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Social service - Semitic Lanrnsses

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Social service


secure it, but the churches are primarily responsible for the welfare of these boys and girls, whether they belong to their Sunday schools or not, and it is their business to educate the community upon this vital matter. (3) It is hardly needful to dwell upon the devastations of the drink evil (see TOTAL ABSTINENCE); nor to point out how large a share of our philanthropic labors and sacrifices are made necessary by this destructive vice. The municipal church will be wide awake to this evil, and may be depended on to do what it can to abate the injuries of which the saloons are the source. It is to be hoped, also, that it may discover the importance of meeting that bad influence by counter attractions, and providing safe places of social resort for the multitude of homeless young men and women. The terrible ravages of the social evil will also challenge the faith and courage of the municipal church. For much of the poverty, the disease, the crime, the wreckage of homes is due to this cause. Com­petent observers of social conditions assure us that the damage done by the saloons is trivial compared with this. To whom may people look for an intelli­gent, thorough, adequate treatment of this social malady, if not to the Christian Church? Is it pos­sible that the institution which is charged with the moral education of society can venture to ignore this responsibility? (4) Much of the poverty and sickness to which we are called to minister is due to the devitalized condition of the laborers, and this, in many cases, is the result of child labor in earlier years. When the municipal church begins to deal with the causes of the ills it is trying to cure, it will find here some serious work to do. (5) Unem­ployment is an ungainly word, but it describes an ugly thing. Much of it is due to shiftless men or inefficiency, but by no.means all. Two thirds of the families which apply in good times to the char­ity organization societies for aid are in need because they are out of work. To this tremendous problem the municipal church must address itself sympa­thetically and intelligently. This is the gravest of misfortunes, the sorest of troubles. If any man de­serves a friend it is the man who is in need and is willing to work. Such a man ought never to be in doubt that there is one great friend to whom he can go, and that is the Christian Church. Such men generally do go to the ministers; there is a constant procession of them to the doors of the study, but it is hardly possible for the minister to find work for many of them; if the municipal church were properly organized it would have an employ­ment bureau. (g) Not a little of the unemploy­ment and the consequent poverty which taxes philanthropy is caused by industrial wars. Very destructive and disastrous to the fortunes and the characters of employers and employed are these bitter conflicts; the municipal church ought to be able to put an end to some of them. It is the repre­sentative of the Prince of Peace, and it has no more sacred function than that of the peace maker.

These are not the only ways in which the muni­cipal church could exert its influence in removing the causes of those ills to which it is called to minister. But enough has been said to make it clear that when the Christian Church comes to

itself and realizes its opportunity and its respon­sibility it will find a mighty task upon its hands

and a reason for being of which it has y.


as yet hardly seemed to be aware. Not lion. only in relieving existing want and

suffering, but in attacking and remov­ing their causes, it will rise to its full stature and fulfil its high calling. It will not be needful to explain to any one whose church it is; in its life the life of the Son of man will be reflected. Such a church will justify its own existence; it will be evident that its most vital function has been fully restored to it, and it will recover the credit it has lost, not only among the less fortunate classes, but also among all earnest men and women to whom the common welfare is a serious concern.



Poor Relief, General Survey:

Pre Christian times afford no evidence of a systematic relief of the poor. In the heathen world there were some

