The Supreme Court decision giving some corporations the right to deny coverage of certain types of contraception to their employees based on their religious freedom will have a great impact on women of color. Although, the ruling does not single out women of color, our political and economic realities tell us that women of color often bear the brunt of the negative impacts of restrictions on women’s health.
Differences in rates of disease and health status among women of color and other vulnerable populations can be defined by many factors including poverty, education, employment with living wages and good benefits, neighborhood economic conditions, presence or lack of social support networks, cultural values, affordable housing, the degree of toxins and pollution in the air and affordable, quality, accessible health services. When these differences are combined with conditions that are unfair, unjust and avoidable, health equity – the achievement of good health regardless of one’s social position or other social factors – is threatened. The Supreme Court’s decision impacts the health equity of women of color in thee ways:
1. The Cost of Birth Control: In 2011 approximately 57 million adult women were covered through employer-sponsored insurance. If the policies of other companies like Hobby Lobby become the norm rather than the exception, it could impact contraceptive access for millions of people in the U. S. and have a disproportionate impact on women of color who, with lower income and wealth on average, may not be able to afford to pay for their contraception out-of-pocket.
Women of color are more likely to be low-income, and also more likely to work a minimum wage job. Getting an IUD could cost as much as an entire month’s rent working at the minimum wage. Purchasing birth control pills without insurance or benefit of plans that include prescription drugs could range $20 and $130.00 a month depending on the brand. Women of color, who are already struggling to make ends meet, may face increased burdens. That could mean doing things like splitting one pack of pills between two women each month or not using birth control at all. There are now more than 1 million Asian-American women living in poverty, an increase from 700,000 in 1999. This decision is yet another barrier for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women who already face significant health disparities and barriers to insurance.
2. Risks of Unplanned Pregnancy: The risks of carrying an unintended pregnancy to term are much higher for women of color. Black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. Being unable to prevent a pregnancy due to the financial barriers put in place by this decision puts lives at risk. Women of color are also at higher risk for infant mortality, low-infant birth weight and premature delivery – all things that pose significant long-term risks to the mother and child.
3. History: Women of color have dealt with a long history of reproductive control at the hands of employers and the government. From treatment in public hospitals, to welfare reform, to family caps limiting the number of children welfare recipients can have. Women of color have long had to fight for the right to control their own reproduction. This case just adds another layer to controlling fertility, this time at the hands of employers.
For more than thirty five years the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has advocated for health care as a right and a priority for all people. We are rooted in the conviction that all forms of injustice can be overcome. Health inequities are the consequences of public policies, and as such can be changed. Tackling health inequities requires widening our understanding of health and health care to include the ways in which lifestyle factors influence individual and community health. The Affordable Care Act made great gains by requiring insurance companies cover birth control with no out of pocket cost to women. Many women of color rely on a safety net for basic health care and needs. Let us remain vigilant in our advocacy making sure this net continues to remain safe for everyone and especially for women.
“If you’re going to talk about clean coal, you have to talk about it from the inception of coal mining. So often now it’s about the burning of coal; nobody thinks about clean coal until it arrives at the power plant, and then you’ve got to figure out how to make it clean so it doesn’t destroy the atmosphere. The fact is, the true cost of coal has never been paid by the end user. My clients, the ones I’ve seen face-to-face in eastern Kentucky, have often borne the real cost of mining coal, which is the impact on their community, the impact on their lives, on their water sources, on their roads.’
-Joe Childers, Environmental Lawyer in Kentucky
What you Need To Know
Mountaintop removal is any method of surface coal mining that removes a mountaintop or ridgeline. Methods of mountaintop removal coal mining include: cross-ridge mining, box-cut method mining, steep slope mining, area mining or mountaintop mining. It is a form of extracting coal that uses heavy explosives to remove hundreds of vertical feet of a mountain to access thin seams of coal underneath. This “overburden” is then dumped directly into adjacent valleys, burying headwater streams.
