Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where you stand depends on where you sit

Kim Bobo of Interfaith Worker Justice reviews new books by Jim Wallis (The Great Awakening) and E. J. Dionne (Souled Out) in In These Times, but I'm most interested in her own experience:
Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions have a long history of supporting working class struggles. And the best indicator of whether a church will do so is based on where the workers attend services.

When coalmining members of Four Square Gospel churches in Appalachia go on strike, those churches get involved. When janitors who are members of Pentecostal storefront churches seek a contract, that church gets involved. When an unethical employer cheats members of a mega-church out of their wages, leaders of the church are likely to join a delegation to visit the employer, praying on the employer’s home doorstep until wages are paid.

Though such congregations are often written off as “conservative,” many are willing to advocate for workers if their members are affected. On the flip side, a wealthy congregation may be liberal on cultural issues but less likely to engage on worker justice issues. In other words, class matters—often more than theology.
BTW, I see Wallis will be at Seminary Co-op in Chicago, 5757 S. University, Monday noon.

4 comments:

JB Powers said...

How about when the SEIU threatened the Archdiocese of Chicago with a bunch of mischief unless Cook and Lake County Hospitals were unionized without contest?

I could imagine a world where Unions and Churches actually supported workers, but in practice, pleasant examples of either institution showing benevolence to their labor constituents are very rare.

JBP

Harold said...

Unions and not-for-profit hospitals with a religious mission written into their charters have something in common these days. They both don't buy into the prevalent idea that ability to pay is everything that matters, AKA capitalism uber alles.

JB Powers said...

Harold,

Do you actually believe that not-for-profit hospitals are not trying to make money?

You might want to look at the Billions socked away at Northwestern Hospitals, or the mob activities of the Illinois Healthcare Facilities Planning Board before assigning benevolence to the non-profits.

JBP

Harold said...

No, even I'm not that dumb! I just think that of the available somebodies to hold them to account, their church sponsors and their (potential) unions are the two obvious candidates to stand against the idea that making money is all that matters.