approaches to it; such as at Athens i. The the care of those incapacitated for

Ante Nicene

work and in Rome the distributions

Church. of corn and, from Nerva's reign, the

alimentations. Liberality and per­sonal benevolence were customary in Israel. An organized poor relief, however, was first provided by Christianity. The beginnings of the care of the poor in the congregation are noted in the New Testament; and. by the second century the organization was complete. The means were col­lected by free gifts; partly through monthly con­tribution to the parish treasury, and partly through the oblations made at the celebration of the Lord's Supper, consisting principally of natural products. Compulsion to give, direct or indirect, was excluded (II Cor. ix. 7). The administration of these means and the general superintendence of poor relief were vested in the bishop, who was assisted by several deacons. The discipline of the Church was a suffi­cient safeguard against the careless diversion of such means to the unworthy. The Church has at no other time more strongly emphasized the duty of the care for the poor and unfortunate, and at no other time has it more positively insisted that every­thing be done freely from the motive of love. As­sistance was chiefly in kind, and the limited size of the parishes also made possible an effort to help each one according to his particular need. Above all, it was sought to make the poor economically independelit by procuring for them employment and tools. A poor list, in which the circumstances of the needy were described, prevented any being overlooked. Widows and orphans were special objects of attention, the education of the latter being entrusted to the bishop. The sick were at­tended, and strangers received the privileges of hospitality. By means of letters of introduction any stranger coming in Christ's name was kindly welcomed; and, before examination as to being a true brother, he was provided with rest and refresh­ment. He was cared for but two or three days at the expense of the Church; thereafter he must work [cf. Didache, xi. 5, ed. P. Schaff., p. 200 and note, New York, 189o]. The individual parishes also mutually aided one another. In this period


poor relief actually

attained its end, and there was no want within the Christian communities.

The triumph of ,the Church under Constantine, placing as it did large means at its disposal, at first tended to improve the condition of

s. The the poor. Freedom to receive bequests Post Nicene attached the ever increasing idea that

Church. almsgiving had a penitential efficacy

and opened an abundantly increasing

source of revenue. These means enabled the Church

to extend its poor relief to meet the growing need

attending the economic decline of the empire. The

poor lists of the metropolitan churches now num­

bered thousands of names. At Antioch 3,000

widows and young women, and at Alexandria, in

the time of Johannes Eleemon (q.v.), 7,500 poor

were regularly cared for. At the same time there

were poorhouses, orphan asylums, hospitals, and

guest houses for pilgrims and strangers. All the

great bishops of the period were true guardians of

the poor. Yet with the expansion of the Church,

the relief of the poor was more and more trans­

ferred from the parishes to the Church at large, or

to institutions. The oblations in increasing meas­

ure lost their significance, the larger part of the

funds being supplied by the Church estates. Grad­

ually the deacons, on account of the complicated

administration of Church estates, made way for

stewards as mediaries between them and the bishop.

A considerable part of the work, attended to pre­

viously by the parishes was transferred to the in­

stitutions, and the care of the poor lapsed into a

wholesale almsgiving. Christian charitas came to

be very like the Roman liberalilas; the bishops took

the place of the emperor as the great purveyors of

alms. The organized poor relief of primitive days

ceased, and begging became more and more preva­


The conditions amidst which the new Frankish kingdom came into being excluded the poor relief of the congregation in the early times. This re 

quired a higher economic basis and

3. The higher development of the cities. In­

Middle stead of administration of money there

Ages. was a return to the distribution of

natural products. The unsuccessful

attempt at the restoration of primitive poor relief

disappears with the dissolution of the Frankish

Church. Charlemagne had not only enjoined the

Church to bestow on the poor a portion of its tithes,

but promulgated laws compelling landed proprietors

in case of need to support their vassals. In the

famine year of 779 he levied a formal poor tax.

