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The War on the Poor / Liz Theoharis


Once the Child Tax Credit was ended, that threw four million kids, at the stroke of a not-pen, right back below the poverty line. And so it means that we can see that there are programs out there, there are policy solutions out there that actually do make an impact, and make a significant impact. And yet, we seem to find far too few politicians who are willing to actually pass those policies and do what what's there, what the solutions are to address these issues. And I would say that this idea that universal programs, especially programs that are aimed at lifting people in poverty into more economic stability, that this benefits, for sure the families that are living in poverty, but that this actually has an impact on the whole of society...This nation, this country the United States spends, wastes, loses, one trillion dollars every year because of child poverty. And we would save actually seven dollars for every dollar spent actually eradicating child poverty. We would save money. If we were to raise wages, that minimum wage were to go up, you know, 368 billion dollars would enter into the economy and that would benefit, you know, those Mom and Pop shops, those bike places, small businesses in the community. So it's actually, that investing in poor and low income people and investing in social programs actually benefits everybody. But we have a lot of propaganda out there that seems to tell us otherwise but it's not true. It's just, you know, lying to us and keeping us thinking that there are no solutions to these problems where the solutions are here and at hand and are actually incredibly beneficial to everyone.

Theologian, ordained minister, and anti-poverty activist Liz Theoharis is on to discuss her TomDispatch article, "No More Sacrifices: Mercy Makes Good Policy." Liz is Co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is the author of, "Always With Us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor," and, "We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People’s Campaign."

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Liz Theoharis

The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. She is the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Rev. Dr. Theoharis is the editor of We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People’s Campaign (Broadleaf Press, 2021). She is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans, 2017) and co-author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing (Beacon, 2018). She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Politico, The Hill, The Guardian, The Nation, Boston Review, CNN, Religion News Service, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, the Grio, La Jornada, Salon, Slate, and elsewhere.

In 2021 she was awarded the 30th Annual Freedom Award by the National Civil Rights Museum, the Hunger Leadership Award from the Congressional Hunger Center, and the Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award, each along with the Rev. Dr. William Barber II for their work with the Poor People’s Campaign. In 2020 she was named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress. In 2019, she was a Selma “Bridge” Award recipient and named one of 11 Women Shaping the Church by Sojourners. In 2018, she gave the “Building a Moral Movement” TEDtalk at TEDWomen, was named one of the Politico 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries whose ideas are driving politics”, and was also named a Women of Faith Award recipient by the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Rev. Dr. Theoharis received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins.


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