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Unemployment Rises, Faithful Fighting Back

December 6, 2010

PIERRE, S.D. - The national unemployment rate inched farther upward last week, and faith communities are swinging into action to organize support for the jobless. Interfaith Worker Justice has kicked off a campaign to organize a network of more than 1,000 unemployed-worker support committees in congregations of all faiths across the country.

The group's policy director, The Rev. Paul Sherry, says it's an effort he expects to be embraced by states like South Dakota that are largely rural.

"Often rural poverty goes unnoticed, so my sense is that faith-based people in rural areas will respond very positively to this campaign because they are very aware of the severe unemployment situation."

They will also be encouraging congregations to keep an eye on certain government policies that could help those suffering through the tough economy, Sherry adds.

"We are very much concerned that we need more stimulus (including the possibility of a public jobs program), support for unemployed workers and families, and support for states and municipalities."

The effort is being driven by the large body of scripture, in the Bible and the Koran as well as other holy texts, that calls the faithful to help those who are suffering, Sherry says. A nationwide tour with events and speakers on these issues is being planned.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD