Wisdom if We Seek Transformation
While many employers pledge to push starting pay to $15 an hour, Indiana’s legal minimum wage remains at the $7.25 enacted in 2008—even though the widely cited Living Wage Calculator created by MIT professor and economist Amy Glasmeier suggests that a living wage for a single adult in Indianapolis requires $13.96 an hour, and each parent in a family of four needs to make at least $19.27 an hour to provide a living wage for their family.
Living Wage Calculator
We all can agree that, when our sacred texts tell us that the poor will be with us always, it is not suggesting that we simply accept the fate of the poor. Instead, we are instructed to ease their suffering and pursue justice. Where we don’t always agree is on how to do that, and what role faith communities should play in these efforts. How should congregations address poverty in their neighborhoods? Where is the heart of God in the practical areas around justice? What is each individual’s role in fighting systemic injustice?
In the coming year, we will explore these and other questions, seeking to leverage points of alignment and resolve points of conflict. As we engage in that process, we would do well to reflect on some key tenets from past speakers.
David Brooks, 2016
- “Love is a word—and a powerful force—that should not be relegated to the private sphere alone, or to the spiritual aspect of life alone. It has an indispensable place in public life and meaningful social change. Programs don’t change lives. Relationships change lives.”
- “We must recognize the difference between charity and social justice, and ensure justice is available to all.”
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 2018
- Sensing, at one point in her career, that perhaps Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s admonition to love one another wasn’t enough, Alexander later came to see love as the key to solving our greatest problems. “What we need isn’t just a political or economic revolution,” she said. “We need a revolution of values.”
Father Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries, 2019
- “All of us sort of begin with service, which is a natural place to begin. But then service is the hallway. You want to get to the ballroom, which is the place of exquisite mutuality, where there is no ‘us and them,’ there’s just us, which is the only place where you can stand against forgetting that we belong to each other … Otherwise there’s a distance even in service—“service provider” and “service recipient”—and you don’t want that.”
- Boyle cautioned against trying to save people. Instead, he said, we should walk with them in their lives. “Saving lives is for the Coast Guard. I’m really not interested in it.”
Van Jones, author, TV commentator and former Obama White House advisor, 2019
- Too often, we overlook “gems” in the community, Jones said, because we accept assumptions about others, whether it’s about people we disagree with, people who are different from us, or people who live in poverty. If we reject those assumptions, we will see the humanity sitting across from us and begin to make a difference in the world.
As we wrestle with big questions and ideas, we’ll need leaders with servant hearts to participate and guide those conversations. I thank all of you who have been or are ready to be intentional, deliberate, compassionate and focused on a long-term goal of poverty mitigation and systemic change. Because of you, hope is on the horizon.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Director, Faith & Action Project
Inclusive Growth is Possible, but All Sectors Needed
Having heard Indy Chamber President Michael Huber present moral and business cases for attacking poverty during the local panel discussion at the 2018 Faith & Action Fall Event, the Faith & Action Advisory Board recently asked Huber to revisit the topic. How, the board wanted to know, has the Indy Chamber responded to calls for the business community to engage in poverty mitigation for reasons that go beyond economic impact? Sharing insights from recent research and the Chamber’s “framework for equitable economic growth,” Huber said the Chamber is advocating for the building of bridges (especially between business and education sectors) toward better alignment on poverty-reduction goals, pushing for more accessible pathways to good and promising jobs, and urging the business community to address concentrations of poverty and other factors— such as food desserts and lack of access to transportation—that block people from getting and keeping jobs. To learn more, read the research behind the Chamber’s vision.
Rev. Haynes Brings Call For Congregational Engagement
On Sept. 8, faith leaders from across the city will gather to learn from the Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, a gifted pastor, passionate social activist and eloquent orator dedicated to preaching and fighting against racial injustice. With Rev. Haynes’ message about the importance of engaging and mobilizing congregations to end poverty and injustice, this gathering is designed to spark provocative, fruitful conversations that inspire action, create opportunities and push the community closer to its collective goals. RSVP here by Sept. 1. Mask required regardless of vaccination.
Free Discussion Guide Supports Frank Conversation
To help broaden the understanding of systemic racism, the Faith & Action project is offering its community partners a free discussion guide for the Emmy-winning HBO documentary True Justice. Offered as a catalyst for greater engagement by Indianapolis faith communities, the guide seeks to support conversations that lead to advocacy and action while also preparing the city for Bryan Stevenson’s appearance at the October Faith & Action Fall Event. The report authored by Michael R. Twyman, Ph.D., managing principal of InExcelsis Consulting, promises to equip users to take a more effective role in the fight against racial injustice. In an effort to encourage faith partners to view and discuss True Justice, CTS is offering $200 stipends through the Faith & Action Project to support screenings and discussion sessions. To receive a copy of the discussion guide and apply for a True Justice stipend, please complete the application here.
Poverty in America, before and after COVID-19, by Robert Doar. This speech by the president of the American Enterprise Institute makes that case that those who support public relief as a way to fight poverty and those who argue for self-determination should not be on opposite sides of the issue. Speaking of the forces that led to progress in recent decades, Doar, who formerly worked in social service programs for New York State and New York City, notes, “A combination of a focus on employment and generous government support for low-income Americans led to dramatic declines in poverty among all Americans and their children.” More of them same, he suggests, would lead to even greater results.
Shades of Hope, Podcast by Rev. Dr. Clarence C. Moore and Jeff Krajewski. This frank conversation between two friends exposes the case the Gospel makes for racial justice while also acknowledging the complexities of the issue. Search for “Shades of Hope” in the Apple podcasts app, or go to https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/shades-of-hope/id1566911716 to access the podcast from your computer.
Mark your calendar October 5, 2021, 7 PM: Faith & Action Fall Event