April 9, 2016

Religious Leaders Support $15 an Hour Minimum Wage

As the nationally syndicated Religious News Service reported, the interfaith coalition issued the statement “on the anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. … and amid growing momentum for a wage hike and just days after state officials of New York and California acted to increase their minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

“This movement continues to build,” The Washington Post observed, “with faith leaders pressing presidential candidates to pledge to ‘issue an executive order to make sure taxpayer dollars reward ‘model employers’ that pay a living wage of at least $15 an hour, provide decent benefits and allow workers to organize without retaliation’.”
“It is not at all surprising to see an interfaith group like this one involving itself with wage debates,” Dr. Andrew Hogue of Baylor University told the Christian Science Monitor. “This flows naturally from the same stream of social justice from which faith communities have engaged for generations.”

“Dr. King died on the front-lines of the fight for racial and economic justice,” the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson told the Presbyterian News Service. “We honor his legacy by standing in solidarity with low-wage federal contract workers who struggle to feed, clothe and shelter themselves and their families.”

“When low-wage workers don’t make enough to provide for their most basic needs, it is not just an economic issue — it is a moral crisis,” noted Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, in Sojourners.

Perhaps Huffington Post columnist Bob Borosage summed it up best when he quoted Jim Winkler, secretary general of the National Council of Churches, as saying “This election is fundamentally about whether the next president is willing to take transformative executive action to close the gap between the wealthy and workers – many of whom are women and people of color.”

In addition to the faith leaders above, signatories include the Rev. Sekinah Hamlin of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK: A Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Rev. Taquiena Boston of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Doug Mork of Interfaith Worker Justice, Dr. Iva Carruthers of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Imam Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Patrick Carolan of the Franciscan Action Network, Larry Couch of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of Good Shepherd, and Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson of the Conference of National Black Churches.

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