Religious Leaders Struggle with Economy and Uncertain Future


What do you think is the biggest social issue that churches struggle with today? Many people believe that gay marriage tops the list. But Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Bible Church in Beltsville, Maryland, struggles more with teaching his congregants about greed and the need to be frugal in today’s economic climate, the “Great Recession.”

CNN Belief Blog writer Jeff Blake spoke with Jackson about how to approach economic issues from the pulpit. “I’ve got to watch it,” Jackson said. “I could get into some big teaching on greed, but the reality is that a lot of that teaching may wind up creating anti-economic-growth and anti-capitalism concepts (in people’s minds)… I always talk about personal responsibility so we don’t get into the blame game.”

Many American religious leaders see their influence as crucial to congregants’ financial attitudes and behaviors, and most of them try to steer clear of giving explicit messages about how people should use their money.

Rev. Robin Meyers considers money to be the “last taboo” in the church. “It’s much easier to talk about sex than money,” he says. But, when the US economy has been recessed for so long, it seems that talking about money is exactly what leaders, religious or not, need to do.

The Christmas season was especially tough for ministers as they considered how to address the economy from the pulpit. They understand that “joblessness and insecurity is a part of life for many now,” according to the Wausau Daily Herald. Rev. David Klutterman chose to focus on the presence of God and the story of Jesus’s birth during his Christmas Eve service, rather than dwelling on earthly problems. While it is important for Christians to remember the traditional teachings during the holiday season, to me this seems like a “head in the sand” approach, and not particularly respectful to those who are struggling economically.

Across the pond, the Archbishop of Canterbury aggressively addressed Britain’s problems over the past year, claiming that “bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.” The leader of the Anglican Church stated that British society has become based on selfishness and fear, that the youth are degenerate and irresponsible, and that the future looks bleak for Britons.

“Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today’s financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark,” he said, as quoted in the Mirror.

The Archbishop’s unconventional, hard-hitting sermon caught the attention of many in Great Britain. Will his harsh words be the catalyst for change, or sink English morale even further?

Religious leaders across the world struggled with how to address the economy this Christmas. Whether they largely avoided the issue or faced it straight on, one sentiment remains the same worldwide: hope for a better year in 2012.


Related Stories:

More Than 9 in 10 Americans Believe in God

Commuters Could Feel Brunt of Recession If Benefit Not Extended

Should Churches Be Taxed?


Photo credit: aronki


Jean  L. C.
Jean Corcoran5 years ago

GEE, I was taught the GREED was ONE of the SEVEN DEADLY SINS.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

uninterested in much the church has to say at all

Ted V.
Ted V5 years ago

George, you're on the right track– "The church message should always be of love and acts of kindness towards each other."

In fact, The Church's message is of love and acts of kindness towards each other, in, for, and because of the incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

in him;


KARLOLINA G5 years ago


George Marshall
George Marshall5 years ago

The church message should always be of love and acts of kindness towards each other. With that message, everything else comes. When one stops thinking solely of themselves and does for others, things have a way of working out. I wish people would stop attacking religion and bringing up past injustices. Spread the love and not the hurt.

Ted V.
Ted V5 years ago

PS to my earlier comment: Jim Wallis of Sojourners is one of the few White men who really understands God's views on justice. Not surprisingly, there're lots of Blacks who do!

Check out this article

What is ‘Biblical Politics’?
by Jim Wallis 09-15-2011

Keevin Shultz
Keevin Shultz5 years ago

Terry k. - Yes, you are absolutely right but it just happened to be what I was thinking at the time.

Keevin Shultz
Keevin Shultz5 years ago

lis G - Back in the 1980's I worked for an insurance company and was made aware that a particular church bought a forty million dollar annunity! At the time I thought the church had better uses for the money and I still do.

jerry coleman
jerry coleman5 years ago

As humans we are supposed to grow and change put we have gotten stuck in a rut and we don't have any real thinkers now and those who go for change are bullied into the rut kinda like crabs.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

Where is Jesus, now that we need him ? He should have showed us how to do that trick with the loaves and the fishes. Looking around, it’s obvious that we haven’t been praying hard enough, or thinking positive enough to bring the blessings that evangelists assure us God wants us to have.