Mountaintop removal has a devastating impact on the economy, ecology, and communities of Appalachia. To date, over 500 mountains have been leveled, and nearly 2,000 miles of precious Appalachian headwater streams have been buried and polluted by mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal follows this process:
- Blasting - Many Appalachian coal seams lie deep below the surface of the mountains. Accessing these seams through surface mining can require the removal of 600 feet or more of elevation. Blowing up this much mountain is accomplished by using millions of pounds of explosives. Every week, the explosive equivalent of 1 Hiroshima bomb is detonated in Appalachia.
- Digging - Coal and debris are removed using enormous earth-moving machinery known as draglines, which stand 22 stories high and can hold 24 compact cars in its bucket. These machines can cost up to $100 million, but are favored by coal companies because they displace the need for hundreds of jobs.
- Dumping Waste - The debris called “overburden” or “spoil,” is dumped into nearby valleys. These “valley fills” have buried and polluted nearly 2,000 miles of headwater streams. In 2002, the Bush Administration changed the definition of “fill material” in the Clean Water Act to include toxic mining waste, which allowed coal companies to legally create valley fills.
- Processing - Coal must be washed and treated before it is shipped to power plants for burning. This processing creates coal slurry or sludge, a mix of water, coal dust and clay containing toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and chromium. The coal sludge is often contained in open impoundments, sometimes built with mining debris, making them very unstable.
- Reclamation - While reclamation efforts such as re-vegetation are required by federal law, coal companies often receive waivers from state agencies with the idea that economic development will occur on the land. In actuality, most sites receive little more than a spraying of exotic grass seed, and less than three percent of mountaintop removal sites are used for economic development. It may take up to hundreds of years for a forest to reestablish itself on the mined site.
Mountaintop removal takes place primarily in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and into east central Tennessee.
Information above provided by www.ilovemountains.org
Why Is Mountaintop Removal An Issue of Faith?
When mountains are demolished for coal mining, they are gone forever. They lose their topsoil and forest, animal habitat and ability to filter water, and become uninhabitable places for humans and animals. Mountaintop removal is a permanent desecration of the gift of creation by a benevolent and gracious Creator.
Mountaintop removal also destructively pollutes the streams and valleys where people have lived for centuries in Appalachia. It destroys their culture, their way of making a living, and their family structures. It occurs in remote places where there is very little self-determining political organization and is a colonization and exploitation of the land by outside interests. If it were a profitable enterprise for the people of Appalachia, then they would at least benefit economically. However, the opposite is true as the Appalachian counties are consistently among the economically poorest in the United States.
Mountaintop removal is a choice and not an inevitable circumstance. Power can be generated in ways that are sustainable and beneficial to the health of the mountains, the eco-systems, and the people who live there. As demonstrated by the people of the Coal River Valley, the mountains can sustain wind farms that lead to power generation, local jobs, and a sustainable eco-system. People of faith make choices to live in harmony with God’s creation or not. Creation is groaning with the scabs of mountaintop removal.
What You Can Do
- Write, call, or e-mail your US Senator or Congressperson and tell them to support legislation that ends mountaintop removal. Tell them that this is a moral issue and that people of faith demand a halt to the desecration of God’s creation. Tell them that there are alternatives to coal mining through mountaintop removal and that the people of Appalachia have offered clear alternatives for energy generation.
- Support one of the groups working to ban mountaintop removal with your financial resources. Outside financial help is greatly appreciated because of the historic lack of financial resources in Appalachia.
- Do your own part to cut down on your energy use. Understand that the electricity you are using may very likely come from the destruction of a mountain in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, or Tennessee.
