Today, local Tampa faith leaders responded to Rep. Dennis Ross’s (R-FL) comments during a town hall about his support for increasing the minimum wage. Rep. Ross said he opposed making the minimum wage a living wage, saying “economically, it’s not right.”
One in 10 of Rep. Ross’s constituents live at or below the poverty line – including more than 1 in 5 of families with children under the age of 5. Local faith leaders are urging him to support an increase in the minimum wage that honors the dignity of work and strengthens families.
The following quotes from diverse Tampa-area clergy are in response to Rep. Ross’s statement:
Rev. Russell Meyer, Executive Director of the Florida Council of Churches and a pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
“As a Christian and a pastor, I’m alarmed to hear Congressman Ross’s response to a full-time worker trying to get by on less than $300 a week. In a country as wealthy as ours, it’s simply un-Christian how low the minimum wage is today.”
Rev. Richard Huggins, pastor at McLeod Memorial Presbyterian Church and constituent of Rep. Ross:
“It is morally bankrupt for Congressman Ross to fight against making the minimum wage a family wage. Someone who makes a six-figure salary paid for by tax dollars has no business making the lives of his working poor constituents even harder. It is a failure of both judgment and conscience.”
Rev. Larry Rankin, a retired member of The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and constituent of Rep. Ross:
“Rep. Ross, stated that the minimum wage is ‘not right.’ What’s not right is that today’s minimum wage doesn’t sustain a family. Scripture tells us: ‘You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers…You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them.’”
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New guide helps university students bring the Catholic social tradition to political debates over minimum wages, inequality and role of government
As Pope Francis denounces “an economy of exclusion and inequality,” Faith in Public Life is releasing a new guidebook and website that will help Catholic university students make the connection between the Church’s social tradition and current political debates over minimum wages, taxes, inequality, unions and the role of government.
In this Together: Catholic Teaching and a Moral Economy, a guide that references Church teaching on labor, workers’ rights and a broad array of economic justice issues, will be distributed to more than 100 Catholic university campuses over the next year. It challenges the recent surge of libertarian, anti-government ideology as incompatible with a Catholic vision of the common good.
The guide includes facts about poverty and inequality with quotes and resources from Pope Francis, Catholic bishops, prominent Catholic theologians and the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. An accompanying web site, www.InThisTogether.org, provides more in-depth analysis and videos of prominent Catholics talking about the Church’s economic justice teachings on popular programs such as The Colbert Report.
The effort is endorsed by NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; The Conference of Mercy Higher Education; the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice; the Franciscan Action Network; Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; and the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach.
“Catholics have a centuries-old tradition that offers a powerful antidote to the anti-government ideology and free-market fundamentalism that distort our political debates,” said John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life. “Catholics should know that efforts to oppose living wages, attack unions and slash food aid to struggling families are an affront to Catholic values. This guide can help provoke reflection and encourage students to put their faith into action.”
In This Together has already been distributed to administrators, campus ministers, theologians and social justice directors at the University of San Diego, Creighton University, John Carroll University, the University of Dayton, Santa Clara University and Villanova University. Catholic students at Yale University, Stanford University and Michigan State University have also received the guide.
“I’m grateful for this important effort to stimulate more awareness of the Church’s economic justice teachings at a time when young Catholics are struggling to find their way through a culture that puts individualism and materialism before the common good,” said Moya K. Dittmeier, Executive Director of The Conference for Mercy Higher Education. “I hope this project will encourage Catholic students and others to become citizen-advocates who put our Catholic social tradition into practice by standing in solidarity with those on the margins, especially women and children.”
“Catholics can’t remain passive spectators when workers’ rights are under attack and inequality is soaring,” said Joseph J. Fahey, Chair of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice and a Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. “Catholics have always been at the forefront of struggles for economic justice. A new generation of Catholics must now take the lead in fighting for a moral economy.”