Begging was expressly prohibited. No landed pro­

prietor was to suffer the poor to go begging on his

domains. No one was to give to beggars who would

not work. But after Charlemagne's death this

scheme of poor relief quickly fell to pieces. Dur­

ing the ensuing Dark Ages there was no organized

poor relief by either Church or State. The dictum

that the property of the Church was the possession

of the poor under the influence of the feudal sys­

tem lost its meaning. It was not the parishes that

exercised benevolence, but isolated individuals or

associations in asylums and cloisters. The funda­

mental reason why there was no organized poor 

relief in the Dark Ages was that benevolence was primarily not to help the poor, but to secure one's own personal salvation. There was abundant alms­giving in individual cases and beneficiary funds of all sorts were established; there were institutions, orders, and associations; but no effort was made to reduce the whole to a well ordered system, and there was neither coherency nor at bottom the pri­mary aim to help the poor. The result was general mendicancy, which was looked upon not as a dis­grace but as a kind of profession. There were gilds and brotherhoods of beggars, and towns levied a tax on the beggar gild as they did on others. The Liber roagatorum (Eng. transl., The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars,, London, 1860) which Luther repub­lished, with an introduction, shows that frauds of every sort were associated with begging. Steps had to be taken against this state of things, though it would have been contrary to medieval views alto­gether to forbid it. Attempts were at least made to introduce some sort of order, to determine who might beg and how. These laws became numerous in the fifteenth century; and as these regulations of beggars precede the later administration of the poor, so they mark the first advent in the fifteenth century of communal poor relief. This appears first as associational. Already the ancient work associations involved the duty of mutual aid. But now in the towns, independently of the gilds, which assisted their own poor when necessary, associa­tions of citizens were formed for the care of the poor. At first these had no connection with the local government, which, from the fourteenth cen­tury, however, came to administer their affairs, and the associational relief became the communal. There had arisen, besides, a municipal poor relief, an income being derived for that purpose from funds deposited by citizens with the authorities. As this work increased, special officers were ap­pointed to superintend it.

These were, however, but beginnings. The Ref­ormation awakened fresh motives of active charity, and set up new aims. By the doctrine

4. The of justification by faith, it struck at Reformation the motive of the merit of good works

Period. and replaced the same by that of lov­

ing gratitude. The new aim was not

to secure personal salvation but primarily to relieve

the poor. A new poor relief was developed, the

outlines of which had appeared in Luther's An. den Chrislliehen Adel deutscher Nation (Wittenberg,

1520). Begging was to be abolished not merely by

prohibition but by local provisions for all the poor.

All who could work were to do so, and relief was

restricted to the necessaries of life. It was in effect

the old parish poor relief of the primitive churches.

In place of ordinances regarding beggary, poor­

laws were passed; first, that of Augsburg (Mar.

21, 1522), more important that of Nuremberg (July

23, 1522). After the Peasants' War the poor relief

was reorganized with the reconstitution of the

Church system. Funds were collected in part

through charitable endowments and in part through

collections taken either in the churches or in house­

to house visitation. Contributions were voluntary

and the funds were administered by overseers known

Social Service


as treasurers or deacons authorized by the congre­gations or civil governments; and they were gov­erned by strict regulations. Excellent as the sys­tem was in theory, it did not succeed in practise. The income from endowments was not what had at first been anticipated; and, after the first enthusi­asm had subsided, the collections declined. But, even more important, the overseers were inexpe­rienced and incompetent. In the Reformed con­gregations of Germany, France, and particularly Holland, the aim toward a considerate, personal, and individual treatment of the poor was success­fully worked out to the smallest details. In the Roman Catholic countries and districts voluntary poor relief has continued through the various orders and establishments, though not by parish relief; and a work has been done to which Protestantism offers no parallel.

Fundamental are three great types of poor relief, of which all others are modifications: namely, the

English, French, and Dutch. Fore­g. Three most is the English. The law of Eliza 

Modern beth of 1601 has remained to this day

Types. as the basis of poor relief. In every

parish from two to four citizens in good

standing were appointed overseers of the poor, and

to them was confided the duty of providing work

for all who were without means of support and had

no settled employment. They had the right of

taxing the members of the parish for means of sup­

plying material for the employment of those ca­

pable of work, and for supporting those who were

incapable. The emphasis upon setting to work the

able bodied led to the rise of workhouses (at first

called ° the industrial house "), the first of which

was opened in 1679. In 1713 an act authorized

such workhouses, and any pauper who refused as­

sistance at one was denied it elsewhere. There then

arose a distinction between assistance given in an

institution (indoor relief) and that given outside

(outdoor relief). By the Gilbert act of 1782 and

the act of 1796, outdoor relief was legalized and be­

came the rule. The " allowance " system was

started, by which the difference between actual

earnings and a minimum scale based on market

prices and the size of the family was paid by the

State. Pauperism vastly increased. In 1834 re­

forms were introduced. Outdoor relief was limited.

