As we head into the season that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, here is a letter that was sent to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott from 93 leaders of faith representing more than 1.3 million members.
Dear Mr. Scott,
The holiday season is a time to honor and remember the virtues of hope, love, joy, sharing, sacrifice, and faith. For people of all faiths, the celebration of the holiday season is a time to remember and embrace the best of our values. It is a time to reflect upon our lives, the impact we have on others, and the responsibility we all have to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us. During this holy season, we must ask ourselves – at what moral price do we accept the sins of exploitation and greed? Sins, it is sad to say, which are exemplified by one of Americas largest and richest corporations, Wal-Mart. Everyday, Wal-Marts so-called low prices come at a high cost to the moral virtues and greatness of your workers, our families, and our nation. Everyday, America pays too high a cost for Wal-Marts immoral business practices. As all faiths teach us, the current exploitation of those who work to provide us with goods and services, whether at Wal-Mart or its suppliers, can never be morally justified. Under all conditions, it is simply immoral and wrong and goes against the teachings of our spiritual leaders and our commitment to justice, fairness, and community. If there is one shared hope all faiths have in common, it is the central belief that we must work together to improve the lives of others. This central tenant, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is the bedrock of our values, our faith, our families and our communities. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart needlessly ignores the Golden Rule putting our children and their workers needlessly at-risk. Despite $10 billion in profit, everyday more than 600,000 Wal-Mart workers and their families struggle with no company-provided health care. Even more troubling, nearly 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers live without health care or rely on a public program. Wal-Mart has repeatedly broken child labor laws. Wal-Mart is being sued by 1.5 million female employees for discrimination. And, Wal-Mart continues to pay poverty-level wages, forcing many of its workers to make the impossible choice between rent and health care. It is hard to imagine why Wal-Mart would consciously choose to make 1.3 million workers suffer in the name of low prices, a suffering we can no longer let stand. Therefore, based on our faith and our belief in the teachings of Christ, this Christmas we are asking ourselves – if these are Wal-Mart’s values, would Jesus shop at Wal-Mart? Would Jesus support the exploitation of so many for the profit of so few? Would Jesus tolerate systematic discrimination against women? Would Jesus stand by idly while thousands of children go without health care? Would Jesus accept violations of child labor laws? The answer is simple. Jesus would not embrace Wal-Marts values of greed and profits at any cost, particularly when children suffer as a result of those misguided values. As Christians, at the time of year when we celebrate the life, the birth and the teachings of Jesus, we call on Wal-Mart to change. We know Wal-Mart has the power to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families, and our communities. Wal-Mart can become, if you and the Walton Family so choose, a leading example of moral greatness in corporate America. You have the power to change and set an example that would truly honor and reflect the teachings and lessons of Jesus Christ. So beginning today, in the shared spirit of Christmas and the holiday season, we call on Wal-Mart to change, to become better, and to embrace the best of American values. It is within your power to become a truly responsible, ethical, and righteous company. In the end, there is no better present Wal-Mart could give to its workers, their families, and America than to change for the better this Christmas.”
Greed and profit at any cost — Always! And the response from Wal-Mart to this appeal to become better?