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Faith-Based Leaders Support Social Security

August 14, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

A collection of religious and faith-group symbols.In the depths of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt and Congress established Social Security, a program that has lifted millions of people out of poverty. Three years prior to its adoption, the Federal Council of Churches called for passage of social security legislation.

The Federal Council of Churches later became the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC). The NCC comprises 37 Christian denominations, including African-American churches, Orthodox churches, mainline Protestant churches, and peace churches. All told, there are more than 100,000 local congregations comprising some 35 million people in the NCC.

These churches supported the creation of Medicaid and Medicare and anti-poverty programs.  To this day, the NCC works to safeguard programs that help the poor and needy. This ministry begins at the local church level and is complemented by public policy advocacy at the national level.

This year, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act. Certainly, members of my own family have been helped through Social Security. And, one of my college roommates was able to attend school because of the Social Security survivor benefits he received after his parents died in a tragic auto accident. Many of us have similar stories to tell.

Not everyone has the good fortune to retire with adequate savings. Social Security serves to care for those among us who need help.

The National Council of Churches believes government bears a responsibility for all of the citizens under its care. All faith traditions follow a similar directive to honor father and mother and to care for widows and orphans. Social Security is a modern-day manifestation of our commitment to care for the last, the least, and the lost.

The National Council of Churches joined the recent Faith Week of Action to commemorate the anniversary. We shared among our churches a toolkit that can assist congregations not only in honoring the success of Social Security but in raising awareness of the programs available through it.

Although I have contributed for many years to my retirement account, and I am grateful that the NCC does so, as well, I know I will depend on Social Security payments to keep me out of poverty in my retirement years.

Many people are unaware they are eligible for disability or survivor benefits, or they have no idea how much Social Security retirement income may be due to them in the future. Local churches often hold health fairs, job fairs, blood drives, food pounding Sundays, etc. I encourage congregations to make use of these types of events and invite representatives of the Social Security Administration to lead workshops at local churches.

There are some who view the passage of Social Security as a political act that has nothing to do with those in the faith community. I humbly disagree. Caring for those in need is a fundamental principle of all people of faith. This support need not take place solely through tithes and offerings to the church. We have a responsibility to care for the monies we contribute to the larger tax pool to ensure those in need are cared for.

NOTE: This is the first in an occasional series of guest blog posts from national faith leaders

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  1. Lic. P.

    Congratulations in your 80 Anniversary. My wife and I know the important hard work that day to day development with the vulnerable people around our country. Your work is very appreciate for all.
    Thank you so much
    God bless America forever.

    • Ray F.

      We would like to thank all of you for your good wishes during our 80th anniversary week. We appreciate your comments and feedback, and hope that you continue to use this blog to communicate with us. We work diligently to offer the best service possible to the public and continually strive to improve its quality.
      On Social Security Matters, our intent is to provide general information and educate our readers about the variety of programs that Social Security offers. We do not have access to personal records, but we will try to answer your general questions about Social Security and direct you to the appropriate resources.
      Thank you again for your support. We look forward to “building the future” with you.

  2. Laurel W.

    I don’t understand why this article is being published here. There is separation of Church and State in the American Constitution! We do not have Ss because of religions efforts to care for the poor and needy. It was meant and has been paid for by the working class and their employers to be used as a retirement benefit!

    I personally know dozens of people who have contributed little and have found way in the system to collect money they certainly didn’t contribute too. SSI and SSD benefits for anyone with illnesses that are legitimated or unjustified are taking from the people who paid into the system. They need to be on Social Services and Medicaid. People that have never or barely contributed are not entitled plainand simple. They are one source of the problem.

    Social Security was not set up or ever meant to be used to bail out the government but they managed and have sucked us dry. There will not be any money left for future generations and maybe not this one. China already owns us. That’s a fact! We may have buried our heads in the sand to long.

    Let’s not forget the identity the identity thieves getting someone else’s benefits every month. The welfare and Medicaid programs are not SS! On an end note. Expect to be treated like crap when you go to your local SS office. Lots of attitude for the the people who worked legitimently to get it!

  3. MJean

    The problem is that SS has a very high percentage of Fraud & Waste, and is a Big part of the National Debt now over $18,000,000,000,000! 18 Trillion.

  4. Sandra

    Good question,Hank. Govt. was set up around separation of church and state and to insure that no one religion get a toe hold on govt. as had occurred in England. Yet, today we have the Christian churches pushing the narrative that this is a Christian nation and all ideas Christian should predominate. Non Christians and atheists pay taxes too. Social Security should have thought of this bigger picture before printing this article.

