December 14, 2005
LEADERS OF FAITH CALL ON WAL-MART AND CEO LEE SCOTT TO “”CHANGE FOR THE BETTER”” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Washington, D.C. – Leaders of faith representing over 1.3 million Americans have joined WakeUpWalMart.com in a nationwide initiative to call on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to “”change for the better”” this Holiday season. As part of this faith-based effort, 65 respected faith-based leaders signed a joint letter to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, which states “”in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values.”” The letter to Lee Scott is part of a new faith-based grassroots and multimedia campaign, named “”Light a Candle for Change,”” launched by WakeUpWalMart.com.
“”This Holiday season, Wal-Mart, America’s largest employer, has the power to change, to become better, to reflect the best of our values. It is our sincere hope Wal-Mart will choose the higher road and become a moral example that all people of faith can embrace proudly,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
The goal of the “”Light A Candle for Change”” campaign is to change Wal-Mart into a responsible corporation that reflects the best moral values of our country. The letter to Lee Scott goes on to state “”there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.”” As part of this new campaign, the families and children of supporters of WakeUpWalMart.com will also be holding local candlelight vigils at Wal-Marts in at least 27 cities in 19 different states, including Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Illinois.
“”Out of our religious heritage comes the recognition that we are not allowed to deprive people of their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In this respect the Wal-Mart form of business represents plantation capitalism; the few become very wealthy and the many become poorer,”” stated Reverend James Lawson of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA.
The faith-based grassroots initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com will also include a coordinated online and TV multimedia campaign. The TV ad, titled “”People,”” is the first TV advertisement to highlight Wal-Mart’s moral failures and raise the powerful question – “”Should People of Faith Shop at Wal-Mart?”” this holiday season. The 30-second TV spot will be running in 6 states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia. The ad can also be viewed at WakeUpWalMart.com.
A copy of the letter and the script for TV spot are attached.
The “”Light A Candle For Change”” campaign is the latest initiative by WakeUpWalMart.com, America’s leading grassroots movement to change Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com has over 148,000 members and supporters in all 50 states.
** Script of “”People”” **
Our faith teaches us
“”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you””
If these are our values, then ask yourself
Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart this Holiday season?
When Wal-Mart repeatedly broke child labor laws.
Is being sued by 1.5 million women for discrimination.
And, over 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families have no company health care.
If these are Wal-Mart’s values
Should people of faith shop at Wal-Mart?
** Letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott **
Dear Mr. Scott,
The holiday season is a time to honor and remember the virtues of hope, love, joy, sharing, sacrifice, and faith. For people of all faiths, the celebration of the holiday season is a time to remember and embrace the best of our values. It is a time to reflect upon our lives, the impact we have on others, and the responsibility we all have to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
The prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches “”Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy … lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.”” During this holy season, we must ask ourselves – at what moral price do we accept the sins of exploitation and greed? Sins, it is sad to say, which are exemplified by one of America’s largest and richest corporations, Wal-Mart.
Everyday, Wal-Mart’s so-called low prices come at a high cost to the moral virtues and greatness of your workers, our families, and our nation. Everyday, America pays too high a cost for Wal-Mart’s immoral business practices.
As all faiths teach us, the current exploitation of those who work to provide us with goods and services, whether at Wal-Mart or its suppliers, can never be morally justified. Under all conditions, it is simply immoral and wrong. It goes against the teachings of our spiritual leaders and our commitment to justice, fairness, and community.
If there is one shared hope all faiths have in common, it is the central belief that we must work together to improve the lives of others. This central tenet, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ is the bedrock of our values, our faith, our families and our communities.
Unfortunately, Wal-Mart needlessly ignores the Golden Rule putting our children and their workers needlessly at-risk.
Despite $10 billion in profit last year, more than 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families struggle with no company-provided health care. Even more troubling, nearly 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers lives without health care or relies on a public program. Wal-Mart has repeatedly broken child labor laws. Wal-Mart is being sued by 1.5 million female employees for discrimination. And, Wal-Mart continues to pay poverty-level wages, forcing many of its workers to make the impossible choice between rent and health care.
It is hard to imagine why Wal-Mart would consciously choose to make 1.3 million workers suffer in the name of “”low prices,”” a suffering we can no longer let stand.
For those of us who are Christians, we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, and we call on Wal-Mart to change. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we ask ourselves:
Would Jesus support the exploitation of so many for the profit of so few?
Would Jesus tolerate systematic discrimination against women?
Would Jesus stand by idly while thousands of children go without health care?
Would Jesus accept violations of child labor laws?
The answer is simple. Jesus would not embrace Wal-Mart’s values of greed and profits at any cost, particularly when children suffer as a result of those misguided values.
Those of us who are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist also have scriptures that remind us that God is just and God’s servants must practice justice in all of our words and deeds. As we prepare to celebrate our own holiday traditions, we also ask ourselves, is it right to shop at Wal-Mart? Would our God want us to support Wal-Mart’s values and actions with our dollars?
