San Antonio Mayor Issues Non-Apology After Blaming Poverty on “Broken People” Who Aren’t Christian

As I posted over the weekend, there was a forum earlier this month in San Antonio (Texas) during which the current mayor, Ivy Taylor, was asked her opinion on the “deepest systemic cause of generational poverty.”

It’s not an easy question, but Taylor’s answer was absurd.

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…

The full clip is here and this portion begins at the 1:07:44 mark. What you don’t see in the clip above — but you do hear in the full version — is Taylor saying that education is “the great equalizer” and that teen pregnancy also contributes to the problem.

That still doesn’t address the concern.

Like I said before, 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 or 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.

Taylor is clearly not a fan of the backlash she’s received over the past couple of days because she has since released a statement attempting to clarify her remarks. Unfortunately for her, the statement doesn’t make anything better.

The video clip that surfaced on social media this weekend is a dishonest, politically motivated misrepresentation of my record on combatting poverty. It was intentionally edited to mislead viewers.

I have devoted my life to breaking the chains of generational poverty — as an urban planner, the District 2 Councilwoman, and now Mayor. I’ve done so because of my faith in God and my belief in Jesus’s ministry on Earth. I believe we are all called on to help lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty.

I also believe in Original Sin, and that was the context for my comment in the YouTube video clip. We’re all “broken,” from the richest among us to the poorest, until we forge a relationship with our Maker. I could have expressed myself more clearly in explaining my belief at the forum.

The video was edited to cut out the rest of my answer — what I’ve done as Mayor to help alleviate poverty in San Antonio. That includes taking on teen pregnancy and our high-school dropout rates, advocating job-training for young people who aren’t college-bound, and fighting crime.

San Antonians need look no further than my work on the East Side for evidence of my commitment to this issue.

To see my full answer, please click on the video below.

I haven’t seen a non-apology like that since whatever Donald Trump just tweeted.

She discredits the video clip above, calling it a “dishonest, politically motivated misrepresentation of my record.” That’s not true. That is literally what she said. Even when you put it in full context, the meaning doesn’t change and it doesn’t excuse her remarks.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, though. Suppose she’s a Christian who truly believes we’re all “broken.” That’s still a far cry from saying generational poverty is the result of people who refuse to accept her God, and are therefore in bad relationships with their families and communities, and are also unproductive members of society.

That’s not only offensive, it’s not true. Taylor provided no justification connecting non-Christians to poverty. Not between generations. Not within a generation. Nothing.

By her logic, if we’re all “broken” unless we know her personal God, people who aren’t Christian must be blamed for drug use, economic inequality, sexual abuse, alcoholism, STDs, and the Spurs losing their last playoff game.

Yes, she could’ve expressed herself more clearly, but the bigger problem is the statement itself, not the way she phrased it.

Here’s a suggestion for Mayor Taylor: Stop blaming people for quoting you accurately, try saying “I’m sorry,” and then educate yourself so you don’t say something this idiotic again. Atheism — or whatever she’s talking about when she refers to “broken people” — isn’t the cause of poverty. (Teen pregnancy and a lack of access to quality education are factors, but there’s far more to it than that.)

This isn’t an attack on her faith. She’s welcome to believe whatever form of nonsense she wants. If she wants to think there’s something wrong with everyone in San Antonio (and beyond) who doesn’t accept her God, that’s her right. But she has no business acting like her warped Christian beliefs are to blame for the problems in her city.

(Portions of this article were published earlier)

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.