“You cannot serve both God and money.”—MT 6:24
“We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures, a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done. But since we cannot wage the Third World War, we make regional wars," he added. "And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms. And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies -- the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money -- are obviously cleaned up."—Pope Francis.
Our Money in Politics campaign, “Faithful Democracy” has documented for the past year the harmful effects of unlimited campaign contributions to issues that we advocate with people of faith on behalf of the poor and marginalized. Some examples from our friends at People for the American Way:
Economic inequality is on the rise, and big money in politics is making the problem worse:
- The current level of income inequality in the United States is the worst it’s been since 1928.
- The share of national income going to the top one percent of earners in the United States has doubled since 1979.
- Average CEO compensation was $14.1 million in 2012, up 12.7 percent since 2011 and 37.4 percent since 2009.
The criminal justice system is stacked to favor special interests that spend big in politics:
- Private, for-profit prisons spend millions to influence immigration policy to set up immigrant detention centers and benefit their bottom lines.
- Big banks launder billions of dollars in drug cartel money and get a free pass from prosecution while thousands are killed and millions are incarcerated in the war on drugs.
Big money in politics has stalled action in Congress to address climate change, and provides giveaways to the fossil fuels industry at the expense of taxpayers:
- The fossil fuels industry has silenced the science behind calls for the regulation of carbon emissions.
- Dirty energy interests spent $116 million on political campaigns in 2012, and are on track to spend even more in 2014, despite it being a midterm election.
- Members of the 113th Congress that deny climate change took $346,975 from the fossil fuels industry as opposed to an average of $96,999 from members who acknowledge climate change.
- In 2009, as Congress debateda bill that would have begun to slow carbon emissions, the oil and gas industry’s lobbyists spent $175 million to defeat it. 2,340 lobbyists were hired to work on the issue by more than 770 companies. This amounts to four lobbyists for each member of Congress.
- American taxpayers provide $4.4 billion in annual subsidies to oil companies.
These “roadblocks to democracy” are making it difficult to pass meaningful legislation on issues such as economic justice, immigration, care for creation, and gun violence prevention. Because of this, we ask that you sign our people of faith petition below to encourage Congress to take up the issue of money in politics and overturn Citizens United in the lead up to the 5th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision.
Members of Congress:
The Supreme Court's decisions in cases like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC threaten to tear apart the fabric of our democracy by granting powerful corporations and wealthy donors unfettered influence in our political process, as well as the ability to drown out the voices of ordinary voters.
As a person of faith who believes that money in politics is a moral issue, I strongly urge you to support to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases and curtail the influence of big money in politics.