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Poverty Amid Plenty / Liz Theoharis

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I think we are approaching a certain kind of spiritual death because of it. I think to have the means, to have the resources and then to have those in power to choose not to use them to actually save lives, that does something to society, that does something to individuals. What we know about living wages or about healthcare is that all of it saves lives, right? I live in New York City and there was a study that came out before the pandemic that said that for the years that we did not have a $15 minimum wage in the city, caused 5,000 deaths at least over a course of a couple of years.What we know is that 40% of people without healthcare insurance are more likely to die than those that have healthcare. And yet again we're at a Medicaid cliff happening as we enter March and April. And so to have the actual solutions, to have the resources to back up those solutions and then to not actually pass policies or expand, or extend policies that are saving lives that doesn't just impact the people that are being cut off of healthcare are being cut off of other programs or who are working for too low of wages and not a living wage.It surely impacts those people who are in the tens and hundreds of millions the most. But it impacts everybody. It is a cognitive dissonance. It is an approach to a spiritual death. And we had better do something about it in our society because it's really hurting our young people, it's hurting our elders, and it just doesn't have to be. It's one thing if you don't have the resources, it's one thing if we were living in some kind of scarcity where you do have to kind of have Peter to rob Paul to be able to pay your bills. But that is not the case in the United States. We throw away more food than it takes to feed everybody. We have about five or six abandoned houses for every homeless person in major cities across the country.

Theologian, ordained minister, and anti-poverty activist Liz Theoharis is on to discuss her TomDispatch articles "Poverty Amid Plenty' and "Making it in a Poor World". 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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