Does God Demand a $10.10 Minimum Wage?

on April 9, 2014

The Institute on Religion and Democracy
April 9, 2014
Contact:  Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: [email protected]


“Some Religious Left officials insist any compromise on a lower wage would be unfaithful.”
-Mark Tooley, IRD President


Washington, DC–As the U.S. Senate considers legislation to raise the minimum wage, Religious Left groups including the lobby offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) have advocated an increased wage level, with the Director for Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) J. Herbert Nelson stating that it is “a moral imperative” to raise the rate. Nelson and others point to a proposed policy that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

“Do scriptural prohibitions against taking advantage of workers and for paying them on time translate to a biblical requirement of a $10.10 per hour minimum wage? Some Religious Left officials insist any compromise on a lower wage would be unfaithful.

“The generation and distribution of wealth are both important. If an economy doesn’t generate more or sustain wealth, then it has a shrinking pie for all. Factors such as the ability of laborers to find jobs can be a more urgent priority than an increased wage.

“Faithful Christians can have different opinions on a minimum wage, but to insist that God’s will is for a $10.10 minimum wage is an excessive claim without clear biblical warrant.

“Christians can also be concerned about a Big Government welfare and regulatory state attempting to artificially increase wages, which some argue forces employers to reduce jobs and increase prices.

Christianity does have essential, core teachings, but the details of minimum wage are not among them. And it’s doubtful that Christianity’s authentic core teachings seriously factor in the lobby work of EPPN or the PCUSA.”

  1. Comment by Marco Bell on April 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    You guys are incredible!!!!!

    I’m guessing from this short “article”, that your position on raising the National minimum wage is anything BUT Christian-like?!

    Leave it to the Orthodox Christians to fight FOR the Plutocracy! JESUS!!! And I state that name in disbelief, and with emphasis! Holy Crap!!

    Where do you figure that the millions of people don’t deserve an increase in wage.
    Most minimummwage earners are single parent (adult 18-39 years of age), and have to fight for any perks that might be available,all while raising children.

    This is not a concern of Big Government over-riding the private-commercial sector, this is a case of respecting the bulk of labor that those individuals put out every day!

    You’ve got this whole subject skewed!
    God help you, if your position holds sway…I don’t think ‘She/He’ would agree?!

  2. Comment by Marco Bell on April 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    How do you sleep at night?

    And when was the last time you had no more than $10. to your name? Total assets! $10 bucks…. nothing else!
    there are tens of thousands of families that rely upon the minimum wage, and your position sounds more like the cheer-leading squad for the Oligarchy!

    Please rethink your position on this vital issue, as it affects way too many (already born, and suffering through this corrupt system to stay alive) people, to give it such cavalier dismissal.

  3. Comment by Lou Skannen on April 11, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Apparently economics is not a strong suit amongst previous commentators. Raising the wages of the relative few working at minimum wage who aren’t kids just starting out has ramifications beyond those few including: Union wages tied to minimums; costs to businesses whether they pass on the increases or not; unskilled folks (tomorrow’s workforce) thrown into the streets in favor of more experienced/skilled workers worth the extra money; automation looking more attractive, etc. I’m really disappointed in caring folks who lobby to make today’s wishes reality by force with little regard to future consequences. It’s also ironic that they lobby the very folks who are big factors in killing off our economy to help them out.

  4. Comment by John Smith on April 11, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Overreading again. To claim that God demands a $10.10 minimum wage is an overreach. That is what the news release says. You will notice that while calling for alternate priorities (more jobs, etc) IRD did not claim GOD Says, Thou shalt not tax my precious corporations. Religious leaders, of both stripes,who back specific economic plans merely showcase the shallowness of the exegesis and the paucity of their economic understanding. Both should stop being shills for their respective parties.

    You want to advocate for a 10.10 minimum wage? Fine, but don’t claim GOD SAYS SO and find some arguements that have a better foundations than 10.10 plays better in a sound bite.

    And not that it matters but yes I’ve had less than $10 in assets many times and a higher minimum wage would not have helped. A minimum wage of $100 doesn’t help if you don’t have a job.

  5. Comment by Marco Bell on April 11, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Dear John Smith,

    I respectfully agree that having a job is priority-one!
    This argument over the minimum wage is for those who already have a job, but can’t possibly work enough hours to amass any kind of “living wage” status.

    The margins for profit will always dictate how much any employer can pay its workforce, so when a company like Walmart determines that its employees are sufficiently paid, yet many of them must rely upon supplemental assistance from the State (our tax dollars) just to meet Life’s daily needs, while Walmart executives and stockholders rake in record amounts of money, seems extremely un-Christ-like and contradictory to any kind of civil code for those who claim to care!

  6. Comment by John Smith on April 14, 2014 at 6:48 am

    You do realize that the bigger corporations like WalMart are in favor of an increase to the minimum wage? It knocks off the competion.

  7. Comment by Philip on April 11, 2014 at 9:08 am

    The Bible does not demand an actual $10.00 amount for minimum wage. This much is true. Obviously, the Bible understanding the laws of inflation better than Congress. What the Bible does call for, however, is the just and fair treatment of workers at all economic levels. It also is extremely critical of otherwise prosperous states or societies in which the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few and not shared with the masses. I don’t see how anyone looking at the stark contrast between classes in our country, contrasts beyond that of even France on the eve of the Revolution, and not see Amos and Hosea’s words as a warning. I also find it interesting that you say the government would “artificially increase wages.” Quite honestly I don’t know what even means now. Wages have remained low for decades in an economy where everything else like cost of living, rent, inflation, education, gas, energy, etc. has gone up. It would seem that if the free market actually worked the way conservatives always tell us it will, then wages should have gone up “naturally” awhile go. Why is it when a bunch of big corporations, who no elected and who are largely immune to the fears of most average citizens, raise someone’s wage it’s natural, but when a democratically elected government answerable to the people do it, it’s artificial? When are we going to tear down this idol we raised up called capitalism? I’m not suggesting all capitalist ideas are bad or that we need to give up on free markets for everything. No, but this blind belief that somehow a free market will always produce the best or most just outcomes is heresy. We can choose to follow God’s law or the Invisible Hand, not both.

  8. Comment by John Smith on April 14, 2014 at 7:07 am

    While I agree with the H&A analogy I disagree with the church specifing the way in which it is to be met. The church holds to account those who do not deal fairly but it cannot and should not legislate the civil society. A Bishop cannot tell a businessman how to run his buisness (although most churches in the USA seem to want buisnessmen to run, and make profitable their churches-something for another day).

    How can one say “The margins for profit will always dictate how much any employer can pay its workforce,” and then turn around and say the employer will pay $______?

    I also dislike the sole focus being on the hourly wage when the focus should be on the overall compensation the employer pays. There is income tax, SS, workers comp, and unemployment even if there are no other benefits like paid time off, health insurance, etc.

    When a worker making $7/hr says I’m worth $10/hr I agree and note his cost to the employer is more than $10/hr.

    As for the market not working as conservatives say there are 2 observations-There are varying types of conservatives and the ones pushing that would say its not happening as there is no free market. They could also point out that controlled markets have been shown to be nonfunctional and ineffective as well.

    And France of Louis XVI was worse than the USA of today. When you have to invent terms like food insecurity instead of picking up dead children from the street everyday you note the hyperbole.

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