Poor associations, called unions, were formed,

each with a board of guardians, composed of the

justices of the peace and selected members of the

parish, to distribute relief. A central board of com­

missioners, the poor law board, was established,

which from 1872 has been subordinated to the local

government board. This system is now entirely a

matter of civil administration; its aim is, by in­

door strictness and hard labor, to diminish the

numbers of outdoor paupers. It is lacking in the

element of training and promotion, rpot providing

suitably for the sick, the weak, or the unfortunate

by accident. The civil poor relief confines itself

only to the immediate necessities and leaves the

rest to benevolent initiative, and nowhere else have

societies and institutions of free beneficence mul­

tiplied as in England.

In France the

constitution of July 4, 1793, pro 

claimed that public poor relief was a sacred obliga­tion. It was proposed by a decree of July 7, 1794, to acquire the hospitals and other private institu­tions. Workshops were to be opened for those who could work, and a yearly pension given to those who could not. Of this scheme the only part put into execution was that connected with the destruc­tion of the old system. After the Revolution be­nevolent institutions so far as possible were restored to the Church, and Napoleon I. reestablished the orders of relief and granted every sort of State rec­ognition and support. The old orders and congre­gations increased and new ones were gradually added; and relief rests mainly upon the voluntary aid of these. By a decree of Nov. 27, 1796, local boards (bureaux de bienfaisance) were established in the ecclesiastical communes, to render house re­lief; but these are not in conflict with the matitu­tions. These boards were not, however, made com­pulsory, and in 1897 existed in less than one half of the communes. They have no power to levy assess­ments. The State has, however, taken over the care of the young and the insane and assigned them to the poor regulations of the departments.

The Thirty Years' War almost put an end to poor relief in Germany. After the war numerous regulations were adopted, but rather to prevent begging than to aid the poor. Toward the end of the seventeenth century workhouses and houses of correction were established. The Pietist move­ment, by its free impulse toward charity, and the Enlightenment (q.v.), by its humanism, contrib­uted toward the progress of poor relief. For the first time a comprehensive literature on poor relief sprang up and from 1870 there has been an earnest effort for reform. A general institution for poor­relief was established at Hamburg, and widely copied. The basis for the care of the poor

was really

laid, however, by the general law of June 6, 1870, on the principle adopted in Prussia Dec. 31, 1842, and gradually extended to include all of the empire excepting Bavaria and Aleace Lorraine. According to this the former home­relief was replaced by that of dependent residence, qualification for which was established by two years' standing in the parish or lost by a two years' ab­sence. Whoever has no dependent residence is called " land poor." Whenever any one within this privilege happens to be in want the local charity must take cognizance of the same. The work is in general in charge of poor associations, and its char­acter and scope are determined by the laws of the different states, to which imperial legislation has entrusted all details. The Elberfeld system has been extensively and successfully introduced. The essential characteristic of this is the principle that to the individual overseer only a very small number of dependents (not more than four) are assigned with the largest freedom of adaptation, limited only by general directions. The theoretical result of the evolution of poor relief is summed up in the phrase, promotion of self support; and the prac­tical result was voiced in the expression of the charity congress of 1857 at Frankfort the organic cooperation of the civic authorities, the church offices, and voluntary associations. The Church


fulfils an intermediate function between the private relief of individuals and associations, and the civic relief, being voluntary like the former and organ­ized like the latter. The Church fosters the motive of voluntary charity and has regard in the distribu­tion for the religious moral welfare of the benefici­aries, especially of the young. The State acts in regard to its own safety, is impartial to all, and thus has the advantage of strict and just discrimination, systematic administration, and enforced contribu­tion. The legitimate sphere of the charity of the Church is in the congregation, which is concurrent with that of the municipality and the State, See


V. Poor Relief in the United States: Two general methods of poor relief exist in the United States; outdoor relief, and indoor (or institutional) relief. Each of these classes is subdivided into private and public relief. Public relief is relief given wholly or in part from public funds (state, coun 

