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Presiding Bishop joins more than 1,000 faith leaders in urging Congress to raise minimum wage

1/9/2007
[Episcopal News Service]  Let Justice Roll, a nonpartisan coalition of 90 faith and community organizations, sent a letter January 8 to members of Congress, anticipating House debate on federal minimum-wage legislation on January 10 and urging support for The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 (HR 2), which would increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 from the $5.15 level set in 1997.

"We seek a just community for all people," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in the news release announcing the letter. "We are a decade late in even beginning to raise the minimum wage toward a living wage. We call on Congress to remember the least among us, and raise the minimum wage without any further delay."

Other Episcopal leaders signing the letter are Navajoland Assisting Bishop Mark MacDonald, Connecticut Bishop Suffragan James E. Curry, Central Gulf Coast Bishop Philip M. Duncan II, Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick, Maryland Bishop Robert W. Ihloff, Rochester Bishop Jack McKelvey, New York Bishop Suffragan Catherine S. Roskam, Southern Ohio Bishop Kenneth Price, Retired South Dakota Bishop Craig B. Anderson, and Southwestern Virginia Bishop Neff Powell.

Other Episcopal signers include the Rev. John F. Stanton, associate priest, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Miami, Florida; the Rev. Eleanor McLaughlin, rector, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Berlin, New Hampshire; and  Kay Miller, Salt Lake City Police Dept Chaplain, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"As people of faith, we believe there is no better way to urgently address the poverty that afflicts so many low-wage working people and their families than by raising the minimum wage," said the Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, national coordinator of Let Justice Roll and co-author of "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future."

Sherry added: "A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it. That conviction is at the very heart of the faith we proclaim."

In December, the nation broke the record for the longest period in history -- more than nine years -- without a minimum wage raise, while Congress's ninth pay raise since 1997 is scheduled to take effect in February.

Today, a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour makes $10,712 annually.

"Millions of 'values voters' care about fair wages for the people who do some of the hardest jobs in our society," said the Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches and former six-term congressman from Pennsylvania, in the news release. "Now it's up to their representatives to listen and pass a clean bill on to the Senate."

Two Let Justice Roll member groups -- Jewish Funds for Justice and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism -- released a similar letter signed by more than 400 rabbis and rabbinical students in support of the Fair Minimum Wage Act.

The complete text of the letter, along with its signers, is available here.