“We are moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ to work for justice for hungry and poor people,” declares Bread for the World in the history/mission page of its website. The organization, which was launched in 1974, describes itself as “a non-partisan, Christian citizens’ movement in the United States to end hunger.” Among the Bible passages often cited by Bread for the World is this one from the prophet Micah: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Would a Christian find anything in the foregoing to arouse opposition, or even suspicion? Most, probably, would not. In fact, it might seem that the noble-sounding mission of Bread for the World is precisely the type of mission that all Christians should embrace. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Catholic, mainline Protestant, and Evangelical churches take up Sunday collections for the organization. After all, did not our Lord Jesus Christ say (as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew): “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? …’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
And devout Christians have responded to Christ’s call since apostolic times. Christian churches, Christian organizations, and individual Christians have led the way in aiding and uplifting the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, and the uneducated, by establishing hospitals, food kitchens, orphanages, shelters, alcohol and drug abuse programs, prison ministries, disaster relief, schools, colleges, universities, and much more. Christian compassion has been responsible for the greatest outpouring of genuinely helpful charity in all of human history. However, a closer look at Bread for the World (BFTW) reveals a major departure from the traditional view of Christian charity. Rather than calling on the believer, personally, and the church, corporately, to take direct responsibility for caring for those in need, it calls for the believer and the church to become lobbyists, to call on the State, the government, to assume responsibility for the needy. And a strong case can be made that the actions taken by BFTW in the name of Christianity are even un-Christian, and hurtful rather than helpful.
Coercion Billed as Charity
In his 1975 book Bread for the World, Arthur Simon, an ordained Lutheran minister and the founder and first president of Bread for the World, stated clearly in Chapter 13, a chapter entitled “A Citizens’ Movement,” that BFTW is a lobbying organization. He said he was making BFTW into a “citizens’ lobby.” Referring to the organization’s funding, he admitted, “None of this money goes directly to assist hungry people — for that donors are referred to their own experienced church agencies. All Bread for the World funds go toward building an effective citizens’ movement.”
And although the stated overall goal was to “advocate the cause of hungry people to their elected representatives,” that goal was then, as it is now, merely a façade to hide the goal of building powerful globalist and socialist entities to bring about left-wing goals — goals that are only too apparent in perusing BFTW’s website.
Bread for the World’s website does not say a word against abortion, nor does it utter a word of condemnation for the slaughter of millions of babies by Planned Parenthood or the United Nations Population Fund. However, it has jumped on the virtue-signaling bandwagon,
• demanding “rights” for illegal aliens (though mainline Christian organizations no longer pay for the upkeep of poor immigrants until the immigrants can earn a living wage, but rather advocate forcing taxpaying Americans to pay for the welfare of poor immigrants, though the country is broke);
• denouncing America’s “systemic racism” (rather than try to provide unity in the country, BFTW feeds the false narrative that there is systemic racism against blacks);
• praising the rioters of Black Lives Matter (whose leaders boast of being “trained Marxists” and who destroy businesses because of unbiblical covetousness of those more successful than themselves);
• supporting LGBTQ “inclusivity” (though Jesus says about sexual sins to “go and sin no more”);
• boosting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (which again relies on the theft of wealth from some by others — in the name of good — though there are no biblical exceptions to the injunction “thou shalt not steal”);
• praising the United Nations Paris Climate Accord (which not only would not “fix” the climate but would allot control over every behavior of every person on Earth under the guise of controlling carbon emissions — making us virtual slaves);
• supporting UN World Health Organization COVID-19 lockdowns, and much more.
Socialist causes all.
And even if BFTW strictly limited its lobbying to providing welfare for the poor, the welfare plans that it supports unquestionably hurt the poor, not help them. (See the three cover stories in this issue.)
Christian organizations should have noted the socialist slant from the start. Bread for the World began as an ecumenical movement among liberal-left Catholic and Protestant clergy and activists in the early 1970s, though many of its early leaders had been engaged in radical-left politics in the 1950s and 1960s. The 1974 United Nations World Food Conference, which was held in Rome under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, provided the launch pad for a multitude of organizations to “end world hunger,” of which Bread for the World has turned out to be among the most notable. Like most UN gatherings, the World Food Conference concluded with a manifesto, which, in this case, was the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition. This UN document posited, among other things, that “every man, woman and child has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to develop fully and maintain their physical and mental faculties.” This UN-recognized “right to food” could only be realized, the UN assembly declared, by instituting a (socialist) “new international economic order,” which would involve massive transfers of wealth from the developed nations to the underdeveloped ones. This “new international economic order” would, of course, require national governments to confiscate — through taxes, borrowing, and currency-inflation policies — the wages and savings of their citizens, to be funneled into national foreign-aid programs and programs of the United Nations.
To overcome the opposition to the new economic international order that was stirring in America because of the already apparent wasteful, corrupt, and unconstitutional nature of the U.S. foreign-aid programs, and the Marxist origin and nature of the proposed new order, a plan was made to enlist gullible Christians to the cause.
Arthur Simon says in Bread for the World, “To date, neither Congress nor the Administration seems especially interested” in promoting the UN agenda. “But,” he continued, “if alert voters in each congressional district begin to insist, our leaders would soon respond.”
According to Reverend Simon, “The most important sacrifice that readers of this book can make is the sacrifice of their time and energy to change public policy.” He reiterates this “change public policy” theme over and over again throughout the book. So what are the public policies and changes he seeks? Invariably, they involve unconstitutional usurpations of power by the federal government and violations of the 10 Commandments, particularly regarding theft and covetousness. They involve, as well, advocacy of every leftist so-called social-justice claim and huge attacks on America’s national sovereignty and independence via transfers of wealth, jurisdiction, and power to the United Nations and related international bodies.