:. Early ty, or municipal). Private relief is

Practise. relief given from funds administered by private organizations or societies receiving their funds from voluntary contributions, endowments, and the like. The basis of public poor relief in the United States is the almshouse or poorhouse, the terms being synonymous. In early American life, inmates of poorhouses were let out to the lowest bidder, a system obviously unjust to the pauper. Poorhouses in the early nineteenth century were, so to speak, a human refuse heap for the dependent and defective classes. Abuses were frequent and the conditions of subsistence and existence of the inmates were anything but satisfactory. In the early middle period of the nineteenth century, special insti­tutions began to be established for special classes of dependents and defectives. To day in many parts of the country children under two years of age, the insane, the epileptic, and the more markedly feeble minded have been removed from the poor­house and placed in special institutions, generally under the State authorities. The residue of the poorhouse is composed largely of the aged and in­firm. Most poorhouses shelter temporarily the tramp and vagrant classes, thereby perpetuating the existence of vagabonds, who are able bodied but live in idleness. In many modern poorhouses the cottage system of construction and classifica­tion is in vogue. In New England and in the Middle Atlantic States the poorhouses are generally under township management; in other parts of the coun­try they are under county management. However, in over one half of the counties in the United States there are no poorhouses. Instead, paupers are maintained by so called public relief or " board­ipg out " under the supervision of overseers or similar officials, comparable to the English " re­lieving officer." The boarding out system has its advocates on the ground of economy. While efforts are made with increasing frequency to control tend­encies to pauperism and special aid through poor­relief, it must still be said that much of the public outdoor relief given to American dependents is mis­directed or palliative, in that the relief results, at the best, in the perpetuation or reduction of pau­X. 31

perism in the individual case, but does not prevent the pauperism of others.

American poor laws are based largely on English poor laws. Settlement with the subsequent right to poor relief is obtained through residence, the time necessary to acquire settlement differing in the various States from several months to several years. Much of the difficulty in wisely adminis­tering poor relief in the United States arises from the temporary character of the appointments to office of the overseers of the poor, and their conse­quent lack of training in the best principles of charitable relief; partly also from the migratory nature of many of the families and individuals in receipt of poor relief. Vagrancy laws are lax and indifferently enforced. The " passing on system " of relieving the community of a considerable part of the burden of poor relief is so frequent as to be a subject of much serious discussion among pro­gressive charity workers.

The United States is rich in certain forms of be­nevolent institutions. The special census report of benevolent institutions in 1905 shows 4,207 institu­tions of all kinds, 2,166 of which were known to have been in existence in 1890, 2,004

2. Modern having been founded between 1890

Conditions and 1903 inclusive. Of these there

and were 1,075 orphanages and children's

Methods. homes, 1,493 hospitals, 753 perms,

nent homes for adults and children,

449 temporary homes for adults and children, 166

nurseries, 156 dispensaries, 61 schools and homes

for the deaf, 39 schools and homes for the blind, 15 schools and homes for the deaf and blind. The

total population Dec. 31, 1904, was 284,362; in­

mates admitted during 1904; exclusive of dispensa­

ries and nurseries, 204,372. Cost of maintenance,

1903, $55,577,633, of which the annual subsidy from

public funds was $6,089,226. This enumeration

omits all almshouses, public and private hospitals

for the insane, and schools for the feeble minded,

as well as institutional activities of an occasional

character. Special census reports on the above­

named institutions show the following:


Dec. 31, during

1903. 1904.

Insane in hospitals ............ 150,151 49,822

Feeble minded in institutions 14,347 2,599

Paupers in almshouses . . . . . .. . . . 81,764 81,412

246,262 133,633

Totalfor1904 . 379,895

An article in The Metropolitan Magazine for Oct., 1909, estimates as follows New York State's char 

itable expenditures for 1907: Institutions reporting to the State Board of


Institutions and organisations not reporting to

board 17,000 000

Hospitals for insane, etc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,927,000

Church 3,000,000

Individuals 15,179,770

The same article estimates that $260,019,132, or over a quarter of a billion, annually is expended for charity in the United States.

.. .. =23.898,013

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