We know Wal-Mart has the power to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families, and our communities. Wal-Mart can become, if you and the Walton Family so choose, a leading example of moral greatness in corporate America. You have the power to change and set an example that would truly honor and reflect the call of all faith traditions to righteousness and justice.
So beginning today, in the shared spirit of the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values. It is within your power to become a truly responsible, ethical, and righteous company.
In the end, there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this holiday season.
Reverend John H. Thomas, President, United Church of Christ
Reverend James Lawson, Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA
Kim Bobo, Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice
Bishop Gabino Zavala, Regional Bishop in the San Gabriel Pastoral Region (Archdiocese of Los Angeles, CA)
Reverend Doctor William Jarvis Johnson, Calvary CME Church of Pasadena, CA
Reverend Alexia Salvatierra, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
Father Michael Pfleger, Faith Community of St. Sabina Parish, Chicago, Illinois.
Reverend Bennie E. Whiten, Jr., United Church of Christ
Retired Bishop Jesse DeWitt of the United Methodist Church
Reverend Mark Wendorf, McCormick Theological Seminary and Board Member of Interfaith Worker Justice
Professor William P. Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and Board member of Interfaith Worker Justice
Dr. Edie Rasell of the Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ.
Reverend Ron Stief, Director of Washington, D.C. office, United Church of Christ
Pastor Sylvia Tucker, Union Baptist Church of Hopewell, VA
Mr. Ralph Ramirez, President of Richmond, VA Southern Council Leadership Conference Chapter
Reverend Rebekah Jordan, Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice
Reverend Sinclair Oubre, J.C.L. of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church of Port Arthur, TX
Reverend Doctor John J. O’Brien, C.P.
Reverend Bridgeforth, Shiloh Baptist Church, VA
Reverend King, Southern Council Leadership Conference of Danville, VA
Reverend Rufus Fuller II Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, VA
Reverend William Avon Keen of Traynham Grove Church,VA
Reverend John Snider, Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN
Reverend Bill Bulson, Holy Apostles, MN
Reverend Timothy M Johnson, Cherokee Park United Church of St. Paul, MN
Reverend Johnathan C. Tetherly, Chaplain of Hampden County House of Corrections, MA
Father Thomas Mueller, S.S. Cyril & Methodist Orthodox Church, WI
Father Jerry Schroeder, St. Benedict the Moor Parish of Milwaukee, WI
Reverend Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Good Sheperd Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI
Reverend Kelly Fowler, First United Methodist Church of Waukesha, WI
Reverend Doctor Ronald Faust, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO
Reverend Tom Blakley, Barry Christian Church, MO
Reverend Spencer Barrett, Co-chair, Kansas City Interfaith Worker Justice, MO
Pastor Robin Hood Senior Pastor, Redeemed Outreach Ministries, IL
Reverend Fr. Alfredo Gundrum , Pastor of St. Kevin, Chicago, IL
Reverend Jose Landaverde, Amor de Dios, United Methodist Church, IL
Reverend William F. Marx, Pax Christi of Western New York
Reverend Dan Schifeling, Church of Nativity, United Church of Christ
Sister Jean Sliwikski, Western New York Workers’ Rights Board
Reverend Suzelle Lynch, Unitarian Universalist Church, Brookfield WI
Reverend Doctor. Roland Womack, Board Member, African-American Ministers Leadership Council, and Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church, Milwaukee, WI
Pastor Susan Burchfield, Immanuel Lutheran Church of Seattle, WA
Reverend Richard Vogel, Executive Pastor, St. James United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO
Reverend Emanuel Cleaver II, St. James United Methodist Church of Kansas City, MO
Reverend Norman D. Copeland, AME Church, Los Angeles, CA
Reverend Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D. Executive Director Community Renewal Society of Chicago, IL
Reverend Jennifer Kottler, Protestants for the Common Good of Chicago, IL
Reverend Jon M. Luopa, Univeralist Unitarian Church of Seattle WA
Sisters of St Joseph of Springfield, MA Justice and Peace Committee
Reverend William F. Brisotti, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, NY
Reverend Catherine Schulyer, Protestant Campus Ministry of Stony Brook, NY
Reverend Richard E. Edwards, Stony Brook Community Church, NY
Reverend Thomas W. Goodhue, Executive Director, The Long Island Council of Churches, NY
Reverend Paul Ratzlaff, The Unitarian Universalist of Fellowship of Huntington, NY
Sister Rosemary Everett, SNJM, Sisters of the Holy Names, CA
Father Bill Leininger, Human Concerns Commission, Diocese of San Jose, CA
Monsieur Gene Boyle, St. Thomas Aquinas of Palo Alto, CA
Reverend John Freesemann, Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church of San Jose, CA
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash of Los Gatos, CA
Reverend Carol Been, The Interfaith Council of San Jose, CA
Ms. Mary Quinn Kambic, Catholic Labor Committee of Baltimore, MD
Ms. Evely Laser Shlensky, Board member, Executive Committee, Interfaith Worker Justice
Mr. Monroe B. Sullivan, National Board Member, Interfaith Worker Justice
Ms. Karen Herrling, Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network
Mr. Stephen Hand, Editor, Traditional Catholic Reflections