4/9/2014 12:00:00 PM
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), asked the U.S. Senate in an April 8 letter to consider legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour as part of an overall strategy to reduce poverty in the United States.
"Lutherans have studied and walked with those living and working in poverty. We recognize that the causes of poverty are complex and that a comprehensive solution will include more than a single initiative," said Eaton.
As presiding bishop of the largest U.S. Lutheran denomination, Eaton shared the convictions of the 4 million-member ELCA in their social statement called, "The Church in Society," which states: "God works through the family, education, the economy, the state, and other structures necessary for life in the present age. God institutes governing authorities, for example, to serve the good of society. This church respects the God-given integrity and tasks of governing authorities and other worldly structures, while holding them accountable to God."
In her letter, Eaton noted that an increase to the minimum wage will bring economic benefits to the entire economy.
"Increasing the federal minimum wage affirms both the value of work and the value to society of those who engage in it. Increasing the federal minimum wage will remove barriers that make it more difficult for many to pursue education, training, and/or to attend to the needs of their families -- the vast majority of whom are women and persons of color. More desperately for some, an increase will contribute to improved physical health for themselves and their families.
"As Lutherans, we believe all of us benefit when those who receive the least for their hard work are better rewarded for their labor and can more fully contribute to the life we share as a nation. As Lutherans, we are committed to a country reconciled to one another in shared service of the common good as our best hope for a more perfect union, for the establishment of justice and the way to ensure the blessings of freedom for ourselves and the generations that follow us," wrote the presiding bishop.
Eaton said that in the days to come, she urges "both the House and Senate to pass legislation that will lift working families and give all workers seeking the opportunity to take advantage of upward mobility and the economic blessings we enjoy as a nation. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is an important step in ensuring meaningful progress in reducing poverty in our richly blessed nation. I urge you to support increasing the federal minimum wage today."
The text of Eaton's letter is available at www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages; an action alert from the ELCA Washington Office is at http://www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=63180936; and a fact sheet at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Raising_the_Federal_Minimum_Wage.pdf.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.