He carries a Bible and regularly invokes his faith as he leads the United Auto Workers in a historic strike against the country’s three largest automakers. For Fain, the strike is a “righteous cause.” This reminds of Eugene Debs’s claim that socialism is “merely Christianity in action.”
Here is Nathan Borney at AXIOS:
As the recently elected president of the UAW, Shawn Fain has brought his fervent Christian faith to a new sort of pulpit, using his platform to broadcast messages on Facebook Live videos, YouTube streams, picket-line speeches and media interviews.
- Fain speaks with the cadence and tone of an old-school preacher, calling on the world to embrace the UAW’s “righteous” cause, referencing biblical heroes like Moses, and telling people to “stand up” for justice.
- He recently told members about how his daily Christian devotional reading on “fear and faith” seemed to apply to the UAW’s cause.
- And last week in a broadcast message, he quoted Bible verse Matthew 17 as he described the need to believe in the UAW’s mission: “It says, ‘For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move — and nothing will be impossible for you.”
It’s not clear whether Fain considers himself evangelical — the UAW declined to comment — but faith is clearly core to his identity. He often travels with a black, tattered Bible given to his grandmother for Christmas in 1933 when she was living in an orphanage.
- “Like my grandfather’s pay stub that I carry with me every day, I’m proud to have inherited my grandma’s Bible and her faith,” Fain said last week on a video address, revealing the red edges of the book’s worn pages.
- He also told UAW members that he realized that “great acts of faith are seldom borne out of calm calculation,” making a comparison to one of Jesus’ disciples:
- “It wasn’t a confident committee that prayed in a small room in Jerusalem for Peter’s release from prison. It was a fearful, desperate band of believers that were backed into a corner.”
Keep in mind: Fain also faces the delicate task of reclaiming the moral authority that the UAW lost in recent years during a sweeping corruption scandal punctuated by the imprisonment of two UAW presidents convicted of embezzling dues from members.
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