As a few of my fellow writers have noted Ivy Taylor the mayor of San Antonio is in hot water after she made a stunningly unintelligent claim about what causes poverty. If you’ve yet to see the clip you can find it here. The statement begins at one hour and eight minutes in (in case you’re curious if you heard it in a snippet it wasn’t edited, it’s that bad).
A Brief Contextualization Of Mayor Ivy Taylor:
Ivy Taylor is known for courting controversy even on issues her own party (she’s a registered Democrat) has taken clear stances on. She refused to condemn Trump’s travel ban, she was booed during a prayer for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting due to her track record on LGTBQIA issues. Her booing came after statements Ivy Taylor made in 2015 about the “waste of time” of a nondiscrimination ordinance she voted against in 2013 (which passed without her assistance anyway). Even when she takes the right stance, such as Taylor’s outspoken opposition to Texas’s own “bathroom bill“, was for economic reasons and not for simple moral ones.
What Ivy Taylor Gets Wrong:
I’m going to start this off by stating that this is insulting to poor people independent of their religious beliefs. It’s insulting because of the clear implication that if you suffer from generational poverty there’s something wrong with your family and quite possibly with you. Additionally if you live in San Antonio and are someone who has suffered from generational poverty while also being Christian, this should be even more insulting to you than it is to atheists because it could be interpreted as her saying that you aren’t a true Christian.
Are atheists and agnostics generally poverty stricken? Research seems to indicate that though some atheists and agnostics are affected by poverty the majority of us aren’t, and according to blind statistics we are less likely to be poverty-stricken than most of the various types of Christians that exist in significant numbers in the United States. One solid example of this is research from the Pew Research Center which breaks down the percentages of various religious stances by household income and showcases that in the cases of atheists and agnostics only 24% and 22% respectively of households are poverty stricken. What’s weird about this though is that Texas’s poverty rate has outstripped the U.S. poverty rate for decades according to Politifact, and Texas is the 11th most religious state which goes to show that Christianity cannot be a crucial factor in deterring generational poverty.
It’s challenging to try and quantify such a silly claim. However at this point there’s enough research out there to understand that the idea that Christianity is a valid tool to overcome poverty is not based in reality. If that was the case then research like that of the Pew Research Center wouldn’t show that only two types of Christians typically have more wealth than atheists, and agnostics, (and also that only 5 types of Christians out of 19 surveyed are more resistant to poverty in the context of blind statistics) and the Episcopal Church and the United States Presbyterian Church wouldn’t be below the Jews and the Hindus in terms of wealth accumulation and below them in addition to being below atheists and agnostics in terms of preventing poverty. Additionally Christianity by itself is clearly not a tool to use to avoid becoming a divorcee or to not be a situation where one gets an abortion. It’s important that I state that none of these things make people broken, as Ivy Taylor seems to think they do given her statements, but these are things that are tied to poverty and in none of them is being a Christian and thus “having a relationship with the creator” advantageous. Therefore we can and should dismiss Ivy Taylor’s claim.
If Mrs. Ivy Taylor was attempting to pander to the audience (the person who asked the question was with the Christian Coalition) I hope it didn’t work. But if she sincerely believes her claim she has to be one of the most incredibly out of touch democratic politicians I’ve had the displeasure of seeing making headlines and drawing the ire of both secular bloggers and even local newspapers. Hopefully she’ll learn from this mistake and not repeat it again in the future.