Beliefnet News

By Chris Herlinger
Religion News Service

American houses of worship should commemorate Labor Day weekend not as the last hurrah of the summer but as a time to celebrate the “sacred link between faith, work and justice,” according to a national social justice advocate.
“If a congregation was ever going to lift up labor issues, it’s Labor Day weekend,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago-based organization.
Bobo’s organization, which builds alliances between faith communities and the labor movement, is promoting “Labor in the Pulpits” services that focus on various themes of work and justice.
A major focus this year are the lives of low-income workers and the faith community’s support for their “struggles for living wages and family-sustaining benefits,” the network said. The project is also supported by the AFL-CIO.
Labor Day religious services — sometimes called “Labor Day Sundays” — were prevalent throughout the early and mid-20th century. But Bobo said the tradition began to fade during the 1950s, just as labor unions began to lose membership.
The tradition was revived in the mid-1990s, and now thousands of congregations — including Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist houses of worship — participate in Labor Day weekend-themed events.
Only about one in 10 U.S. workers is now a member of a labor union, and Bobo acknowledged that the overall cultural shift away from unions has made it difficult for faith communities to embrace the labor movement.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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