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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. home b.

    That was very informative post. And the comments added more information and facts as well. And it’s always great to know different point of views, may they be negative or positive. Thanks!

  2. Kate S.

  3. Douglass S.

  4. Bob P.

    You are right, what about all those parents and grandparents who entered the U.S. and have never contributed to the SSA but are collecting benefits off their sons and daughters earning and contributions along with their companies contributions. This is a minus $ number and if stopped the contributions and benefit payouts would be positive $.

  5. eliedith

    I would like clarify the meaning of entitlement. entitlement does not mean welfare. entitlement is something you worked for and put into like insurance. social security is an entitlement programme as per the IRS meaning that because people work for it, they are entitled to their own money known as FICA. welfare on the other hand, is charity and not entitlement.

  6. Stephen

    Most of the GOP presidential candidates want to cut Social Security despite the fact that it has a minor actuary long ranged imbalance that could be fixed with a small tax increase. And it could be by increasing the tax cutoff limit or just increase modestly the tax paid currently.

    About 130 families the richest among us are financing their campaigns and they want benefits cut. These folks do not pay into the program off of most of their income (dividends or capital gains) if they pay at all. They just know that if the program is cut that money will end up in their possession under our current economic system . They could care less about the workers that have made them rich.

  7. MJean

    My 3rd request to SS:
    Please stop paying dead people and those who fake a disability!

  8. KT

    It is the Church, men believing in Christ, who supported this program.

    Not a perfect system ..but it has helped millions of people.

    For most retirees the money they receive is the money they already contributed for years.

    For Disabled persons it is an insurance even though they may not have contributed to it fully.

    • Sandra

      Faith based folks do not need facts and it is a delusion that The Christian Church supported social security. They likely gave support in terms of lip service in the 30’s that it was a good idea to have this program but they did not give tangible financial support. From my and my families experience with govt. agencies we find this agency to have a culture of professionalism and fine service well above others. It is not perfect but it has helped millions as you stated.

  9. michael e.

    so far me & my family are totally disappointed with the way social security is handling things involving my disability help. One moment I’m approved & your personnel tell me I’m getting my disability pay directly deposited in my acct.@ my bank with back pay, the next minute, I’m told I’m not entittle to back pay, in the mean time this disabled veteran & his family is about to be evicted in the street, while waiting for help I

  10. Former F.

    Obviously, ignorance abounds among a vocal minority of the American public. That group spews uninformed opinions based on emotion rather than facts, and uses every opportunity to bash all government employees. They don’t understand that the complexity of government rules is caused by laws passed by Congress, and that as part of the Executive Branch of government, Social Security employees often have the unenviable task of explaining policies they may personally disagree with. Those who deal directly with the public learn to develop a thick skin to protect themselves from abusive words and behavior, mostly from people with psychological, psychiatric or substance abuse problems. Some employees become callous and uncaring because they are frustrated with the pressures of the job, but most remain committed to their purpose and retain a genuine concern for many of the clients who seek their assistance. Please do not throw out the baby with the bath water!

    • Sandra

      Well said former fed. The two million federal employees who are the backbone of the govt. are hard working and committed. They have taken a bashing lately and as one who has interacted professionally with various agencies across 40 years I have seen fewer bad apples there than in private industry. One persons experience is a small sampling but maybe it is more accurate than off the cuff bashing with little foundation.

    • Stephen

      I agree. Every Social Security worker I have encountered was professional and actually trying hard to help us. But the rules are complex and it is well to read up and know something about the system. Several representatives tried things to get us (wife too) more benefits which under the rules was not allow under our situation. Solving differential equations is easier than navigating the Social Security system. My hat is off to these dedicated government workers.

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