During this unique period of pandemic, the institution of family is playing a crucial role in society. Families are caring for children at home while schools and other community sites are closed, caring for the sick, and mourning those lost. Importantly, the biblical stories of family embrace a time such as this. A public justice perspective recognizes that the institution of family is one in which its members are nurtured and the image of God is respected. Pope Francis has described family as a “sanctuary of respect for life.” From God’s charge at creation, to the wedding at Cana to Jesus at the cross, scripture depicts families that are formed and strengthened in hardship, as well as joy.
It is with this framing, as well as within the context of the current COVID-19 economic and health crisis, that CPJ Resident Fellow and Families Valued Program Director Rachel Anderson spoke on the topic of paid family leave. Anderson was hosted by Faith and Law, a valued institution to many on Capitol Hill, which brings together Capitol Hill staffers and members of Congress across partisan lines for Bible study, discussion groups, and current event lectures.
While originally slated to speak at a lunch on Capitol Hill on March 12, Anderson instead presented by video on April 10 due to COVID-19 restrictions. In what arguably became even more timely and pressing, Anderson shared how federal policymakers had acted swiftly in the intervening month to protect families through emergency paid sick and family leave, and discusses the potential implications for family and government in the days ahead.