For Immediate Release
IWJ Stands With Occupy America: Releases Congregational Discussion Guides
NATIONAL - Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) has announced its support of the Occupy America movement, which started on Wall Street in New York City and is spreading to other cities across the United States. IWJ has also produced a discussion guide to help congregational members talk together, within the context of their shared faith, about the meaning and implications of these protests.
Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Director of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, an IWJ affiliate organization, has spent time on the ground at Occupy Wall Street. On Tuesday afternoon, October 4, he told IWJ that 500-600 people were camped out with many more expected on Wednesday. "This occupation of Wall Street is an important expression of popular anger about the way economic policy and the US economy are not working for most working people," Feinberg said.
Kim Bobo, Executive Director of IWJ, says, "People of faith may not all agree with or even understand everything the Wall Street protestors are saying. But these protests are a teachable moment. They are giving congregations an opportunity to talk together about how we can help families hurt by this economy."
All faith traditions affirm the value of a just economy that serves all, not just the top one percent. The website of Occupy Wall Street says:
"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent."
IWJ's congregational discussion guide encourages people of faith to ask, "Is there some truth to the '99 percent' being left out? What more could our congregation do to make sure that the resources of society are shared with all people?"
The discussion guides include reflection on key Scripture passages. There are guides available for Christian and Jewish congregations. A guide for Muslim congregations will be available by the end of the week.
Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) calls upon our religious values in order to educate, organize, and mobilize the religious community in the U.S. on issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers, especially low-wage workers.