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Combatting Poverty Step 2: A cultural shift

By   /   January 23, 2014  /   Comments

Continuing our look at how to help Albany recover, we’re going to look at something I touched on yesterday.  The idea that Albany requires a cultural shift in how we approach the world.  It’s an idea that some people may have strong feelings about, but there are facts that cannot be escaped.

For example, according the most recent census, over 41.5 percent of families living in poverty are single mother families, compared to just 8.7 percent that are married families.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a “fact”. There is no escaping this fact.  Sure, we can debate the reasons for it, but none of that changes the simple fact that married families are far less likely to be in poverty than single parent families.

In a report on poverty, the City of Albany identified a handful of root causes for poverty. One in particular was “Teen pregnancy & female head of households without the presence of a husband”.  While they identified other causes, some of which I’m not sure I agree with, this is one of several that I agree with wholeheartedly.

Of course, combating teen pregnancy and urging parents to marry before having kids even into adulthood is hardly the only cultural issue we have in our community.

We also have large segments of our community that venerate a subculture that embraces gang violence and crime in general.   We, as a community, need to stop allowing this kind of thing.  Parents, if you child is embracing this kind of thing, it’s up to you to nip it in the bud, to borrow a phrase from good old Barney Fife.

Luckily, Albany is actually blessed in one particular way and it’s something that will help us solve this particular aspect of our problem.  Albany has a very large number of churches within our borders.

The vast majority of Albanians identify as Christian.  Even if most don’t actually attend services, they still nominally call themselves Christians.  That gives us a significant way to reach people who are most at risk of ending up in poverty.

Most churches are already working to grow their congregations and keep “butts in the pews” as it is.  Unfortunately, most of us tend to focus on our church.  However, our church may not be the best church for everyone.  While few churches would be so tactless as to not welcome someone, there is still the fact that some churches aren’t a good fit for some people.  My own church, Covenant Presbyterian, doesn’t have the same culture as many other churches in the area.

What we need to do is start an interfaith effort to get people to actually attend church as a start.  We need them to take biblical teachings into their hearts, particularly at an early age.  Honestly folks, if we do that, a lot of the problems will solve themselves.  The biblical life is one where people don’t engage in sex outside of wedlock.  It’s one where, if they do, they step up and accept responsibility for that act.  It’s one where families don’t just split up because it’s a little difficult, but instead stick it out and try to actually solve their problems. It’s also one where hard work is valued and expected.

It won’t eliminate the problem, but that ship has set sail.  It will always be with us.  The trick is to reduce it here in our community.

We need that in our community.  Pastors, I’ll do whatever I can to assist.  Let’s get people back in church, and shift the culture of our community back to one where people embrace personal responsibility.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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