April 25, 2006
Letter to the General Synod of the United Church of Christ
The foundation stone of my ministry has always been the admonition of Jesus in Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, naked and you clothed Me…In as much as you have done it unto the least of these my Brethren, you have done it to Me.”
Whether as a Pastor, Civil Rights Worker, Labor Organizer, Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, Mayor, Engineering Executive, Olympic Committee Chairman or now as Chairman of Good Works International; my goal and objective has remained the same, “to feed the hungry.”
Our Churches sought to do the same through teaching preaching missions, social and political action. We have always been a leader in progressive movements in faith, action, government and mission. But, I think we may have erred in not paying enough attention to the potentially positive role of business and the corporate multi-national community in seeking solutions to the problems of the poor.
I’ve been one of the 100 million Americans a week that shop at Wal-Mart and long ago decided that lowering prices for consumers was a great contribution to ending impoverished lifestyles. Wal-Mart is not responsible for General Motors lay-offs or $3.00 per gallon gasoline. Wal-Mart has addressed poverty more effectively than any other American institution. That’s far from perfect, but better than failed Government policies and the hypocrisy of union leaders who ignored the poor, Black and Hispanic work force, concentrating instead on the middle class privileges of their members, who incidentally bought into Republican demagoguery about crime, welfare and the poor.
After failing to get the Government to address a social safety net, they are criticizing Wal-Mart for failure to provide when, in actuality, Wal-Mart provides saving for its customers and growing American families. The company saves families $2,300 per year and by shopping at Wal-Mart and the availability of low cost fruits, vegetables, vitamins, medicines and clothing comes as close to a safety net as any we have available in America, except those for teachers and Government employees which are paid by our tax dollars.
I hope we can enter into a serious discussion about these issues and not just assume an outdated knee-jerk reaction. “New occasions, teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth. They must upward then and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.”
Remember, “God is still speaking” – economically, educationally, socially and politically!