Faith and Taco Bell | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Faith and Taco Bell

What does Taco Bell have to do with faith? It seems the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA finds a connection, as well as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.; 3.5 million members), the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ; 805,000 members) and the United Church of Christ (1.4 million members)—along with the American Friends Service Committee. It has been 15 years since the NCC endorsed a boycott, which makes our current boycott of Taco Bell significant.

The boycott hopes to get Taco Bell, the growers, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to address wages and working conditions. Taco Bell is a major client of Florida tomato growers who are paying sub-poverty wages to their workers. Pickers earn 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket they pick and haul. This translates into two tons of tomatoes to earn $50.

The NCC met in Jackson Nov. 4-5 for their national Assembly. The organization of 36 communion churches met here for the installation of the new president, Christian Methodist Episcopal Bishop Thomas J. Hoyt Jr.

There are mixed feelings about the National Council of Churches, especially here in the South. During the '60s, member churches sent pastors and congregants to the South to participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations. One can often hear the charge that churches have no business in public affairs, and the NCC has been involved in many areas of public and political life.

Those denominations who support the NCC do so because we believe that we are to put our faith into practice, so that it shows tangible results.

Church World Service, a part of the NCC, reaches out across the borders to respond to people in crises. With member churches, CWS engages in humanitarian work in more than 80 countries allowing Christians to express a social gospel and a prophetic tradition of seeking justice. It is not the legal justice that we know (although sometimes there is a legal involvement); rather it is justice as taught in the Bible. Justice is a concern for those who have no power to care for themselves.

In this respect, the Amos Network in Jackson is a also an organization seeking justice. An ecumenical group made up of Christians, Jews and Muslims, there is no other organization like it in Mississippi. Amos has not adopted the boycott, but Amos has worked on issues in our community to speak on behalf of those who have no voice. The Amos card, valid at pharmacies across the country, was created for discounts on prescription drugs. Through the member churches, synagogues and mosques, Amos has been able to influence Jackson city hall and Madison politics.

Now Amos is working with citizens on crime, the elderly, education and even downtown redevelopment. Working in the city and for the citizens is not merely a matter of politics. It is a matter of putting faith into action.

To truly love God, one must love God's creation. Being concerned for the welfare of those without power is a deeply spiritual matter. Boycotting Taco Bell is a difficult choice for me. I really like Taco Bell; besides, I have a niece that works for the parent company. However, somebody has to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We do not boycott to put anyone out of business. We boycott to put justice into business."
Rev. Larry B. Metzger is pastor of the First Christian Church of Jackson.

Previous Comments

ID
77551
Comment

I am so glad to see this, after I was already thinking along the lines of what is and what isn't separation of church and state and how one draws the distinction between going into the world and doing God's work and stepping into the political arena. Thank you, Rev. Metzger, for your thoughts on this subject, on the alert on Taco Bell, and thank you also for bringing up the good works of the Amos Network in Jackson. I hope the organizing and beginning Amos Networks across the state are able to do as well as the parent Jackson organization! Amos Network does, indeed, work to see that "justice rolls down like a river." I salute them and the cross section of differing peoples that they are able to bring together to work for the good of all.

Author
C.W.
Date
2003-12-13T20:00:21-06:00
ID
77552
Comment

But if one works hard and picks 4 tons of tomatoes in a day they earn $100. I don't get the point here. If you can't make a decent living picking tomatoes, maybe you should do something else. I don't think someone should earn more out of sympathy, when they really don't have to do that particular job.

Author
Howard
Date
2003-12-14T21:20:11-06:00
ID
77553
Comment

I'd answer this, but I'm not quite sure whether it's facetious or serious. Certainly, why should anyone work so hard for so little? Not with all the job opportunities out there for people with so little education or job skills that they're picking a ton of tomatoes for $20 (I'm going to trust your math here). With the pick of jobs they have, geez, why would they pick tomatoes? Not like they need to eat, after all.

Author
C.W.
Date
2003-12-16T13:08:19-06:00
ID
77554
Comment

You can find more information on the tomato pickers and the boycott here: http://www.ciw-online.org/tz_site-revision/home/home.html According to a cursory survey of information available on the situation, these workers may not have a choice of where they live, what they do for a living, or how much they work.

Author
kate
Date
2003-12-16T13:54:42-06:00
ID
77555
Comment

I hardly ever eat at Taco Bell, and in spite of my affection for that little chihuahua, I'm going to honor this boycott.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-12-16T14:37:49-06:00
ID
77556
Comment

Yeah, me too. Of course, I always have a short list of personal boycotts going at any given time. ;-) Aren't there other reasons to boycott the Pepsi corporation, or have those issues been solved? I get my boycotts mixed up sometimes.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-12-16T14:40:42-06:00
ID
77557
Comment

Thanks, Kate, for the url! Have you read "Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy" by Kevin Bales? It's a must read. I have to admit that Professor Bales is not the most dynamic writer I ever read (some of it is a little slow-moving, considering the subject matter), but the information contained in his book will blow your mind away, if you haven't read it before. All of the profits from this book go to the fight against modern-day slavery, Professor Bales does not profit from it's sales. It's availlable in book stores, but they do take a small cut. Better to get it off the website, http://www.freetheslaves.net so all the money goes to them (same price as at bookstores). They've already had a great deal of success (they were instrumental in persuading the chocolate industry to clean up their sources of slave-labor sources).

Author
C.W.
Date
2003-12-16T14:51:53-06:00
ID
77558
Comment

CW, thanks for the recommendation. However, after a long list of heavy books this fall, my mind is screaming for some time off (once I finish with Wealth and Democracy). I'll add it to the bottom of my stack - but it seems to take 12 to 18 months for books to work their way from the bottom to the top of that stack. As for 'boycotting' Taco Bell - I ate there once, and found the food horrible, and I've never been back. So, I have no problem with a boycott.

Author
kate
Date
2003-12-16T14:57:28-06:00
ID
77559
Comment

OK, Kate. How about buying the book, just as a contribution to the cause. Then when you get around to it, dip in here and there. that's the main reason I bought it, after I heard Prof. Bales speak on the subject. The cover is very arresting, it may actually tempt you to look into it sooner rather than later, as it did me, since I already had a stack of reading material at the time as well. (this is what is called a "teaser" in some circles)

Author
C.W.
Date
2003-12-16T15:08:09-06:00
ID
77560
Comment

I don't know about Pepsi. Never had a problem with that one because I don't like Pepsi.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-12-16T16:02:26-06:00

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