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Are U.S. Churches Doing Enough to Fight Poverty in America

New Faith in Action/Harris Interactive Survey Reveals Big Perception Gap

Contact: Brian Burch, 616-233-0500

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 21 /Christian Newswire/ -- Two-thirds of Americans surveyed in a new poll say their churches are doing enough to help the poor despite the latest United States Census Bureau statistics showing consistent year-to-year increases in the numbers of Americans living in poverty. This, combined with poverty indicators such as rising food stamp usage, points to increased demand for a complacent church to do more to help the poor.

Conducted by Faith in Action and Harris Interactive, the national survey polled more than 2,800 adults, and took place February 14-18, 2008. Sixty-seven percent of respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the statement, "My church already does enough to help the poor in my community." Yet current data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals the national poverty level has increased from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 13.3 percent in 2005, or 38 million Americans.

Additionally, demand for food stamps between 2007-08, a key economic indicator provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, is up significantly in 43 states, increasing the need for significant help among more than 28 million Americans.

"These results, when combined with current census and economic data, expose a discrepancy between Christians who believe they are doing enough and the reality that Christians are just scratching the surface in our communities," said Steve Haas, vice president for church relations at World Vision. "Faith in Action is designed to be a step toward alleviating the complacency that is afflicting churches across the country, and an effective call to action to follow Christ's example of compassion."

The study also reports that 60 percent of respondents "would support their church if it occasionally canceled traditional services in order to donate that time to help the poor in their community," indicating a willingness to participate in the bold premise at the center of Faith in Action.

The defining characteristic of this groundbreaking ministry is an invitation to Christians to close their church doors and mobilize on service projects within their communities. The program is led by three world-renowned Christian organizations, World Vision, Outreach and Zondervan, and culminates in Faith in Action Sunday, which takes place on April 27, 2008.

Faith in Action commissioned the national study to determine Christians' attitudes toward helping the poor in their communities. In addition, the program helps Christians invite members outside of their church to join in serving. In an expression of hope, two-thirds of respondents said they "wished their church partnered with a non-Christian organization to help the poor in my community."

More than 20,000 Christians at more than 200 churches have participated in a Faith in Action Sunday throughout the United States. The movement continues on April 27, 2008 when an additional 300 churches nationwide will close their doors and complete their Faith in Action programs with community-wide projects to help the poor and disadvantaged.

Many Christians who have participated in the Faith in Action campaign have fueled their endeavors with the Faith in Action Study Bible, published by Zondervan with commentary notes by World Vision. Additional information is available at www.putyourfaithinaction.org.  

About Faith in Action
Faith in Action is a resource developed by Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision, church communication resources provider, Outreach, Inc., and Christian communications company, Zondervan. Faith in Action features a campaign kit which includes a step-by-step approach to transforming a congregation and reaching the community.