Religious Leaders Call for Raise of Minimum Wage
As Christian leaders in the islands of Hawaiʻi, we write to urge the Legislature and Governor to raise the minimum wage as proposed for the current legislative session in HB1503 and SB2018. Our faith demands concern for the poor that is the tap root of the Christian ethic of economic justice. Our biblical heritage teaches us that caring for the poor, the least among us, the stranger, and those on the edge of society is central to our understanding of the mercy and love of Christ Jesus, and to our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We ask our elected leaders to recognize the financial pressures on the people of these islands – especially the working poor. These are members of our congregations, our friends, our neighbors, and our relatives. The gradual increase in the minimum wage to $18 an hour over the next four years will provide Hawaiʻi a basic standard for an individual to survive considering the cost of housing and basic living, and as we continue to seek a sustainable living wage.
Various religious traditions have found a home in Hawaiʻi. We share with them a dedication to compassion and justice as we care for all the people of these islands. Raising the minimum wage affirms the values that keep our unique community strong and focused on the common good:
• MĀLAMA – We are committed to care for, protect, and nurture the well-being of every person and of our community as a whole. Seeking and maintaining a sustainable living wage strengthens individuals and families to care for one another and our community.
• LŌKAHI – We seek unity and harmony that brings a balance to all facets of relationships and daily living that leaves no one on the margins of society. Seeking and maintaining a sustainable living wage addresses in a small way the inequities of life.
• LAULIMA – We know this will require cooperation and the participation of everyone in the community. Seeking and maintaining a sustainable living wage will require each of us to share some of the burden more equitably.
• PAʻAHANA – We value those who are hard-working and who serve all of us in our daily lives. Seeking and maintaining a sustainable living wage honors the labors of others.
• PONO – All of these allow us to live together in a way that is good and righteous. Seeking and maintaining a sustainable living wage is a small step toward allowing us to live together in a way that respects and maintains the dignity of everyone.
It is particularly important to immediately raise the minimum wage now as we together come through the pandemic. As Christian leaders, we are compelled to be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper. At this time, it means calling our elected leaders to action and raise the minimum wage in Hawaiʻi as we strive together to maintain a sustainable living wage for everyone in these islands.
The Rt. Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick, Bishop
The Rev. Dr. David Popham, Conference Minister
The Most Rev. Clarence (Larry) Silva, Bishop