Over our 45-year history, Faith in Action federations have engaged in successful federal, state and local ballot and legislative campaigns to address the many manifestations of what Pope Francis calls the “economy of exclusion”. These include campaigns to:
- Raise the state or local minimum wage
- Create a family-friendly workplace including Earned Sick and Safe Time, Paid Family and Medical Leave, and expanded childcare and pre-kindergarten
- Fight evictions, foreclosures and increase affordable housing
- Raise and protect the federal and state revenue we need to invest in healthy families (health care, education, housing, job training, income supports, family leave, etc.)
- Ensure good jobs and fair hiring of excluded workers, especially the 70 million American adults who have a criminal record
- Stop the worst abuses of payday and other predatory lending
While we continue to advance state and local campaigns across many issue fronts, Faith in Action’s deeper goal is to build bases of organized people across the nation who hold a moral critique of the values underlying the dominant economic ideology (i.e. hyper-individualism, commodification, racial hierarchy, competition, scarcity) and who are working together to create a moral economy based on new set of values, beliefs and identities.
What We Believe
We approach our Moral Economy work with a number of core beliefs:
- We are generating more wealth in America than ever before in our history. We are blessed with more than enough for everyone to flourish.
- But most Americans are experiencing greater and greater economic insecurity and anxiety. The cost of housing, education, transportation, childcare, food, health care are all increasing while wages remain stagnant, work becomes more uncertain and precarious, and debt levels rise.
- We believe at the core of this contradiction is the logic and mechanism of extraction. The billionaire class has written the rules in order to extract and hoard a greater and greater share of our wealth – wealth that we help generate and therefore rightly belongs to everyone.
- So much of what we are struggling against (gentrification, predatory lending, climate injustice, privatized criminal justice and immigrant detention system, etc.) is actually the result of two central features of an extractive economy: “commodification” and “racial hierarchy”. In the never-ending quest for profit, everything – including people and nature – must get turned into an object to be bought and sold.
- This is deeply immoral. Commodification and racial hierarchy inevitably invade the institutions that we hold most dear – including our faith, our family and community. A culture of commodification and racial hierarchy teaches us to see our family members and neighbors through a market lens as disembodied objects whose purpose is to produce economic benefit, rather than as God’s creation with inherent value and dignity. Commodification and racial hierarchy are existential threats that we must not ignore.
- These same forces are creating more and more social and political instability – and sowing greater racial division – to keep people divided across race, class, geography, gender and any of the other fault lines we experience in society.
- We believe there is an architecture that determines how capital and wealth is distributed. That much of this architecture (and much wealth) is hidden from public view and understanding, which is what allows it to flow to the very top.
- We believe that people can come together across race, class, geography, gender and any of the other lines that normally divide us and “rework the pipes” to broaden access to capital and wealth for the masses. But doing so requires that we get clear about how this system is devouring each and everyone one of us, and that we get free and become a new people together.
Faith in Action – Our History of Organizing for a Moral Economy
- Minimum wage, earned sick time, childcare and Pre-K: Since 2012, Faith in Action federations and faith allies in 12 states helped lead state and municipal campaigns to raise the minimum wage, pass earned sick time, create paid family medical leave programs, and expand childcare and pre-k benefiting millions of workers and families in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
- Payday and other short-term lending: We have organized to end predatory lending and create clear usury caps at both the state and federal levels, including organizing in key states and regions of the country to press for strong rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulating the payday loan industry. This work builds on years of strong local and state work to fight payday lending in Missouri, Texas, Minnesota, California and Alabama.
- Fighting evictions and gentrification: Faith in Action affiliates in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and Los Angeles have waged policy and direct-action campaigns to stem the wave of evictions and ensure adequate affordable housing.
- Raise and protect federal and state revenue and public programs: Faith in Action state affiliates have contributed to progressive tax policy measures in California and Minnesota and played a leading role in beating back draconian measures in Missouri and Louisiana. In 2012, we led the effort to defeat a TABOR constitutional amendment in Florida that would have devastated state programs and services, and are working to roll back TABOR in Colorado. We are in the middle of a multi-year effort to amend the Massachusetts constitution to enact a millionaire’s tax.
- Fair hiring: Over the last three years, Faith in Action federations have won “ban the box” and other policies barring discrimination against formerly incarcerated individuals in California, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Missouri, New York City and Los Angeles. Together with NELP and All of Us or None, we successfully pressed the Obama Administration to enact a federal executive order that would require fair hiring in federal contracts.
- Responsible development and community benefits: Faith in Action federations nationwide have helped win community benefit agreements or other policies that ensure more equitable outcomes in private and public development and transportation projects. This includes running a major campaign with SEIU and Unite HERE to shape the $6 billion renovation and expansion of Philadelphia International Airport.
- Financial regulation and foreclosure prevention: In 2009, we launched a national collaboration together with National People’s Action, Alliance for a Just Society, Right to the City and many state-based organizing groups to stem the tide of foreclosures and hold Wall Street banks accountable in the wake of the housing and financial crisis. Our efforts led to federal and state laws and programs that helped hundreds of thousands of families reduce their mortgage payments and save their homes, including a federal program for unemployed homeowners and Homeowner Bill of Rights legislation in California and Minnesota.