Links and Resources
- I Love Mountains
- Appalachian Voices
- Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment
- Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Coal’s Assault on human Health”
- Coal River Mountain Watch
- Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
- Christians for the Mountains
- Lindquist Environmental Action Fellowship
- West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
- Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (formerly Save Our Cumberland Mountains)
- Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
- Mountain Association for Community Economic Development
- Appalachian Law Center
- Sierra Club
In 1987, the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM), the UCC Office for Church in Society (OCIS) and the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) collaborated with one another to form UCAN, a loosely formed network within the UCC.
In 1993, Affirming Persons, Saving Lives (APSL) was created, a groundbreaking curriculum for AIDS awareness and prevention education. In that same year, UCAN received the National AIDS Interfaith Network's Special Award for Outstanding Curriculum Development for APSL.
In 2005 UCAN's recommitmented to promote awareness and offer technical assistance to racial/ethnic minority constituencies throughout the country, who are now among the highest risk group for HIV transmission.
UCAN Inc. acquired its own IRS 501(c)(3) status in 2008, in order to more effectively and efficiently carry out its mission, yet also maintain strong service ties to UCC's global community.
The Founding of UCAN
In January 1989, the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM), the UCC Office for Church in Society (OCIS) and the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) co-sponsored a UCC AIDS Ministry Consultation attended by 33 UCC clergy and lay members with extensive, firsthand experience in HIV and AIDS ministry. The group included persons with HIV and AIDS, family members, pastors, counselors, AIDS service providers, educators and chaplains with rural, suburban and urban perspectives. The Consultation was initiated under the inspired leadership of the Rev. Dr. William R. "Bill" Johnson, UCBHM Secretary for AIDS Programs and Ministries Coordination.
A Consultation report entitled, AIDS, Where We Live, set forth the Consultation's recommendations to the whole church and was sent to UCC Executives and Conference Ministers. One thousand copies of the report were also distributed at the UCC's 17th General Synod meeting in Fort Worth, Texas (June 1989).
The other important outcome from the Consultation was the creation of the United Church of Christ AIDS/HIV Network (UCAN), which participants in the Consultation had covenanted together to do. An Ad Hoc Leadership Team was formed whose primary task was to review the report of the Consultation and oversee UCAN preparations for GS17, including preparation of two General Synod resolutions called for by the Consultation.
UCAN Begins Its Work
The Ad Hoc Leadership Team wrote and submitted two resolutions which were adopted by General Synod 17 (GS17). One resolution called for a UCC AIDS discrimination audit and endorsement and the other called for the enactment of the Ten Principles for the Workplace. In addition to the resolutions, UCAN members raised HIV/AIDS concerns during the synod "Speak outs", advocated continued commitment to the UCBHM AIDS Program, made and hung a banner in the Synod arena declaring "The Body of Christ is Living With AIDS" and made available UCC AIDS Memorial Panels on which delegates and visitors were invited to inscribe the names of loved ones living with HIV/AIDS or in memory of those who had died. UCAN members also engaged in many hours of pastoral and educational conversations with GS17 delegates and visitors.
In his closing remarks, retiring UCC President Avery D. Post observed that although the two resolutions were the only AIDS-related items on the Synod agenda, AIDS was clearly the most important issue at GS17. UCAN's consciousness raising efforts were also reflected in the synod's spontaneous decision to institute a one-day blood drive among delegates and visitors to replenish the blood supply in Fort Worth which had reached dangerously low levels because local citizens feared they would contract AIDS by giving blood.
UCAN Develops a Plan
In September 1989, a new Ad Hoc UCAN Leadership Team was constituted to design and implement a UCAN development plan. The Development Plan identified all members of the United Church of Christ as its constituents under the reasoning that, whether conscious of it or not, all are affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic. The plan said,
While UCC members with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones are most directly affected, many UCC members are involved in HIV/AIDS care-giving, counseling, education, service provision and public policy advocacy. Those UCC members whose only awareness of HIV/AIDS comes from the public media have been affected by that awareness. As the pandemic continues, United Church members who think they are not affected will become aware of countless ways the HIV/AIDS pandemic is having an impact on their lives as citizens and as members of the Body of Christ called to respond to the imperatives of the Gospel. UCAN, therefore, seeks to unite in covenant:
- People living with HIV/AIDS
- Families and Friends
- Lay and Pastoral Caregivers
- Health Care and Social Service Providers
- Educators, Concerned Parents and Youth
- All United Church members committed to HIV/AIDS Ministries.
