute to their communities because they filed a piece of paper that claims they are not-for-profit even though their clergy live in homes paid for by the church and often drive luxury vehicles to church to preach once or twice a week. There is no reason why these churches should not open their buildings to the homeless like Jesus would have done or sell all their belongings to give to the poor. Instead, too many Christian churches politicize the pulpit and preach about the evils of taking care of the needy as they actively campaign against legislation to help the poor.
One wonders if some Christians are in a dilemma after hearing their preacher implore the congregation to vote for Republicans who promise to cut funding for children’s food and health programs, aid to seniors, and housing programs for low-income Americans. The sad fact is, there is probably no dilemma for most Christians because as long as they have a warm home, decorated tree, and mounds of gifts, any sense of Christian charity and goodwill toward men is forgotten until the next Christmas rolls around.
It is true that all Christians are not selfish Republicans, but real Christians are few and far between. It is also true that during the holiday season it is easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and forget that millions of Americans barely subsist from day to day and that for many, many Americans, the Christmas break means their children will go hungry because free or reduced-cost school lunches are not available. Many Americans’ hunger is not the same as missing a 2,000 calorie fast-food lunch, it is the hunger that causes pain, and drives human beings to gorge themselves because they never know when or where their next meal will come from. There are Christians who work at food banks distributing food on Christmas day and deliver meals to elderly or disabled people and they are to be commended. It is unfortunate though, that many Christians fail to make any effort to help the least fortunate among us because besides being caught up in the holiday spirit, they, like their Republican heroes in Congress, fail to consider that somewhere in their own neighborhood there is a child, adult, veteran, or elderly American who is cold and hungry and they probably don’t care. Why? Because their political party protects the wealthy, their corporations, and tax-exempt churches from paying their fair share that could create jobs and fund programs to help the less-fortunate.
As a secular humanist, it is nearly impossible to feel much joy during this holiday knowing there are children and adults who go to bed hungry and wake up without gifts, food, or a dead tree in their home, tent, or car. It is tragic that America is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world and yet cannot feed its children because Republicans and their faux Christian supporters are more intent on protecting the wealthy than taking care of the least fortunate citizens.
This time of year should be a celebration of the millions of Americans who were brought up out of poverty and that there are no more homeless veterans, seniors, or children living in cars or on the streets. This year, again, there will be no celebrating the end of poverty and instead, for half of America, children struggle with hunger pains instead of deciding which gifts they will play with first.
We must remember there are millions of Americans and their children who consider themselves lucky to have a meal, shelter and if they are extremely lucky, a coat or sweater donated by the Salvation Army. Also remember that this so-called Christian nation is being transformed into a peasant population by Republicans and their Christian supporters who demean this holiday with their greed, selfishness, and protection of the wealthy and tax-exempt churches who bear as much responsibility for the poverty, homelessness and starving children as the Republicans they put in office.
This author is grateful for PoliticusUSA readers who typify what is good in America, and hopes you have a warm home, sufficient food, and loyal friends.