San Antonio Mayor: Poverty Is Caused By “Broken People” Who Don’t Believe in God

***Update*** (4/24): The Mayor has issued a non-apology.

Earlier this month, the city of San Antonio (Texas) held a mayoral forum in which candidates talked about the impact of and challenges for non-profit groups in the community.

At one point, current Mayor Ivy Taylor was asked about the “deepest systemic cause of generational poverty.” There’s no simple answer to that, of course, but Taylor’s response wasn’t even close.

IvyPoorSAnt

To me, it’s broken people. People not being in a relationship with their Creator, and therefore, not being in good relationship with their families and their communities, and not being productive members of society. I think that’s the ultimate answer. That’s not something that I work on from my position as Mayor of the community…

What a bizarre and offensive response from someone who ought to know better.

Poor people aren’t all poor because they’re “broken” or atheists or in need of a better relationship with their families. (While we’re at it, they’re also not poor because they’re lazy and addicted to welfare checks.)

People are poor, in many cases, because they don’t have opportunities to put their skills to work, they never had access to a quality education, and they live in areas where upward mobility is hard to come by. In some cases, they can work multiple jobs with little sleep and still have a hard time getting out of whatever debt they’re already in. Poverty is tough to overcome. Generational poverty, even tougher.

For what it’s worth, that last line about not working on this from her position as mayor sounds really bad — if she’s not working to solve major problems affecting the city, what the hell is she doing with all the resources at her disposal? — but a charitable interpretation of that remark is that Taylor doesn’t work on bringing people to God from her position as Mayor. Let’s assume that’s what she meant.

She went on to say the way she’s dealt with poverty has been to focus on education and teen pregnancy, as if improving those two factors alone would contribute to solving the poverty epidemic. They’re important starts, but they’re hardly the only issues that need to be addressed.

The full video with her response can be seen here. This exchange happens at the 1:12:00 mark.

(Thanks to Anthony for the link. The title to this article has changed to be more accurate.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.