18 July 2006

Speaking Ethically No. 6

By Rod Benson

August 2006

The Micah Challenge presses governments to keep their pledges to support the United Nation’s millennial development goals, one of which is to halve global poverty by 2015. Other goals include universal primary education, gender equality and empowerment for women, fair trade and debt forgiveness, reducing child mortality and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Baptist World Aid Australia is the lead Australian agency for the Micah Challenge. I understand that all state Baptist unions have adopted a Micah declaration, and many of our churches support it.

Yet political advocacy for the goal of the Micah Challenge to halve global poverty by 2015 finds little action among Baptists elsewhere. According to Alistair Brown, general secretary of BMS World Mission, UK Baptists have not really engaged with MC in any serious way. Baptists in other countries tell a similar story.

Without active U.S. support, the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved. Contrary to their impression that they are a generous people, the U.S. is among the bottom three developed country donors in the world when aid is considered as a proportion of GDP, and contrary to their advocacy of free trade, agricultural subsidies they pay to their farmers are devastating to poor country farmers.

In a recent article for USA-based EthicsDaily, I challenged American churches to press their government to change economic practices that harm billions of poor people around the world:

The American church desperately needs a wakeup call that will see them move beyond harmful patriotic myths to affirm their divine calling to be Christians first and Americans second. Baptists in America have a great opportunity to lead their nation in this demonstration of Christian discipleship.

We have a similar opportunity in Australia. As followers of Jesus, and inheritors of the prophet Micah’s ancient challenge, let’s continue to count the cost and lead our global Baptist family forward with the Micah Challenge.

Rev Rod Benson is Director of the Centre for Christian Ethics at Morling College, Sydney.

More information:

Micah Challenge: http://www.micahchallenge.org
Millennium Development Goals: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

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