Seeking justice and empowering the poor: An American Baptist religious educational perspective

Michael G Robinson, Fordham University


This study fosters a greater awareness of the reality of unrelenting poverty in the United States, a land of plenty, and explores how Christian and Christian faith communities can address poverty and work to empower the poor. It also discusses how Christian religious education plays a vital role in education for social justice. An analysis of the reality of poverty in the United States is presented, as informed by U.S. history and empirical data in the U.S. Census Report on poverty. Poverty is viewed historically from colonial America to the present, with the study highlighting the grimness of poverty, the socioeconomic inequalities that trap people in poverty, the racial groups disproportionately affected, and woman and children who are among the poorest members of society. The social and economic conditions that make it difficult to alleviate poverty are explored. A critical analysis of the sociological and economic dimension of poverty is provided. Sociologically, the causes and effects of poverty are due to social structures that generate a class system and inequality in the United States. Economically, people are impoverished as a result of economic underdevelopment and insufficient human capital development. Since poverty in the United States is an infringement of inalienable rights, the liberty, political democracy, and economic progress of the nation have been compromised. This study explores how Baptist religious education seeks to inform moral conscience in response to unjust capitalist conditions that compromise and thus threaten the liberty, democracy, and equality of all U.S. residents. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s theology of social ethics is examined for its rich content, which provides a mediating prescription and guiding influence for doing justice and empowering the poor. Other protagonists and advocates of King's social ethics legacy are also presented: James Cone, Cornel West, and Barack Obama. This study investigates how Progressive Baptist religious education fosters moral education theoretically and practically to empower the poor in a democratic society. It shows how Baptist religious education can encourage the poor to exercise their democratic rights, participate in democracy, and seek redistributive justice as an expression of prophetic Christian faith.

Subject Area

Religion|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Robinson, Michael G, "Seeking justice and empowering the poor: An American Baptist religious educational perspective" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3554038.