Religious Attitudes to World Poverty

GCSE Religious Attitudes to World Poverty

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  • Created by: Mel
  • Created on: 22-05-12 21:06

World Poverty

A country's geographical location can affect its wealth. This may partially due to its climate but also to whether it has natural resources such as oil and gold, which richer countries want to buy. 

Causes of World Poverty 

  • Location (e.g. Sudan) 
  • Natural disasters (e.g. Pakistan) 
  • Civil war (e.g. Sudan, Somalia) 
  • Corruption 
  • Natural resources 
  • Climate change
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  • Life can be a treadmill whose speed is often beyond the control of the poor 
  • The poor are not faceless 'victims'; some want to get ahead in life through enterprise 
  • It is not natural disasters so much as a person's ability to cope with them that matters 
  • Corruption may be a problem that affects the daily lives of the poor 
  • Crime may be a problem that affects the daily lives of the poor 
  • One reason why people end up poor is that they start off poor and the poverty cycle isn't broken 
  • There may be gross miscarriages of justice that especially affect the lives of the poor
  • There is usually no safety net for the poor; social security is down to the extended family 
  • The terms of trade are often tilted in favor of wealthier companies and nations
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The Christian faith teaches compassion.

Christians should show compassion (an emotion prompted by the pain and suffering of others) for other people and a desire for justice. Jesus makes this clear in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Some people think that making money is the main purpose of their lives; this goes against Christian teaching. Christianity says that having money is wrong if money becomes the main focus of a person’s life, or is gained dishonestly.

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Christian Action

In recent years the Christian churches have concerned themselves more with issues such as poverty and the fairer distribution of wealth in the world. A few very rich nations own most of the world’s wealth and therefore resources of all kinds are not distributed equally.

Charities such as Christian Aid, CAFOD, CARITAS and the Tearfund try to coordinate the churches’ work in order to stop millions of people starving while the rest of the world is well-fed and has a good standard of living. 

The Great Commandment which Jesus gave to his disciples is at the heart of Christian teaching in Mark 12:30-31:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

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Short Term Aid (Emergy Aid) 

Help given to communities in a time or disaster or crisis, e.g. food during a famine, shelter after an earthquake. 

Long Term Aid 

Helping needy people to help themselves by providing the tools, education and funding for projects. This type of aid is given by Christian Aid, Tearfund, CAFOD and Trocaire to the poor overseas.

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CAFOD is short for Catholic Agency For Overseas Development. 

They are a Catholic organization that work in developing countries around the world. Their motto is Just One World. 

They believe that everyone deserves a chance and those less fortunate should be helped by those more fortunate. 

They raise money to help those in need. 

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The Rich Fool

Luke 12:13-21 

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge between you? A great life does not consist of the abundance of possessions. 

Then he told the story of a rich man who had so much that he had to build a bigger barn. Once the barn was built he said, "I have stored enough things to last many years. I can live, drink and enjoy myself." God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you then who will get what you're prepared for yourself." This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for themselves, who is not rich towards God.

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Justice, Stewardship and Compassion

  • Justice - Bringing about what is right and fair according to the law, or making up for what he has been done wrong 
  • Stewardship - The idea that believers have a duty to look after the environment on behalf of god 
  • Compassion - A feeling of pity that makes one want to help 


  • Often portrayed as a set of balanced sales - fairness (Just) 
  • The fact that many people in LEDCs do not have access to clean water and some are dying of starvation is clearly unjust 

Theistic religions teach that God is completely just. God is seen as totally fair in all his dealings with his creation - all are valued equally. Therefore, world poverty offends against God's sense of justice.

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Justice, Stewardship and Compassion (cont.)


  • A 'steward' is someone in charge of something valuable of someone else and who is involved in caring responsibly 

The idea of stewardship is taken from the creation story. All theistic religions believe that the earth was created by God. Humans were created in order to look after the earth for God - special responsibility for something that is seen to be of great value. 

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P E A R L J R M L R F C S L A 

Physical Emotional, Absolute Relative, Last Judgement, Rich Man and Lazarus, Rich Fool, CAFOD Short term and Long term Aid

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