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Editorial Reflections

People of faith can make a difference through advocacy for justice

What do faith values of loving neighbors, even enemies, mean we are to do?  What does proclaiming good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, setting the oppressed free and proclaiming the favorable year of the Lord call us to do as people of faith?

What does the call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit prisoners require of us?

Issues before a state legislature are often about people’s rights, dignity and wellbeing.  Faith communities set priorities each year based on their values and educate members to engage in loving and caring for people, serving people who are poor and suffering, and engaging in advocacy as citizens to bring healing and justice to communities, societies and the world.

There are issues related to wealth inequality, criminal justice, environmental threats and reconciling people across faith lines.  There are also issues of assuring affordable, decent, safe housing, providing a safety net for vulnerable people and dismantling the culture of violence

People of faith concerned about issues can have an impact as citizens.

Reports on the Eastern Washington Legislative Conference offer opportunities for people to inform themselves, be inspired and become involved.

Participants learned that the many people who testified at public hearings and wrote statements related to coal and oil transport have had an impact in halting four of six proposed coal export terminals.

They learned, too, of the need to persist as they heard the history of African Americans’ relationship with police through the years, of progress in civil rights and continual efforts to undo that progress.  It’s why the communities of faith need to be vigilant and continue to challenge every new outcropping of injustice.

Another example of the impact of pressure from the faith community joining with unions and the wider community is the recent decision by Walmart to spend $1 billion to pay nearly 500,000 of its 1.3 million U.S. workers $9 an hour for starting workers, more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.  Across Washington, there were 60 actions at Walmart stores on Black Friday, the big pre-Christmas-shopping day.  They called for workers to earn $15 an hour, a living wage. Since Walmart’s announcement in February, other retailers are also acting based on economic pressures to increase their minimum wages.

Discussions continue about the right of workers to share in and receive incentives from the wealth they help create.

The need to educate people in faith communities is ongoing in the need to draw in new generations to continue the pressure to build healthy, equal, just, reconciled, peace-filled communities: shalom.

In face of fears stirred today, faith moves people from apathy to action.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright © March 2015 - The Fig Tree