Dan Nejfelt, Faith in Public Life’s Senior Editor and Training Coordinator, worked at Sojourners magazine as part of his graduate study of journalism at the University of Missouri before coming to FPL. Prior to that, he taught remedial reading and writing to 7th and 8th graders in rural Arkansas as a Teach For America corps member. Dan blogs about health care, the Religious Right and budget issues.
Last night, Faith in Public Life advisory board member Kathleen Kennedy Townsend appeared as a guest on The Colbert Report to discuss her new book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way. Kathleen explained how the Right has tried to “shrink God” by reducing religious focus to a narrow platform of same-sex marriage, abortion and stem cell research and how we must instead pursue the common good. Her rapid run-down of the names of all 10 of her brothers and sister ain’t bad either — nearly matching the speed at which Colbert does the same for his own 10 Catholic siblings.
Have a look:
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The minimum wage jumped 70 cents today, to $5.85 per hour. After two more hikes, it’ll reach $7.25 in 2009. Let Justice Roll, a coalition of faith, labor and community groups, fought hard for the increase, the first in a decade. The group has also organized efforts to pass minimum wage increases or living wage laws in 21 states, from New Hampshire to California. Their work is indispensable to the movement to end poverty in America.
Progress is always worth rejoicing over, but we need to keep in mind that $7.25, let alone $5.85, isn’t a living wage for even a small family. The minimum wage hike will put money directly into the pockets of the working poor, but not enough to lift them out of poverty (see table 1.1 in the linked report). Until we ensure that every job provides a living wage, we’re effectively legislating poverty.
I’ve seen the effects of an inadequate minimum wage. When I was a teacher, one of my colleagues and I bought a winter coat for an 8th grade student after I saw him wearing a t shirt and no jacket on a 35-degree November day. His mother had a full-time job cleaning a hospital, but she could not afford to keep her rapidly growing son warm through the winter. It is sad and outrageous that we tolerate such deprivation in a nation as wealthy as ours. We can’t relent in the effort to end poverty, even on a day of good news.
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