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Beau Underwood
Beau Underwood, Faith in Public Life’s Partnership and Outreach Coordinator, holds graduate degrees in religion and public policy and worked on several political campaigns before joining FPL. He blogs about faith in the public square, public theology, and workers’ rights and other economic issues at Bold Faith Type.

Media Hit of the Week

April 13, 2011, 11:09 am | By Beau Underwood

Far too often, the media and the public assume only conservative politicians and religious leaders talk about the moral aspects of fiscal issues, so it was great to see Monday’s press conference we organized with Alaska Senator Mark Begich and a diverse group of faith leaders get some good coverage in Politico:

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich joined religious leaders at a Capitol Hill church on Monday, arguing that GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan would shred the social safety net for the poor, young and elderly while giving a leg up to the wealthy individuals and corporations.

The federal budget “isn’t just a bunch of numbers on a sheet of paper,” he said. “The budget is a moral document.”

“If you’re just giving millionaires more tax breaks, and giving corporate America more tax breaks, and then throwing over the edge of the ship seniors and children, I think, yeah, it’s a moral argument,” Begich later told reporters, offering his take of the Ryan budget.

“If all you’re doing is arguing over elimination of programs but still adding money for millionaires and billionaires, there’s something wrong with the priorities. And that’s what the debate will be over.”

In February, it was Boehner (R-Ohio) who framed the debate over debt and spending as a moral issue.

The Washington Post also quoted Senator Begich’s statement. It’s encouraging to see a lawmaker framing the issue in moral terms, just as faith leaders have done throughout the debate. Read Politico’s whole story here

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A Tribute to Dr. King: Standing Up for Working Families

April 5, 2011, 11:51 am | By Beau Underwood

Yesterday, religious leaders around the country joined labor and civil rights leaders in honoring the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by standing up for the hardworking families who make America great. At over 1,000 events across the country, these diverse voices united to defend the teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other workers who prepare our children to succeed and keep our communities safe.

In Michigan, where anti-worker legislation has already passed and similar efforts are being considered, pastors and workers invoked King’s legacy and lifted their voices in defense of good jobs and fair benefits. “We are going to stop them now because as Dr. King taught us — and they can’t kill what he taught us — we are one,” said John Wilhelm, president of Unite Here, a union representing service industry workers nationwide.

In Rock Island, IL, religious and labor leaders hosted one of the Wisconsin Senators who spent several weeks taking sanctuary in Illinois in an effort to stop Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme agenda aimed at taking away hardworking Wisconsinites’ seat at the bargaining table. Speaking at the event, “Phillip Farrow, a union mail carrier and pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Rock Island, said efforts to destroy unions will ‘damage the very fabric of our democracy.’”

At another event in Wilmington, DE, Rev. Christopher Alan Bullock talked about furthering the work of Dr. King and gave a call to action: “After you are done praying, you need to get off your knees and do something.”

While Dr. King’s life was tragically cut short 43 years ago, these events show that his legacy of pursuing justice, seeking unity, and fighting for working families endures. As reckless politicians across the country exploit budget crises to permanently strip hardworking people of the right to negotiate for fair wages and working conditions, these efforts are necessary to preserving the common good.

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Using food as a political weapon?

March 25, 2011, 2:25 pm | By Beau Underwood

Yesterday, Think Progress brought to our attention a movement afoot from extreme right-wing legislators in the U.S. House to cut off food stamps to families of workers participating in labor strikes. As the attacks on working families rage on in many states across the country, national political leaders have apparently decided to use food– the most basic necessity of life– as a political weapon.

Intentionally withholding food stamps from workers trying to provide for their families by standing up for better pay, safer working conditions, and fair benefits is morally troubling. The basic requirements for survival should not be tools for advancing narrow partisan agendas. So, to help put things back in perspective:

Hunger should not be a political issue and we need to be doing more, not less, to address the problem.

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