Friday, October 19, 2007

Interfaith Worker Justice & the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal isn't high on the list of publications where one would expect to see Interfaith Worker Justice featured prominently. But, sure enough, the October 16 issue carried an article titled "The Rise of the Religious Left" by Steve Malanga, a Senior Fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. (The article is no longer available on the Wall Street Journal's website but can be found on the Manhattan Institute's website here.) The article was in fact adapted from a longer essay that appears in the Autumn issue of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal under the title "The Religious Left, Reborn."

IWJ Executive Director Kim Bobo sent the following letter to the Wall Street Journal, which has thus far not published it.

Steven Malanga’s “The Rise of the Religious Left” (October 16, 2007) ignores the depth of religious concern for and teaching about hunger and poverty. Ending poverty is a faith question — witness the thousands of congregations that provide food and shelter for poor people. The new emergence of a faith-led effort around raising wages, benefits and working conditions reflects the maturity and sophistication of the religious community’s fight against poverty. This is not a left-wing matter. This is a faith matter.

Although I greatly respect the philosophers mentioned in the article, Minister Rauschenbusch and Monsignor Ryan, most religious leaders are not involved because of them, but rather because of the reading and understanding of their own sacred texts and teachings and their concrete experiences with low-income families in their congregations.

The religious leaders I know do not “blindly refuse to acknowledge” academic research on rising wages, but rather understand that those who oppose raising wages and benefits for low-wage workers have historically trotted out studies to “prove” that we would all be better off accepting poverty-wage jobs. Over 80 percent of the American public, including most people of faith, supported raising the minimum wage.

Kim Bobo
Executive Director
Interfaith Worker Justice

If you'd like to write your own response to Malanga's essay, go here and click RESPOND TO ARTICLE. Feel free to cross-post your response here (copying and pasting the same text) by clicking "comments" just below.

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