Some of you may recall that Pete Buttigieg quoted scripture on Monday night during the Democratic debate. He said: “So-called conservative senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage when Scripture says that whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.” Buttigieg was quoting from Proverbs 14:31, which says “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
Over at Christianity Today, Kate Shellnutt asked some evangelical leaders about whether or not Buttigieg used this verse correctly. Most believed that he did use it correctly, but also could not resist mentioning (or implying) that he is pro-choice and gay.
Here, for example, is Shellnutt on Andrew T. Walker‘s response to Buttigieg:
Andrew T. Walker, senior fellow in Christian ethics at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), tweeted his opposition to Buttigieg’s line: “It never fails to baffle how progressives can appeal to the Bible to arrive at an exact minimum wage ($15, according to Buttigieg), yet ignore, reject, or plead ambiguity on the Bible’s teaching on marriage and abortion.”
This is a strange response. I don’t think Buttigieg was using the Bible to “arrive at an exact minimum wage” of $15. He was simply articulating a biblical principle.
Read Shellnutt’s piece here.
|John A. Ryan
Jonathan Zimmerman, a historian of education at New York University, reminds us that the idea of a “minimum wage” in America has its roots in Catholic social teaching. Here is a taste of his piece at Tikkun:
The term was coined by John A. Ryan, a Catholic priest and the leading figure in the minimum-wage movement. Born to Irish immigrants on a Minnesota farm in 1869, Ryan watched bankers prosper while common laborers struggled to make ends meet. “We must have a more just distribution of wealth,” Ryan wrote in his diary in 1894. “We must have less individualism, more humanity and no absolutely unrestrained competition.”
Twelve years later, in 1906, Ryan published A Living Wage: Its Ethical and Economic Aspects. Rejecting the dominant laissez-faire doctrines of his day, Ryan argued that minimum-wage laws would affirm the dignity of all working Americans…
In 1912, Massachusetts became the first American state to adopt a minimum wage; the following year, eight more states followed suit. But many of these measures were struck down, especially after the Supreme Court voided the District of Columbia’s minimum-wage law in 1923. According to the court, the D.C. measure violated citizens’ “liberty of contract”; it also extracted an “arbitrary payment” from employers.
Nonsense, Ryan replied. The Supreme Court’s decision reflected the “extreme individualism” of America’s “Puritan” heritage, he argued. Americans needed to leaven that tradition with the “social and organic” principles of Catholicism, Ryan added, which emphasized our shared duties to each other.