United Church of Christ General Minister and President Rev. John Dorhauer, author and public theologian Brian McLaren (left), and 30+ clergy commit to National Day of Fasting and Witness in January, with more on their way…
On January 18, 2018, faith leaders from around the country will join together for National Day of Fasting and Witness in protest of Wendy’s executives’ ongoing and unconscionable refusal to join the Fair Food Program. Following what’s sure to be an exciting fall season in the Wendy’s campaign (with a major march to the New York City offices of Board Chair Nelson Peltz coming up on November 20!), this mobilization will galvanize faith communities nationwide into action – both in commemoration of the great strides that have been made over the course of our decades-long struggle for justice in the fields, and in advancement of the urgent campaign to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food fold.
Nearly three dozen clergy from Florida to Indiana to California have already answered the call to fasting and direct action at Wendy’s, including United Church of Christ General Minister and President John Dorhauer and author and public theologian Brian McLaren (pictured above at the August 1, 2017 ceremony breaking the fast of Southwest Florida religious leaders in support of the Wendy’s boycott).
If you are a faith leader who wants to be a part of new era of justice and fairness in our nation’s agricultural industry, sign up to participate today!
Call to National Day of Fasting and Witness, January 18, 2018
As Wendy’s ignores the abuses perpetrated in the name of cheap produce, it is the responsibility of those who care for the integrity of the community in faith and practice to elevate the moral demand for dialogue, justice, and peace.
On January 18, public figures from across this nation’s religious landscape will fast and peacefully demonstrate at local Wendy’s restaurants to educate, mobilize, and inspire their communities to respond to the invitation of the spirit of justice – and to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program, once and for all.
While carrying forth the current call to action in the growing Wendy’s Boycott, January’s national mobilization led by faith leaders is a conscious commemoration of the history of farmworkers’ struggle. In December 1997 and January 1998, six farmworkers in Immokalee, FL, made the decision to stop eating until the growers who owned the farms on which they toiled would hear their concerns. Low wages, verbal and physical violence, sexual abuse, and even forced labor plagued Florida tomato fields, and the workers who picked in those fields demanded better conditions. The hunger strike lasted 30 days, and only ended when former President Jimmy Carter and Bishop John Nevins of the Catholic Diocese of Venice intervened to call for a dialogue with growers on the condition that the workers would break their fast. On January 18, 1998, at a Catholic mass with over 800 people in attendance (above right), they did.
Today, the fight for justice in the agricultural industry continues. Incredible progress has been made through the CIW’s Presidential Medal-winning Fair Food Program, but outside of the protections of the Program, wages are still stagnant and workers are still vulnerable. Gender-based violence is still epidemic, a problem highlighted by the CIW’s “Harvest Without Violence” initiative. The Fair Food Program is a proven, market-enforced answer to these violations of personhood, but without the courage of its corporate partners to do what is right for their workers and their industry, its implementation and expansion of critical human rights protections is hindered.
On the twentieth anniversary of the hunger strike, January 18, 2018, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is calling on its national network of allied faith leaders to observe a National Day of Fasting and Witness in remembrance of the history of the workers’ struggle and in a demonstration of commitment to the Wendy’s Boycott.
Faith leader participants are encouraged to stand outside of their local Wendy’s franchise for several hours as they fast, where they will serve as witnesses to the reality of injustice in the fields and voices of hope for visiting allies and passersby. Fair Food supporters nationwide – students on university and high school campuses, Fair Food and community groups, and allies – are called upon to support the faith leader-led public witnesses at Wendy’s restaurants around the country.
Clergy of all faiths have the singular privilege in their societal location to raise the moral issue of the human rights abuses faced by farmworkers, to give of their time and resources to the building of a new economy. It is vital, in the spirit of unity and justice, that we respond to that call.
Students, community members, and other allies also have a role to play in this major mobilization! If the leader of your faith community has committed to this action, plan to go out and support him or her at your local Wendy’s on January 18. If you know a faith leader who should be involved in this effort and want to support them in their public witness, pass the invitation along.
If you’re ready to commit to fasting and organizing a public witness at your local Wendy’s on January 18, 2018, fill out this form or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We will follow up in the coming weeks with spiritual and direct action resources, as well as a map and running list of who’s signed up so far.
In strength and hope,
The Immokalee Crew