This week holds particular significance for followers of the Abrahamic religions. Jews began their celebration of Passover earlier this week, Christians are observing Holy Week en route to their Easter celebration this Sunday, and Muslims continue to practice the sawm (fast) during the month of Ramadan. All three traditions point our attention during these observances toward the poor and the oppressed and toward divinely inspired movements for liberation from empire and domination.
In the Christian tradition, today marks Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s a day that has often been wielded in harmful and destructive ways, especially toward our Jewish siblings. For centuries, there have been Christian leaders and institutions that blamed Jewish people for killing Jesus. This heretical lie has been used to stoke anti-Semitism, divide working-class people, and prop up the wealthy, Christian elite. It also obscured the revolutionary and liberatory implications of the crucifixion. In fact, Jesus was a victim of the Roman Empire, executed for challenging the theology, politics, and economics of the empire.
That recognition has profound significance. “For Jesus, the cross was a signal, a sign of what it meant to speak truth to power,” Reverend Canon Kelly Brown Douglas asserted at the LRC and Kairos Center’s Religion In a Time of Crisis convening in February. “The cross signals that [for] Christians who claim to follow one who was crucified, our task is always to be… on the side of those on the outside and underside of institutions of power.” At a time when Christian Nationalism and anti-Semitism are on the rise, claiming and asserting the deep roots of justice and solidarity within all of our religious traditions is as important as it’s ever been.
As we celebrate this shared holy time across faiths, the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State continues to draw upon our deepest values to sustain our work speaking truth to power and advocating for a New York where everyone has access to social, economic, and racial justice. Especially in light of the ongoing New York State budget negotiations, we call on Governor Hochul and the rest of the state legislature to prioritize a state budget that addresses the realities faced on the ground by the poor and oppressed of New York State, and not the corporate interests that so often guide policy. Now more than ever, we must stand in community with all New Yorkers and ensure a state budget that benefits us all.
Rev. E. West McNeill
Moral Monday for Healthcare Justice While negotiations over the NYS budget have stalled, New Yorkers’ ability to access healthcare hangs in the balance. On Monday, April 17 join clergy and patients at the State Capitol to demand the legislature and governor immediately expand healthcare access by including these policies in the state budget:
Coverage for All: Nearly 255,000 New Yorkers are currently excluded from health coverage due to their immigration status. Coverage for All expands the Essential Plan to ensure that ALL immigrants, regardless of immigration status, have access to affordable health insurance. Coverage for All can be fully paid for by the federal government, with zero cost to the state.
Fair Pay for Home Care: Fair Pay for Home Care would pay home care workers as skilled healthcare workers, raising the wage to 150% of the current minimum wage; it would also ban private insurance companies from stealing millions of dollars meant for home care.
Ounce of Prevention Act: New York hospitals receive $1.13 billion dollars each year intended to go toward financial assistance - and yet have sued more than 53,000 patients in the last 5 years. Countless more paid bills they couldn’t afford even though they should have qualified for assistance. The Ounce of Prevention Act will help to prevent medical debt by making hospital financial assistance more accessible and ensuring that money allocated to hospitals for charity care is used for that purpose.
We hope you’ll join us in Albany on Monday, April 17 for a rally and press conference and to deliver a letter to the legislature from 170+ clergy calling on them to pass the Ounce of Prevention Act this session. (If you’re a faith leader and haven’t signed the letter yet, you can do so here.) Following the rally and delivery, we’ll host a lunch and panel conversation and discussion about the broader fight for healthcare justice in New York State and the role of religious leaders and communities. RSVP here to let us know you'll be there.
Moral Fusion Leadership Awards Join the Labor-Religion Coalition in Albany on May 24th for the Moral Fusion Leadership Awards! After a year off, we’re excited to announce the return of the Moral Fusion Leadership Awards—we hope you’ll join us to celebrate our movement-building work and to honor the work of remarkable leaders from across New York State who are making immense contributions to the struggle for economic, racial, and social justice in our state. Our 2023 awardees are:
The Fair Pay for Home Care Campaign
Rabbi Matt Cutler
St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Starbucks Workers United
You can begin to celebrate these incredible honorees, and support the ongoing work of the Labor-Religion Coalition, by purchasing a sponsorship or tickets TODAY! If you can’t make it to the dinner in Albany on May 24th, you can still join us in the celebration by purchasing a virtual ticket or making a donation in solidarity.
Strike Poverty! - May Day Poor People's State of the State Delivery On April 28, the New York State Poor People’s Campaign will set off on a Freedom School Van Tour, a four-day organizing and political education tour across New York’s North Country. Our journey will culminate in Albany on May 1st, where we’ll join with partner groups to present thousands of signatures demanding an in-person meeting with Governor Hochul to discuss the needs and priorities of the 8.6 million poor and low-income people living in our state. During the budget negotiations, we've seen policies that would benefit poor and working-class people - things like raising the minimum wage, Good Cause eviction protections, protecting bail reform, and many others - used as bargaining chips by the Governor and legislators. They are playing with our lives, and we won't be silent anymore! If you haven’t signed the petition yet, you can do so here! Details for the day are being finalized, so please fill out this form and we will keep you updated as the plans develop!