A Texas mayor’s remark that a lack of faith in God causes poverty has brought widespread outrage after the video of the comment went viral.
A video of the comments made earlier this month by Ivy Taylor, the first-term Democratic mayor of Texas’ second-largest city, in reply to a question about poverty that was asked during a forum, has caused deep resentments among her constituents.
"I'll go ahead and put it out there," Taylor said, in response to the question on poverty raised by the director of the San Antonio Christian Resource Center. “To me, it's broken people . . . people not being in a relationship with their Creator, and therefore not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities . . . and not being productive members of society.”
Despite Taylor’s words reflecting one of the central tenets of normative, historic Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- that all humanity’s problems are consequences of the biblical event of Adam and Eve not obeying God -- her comments quickly drew the ire of many non-Christians, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which penned a letter to her that said "as mayor, you represent a diverse population that consists of not only Christians, but also atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims and Hindus."
The letter continued: "Nationally, about 35 percent of millennials are nonreligious. Imagine for a moment a mayoral candidate making such undeserved and broad accusations against Jews or Muslims instead of nonbelievers. The outcry would properly be swift and severe. It should be no different for nonbelievers."
The San Antonio mayor, who is running for re-election in a city where nearly 15 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, fired back that her comments were taken out of context and the viral video was meant to mislead voters about her record on combating poverty.
“The video clip that surfaced on social media this weekend is a dishonest, politically motivated misrepresentation of my record on combating poverty,” Taylor said on Facebook. “It was intentionally edited to mislead viewers.”
Taylor added: “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.”
While Taylor admits that she could have expressed herself better, she reaffirms that Original Sin means that all humans are “broken” until they “forge a relationship with our Maker.”
This is not the first time that Taylor’s religious views have gotten her into political hot water.
In 2013, while serving as a councilwoman, Taylor used the reasoning that people shouldn't be forced to treat everyone equally if it goes against their faith or "moral values” when she voted against a nondiscrimination ordinance that would protect LGBT peoples from being discriminated against by public and private business owners.