“This timely resource will help our university’s ongoing efforts to encourage students to engage with current moral and political debates by using the wisdom of Catholic social teaching as a foundation,” said Carmen M. Vazquez, Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of San Diego. “As Catholics, we have a responsibility to be faithful citizens who bring our commitment to human dignity and a preferential option for the poor to the public square.”
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Open letter rebukes those who use religion to justify discrimination
Washington, DC – Following Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of SB 1062, which would have permitted businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, nationally prominent evangelical leaders released a statement not only condemning the bill, but also challenging fellow Christians who supported it and similar legislation in other states. Signatories include Alan Chambers, the former president of Exodus International, Ted Haggard, pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Rachel Held Evans, a leading millennial Evangelical. The statement said in part:
As evangelicals we are saddened to see our brothers and sisters in Christ leveraging their faith to support an Arizona law that would allow business owners to discriminate against the gay community and many others on the basis of religion. We believe that Christians should oppose this law and others like it in Kansas, Georgia and Florida.
To support such a law is to fail to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who was known for associating with and loving those who were considered outcasts by his society.
Signers of the statement also commended Gov. Brewer’s veto.
“Gov. Brewer did the right thing,” said Rev. Ted Haggard. “In public commerce religion must not be a basis upon which we deny a fellow human being our services.”
Religious leaders’ stances on this issue will also shape the future of the church. A poll released yesterday by Public Religion Research Institute showed that 55 percent of white evangelical Protestant Milliennials believe religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.
Signers of the statement include clergy, theologians and thought leaders from across the spectrum, from Haggard to progressive evangelical leader Brian McLaren. The full list of signers and the full text of the statement are below and can be found here. Signers’ affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.
As evangelicals, we are saddened to see our brothers and sisters in Christ leveraging their faith to support an Arizona law that would allow business owners to discriminate against the gay community and many others on the basis of religion. We believe that Christians should oppose this law and others like it in Kansas and Georgia.
To support such a law is to fail to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, who was known for associating with and loving those who were considered outcasts by his society. Serving people with whom we disagree is a central calling for those who follow Jesus. We believe that the current position that many Evangelical leaders are taking on issues of discrimination toward the gay community directly contradict that posture of radical love and grace that Jesus so powerfully embodied in his life and teachings.
Many Millennials are leaving the church because far too often the church has failed to live in the pattern that Jesus has called us to. Many of us are committed to following Jesus but have become increasingly disheartened by the uncompassionate postures that many of our leaders in the evangelical church continue to take on many important social issues. We are saddened by the lack of Christ-likeness displayed by our leaders and deeply desire to see our churches return to speaking and living like Jesus. We believe that the time has come for church leaders to stop allowing fear to dictate their theological and social positions, and start acting in the radical love of Jesus.
Rev. Ted Haggard
St. James Church
Former President, National Association of Evangelicals
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Former President, Exodus International
Rachel Held Evans
Author and speaker
Author and activist
Marco Island, Florida
The CANA Initiative
Founder and director
Charlotte, North Carolina
Rev. Amy Butler
Calvary Baptist Church
Rev. Lillian Daniel
First Congregational Church
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Dr. Michael Hardin
Founder and director
The Revangelical Movement
Dr. Phillip Clayton
Ingraham Professor of Theology
Claremont School of Theology
Dr. Joel Cruz
Chicago Theological Seminary
Dr. Egon Cohen
Department of Religion
Rev. Jack Haberer
The Presbyterian Outlook
Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
Rev. Dr Troy Jackson
Ohio Prophetic Voices
Mr. Jason Wiedel
Mr. Hye-Sung Gehring
Kingsway Christian Church
Disciples of Christ (Christian Church)
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John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life, offered the following comments on Time magazine naming Pope Francis the “Person of the Year.”
Pope Francis has done more in the past nine months than any Catholic leader in 50 years to begin rescuing the Catholic Church from a Vatican culture often more fixated on privilege and power than the radical message of the Gospel. His personal humility, focus on the poor and stinging critique of economic inequality is capturing the attention of global leaders and ordinary people. Like his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, this pope is calling the Church to a deep spiritual reform that asks bishops to come out of cathedrals and walk the streets with the homeless, the hungry and the lonely. At a time when 1 in 10 Americans are former Catholics, Pope Francis provides a road map for U.S. bishops to regain their public voice and moral credibility by being pastors, not culture warriors.