This guileful drafting of Christians into support of leftist, globalist objectives has been a hallmark of BFTW ever since. Arthur Simon, who served as president of Bread for the World for nearly two dec-ades and then as president emeritus, is the brother of the late Illinois Democratic politician Paul Simon, who served in the U.S. Congress for 22 years (from 1975-1997, first in the House of Representatives, then in the Senate) and ran unsuccessfully for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. Reverend Simon mentions that Bread for the World represents in part “a revision of The Politics of World Hunger … which I wrote with my brother, Paul Simon” in 1973. His brother, a liberal-left Democrat, was a staunch supporter of the welfare state, expansive government, foreign aid, and the globalist United Nations. Hence it is not surprising that Arthur Simon incorporated much of the “progressive” agenda and worldview as a handbook for citizen action.
It is worth noting that Bread for the World is unusual in that it was published jointly by Paulist Press, a liberal-left Catholic publisher, and Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, a well-known Protestant publisher. This arrangement was confected, no doubt, to maximize the BFTW’s effort at ecumenism, to create a crossover movement to bring both Catholics and Protestants out of the pews in support of so-called progressive causes. The central feature of this handbook is its obsession with central planning, a feature that is common to all statists, whether of the socialist, communist, or fascist variety. In each of these dystopian systems, the individual is merely a fragment of the lumpenproletariat, a mindless, soulless mass to be shaped, formed, and directed by the Party vanguard. Thus, Arthur Simon, like his brother, favors national programs directed by the federal government and international programs directed by United Nations agencies to “solve” all problems and alleged “crises.”
Reverend Simon believes it is the job of the federal government “to guarantee a job to all U.S. citizens, in the private sector insofar as is possible, but with the government as the employer of last resort.” He calls for government programs to “do more work on long neglected needs, such as rebuilding cities and improving our environment, our schools and our health services.” However, after spending hundreds of billions of dollars on those very things since he made those proposals, can anyone seriously suggest that those vast expenditures have provided solutions? Yet Bread for the World continues to push the same bankrupt agenda.
Furthermore, according to the BFTW founder, we can get rid of hunger in America by: 1) a national nutrition policy wherein everyone is guaranteed a set amount of food; 2) food assistance with food programs available for all, regardless of income; 3) a program of guaranteed employment so that every head of household “could sustain the family”; 4) and a guaranteed income for those who cannot or should not work. This is all part of what Simon calls “social justice” and “human justice,” presaging terms that would come into vogue decades later. Each and every goal forgets a key lesson from history: When government is given the power to do good, it is also given the power to do bad — and sooner or later that power will be abused.
Bread for the World has continued on the same path since its start, “building an effective [leftist] citizens’ movement,” transforming naïve — and usually well-meaning — churchgoers into a “citizens’ lobby” for “progressive” causes. Arthur Simon stepped down as president of BFTW in 1991 and was succeeded by Reverend David Beckmann, who headed the group for nearly 30 years, before retiring in June 2020. Beckmann, a former employee of the World Bank and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the premier Deep State brain trust, demonstrated the globalist-socialist connection in many ways. One of the most striking examples was his participation as one of three panelists for the Council on Foreign Relations at the CFR-sponsored “Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop” on May 9, 2018. Joining Beckmann on the panel were Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK (a far-left outfit that describes itself as a “Lobby for Catholic Social Justice”), and Ruth W. Messinger, global ambassador for American Jewish World Service (and a veteran hardcore socialist and supporter of official Communist Party fronts). The event was hosted by Lisa Sharon Harper, founder and president of Freedom Road.
The chair of the board of directors of Bread for the World is John Carr (CFR member), founder and director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. Carr is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Circle of Protection, an organization that is organizing clergy and politicians to oppose proposed cuts by the Trump administration to foreign aid and domestic welfare programs. Heading up the Bread for the World Institute is Asma Lateef, who was previously director of policy and programs at Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS). CGS was formerly known as the United World Federalists and was for decades the premier organization openly promoting world government. Although it has changed its name, the goal remains the same.
BFTW’s leaders use their organization’s status as a Christian charity to promote massive welfare-state programs, wealth-redistribution schemes, federal minimum-wage laws, guaranteed-income laws, illegal migration, “social justice,” environmental extremism, global-warming alarmism, COVID-19 alarmism, racial discord, homosexual “marriage,” and Christian acceptance of the radical LGBTQ agenda.
Naturally, however, since they are marketing themselves to moderate and conservative churches and churchgoers, the Bread for the World activists camouflage their real program with heartstring rhetoric about ending poverty and world hunger. It is a deceptive strategy that has served them well, allowing Bread for the World to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from unsuspecting Christians over the past five decades. Even more importantly, it has enabled BFTW to sow its Marxist “Social Gospel” seeds into the soil of many churches, which now, having flowered, have produced a couple generations of Christians that have absorbed much of the Marxist agenda without even realizing it.
The 55-year record of Bread for the World, such as that of many other “humanitarian” organizations that march under a thin Christian veneer, has shown it to be a false front for progressive propaganda and promoting left-wing, anti-Christian citizen activism. Christians are called to exercise discernment and to be wary of “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” This certainly applies to Bread for the World. It is long past time for Christians to expose them and call them out.
Photo credit: AP Images
This article originally appeared in the September 7, 2020 print edition of The New American. The New American publishes a print magazine twice a month, covering issues such as politics, money, foreign policy, environment, culture, and technology. To subscribe, click here.