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To Hell with Greed – Faith Leaders Criticize Global 1%

To Hell with Greed – Faith Leaders Criticize Global 1%

A new front of activism seems to have taken hold in recent weeks as grassroots organizations have started aiming their frustrations at corporate shareholder meetings. Community organizations typically stage protests, push for legislative change and rally their members around specific issues. This new arena brings the fight straight to the ears of corporate executives.

Faith leaders took the frontline at General Electric and a couple other meetings that I had the opportunity to witness.

Pastor Kevin Johnson highlighted Detroit’s hypocrisy when it came to its decision to utilize the police force.

“Because millionaires and billionaires come to town, look at the great show of police presence we have today,” said Pastor Kevin Johnson, who was escorted out of the meeting despite being a shareholder. “It’s not fair to the individuals that live in the city of Detroit.”

One homeowner told me that the wealthy refuse to hear our cries. All the while they push elected officials to do their bidding instead of doing what is in the interest of the people. Pastor Dan Schultz notes the creation story and a lesson for humanity.

It often goes unnoticed that in this telling of the creation story, God puts Adam on earth in order to work: he is hand-made, literally, to be the steward of the Garden of Eden.* Work is more than something that gives us dignity or a sense of purpose, in other words. Taken at face value, it’s what we were made to do. According to Genesis, it might be the failure to do the assigned task, rather than hubris in itself, that gets Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden. There is no scriptural record of the Lord God off-shoring the tilling and keeping duties after the First Couple’s departure.

In the paragraph above, Pastor Dan articulates a beautiful message that “God gives work as a positive good for humanity.” Think about it for a moment. By getting our hands dirty in the soil, in the arts, in the laboratory, etc., humanity has made wonderful advancements and provided the ability to feed ourselves.

Yet, Wall Street’s game of trading shares of companies creates nothing but an immense wealth for a tiny few. All at the expense of the rest. Pastor Dan does not believe this is part of God’s plan for the people.

This is why it is so important for faith leaders to take an active role in the shareholder’s meetings. Pastor Charles Williams II of King Solomon Baptist Church planned to ask GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt some direct questions.

“My faith tells me about a Jesus that is in action,” said Williams. “We need to tell truth to power, speak up for the naked and the hungry.”

Williams wanted to press Immelt on GE’s tax record and why they do not do more to invest in America. GE would probably point out that they recently started operations that created nearly 100 jobs. Yet, since 2004 the company cut nearly a quarter of its American workforce and paid their top five executives $230 million over a three year span.

Unfortunately, these questions did not find their way to Immelt in the pro forma meeting. Security escorted activists out of the shareholders meeting when they started a disruption during the opening remarks. Immelt limited the question and answer time period and dodged anything resembling difficulty.

These types of actions will continue with more shareholder meetings coming up in the next few weeks. Progressive faith leaders will undoubtedly show their solidarity in the movement but all the people involved need a more organized plan of attack. Playing by the corporate rules and then shaming them in subtle means could make a world of difference. More to come as this form of activism evolves.

Related Stories:

Protesters to GE: “Enough is Enough”

Protests Target Wells Fargo’s Shareholders Meeting

Activists Protest on Streets and in Board Rooms

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Photo by Aaron Krager

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4:41AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

According to most organized religions--the rich very much OUGHT to be generous with those less fortunate than themselves. In the Old Testament (TNK) there were two tithes--one to support the Levites (priests and choir and caretakers of the Temple building) and one to subsidize the poor. In the New Testament those with means are urged to be generous to those less fortunate than themselves and it says "the poor you have always with you" because there is so much bad luck that can't be helped that no matter how severely the rich attempt to cull the poor by killing them off, there will always be accidents of one sort or another to replenish the ranks of the poor.

11:35AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Also I might add that our world is grossly overpopulated. Eighty million more people are added to this planet each year . Much of the over population is because of religious beliefs. Religious organizations should keep their long noses behind church doors where all their other dirty work is going on!

11:29AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

In the Genesis Story God also gave mankind dominion over all the animals and plants on the planet to use for his purpose. That's what we are doing and why the planet is being plundered. We just aren't quite finished yet. Anyway greed is an essential characteristic needed for survival. All one has to do is watch programs about plant and animal life in action. Even the variation that any species of plant has gives some more of an advantage to survive. If animals weren't greedy they would be eliminated! The human species is doing a great job but unfortunately, or fortunately, they have to tie up a few loose ends!

9:15AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

Mankind is PATHETIC. Thanks.

2:37AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

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1:20AM PDT on May 29, 2012

These leaders should know that such problems should be dealt with immediately and not left to mass the extent of mass protests.

Huber.

7:05AM PDT on May 10, 2012

What a joke! When it was popular, these same "Faith Leaders" were all preaching prosperity "name-it-and-claim-it" gospel (no doubt hoping to cash in when the plates got passed). They are just jumping on the bandwagon because it's a timely topic. The real problem is rooted in the lies and fantasies that they collectively perpetuate as "truth". When people are in the grips of such meaninglessness, they are actively counter-productive as world citizens. Doing real good in the real world requires a basis in reality.

4:50PM PDT on May 9, 2012

The Republican Party is comprised of so-called religious fundamentalists who are against paying their fair share of taxes and attempting to destroy the social safety net in order to give tax breaks to wealthy individuals and corporations. I recall Jesus being asked by a follower if they should pay taxes to the Roman occupiers. Jesus responded "Whose face is on this coin." The follower answered Caesar. Jesus responded "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and give unto the Lord was is the Lord's." The quarter in my hand has George Washington's face on it. Give unto Washington what is Washington's and give unto hth Lord what is the Lord's. The Republicans who claim to be so religious seem to have forgotten that Jesus preached to the down trodden, healed the sick and fed the poor. It is too bad that the Republican's have forgotten Jesus' message and teachings. Do you think Jesus like Paul Ryan would be trying to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? I seriously doubt it. The religious right isn't religious or right!

3:14PM PDT on May 9, 2012

I'm a bit wary at the singling out of GE. There are plenty of other corporations that don't pay much tax, but GE makes wind turbines, and that represents a threat to the real big dogs, the fossil fuel companies.

2:41PM PDT on May 9, 2012

Yes, it most definitely WAS failure to perform the assigned task. You hit the nail on the head. Google First Scandal.

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