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Presbyterian Activists Play Fast and Loose with Fast-Food King

'That the Presbyterian Church actually discharged many missionaries in 2004 at the same time it hired a labor activist to promote this action is a travesty.' --Director of Presbyterian Action Jim Berkley

Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with www.ird-renew.org

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- This Friday labor activists are planning a protest in front of Burger King Headquarters in Miami, FL, organized with the assistance of a labor activist hired by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Church officials hired the activist in the same year that they discharged missionaries due to budget constraints within the 2.5 million member denomination. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), last January in a letter to John W. Chidsey, Chief Executive Officer of Burger King, declared "The only thing missing in order to end the human rights abuses of tomato pickers is Burger King's willingness." Now the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) web site is promoting "mass actions in Miami, Fla., calling on Burger King to immediately work with the CIW [Coalition of Immokalee Workers] to improve wages and end human rights abuses in its tomato supply chain." The CIW is organizing tomato pickers in southern Florida around a demand to approximately double piecework pay.

Jim Berkley, Director of IRD's Presbyterian Action Committee, commented:

"Presbyterian officials seem to have jumped on the most recent de rigueur bandwagon that combines labor activism, leftist economics, and altruistic naiveté. That the Presbyterian Church actually discharged many missionaries in 2004 at the same time it hired a labor activist to promote this action is a travesty.

"Farm laborers' lot is often miserable, and they deserve a fair shake. Yet, simplistic sloganeering obscures larger questions of labor relations, employer responsibility, and the suitability of dramatic single-solution fixes for multifaceted problems or the morality of a secondary boycott.

"Why Burger King? Mainly, it's a handy next target. How far along any supply chain should we go to assert economic leverage, particularly for issues that are more political than economic? Leftist political action and ill-placed sympathies are no substitute for the Gospel."

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.