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Advocates begin 21st day of fasting today, urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform
Prominent Catholic leaders – including the president of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic university presidents and former U.S. Ambassadors to the Vatican – released a statement today offering encouragement to immigration reform advocates now starting their 21st day of a water-only fast to dramatize the moral urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform.
“We are hopeful that your sacrifices and determined stand in the face of Congressional delay will awaken the consciences and break open the hearts of elected officials to the human suffering caused by an immigration system that tears families apart,” the leaders write. “Your courageous example reminds us all that the issue of immigration reform is not about partisan politics or narrow ideological agendas. This is a profound moral issue, as old as the Hebrew prophets and the Gospel, that calls into question the kind of nation we aspire to pass on to our children.”
The core group of fasters include Eliseo Medina, former international Secretary Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and Cristian Avila, 23, of Mi Familia Vota in Phoenix, the son of Mexican immigrants. As of today, more than 5,000 people across the country have fasted in solidarity for one or more days and hundreds have joined nightly community meetings at the fasters’ tent to offer support. This week, students on 11 Catholic university campuses are fasting in solidarity. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, will visit the tent tomorrow to offer spiritual support and prayers as the fasters continue a national week of solidarity, prayer and action.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez joined a group of civic and labor leaders last week to announce a 24-hour fast between December 1-3 in solidarity with the Fast for Families. “Everyone knows our immigration system is broken,” Archbishop Gomez said in announcing the fast. “But our leaders don’t seem to feel enough urgency to fix it. So we offer our fasting today as a prayer — in the hopes of moving the hearts of our national leaders in Washington.” Bishop Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Sopkane, WA. last week sent fasters a letter saying their efforts are a “cause of great inspiration to me personally.” Bishop Cupich added: “I have been working with elected officials directly and through other community leaders to spur action on achieving comprehensive immigration reform. You motivate me to enhance those efforts.”
The message of solidarity released today will be delivered to the fasters’ tent on the National Mall, which in recent days has attracted a stream of elected officials, civil rights and religious leaders – including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Jessie Jackson and Bishop John Wester, the Roman Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City. The statement of support is signed by among others Rev. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA; Thomas P. Melady, retired U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George H.W. Bush; Miguel Diaz, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President Barack Obama; the presidents of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Sabrina Burton Schultz, Director of Life Ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla.
The full statement with signatories can be found below and here.
We are deeply moved and personally inspired by your prophetic witness that demonstrates the moral urgency of comprehensive immigration reform. We are hopeful that your sacrifices and determined stand in the face of Congressional delay will awaken the consciences and break open the hearts of elected officials to the human suffering caused by an immigration system that tears families apart. Your courageous example reminds us all that the issue of immigration reform is not about partisan politics or narrow ideological agendas. This is a profound moral issue, as old as the Hebrew prophets and the Gospel, that calls into question the kind of nation we aspire to pass on to our children.
As Pope Francis said when he visited the island of Lampedusa to honor migrants, we are all complicit in a “globalization of indifference” when we fail to confront the personal and political realities that undermine human dignity. Thank you for your moral leadership. Please know that you are in our prayers.
Rev. Larry Snyder
Catholic Charities USA
Thomas P. Melady
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired)
President Emeritus, Sacred Heart University
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
University Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton
Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J.
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J.
University of San Francisco
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
Mexican American Catholic College
Sister Ann Scholz, SSND, PhD
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Sabrina Burton Schultz
Director of Life Ministry
Diocese of St. Petersburg
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Interfaith Worker Justice
National Advocacy Center
Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Rev. Frederick L. Thelen
President, Action of Greater Lansing
Pastor, Cristo Rey Church
Rev. Joseph Nangle, O.F.M
Susan M. Weishar
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University, New Orleans
Christopher G. Kerr
Ignatian Solidarity Network
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