The Text Study Project: Introduction

Introduction by Reverend Michael A. Schuler, First Unitarian Society of Madison

“All Religions Believe in Justice,”
reads the poster on my office door at First Unitarian Society. It is the same poster I carried around the Wisconsin State Capitol four years ago in the company of tens of thousands of fellow citizens who, like me, opposed our governor’s efforts to strip public sector workers of their bargaining rights.

In the aftermath of those mass protests I wanted a daily visual reminder of that important page in Wisconsin history, and of the crucial role people of faith can perform in defending and promoting workers’ rights. In today’s winner-take-all economy growing numbers of gainfully employed men and women are falling farther and farther behind. Labor union influence continues to slip and in its absence people enjoy little leverage with their employers.

Under these current, less than advantageous conditions, organizations like Interfaith Worker Justice that will stand up for and advocate on behalf of wage earners are needed more than ever. Although some will argue that clergy and congregations should “stick to their knitting” and attend solely to the spiritual needs of the flock, I would argue that without the prophetic voice and a staunch commitment to justice, spirituality begins to look suspiciously like narcissism.

As the late Universalist minister Clinton Lee Scott observed,

“Always it is easier to pay homage to prophets than to heed the direction of their vision.”

The scriptural references, commentary and worship aids found in this collection have been compiled in hopes that they will assist clergy in bringing a clear, cogent and convincing message of worker justice to the congregations and communities they serve. In the past, I have relied on such on-line and print anthologies to prepare programs related to the environment, peace and non-violence. They have not only saved me significant time, but provided insights that might otherwise have escaped me.

Although the contributions herein draw, with one exception, from the Torah and the New Testament, it is our hope that religious leaders representing other faith traditions will, in time, add their own submissions. What you see before you is a modest start, but one very worthy of your consideration.

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