Big Money’s War on Religion: When Will Social Conservatives Say ‘Enough’?
By Bill Winkler and Gregory Quinlan
On March 5, 2015, more than 100 of the globe’s richest and most powerful corporations signed a doctrinal statement that formally placed them in direct opposition to much of the world’s major religions.
Among those to codify this global corporate position on faith and morals were:
A.T. Kearney Global, Accenture Global Management, Aetna Insurance, Air Products and Chemicals, Akamai Technologies, Alcoa Inc., Amazon.com, American Airlines, American Apparel, American Express, AIG insurance, Apple Inc., AppNexus Inc., Aramark, AT&T Inc., Avanade Inc., Bain Capital, Bank of America, The Bank of New York/ Mellon Corporation, Barclays International, Barnes & Noble, Becton Dickinson and Company, BlackRock International, Bloomberg, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Boston Community Capital, Boston Consulting Group, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Broadcom Corporation, Brocade international, Cablevision Systems Corporation, Capital One Financial Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., CBS media & entertainment, CEB Global, CGI Technology, The Chubb Corporation, CIGNA Corporation, Cisco Systems, Citigroup, The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Comcast Corporation, ConAgra Foods, The Corcoran Group, Corning Incorporated, Cox Media, Credit Suisse Securities, Cummins Global Power, CVS Health Corporation, Danaher Corporation, DCI Group, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, Deutsche Bank, Diageo Alcoholic Beverages, DIRECTV, DocuSign, The Dow Chemical Company, Dropbox Inc., DuPont Chemicals, eBay Inc., Edelman Global Marketing, Electronic Arts Global Entertainment, EnduringHydro Energy, Ernst & Young, The Estee Lauder Companies, Facebook Inc., First Data Corporation, General Electric Company, General Mills Inc., Gensler, Gilt Groupe Holdings, GlaxoSmithKline, The Goldman Sachs Group, Google Inc., Groupon, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Hewlett-Packard Company, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, HSBC Global Banking, Intel Corporation, Intuit Inc., JetBlue Airways Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, KEO Marketing, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, KPMG LLP, Larson Marketing, Levi Strauss & Co., Marriott International, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, McGraw Hill Financial, McKesson Corporation, McKinsey & Company, Merca Property, Microsoft Corporation, MillerCoors, Moody’s Corporation, Morgan Stanley, MWW Public Relations, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Neumann Capital, The New England Patriots, New York Life Insurance Company, NIKE Inc., Nixon Peabody, Northrup Grumman Corp., Office Depot, The Ogilvy Group, ONE Community Media, Oracle America, Orbitz Worldwide, Pandora Media, PATH, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Pixelligent Technologies, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Procter & Gamble, Prudential Financial, Qualcomm Inc., Quorum, RBC Capital, The San Francisco Giants, Sempra Energy, Staples Inc., Starbucks Corporation, State Street Corporation, Sun Life Financial, Symantec Corp., The Tampa Bay Rays, Target Corporation, TD Bank, TD Securities, Tech Data Corp., Thomson Reuters, Twitter Inc., UBS, United Air Lines, United Therapeutics, Verizon Communications, Viacom, Visa Inc., W. M. Martin Advertising, W. W. Grainger Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Wasserman Media, Wells Fargo, Witeck Communications, Wyndham Worldwide, Xerox Corporation, and Zynga Inc.
All the above signed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court that asked the Court to judicially enact same-sex marriage and impose it on every state regardless of whether or not the people or their elected representatives voted for it. The signatories of this appeal to the Court include some of the most evil corporations on earth — including the global banking giant HSBC, that got caught laundering almost a billion dollars of illegal drug money for murderous Mexican and Columbian cartels. An outraged Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded that HSBC executives be prosecuted, and when the Obama administration proved too squeamish to take on the powerful banking group, Senator Warren labeled them “too big for trial.”
The brief is divided into two parts. The first focuses on tax codes and the corporate bottom line, but the second takes a metaphysical turn: “State bans (on same-sex marriage) undermine our corporate culture.”
It argues: “The denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples in non-recognition states goes against our core values and principles.”
This is nothing short of a doctrinal statement. With it, these corporations stepped into the realm of faith and morals to create a specifically “corporate” opposition to the religious beliefs of those who we can broadly call “the people of the book” — whether that book is the Torah, the Bible, or the Koran.
The brief goes on to make this curious statement: “The reality is that even ‘small differences in how people are treated… convey strong messages about the(ir) perceived relative value.”
It is curious because it is made by corporations where one employee is paid 1,000 times more than another. Where one gets a limousine, a driver, and the use of a corporate jet — while the other makes his way on the subway. Benefits and bonuses for some, uncertainty and anxiety for others.