The plan recognized that if the UCC was to effectively respond to the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic, it would need to find a way to mobilize the whole church, empowering the centers of ministry, namely, local congregations. It called for UCAN to meet with leadership at all levels throughout the church, focusing their attention on key Conference, Association and local church leadership, clergy and lay. UCAN worked collaboratively with UCC Resource Centers to create a library of HIV/AIDS related resources that could be easily accessed by local church leadership. It worked to create Conference and Association based networks of mutually supportive persons committed to ministering to one another, respecting the autonomous decision-making of each entity.
UCAN also endeavored to bring together already existing UCC HIV ministries, such as local Task Forces to become part of the UCAN covenantal community as UCAN Partners in Ministry. UCAN became a clearinghouse for resources developed by these Task Forces, sharing them throughout the UCC.
The concept of an ad hoc nature of the Leadership Team was also intentional. Each Leadership Team was constituted for a time and purpose appropriate to the tasks needed to be done. The ad hoc leadership design was intended to minimize entrenched, ineffective or uncommitted leadership and to allow individuals, already under the stresses of the pandemic, to be supported, guarding against "burn out." It also allowed for the equally important emergence of new people and new ideas.
As a UCC national, covenantal community, UCAN worked to break down barriers that caused persons affected by HIV/AIDS to experience isolation from their sisters and brothers in the community of faith. It consistently broke the silence about HIV/AIDS wherever it existed within the church, with words and deeds that increased understanding, nurtured hope, offered encouragement and provided comfort.
UCAN Implements the Plan: 1990-2002
From 1990-2002, UCAN built its membership, led retreats for people living with HIV or AIDS, created resources, developed training modules, initiated education and prevention efforts, conducted workshops, hosted exhibits, provided leadership at ecumenical and interfaith tables, advocated for strong public policy and kept the work of responding to the pandemic ever before the UCC. It was during this time that the UCC's HIV/AIDS curriculum, Affirming Persons, Saving Lives (1993), was published by UCBHM. UCAN was instrumental in its development, promotion and implementation.
General Synod and National Youth Events
Much of the visible work of UCAN throughout the 1990s took place during General Synod meetings. UCAN was present at each General Synod (1991 – 2001), where they consistently had a table/booth, which included safer-sex products, CDC brochures and many other supplies. UCAN also facilitated workshops on sex and AIDS education, held after-hours programs and social gatherings at these General Synod meetings.
At General Synod 19 (1993, St. Louis, MO), the newly published Affirming Persons, Saving Lives curriculum was enthusiastically promoted (see section below on Affirming Persons, Saving Lives curriculum).
At General Synod 23 (2001, Kansas City, MO), a resolution entitled, "The Epidemic of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome on the Continent of Africa," was passed. This resolution recommended information-sharing with local churches, Associations, and Conferences on how the United Church of Christ is responding to the AIDS crisis in Africa and how these groups may further assist this response. It also encouraged advocacy and support for those affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa, and called for meaningful and prayerful dialogue concerning HIV and AIDS with our partner churches on the African continent.
In addition to General Synod, UCAN was also present at several National Youth Events, at which they led various workshops on safer-sex education. David Kamens, a young adult living with AIDS, led many of these workshops at National Youth Events and General Synods.
Affirming Persons, Saving Lives Curriculum
A significant part of UCAN's work during the 1990s was the development of the Affirming Persons, Saving Lives curriculum. Work began on this curriculum in 1990 and it was published in 1993.
