“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” appears in Matthew 18:20, amidst a section that scholars have called “Life in the Christian Community”. Many recent Biblical scholars have realized that Jesus was striving to establish a different kind of organization. He was teaching and showing his disciples what an alternative social arrangement would be like. The book of Matthew also describes the reactions people had, from his own followers, to the leaders of the current religious establishment, to the general population. The disciples didn’t always get it. The religious leaders recognized it as a threat to the status quo, and the general population were broadly in favor of it. Sound familiar?
The Bible, seen through this lens of interpretation, teaches that corporations were created by God, they are not separate from God’s love–even when they’re fallen, and that we struggle with them. We struggle with them, especially when they’re fallen or corrupt, just as we struggle with individuals who are fallen. But, just as with individuals, corporations are more complex. Corporations also act in ways that are socially and environmentally responsible. Sometimes they believe their reason-for-being includes giving back to society, not just in corporate profits. Corporations fought hard to roll back anti-gay and anti-transgender laws passed recently in Indiana and North Carolina. They uplift civilization in wonderful ways.
As we see, Government also acts sometimes for social good but sometimes for ill. Progressives have long complained of corporate influence over government policy because we don’t like a small minority of corporate leaders imposing their ideas on the majority. And so we campaign to call for overturning Citizen’s United. However, Progressives also complain when the representatives of the majority impose their ideas on the minority such as the North Carolina bathroom bill. Progressives are confronted there with a situation where meddling with the legislative process to override popular opinion seem desirable. Governments and corporations too… we need to hold them accountable.
Perhaps our own Declaration of Independence can be re-imagined:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal, that they are naturally endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Corporations are instituted among humans, deriving their just powers from the consent and participation of their members or employees, That whenever any Form of Corporation becomes destructive of these ends or the environment in which humans pursue them, it is the Right and Responsibility of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Corporation, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.
We live in a complicated world, and that is why we like to gather as Unitarian Universalists. Our 3rd and 5th principles specify acceptance of all types of free-thinking members, encourage us to spiritual growth, and insist on the right of conscience and use of the democratic process. The 6th evokes a much larger organization: a global community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
Come join us. We meet each Sunday. If you have read this to this point, you are no doubt just the sort of person who we would love to have in our midst. Bring the kids too.