Through three debates we have seen the presidential candidates discuss a variety of topics.
One topic that both candidates focus most of their time and energy on is making sure the middle class is strengthened. They talk about tax breaks for the middle class, education and training.

I’m not saying it’s bad to talk about the middle class or how we grow the middle class. But a pressing question must be: What can we do as we wait for the economy to grow? There is no guarantee that jobs will come, or come fast enough, to help the majority of people suffering in poverty.

And I’m not hearing plans for the poor and disenfranchised among us.

Jesus talked about the poor more than 400 times, but the candidates haven’t discussed them. I want to see debates on how to best help the least of these.

I want to see our candidates passionate about creating programs that lift people out of poverty.

It is as if we are accepting Jesus’ statement that the poor will always be with us, but not acting on his commandment to help.

The candidates make it seem that tax breaks, credits and other breaks for the middle and upper classes are the most important issues that people care about.

But somewhere in this country there are people without shelter, clothes and food. There are people wondering when and if their next meal will come.

There are people desperately seeking jobs and training to pull themselves out of poverty.

The poor are among us, but we continually turn a blind eye as we are more concerned about our own tax breaks than the welfare of our neighbor.

I’m tired of hearing about the middle class. I want to hear and believe that we can be passionate about helping the poor. I want our candidates to be passionate and compassionate for the poor.

Given that both candidates have profound professions of faith, one would think the most important tenet of their faith would be a part of their platform. Yet, the poor continue to be without a voice in the political system.

I thank God every day for the nonprofit and religious organizations that help the disenfranchised.

But to take a line from the debates, our nonprofits have been “buried” in work without adequate support. It’s time that our policies meet people where they are, when they need it most.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35).

Patterson Coates is the assistant manager for the Church Benefits Board, a CBF ministry based in Atlanta.

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