Affirming Persons, Saving Lives is the first comprehensive curriculum for AIDS prevention published for Christian churches. With lesson plans for every age—adults, teenagers and children—the curriculum was designed to help churches become learning centers to protect lives threatened by the AIDS epidemic. It is intended for use in Christian education and other settings and includes Bible studies, prayers and theological reflections. With two videos and 1,000 pages of lesson plans and fact sheets, the curriculum is a complete resource for AIDS education. Teachers using the curriculum do not need any special training.
This curriculum was created by UCAN and the HIV/AIDS Ministry Program of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. Experienced AIDS educators, Cynthia A. Bouman and the Rev. William R. Johnson, Ed. D., are the co-authors. United Church of Christ members living with HIV and AIDS, youth, Christian educators, AIDS ministers, parents, parish clergy and church school teachers also helped develop this resource. Throughout its development (1990 – 1993), extensive field testing took place at national consultations, regional church meetings and in the church schools of several UCC congregations.
The curriculum was launched at General Synod 19, with a big display at UCAN's booth. Initial promotion was also done through advertisements in the United Church News and through the United Church Resources Warehouse. In addition, visits were made to Conference meetings and Youth Gatherings, encouraging its use.
A Turning Point
By 2002 there were significant developments in the fight against HIV. Advances in medical science offered treatment that could keep HIV from replicating in the body. For persons living with HIV able to access these medications, they added both quantity and quality to their lives. As more became known and treatments improved and were more widely available in the U.S., the sense of urgency and energy for response began to wane. It became more difficult to raise funds and the national setting of the UCC experienced budget reductions, creating a funding gap. At the same time, HIV continued to spread both in the U.S. and throughout the world, with the poor in developing countries, especially on the continent of Africa, hit the hardest. In the U.S., infection rates were increasing at alarming and disproportionate rates in communities of color, especially in African America/Black and Latino/a communities. UCAN had reached a turning point.
New leadership was welcomed in the Wider Church Ministries office for HIV and AIDS ministries (Health and Wholeness Advocacy,) in the person of the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, accompanied by an increased sense of urgency to work with people of color congregations and communities. During this period of transition, The Rev. Yvette Flunder served as a special consultant, working with local congregations, Conferences and Associations on their outreach to communities of color.
New Leadership with a Vision
In 2005, after consulting with several UCC local church leaders whose congregations had successful HIV/AIDS programs, a new initiative emerged, centered on the increasing number of HIV/AIDS affected groups within communities of color throughout the United States. The UCAN "brand" was lifted-up again at GS25 with the first UCAN dinner, keynoted by the Reverend Adora Iris Lee, a Global Ministries missionary who was coordinating HIV ministry in southern Africa. In August 2005, Rev. Schuenemeyer convened leaders from five significant UCC local church programs serving communities of color hard hit by HIV/AIDS.
The participants in this meeting began crafting a vision for a UCAN Faith Community Project which initially would develop a population based deliverable to address and promote HIV/AIDS outreach by UCC Congregations on behalf of people of color. It was further determined that the Project would seek to build capacity for UCC HIV/AIDS outreach programs in the following population order:
- African American/Black Congregations,
- Latino/a Congregations,
- Asian Pacific Islander Congregations
- First Nation/Native American Congregations
- Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM)
The intention of the prioritizing is to work inclusively with all communities, even beyond the list above, but also to recognize that limited time and resources must be focused to enable critical presence at the point of deepest need.
The leaders at the August 2005 meeting agreed to serve as the new working group/leadership team for UCAN, in the style of the ad hoc leadership team model of the original UCAN development plan. They began to promote awareness, and offer technical assistance workshops and consultation in February 2006. In June of 2006, the new UCAN Leadership Team met in San Francisco for planning at which a new 4 year plan was developed.
Over the months since then, UCAN has worked to implement their plan. They conducted a workshop at the United Black Christian's meeting, produced and distributed materials for World AIDS Day, created visibility on a full page ad in UC News (October 2006), and provided leadership in HIV workshops at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference.
