The Religion & Culture Web Forum
The Widening Gap: Economic Inequality as a Religious Issue
by Franklin I. Gamwell (University of Chicago)
This month, the Web Forum features an essay by Franklin I. Gamwell, in which he attempts to account for the widespread silence, both religious and political, on the issue of increasing and seemingly entrenched economic inequality in the United States:
Massive inequality magnifies the electoral power of wealth, given how we fund political campaigns. Given how we fund public schools, the income difference translates into educational inequality. Corruption in the criminal justice system, which mostly harms the poor, is abetted by indifference from the rich, who are concerned only that “law and order” protect them in their segregated, sometimes gated, communities. Quite apart from these effects on other things, however, the economic gap is…a political problem unto itself. It is also glaring for the absence of significant public attention. To be sure, the economic results of state policies for differing social groups—for corporations, workers, regions of the country—are the daily stuff of political contention. But our public discourse has been virtually silent about the yawning income disparity itself. Those who believe in God, at least if the God in whom they believe is the God in whom Christians believe, have every reason to see injustice here.
The Martin Marty Center's Religion and Culture Web Forum is an online forum for thought-provoking discussion on the relationship of scholarship in religion to culture and public life. Each month the Marty Center, the research arm of the University of Chicago Divinity School, invites a scholar of religion to comment on his or her own research in a way that "opens out" to themes, problems, and events in world cultures and contemporary life.
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