"Fasting without prayer is just going hungry"

Earlier this week, Rudy López spoke with Sean Salai, SJ from America Magazine about his thoughts about IWJ's Fast from Fast Food. Below is an excerpt from the Q & A interview, which was originally published at America Magazine online.

What inspired (IWJ) to launch a “Fast from Fast Food” during Lent this year?

Interfaith Worker Justice believes that an honest day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay that’s enough to support your family. We wanted to find a way to support the fast food workers who are calling for fair wages that are in line with these values.  Given that the Lenten season is nearly here, we felt it was a great opportunity to support the workers in a way that speaks to the nature of who we are as an organization through prayer, fasting and lifting up the moral imperative to treat workers fairly.  In solidarity with fast food workers who are calling for $15 an hour and for better working conditions, we are asking people of all faith traditions to “Fast from Fast Food” over the Lenten season. While Lent can be a time of deep significance for many Christian traditions, we are asking people of any faith tradition to take a solidarity pledge to abstain from eating fast food from February 18 to April 5.

The intention is to bring awareness and attention through an act of solidarity by prayer and fasting. It’s important that people understand that these two things go hand in hand. Someone once told me “fasting without prayer is just going hungry.” I couldn’t agree more, as I see the power of offering up our sacrifice for others as an act that deepens our connection to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. As an organization of people of faith, we find that the spiritual aspect of the “fast” is our most effective tool during this time. Fasting opens up a pathway to a spiritual power that has been known to shake prisons and swing open locked doors, as told in the story of the Philippian jailor in the book of Acts. I invite all your readers to join us in solidarity starting on Ash Wednesday.

What are your hopes for this fast?

We hope that through the Fast From Fast Food effort we can 1) bring greater national and local awareness to the plight of fast food workers and their struggle for fair pay and dignity in the workplace; 2) get more congregations and people of faith actively involved in advocating for just working conditions; 3) help those who participate grow in their personal prayer life; 4) raise the understanding of the importance of faith communities taking a stand and lifting up the moral side of social issues; 5) that this serves as a vehicle for fast food workers to develop their own leadership and prayer life; 6) and shift the national narrative on how we view and value low-wage workers and their contributions to our country. This is an important effort for us at IWJ and we see this as a potential model for other future efforts in the way we can offer a unique contribution.

The full Q & A interview can be found at America Magazine Online.

Take the pledge! Join the Fast from Fast Food today.