UCAN Incorporates as a Nonprofit Charitable Organization
In April of 2007, in order to continue to increase its capacity in the most effective ways, the Wider Church Ministries Board of Directors approved a proposal to create a new 501(c)(3) for UCAN. UCAN became incorporated as UCAN Inc. and in 2008, gained its official IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Since then, UCAN has continued to produce regular resources and communications, such as newsletters and World AIDS Day prayers, litanies, etc., and kept its commitment to lead educational workshops. UCAN also participated in local events around the country, such as the New York State Department of Health Faith Forum, and convened other events, including the gathering of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and National Black Leadership Coalition on AIDS (in New York). In June 2008, UCAN demonstrated their commitment to the use of culturally/linguistically appropriate resources by publishing a Spanish language version of their HIV education cards, "Why Use Condoms".
UCAN has contributed to the rich legacy of the UCC and includes prophetic and courageous leadership at every stage of this disease. It is a legacy of finding new ways to bring critical presence where it is needed most and working creatively and collaborative with others to realize a vision of health and wholeness. That said, the pandemic demands resources and capacity that far and away outpaces what UCAN is currently able to do. The mission is as urgent today as it ever has been—the work of enabling, empowering and resourcing local church leaders and their congregations, to build their ability and capacity to respond to HIV and AIDS in their own communities, as well as, participating in and supporting global efforts.
The mission of UCAN (The United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network) is to build a network of people, congregations and organizations within and beyond the United Church of Christ for care giving, education and prevention in response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic by:
- Providing technical assistance to help congregations and other settings of the church start and build their capacity and programs;
- Offering training in the use of the UCC's comprehensive HIV and AIDS curriculum, Affirming Persons, Saving Lives, as well as other HIV and AIDS educational resources;
- Giving leadership for education and information on public policy concerns; and
- Prioritizing its work to bring critical presence to those most affected by HIV and AIDS in the United States and throughout the world.
UCAN News is published twice annually, in the Fall and Spring and features articles, resources and information for HIV and AIDS ministries from the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network (UCAN).
- Summer-Fall 2011
- Winter-Spring 2011
- Spring-Summer 2010
- World AIDS Day 2009
- General Synod 2009
- Fall-Winter 2008-09
- Spring-Summer 2008
- Fall 2007
UCAN Stop AIDS E-News is the new HIV and AIDS e-newsletter published by the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network (UCAN). By subscribing to this e-newsletter, you can receive updates on what the UCC office for HIV and AIDS Ministries is doing and what UCAN and Global Ministries' partners are doing, as we work together in response to the global AIDS pandemic.
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-11-30
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-10-15
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-10-01
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-07-10
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-06-19
UCAn Stop AIDS eNews 2007-04-17
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-03-16
UCAN Stop AIDS eNews 2007-02-26
UCAN Inc. is the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network,
a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
|Board of Directors||Regional Staff
James Moos* **
Anthony Sullivan, Jr.
* ex officio, with vote
** UCC Board Representative
St. Stephen's Community Church United Church of Christ
Adora Iris lee
John L. Selders, Jr.
Anthony W. Sullivan, Jr.
Rose Wright Scott
"What a gift to have this much-awaited resource for 18-35 year olds. Our Whole Lives-Sexuality and Our Faith for young adults is such an incredible opportunity. This inclusive, sexuality positive curriculum celebrates our sexuality as the amazing gift---from God---that it is. Through this program, young adults have the delicious chance to participate in exactly what many hunger for---frank, holistic, non-judgmental exploration of contemporary sexual questions, choices and practices and the chance to explore the powerful, zesty and life-giving relationship between sexuality and spirituality. And to do this within the beautiful, guiding framework of progressive Christianity which honors and celebrates our roots----mutuality, love and justice. This curriculum is a sacred gift. For the taking. Unwrap it!" (Lynn Young, Colorado Springs, CO)
This Young Adult resource helps participants by giving them accurate information, increased knowledge about themselves, and embraces the Our Whole Lives values of self worth, responsibility, sexual health, justice and inclusivity. This new young adult resource will expand valuable ministry to young adults not only in local church settings, but also a colleges and seminaries.
