Over 1,000 Faith Leaders Urge Congress to Raise Minimum Wage

A letter signed by more than 1,000 faith leaders nationwide was sent to members of Congress on Monday urging them to vote to raise minimum wage.

Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders joined together to press the 110th Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 in an anticipated House debate on minimum wage on Wednesday.

"As people of faith, we believe there is no better way to urgently address the poverty that afflicts so many low-wage working people and their families than by raising the minimum wage," said Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, national coordinator of Let Justice Roll, in a statement.

Let Justice Roll is a nonpartisan coalition of 90 faith and community organizations supporting a raise in federal minimum wage.

The new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is among the supporters of a minimum wage raise.

“We seek a just community for all people,” said Schori in a statement. “We are a decade late in even beginning to raise the minimum wage toward a living wage. We call on Congress to remember the least among us, and raise the minimum wage without any further delay.”

Supporters of the raise emphasized that the United States currently surpasses the record for the longest period in history - more than nine years - without a minimum wage raise. They compared the history of the federal minimum wage raise with that of Congress, which is scheduled to receive the ninth pay raise since 1997 in February.

"Millions of 'values voters' care about fair wages for the people who do some of the hardest jobs in our society," said the Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches and former six-term congressman from Pennsylvania. "Now it's up to their representatives to listen and pass a clean bill on to the Senate."

Today, a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour makes $10,712 a year.

"A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it,” concluded Let Justice Roll’s Sherry. “That conviction is at the very heart of the faith we proclaim,"