In a recent address before the Aspen Action Forum, New York Times journalist Anand Giridharadas said: “Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right side of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.”
Most voters — Democrats and Republicans alike — have the misconception that the Republican Party is the political face of corporate America and especially of Wall Street.
This simply isn’t true. Both political parties are heavily influenced by global corporate interests. The major divide between the parties comes one level down — with the Democrats generally representing organized labor and the dependent class, while Republicans take the side of small business and taxpayers. But make no mistake, both parties bow before the power of international finance — even if it means betraying loyal constituencies.
The truth is, they have no choice. The same unelected, undemocratic institution that said it is legal for government to seize private property if there’s a profit to be made, that said you will be fined if you don’t buy a corporate product mandated by the government — said that corporations are people and money is speech so that one rich man can drown out the voices of a million ordinary citizens. The elected Congress goes through the motions. The Supreme Court is the failsafe of the establishment.
Since the late 1970’s, social conservatives — especially Evangelical Christians — have formed a key component in every Republican victory. There would not be a Republican majority in the United States Senate, in the House of Representatives, or in any state legislature without the votes of social conservatives. We can’t think of a single sitting Republican Governor who could have won without the votes of this steadfast group.
Most social conservatives are working class people — the ones you can still make fun of and it isn’t called “hate speech”. In election after election they vote Republican and put people in office who make the world safe for corporations. These loyal folks have seen their relative incomes decline while Wall Street profits have gone up and the wealth of the richest has soared. Republicans have cut corporate taxes and with the Democrats have created a huge corporate welfare state. And too many Republicans have stood by as the Democrats have betrayed even their own voters by inflating the labor supply with illegals and growing the gray economy.
You can see it anywhere in the United States. Whenever Republican officeholders try to make good on their promises to the social conservatives who put them into office, their corporation masters quickly come out and undo it. We’ve seen it happen most recently in Arizona, in Indiana, and in Arkansas. It wasn’t the so-called “Left” that acted like an ad-hoc kangaroo court to show up and undo those democratically enacted religious liberty laws — it was corporate theologians from the business community. You can’t blame the “Left” when corporate billionaires like Michael Bloomberg hijack their causes, turning them from democratic dialogues into exercises in corporate self-promotion.
Many of the corporate signatories on that amicus brief are entertainment and media companies who have cranked up the levels of violence in their products even as they have called for the abrogation of the Second Amendment. President Bill Clinton criticized them for marketing their violence to children, while study after study shows the scientific correlation between the violence in their products and crime. Their corporate leaders live and work in buildings guarded by the armed security that they deny school children and they want to disarm people of modest means who live in areas affected by crime, while they employ armed bodyguards. But who watches out for their interests? Pro-business Republicans who oppose hobbling this hypocritical bunch with more regulation. Why defend them?
In New Jersey recently, a business organization that relies on Republicans elected with social conservative votes to support its agenda, rewarded this loyalty by inviting the former president of Planned Parenthood to be the keynote speaker at an event this September. The business group made the announcement the week the first baby parts harvesting video surfaced.
The primary sponsor for the event is Johnson & Johnson, a major donor to Planned Parenthood and a corporate signer of the doctrinal statement on “corporate culture… core values and principles.” It seems respect for life isn’t one of those core values. Of course, it could be argued that Johnson & Johnson’s leap into metaphysics is just a way of taking the public’s mind off that shareholders’ lawsuit against the corporation for its failure to prevent “serious failings and illegalities” — like bribing officials, covering up adverse health effects, and misleading marketing for unapproved uses. Ouch.
When will the millions of social conservative voters who underwrite the GOP with their votes say they’ve had enough? We took it when it was a case of our quality of life declining, while corporate profits soared. But now those profits are being used by corporate theologians to proselytize a new culture, with core values and principles that want to wipe away those that are ours.
Every government entity should be held accountable for how it invests. Every elected official or candidate should be asked about how they invest. Every elected official and candidate should avoid taking the coin of these corporate theologians and should be held to account if they do. And the stories of each of these corporations — from their corruption of public officials, through their unsafe products, their deceitful marketing, to their flights into metaphysics — these details should be communicated to the electorate, so that every elected official and candidate who takes from them or gives to them may be held responsible for their actions.
Over three decades, Bill Winkler has worked on more than 400 political campaigns: From assisting candidates for Governor, U.S. Senate and Congress – as well as state and local races – to running ballot initiatives for good government and crime victims groups. He is a Quaker from Pennsylvania.
Gregory Quinlan is past President of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, Co-Ministry Leader at Living Free Ministries of NJ and has been a Christian Pro-family activist and Lobbyist for over twenty years.
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