There are 14 sessions in this book. It can be ordered through United Church Resources ($40) by calling: 1.800.537.3394.
By Elizabeth M. Casparian, Ph. D.,
and Eva S. Goldfarb, Ph.D
Our Whole Lives for Grades 10-12 is a comprehensive program that can be used in religious education programs by teachers and pastors with youth groups, weekend retreats, and youth conferences and camps. Its activities help participants make healthy, well-informed decisions about relationships and sexuality.
Eva Goldfarb, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in health programs at Montclair State University where she teaches and conducts research in human sexuality, curriculum development, and evaluation of health education programs. Co-author of Filling the Gaps, a book on hard-to-teach topics in human sexuality, she has over twelve years of experience teaching courses, leading workshops, consulting on media projects, conducting seminars and developing curricula in the areas of human sexuality and sexual health. Goldfarb holds a doctorate in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Casparian, Ph.D., has been a consultant in health and sexuality education for over eleven years, writing and developing teaching materials and videos, and leading training sessions and seminars with adolescents, parents, teachers and other professionals. Co-author of Filling the Gaps, a book on hard-to-teach topics in human sexuality, she has written and consulted on sexual health issues with universities, public service organizations and schools. Casparian holds a doctorate in Education Leadership in Human Sexuality from the University of Pennsylvania.
You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. ---Deuteronomy 24:14-15
Each worker - judge or janitor, sales clerk or scientist, mother or millionaire CEO - is equal in the sight of God. Each person's work, done with integrity, is a contribution to society and has value and dignity. But the world doesn't always see it this way.
Workers are dependent on their employer but employers are much less dependent on any particular worker. This unequal power relationship can lead to problems in the workplace. A common way that workers have responded is to join a labor union.
Articles and studies
Fast-food workers intensify fight for $15 an hour by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, July 28, 2014
The war on workers, April 3, 2014. A recent Supreme Court ruling weakens the labor movement.
At labor group, a sense of a broader movement, Sept 14, 2013. The labor movement is all workers who act together to improve our jobs.
AFL-CIO has plan to add millions of nonunion members by Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times, Sept. 7, 2013.
If labor dies, what's next? by Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect, Sep/Oct 2012. An excellent overview of the current state of the labor movement plus a brief history of the developments in the U.S. labor movement since 1834.
State and local government workers' unions are under attack. Read more.
Unions are one of the very best ways for workers to bring greater justice to the workplace. The right of workers to form or join unions is so important and fundamental that it is an internationally-recognized human right.
In 1993 the United Church of Christ's General Synod XIX expressed its support "for public policies that restore the rights of working people to engage in collective bargaining without fear of reprisal."
In 1997 General Synod XXI reaffirmed the "responsibility of workers to organize for collective bargaining with employers regarding wages, benefits, and working conditions, and the responsibility of employers to create and maintain a climate conducive to the workers' autonomous decision to organize."
Today just as much as ever, workers need unions. All people who seek justice must support workers' rights to form and join a union. The right to organize a union and bargain collectively with employers is a fundamental human rights. See Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Why People of Faith Support Labor Unions describes how our faith calls us to support workers and their labor unions, and calls for Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
Why Unions Matter (2.51MB) by our partner Interfaith Worker Justice
Workers, acting together in a union, have been able to improve their work lives and their work places. Congregations and members of the UCC have been involved in these struggles.
Farm workers struggled for better conditions in the fields picking tomatoes for Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Burger King. They now have labor contracts with these firms, higher wages, and greater dignity.
- Smithfield Packing Company workers after many years of struggle were able to freely make the choice to form a union.