Faith in Progress

Faith in Progress

Al Sharp, Executive Director of PCG, shares his perspective on key issues of the day.

Illinois has an unprecedented opportunity to offer health coverage to approximately 342,000 low-income residents who do not have access to health care and prescriptions, but there is hard-to-believe opposition to bringing this new Medicaid provision of the Affordable Care Act to Illinois.

Both the Governor of Illinois and the President of the United States have called for increases in the minimum wage by declaring that no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.

Wage theft, the illegal underpayment or nonpayment of workers’ wages, is a significant problem for workers in our state, especially when they are illegally paid below the minimum wage. Last week Chicago became the second city in the United States--and the largest--to pass a municipal wage theft ordinance.

As we approach the January 21st holiday commemorating the life and witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am keenly aware that the kind of violence that ended Dr. King's life is still at large in our communities and in our nation.

Once again this year, in the final days of the outgoing General Assembly, PCG is part of a coalition seeking to pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois. We are very close to success, but the last votes are always the hardest to get. I put the chances at about 50-50.

Sometimes it’s important to take a leap of faith – to move into a new future with hope and enthusiasm. That’s exactly what we’ve done this year at PCG, and now we ask you to join us in this new venture by giving a gift to support our 2013 work for the common good.

Our purpose in holding the Robert B. Wilcox symposium “Serving Our Communities: Alternatives to Incarceration” last month was to bring forward a “new paradigm” for responding to low-level, non-violent offenders, especially those caught up in the failed, so-called “War on Drugs.”

I write this on All Saints Day, and I find myself calling on the name of Don Benedict to celebrate this holy day in the life of the Church. Don’s name comes to mind because I have been one of several Protestants for the Common Good advocates who have been involved over the past year in fashioning the merger with the Community Renewal Society. Don was a key person in leading CRS and in founding PCG. In some ways, our merger talks have been a way to reclaim his unified and grand vision for Christians acting faithfully in the world.

The leaves are falling from the trees, people are beginning to bundle up against chilly winds, and, after last night's riveting presidential debate, there is no question that fall is in the air. Here at Protestants for the Common Good, that means our education and advocacy work has moved into high gear.

Why aren’t Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talking about poverty? Is it possible that our presidential candidates really believe that we can address poverty in this country through acts of charity and good public services? Something important is missing.

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