, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

April 4, 2013

Letter: Fighting the idea of corporate citizenship

To the editor:

In the April issue of “Sojourners,” evangelical theologian Jim Wallis has written an essay called “A Gospel for the Common Good.”

In it, he writes that it is “... time to hear and heed a call to a different way of life, to reclaim a very old idea called the common good.”

This is an old call and one that every generation of Americans has always heard anew. The founders wrote a Constitution that has stood the test of time, because every generation fought for the “common good,” or what the Preamble of the Constitution calls the “general welfare,” which emphasized the centrality of people, and of the peoples’ sovereignty over the government.

The founders created a government of checks and balances to ensure that nothing could acquire power greater than that of the people. Successive onslaughts against the sovereignty of the people, by the National Bank Andrew Jackson destroyed, the slavocracy, the trusts T.R. busted, Jim Crow and others, have been defeated over and over again in our long and thrilling national saga of freedom.

The Supreme Court ruling regarding the “Citizens United” case is the latest onslaught on American freedom. Although nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, the concept of “corporate personhood” has emerged since the 1880s as a growing threat to the sovereignty of the people.

External threats from King George to the masters of the Kremlin’s “evil empire” were defeated by our military power. But now we are confronted by an internal threat, which Wallis has described as the fact that “... corporations now enjoy the same freedom of speech as individuals. To turn corporations into “people” is not only a profound legal, historical and political misstep, it is a deeply offensive theological error. Remember, people are made in the image of God and corporations are not.”

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