Putting Poverty on the National Agenda through a "Ring of Hope" in New York City

( [email protected] ) Aug 14, 2004 02:23 PM EDT

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, a substantial part of New York City proper (Manhattan island) will be surrounded by a ring of lights as the seventh stopover in a nonpartisan, interfaith dedication to help put poverty at the front of the upcoming presidential election. This event will take place during the Republican National Convention.

“The Ring of Hope” is to be a two-hour worship service, rally and festival at the Riverside Church (120th Street and Riverside Drive). The service will be broadcast live on WBAI radio, 99.5 FM and will include a special sermon by Dr. James A. Forbes, Pastor of the Riverside Church and Keynote Speaker on the National Council of Churches’ national campaign, Let Justice Roll.

The campaign is a joint effort of the National Council of Churches and the Center for Community Change with other anti-poverty and religious organizations to raise poverty as an issue of importance in the upcoming election and "to educate, register, mobilize and protect voters, especially low-income voters".

A national poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, of “likely voters found that 75 percent of voters (including 61 percent of Republicans) would rather hear a candidate’s plan for fighting hunger and poverty than a candidate’s position on gay marriage (17 percent)”. “The poll also found that 89 percent considered a candidate’s position on reducing hunger and poverty to be an important factor in voting for president” (NCC News).

“Let’s get the poor on our agenda because it’s on God’s mind,” said Rev. Forbes. Before delivering a sermon in Boston as part of the Let Justice Roll campaign, Rev. Forbes stated affirmatively, “If you ever expect to get a reservation in heaven, you will have to have a letter of recommendation from the poor to get in.”

Representatives of the Bush-Cheney campaign will be invited to participate in the Ring of Hope service. New York is just one city on this national campaign. The campaign is scheduled to hold services in ten more cities in September and October.