The One Campaign is a celebrity-centered effort to get the United States to allocate an additional 1 percent of the federal budget to fighting global poverty and AIDS, approximately $25 billion.
It has captured the imagination and backing of younger Americans, many of whom find moral affinity with Bono, who helped launch the One Campaign to rally American to a noble cause.
Joining Bono and U2 are a Hollywood-studded cast of hundreds—Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Danny Glover, Jars of Clay, Dave Matthews.
The campaign wants to halve global poverty by 2015, one the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. Its strategy includes international debt cancellation, fairer trade and better governments.
The white wrist band is the One Campaign’s symbol that represents the global call to action against poverty.
Not surprisingly, the One Campaign has its advocates within the Baptist blogosphere, which is populated by younger and non-establishment Baptists.
Big Daddy Weave has an ad for the One Campaign on his blog. The word “One” in white letters sits inside red circle housed in a square. The square includes the organization’s Web site, www.one.org, and the subtitle “The Campaign To Make Poverty History.”
John Henson, associate pastor for emerging ministries at the First Baptist Church of Shreveport, La., has a different image with the same emphasis and link. Wondering Thoughts has a blue square ad showing a mother holding a child with the words, “One Person, One Voice, One Hope.”
Cheaper than Therapy has an identical ad for the One Campaign. Rick Bennett, the blog’s writer, coordinates volunteers for Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Fla., and self-identifies with the EmergentVillage.
Another One Campaign look appears on Michael Westmoreland-White’s blog, Levellers. The blog says that the Levellers were “a religiously-inspired movement for radical democracy, social justice (especially for the poor), religious liberty and human rights. The most eloquent of their leaders was the General Baptist, Richard Overton, a Mennonite-influenced pacifist who first coined the term ‘human rights’ in 1640.”
Marty On the Home Front has the same rotating ribbon, MakePovertyHistory.org, as Levellers. Marty is a former Baptist now transplanted in a UnitedMethodistChurch in Houston-area. She writes about the war in Iraq.
Jim West, pastor of Tennessee’s PetrosBaptistChurch, has a completely different One Campaign ad on his blog. The ad in bold red, white and blue says, “One by One We Can Start To Make Poverty History.”
Contrary to what one might expect, centrist to progressive Baptists are not the only One Campaign supporters in the Baptist blogosphere. At least one SBC-wired blogspot support the effort.
Arkansas Razorbaptist, a pro-Southern Baptist Convention blog, promotes the One Campaign with two ribbons on its spot.
“We happen to believe that Bono understands God’s grace and redemption in Christ better that some who have been in SBC’s leadership,” the blog’s administrators told EthicsDaily.com.
Arkansas Razorbaptist has written earlier that they are big fans of Bono.
“The eradication of poverty is one of the major tests of time,” the blog says. “The Scripture says that the poor will always exist, but Christ also implores us to care for the poor. We like the fact that the One Campaign is voluntary and its solution is not just to throw more money at the problem.”
“There are compelling reasons, theological and sociological, to want to end poverty and stop the spread of AIDS in the Third world,” they said, underscoring the refreshing nature of different theological and political poles working together to solve problems.
Herein may be a flicker of hope for younger Baptists joining hands across the blogosphere to make poverty history.
Perhaps the young men and women of the SBC will have a vision that their spiritual mentors never had, rekindling care for the poor. Perhaps younger centrist to progressive Baptist bloggers will go in ways their spiritual parents were fearful to tread—into acts of justice through public policy advocacy for the hungry.
As one on the backside of 50, who carried the hunger-education portfolio for the old Christian Life Commission in the mid-to-late 1980s, I can definitively attest that moderate Southern Baptists put energy to the denomination’s World Hunger Day in October and fundamentalists did not. In fact, the SBC fundamentalist leaders have profoundly downgraded hunger education and observation.
I can also give witness to the reluctance with the moderate Baptist camp to move beyond charity to justice. As good as moderates were at observing World Hunger Day, they were at best timid about advancing the moral mandate in the public square.
If the multitude of conservative SBC bloggers began devoting as much time to ending global poverty as they do private prayer language and their right to drink beer, then their moral influence could push forward the goal of halving poverty.
At the same time, we need younger centrist to progressive Baptists to start blogging—blogging with a moral passion about making poverty history.
One way for both youthful theological parties to halve poverty is through the support of the Micah Challenge, global organization with lots of Baptist leadership determined to get nations to keep its pledge to support the Millennium Development Goals.
The Micah Challenge, named after Micah 6:8, is as biblically based as the One Campaign is celebrity-based.
Rank-and-file Baptists are far more likely to memorize Micah 6:8 and to seek ways to do justice than they are to wear a white wrist band.
What’s so politically critical now is that we are in a moral fullness of time—time to push our government hard to make poverty history.
Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.
Robert M. Parham (1953 – 2017) was the founder and executive director of Baptist Center for Ethics from 1991 to 2017. He served as executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, BCE’s website, from its launch in 2002 until 2017.