The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued a call on U.S. politicians to take "direct measures" to alleviate the plight of the nation's poorest, which have dramatically increased in number since 2008's recession, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Even before the economic collapse of 2008, too many lived in poverty. Direct measures need to be taken to ensure that even after economic prosperity is restored that vulnerable populations aren't left behind in the recovery," said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, in a statement issued on Thursday.
Kinnamon further noted that the partisan politics and focus on the middle class, which has taken center stage in the nation's economic debate, go against the basic principles of faith and are an offense to God.
"Thousands of verses in the scriptures of many faiths, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, express God's concern for the poor and God's wrath at the injustices that cause poverty to exist," Kinnamon said.
"Our political leaders' calculated neglect of the poor while courting the votes of the comfortable offends the creator of the universe," he added. "Any measures taken should not only stimulate the economy but benefit everyone, especially those living on the economic margins."
The remarks come following the release of a report from the Census Bureau which showed that 43.6 million Americans, or 14.3 percent of the population, lived in poverty in 2009. The numbers are up from 39.8 million, or 13.2 percent, in 2008.
The report is already being yielded as an election season weapon by Republicans who say that big Democratic spending has only made the country's economic woes deeper.
The White House has countered by saying that their programs have actually helped to soften the recession's effects on the nation.
"The data released today also remind us that a historic recession does not have to translate into historic increases in family economic insecurity," President Obama said in the statement. "Because of the Recovery Act and many other programs providing tax relief and income support to a majority of working families - and especially those most in need - millions of Americans were kept out of poverty last year."
Kinnamon said he hopes that leaders of both parties will put aside partisanship recognize that their "greatest responsibility is to uphold those who do not have the means or power to support themselves."
"Let the debate of this campaign season push aside partisan politics and instead identify initiatives for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with the God who loves the poor," he said.