    • Bill

      1. Our contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund were stolen by the Democrats to pay indebtedness from the General Operating Fund.

      2. The Social Security Administration should be investigated by the General Accounting Office for using a government website for the purpose(s) intended by this message.

      3. “Faith-based organizations” should pay taxes.


  5. Doris T.

    I deeply appreciate Social Security at my age of 87. My husband had illness and was unable to earn much in his later years. Fortunately I worked for a National Retail Company that matched my savings percent giving me a pension for life after retirement. My husband only had Social Security upon retiring. Since his death I would be unable to retain my home without S.S. Yes, both he and I worked for most of our life paying the tax to provide for retirement years. Personally, I believe there is still a way to continue S.S. for our children who are now baby boomers. They too have paid into S.S. since teenagers.
    Senators & Congress need to get their act together in resolving our debt before China decides to own us.

  6. Thomas A.

    I believe if faith community take initiative to all support to elegible is good

  7. HANK

    I thought the government was trying to keep religion out of government. If so, why is Social Security Administration publicizing this?

    • Ella

      SSA had really dropped-kicked the ball. In other words, their house needs cleaning….
      80 years of SSA…..? Nah…their house needs cleaning!!!

  8. Sandra

    Maybe if all faith based organizations were taxed and such monies put into the Social Security fund these groups would then be tangibly supportive.

  9. Tome W.

    When Franklin D Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, and his brain trust established social security, they went to great lengths to define and sell it as an old age insurance program, not a welfare program. In reality, it’s a forced savings program to support the many who wouldn’t or couldn’t save for retirement, with employers bearing half the cost of the program. It’s not hard broken as many conservatives want to believe. But it does have future funding problems. Especially the disability portion which has exploded in the past 10 years, partly driven by progressives who’ve used it to reverse Bill Clinton’s welfare reform legislation. It will have to be reworked and tightened up. Social security funding can be fixed with minor tweaks.

    The 800 pound gorilla is health care. Medicare and Medicaid are completely unsustainable in the future. Soon, all other domestic programs will be raided to pay for their growth. The problem is we all want more than we’re willing to pay for.

  10. bumble

    When social security was started, it was a safety net to help those in retirement that did not have sufficient retirement savings to have a decent retirement life. It was never designed as the only retirement income; it was always assumed the individual always had some other retirement savings or retirement plan and social security was “supplemental Income” Also when it was started, the average lifespan of an individual was in the lower 60’s, consequently, the assumption was that many would never live to get their social security and those that did, most would not live very long. Now, with medical technology and medicines, the average lifespan in now in the 70’s and we have yet to adequately address this problem. I started receiving social security when I was 64 ( took it earlier at a lower $ amount) and am now 75. Based on today’s lifespan, I probably received it about 6 years too early, because I have probably received more social security in the past 11 years than I put into the system. They system is bankrupt because of several things:
    1) Many years ago, congress decided to take the billions we had in a social security lockbox ( money dedicated to pay social security benefits to you and me) and use it for NEW programs (not to pay down debt)! Congress has basically used all the money and have given us IOUs for each year they tapped our SS lockbox. They also decided to TAX SS benefits for additional income. That was never part of the original plan..
    2) When SS began there were 15+ persons paying in for every SS benefit payed out, so it was easy to cover everyone and have a surplus( which congress ended up spending). Now, we have 3 or 5 people contributing to SS for every person getting benefits and today there is not enough coming in to cover what is going out. We now have a negative gross SS income. And it is getting worse because the baby boom generation is starting to retire and the young folks are deciding to have either no children or smaller families. That means less to fund SS in the future. So here we are! A gutless congress that won’t address the problems we have with not only SS but current debt and debt obligations for the future. Our debt is so large we could take all the profits and all the assets of all the billionaire in the US and put it on the debt and it wouldn’t make a dent in the debt and they would no longer be paying taxes as we had all their money. It’s bad out there folks and we only have our congressman and Senators to blame. The fix is to vote them all out and get people in with some intestinal fortitude

    • Ella

      Baby Boomer exactly….but, please check your w/e statement….

    • BMason

      You are so right, why do others not know the governmentborrowed from SS and could not PAY back owed smother had to take it over!!!!!! It was its own bank and all OUR money was drawing interest and doing WELL!!!!!

    • Dee

      If we have better paying jobs, we would have a better tax base.

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