The Philadelphia Statement

ltspBy Wayne R. Shipman, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

We, the constituent people of the United States of America, representing citizens, patriots, resident aliens, indigenous nations, and undocumented families of many nations; covering the broadest spectrum of age, gender orientation, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and financial wherewithal; hereby place our disappointments and expectations upon the presidency of Donald J Trump, vice-president Michael Pence, and their announced choices for Cabinet-level appointments.

This republic, formed by separation from an oppressive government, forged through war in the blood, toil, and treasure of people yearning to be free of tyranny and injustice, is threatened by the rhetoric of hate and division experienced during the primaries and the election cycle. We fully reject the politics of pitting citizen against citizen using falsehood, innuendo, and unsupported data to pursue policies and programs that will inflict damage to our society and our standing in the world.

We submit that the commonweal of the United States of America is threatened by the early indications of your administration to act upon proposals that have substantial impact on our health, safety, and wellbeing as people and nation.

We present the following:

  1. Constitutional Rights and Privileges
    • 1. We lament any attack on the Constitution of the United States of America as the law of the land. It is a living document that protects all the inhabitants of the country.
    • 2. We lament the erosion of legal precedents decided by the courts of the United States, which must be honored and upheld.
    • 3. We demand that the Administration follow the law of the land, in spirit and in action.
    • 4. We pray for the continuation of international treaties and agreements that benefit the broadest swath of our citizens and reflect our standing as responsible global citizens of the earth.
  2. National Economy and Taxation
    • 1. We lament the impact that tax policy has on the economic health of our nation.
    • 2. We oppose the use of tax policy to punish people at the lowest levels of income.
    • 3. We support the use of progressive tax burdens to balance the collection of taxes based on the ability to pay them.
    • 4. We support the fair collection of taxes from corporation and businesses that benefit from economic activity supported by the American people.
  3. Our Natural Environment
    • 1. We pray that Earth, our only home, a creation of God ,and gift to all who live in it, is respected and preserved for many generations to come.
    • 2. We regret any degradation of our environment and wish to establish that all inhabitants and species are entitled to clean air, water, land, and food.
    • 3. We implore the Administration to preserve and protect national parks, wilderness areas, and publicly-held lands from exploitation by commercial interests and others.
    • 4. We lament the destruction and encroachment of habitat that threaten wildlife and endangered species.
    • 5. We lament the exploitation of public lands for short-term benefits that create long-term adverse impacts.
  4. Equality
    • 1. We lament when humankind is not respected as a creation of God, who created all of humanity in His image.
    • 2. We implore the Administration to accept that God, in infinite wisdom and desire, creates people of every ethnicity, gender orientation, level of giftedness, ability, and appearance, to be acknowledged for their value as individuals and beloved children of God.
    • 3. We pledge to oppose any effort to diminish the rights and privileges of all people, in solemn promise to God.
  5. Justice for All Peoples
    • 1. We lament any effort to apply the justice of our republic unfairly or unequally.
    • 2. We pledge to support all people in their quest for justice against the government should it become necessary.
    • 3. We lament the unnecessary incarceration of nonviolent offenders and pray for justice to be fairly and equally administered to all, regardless of economic standing.
    • 4. We lament the disparity of justice as administered today and pray the government take actionable steps to remedy past problems and prevent future inequity.
    • 5. We lament the continued use of capital punishment at the federal and state levels of government, it having no effect on the behaviors of criminal individuals and organizations.
  6. Indigenous Peoples and Nations
    • 1. We lament the historical treatment of the indigenous peoples of the continent of North America by colonizers acting under the Doctrine of Discovery.
    • 2. We support the existing treaties that the U.S. government has negotiated with indigenous tribes and entities.
    • 3. We oppose the violation of any treaty or agreement with legal standing by the use of force or illegal possession.
    • 4. We reject the use of eminent domain to confiscate sovereign lands or territories.
  7. Free Trade of Nations
    • 1. We lament all attempts by the U.S. government to pursue unjust benefit against other nations in regards to legal trade.
    • 2. We encourage the use of international law and enforcement to protect against illegal trade practices that diminish the rights of workers across the globe.
    • 3. We support the use of sanctions against nations that violate international treaties and laws, mindful that sanctions can have an adverse affect upon innocent citizens and groups.
  8. Freedom of Religious Practices and Association
    • 1. We lament any effort to separate and distinguish humankind by their religious choices, practices, and beliefs.
    • 2. We submit that the government has no reason or purpose to treat people differently due to religious association.
    • 3. We lament and condemn any expression of harm or act of violence against humanity that is correlated with religious beliefs or practices.
  9. Immigration
    • 1. We lament the hateful rhetoric that the Administration has promoted during the election regarding the nature and intent of immigration.
    • 2. We petition the government to support a legal process of immigration fairly and equitably.
    • 3. We lament the inequity of the process of immigration that fails to treat each person with respect and proceed in a timely manner.
    • 4. We denounce the separation of individuals from families and punitive deportation as counterproductive to building up our nation, which undermines families as an important social and economic structure within society.
  10. Health Care
    • 1. We lament that access to reasonable health care for all is threatened by partisan politics.
    • 2. We implore the U. S. Congress and the Administration to resolve minor issues of the Affordable Care Act, using fair and balanced analysis to remedy the health care inequality in our country.
    • 3. We oppose the arbitrary elimination of the Affordable Care Act by the government without protections for vulnerable and protected classes of citizens
  1. Behavior of the Executive Branch
    • 1. We reject any statements whose sole intent is to divide us as citizens or sow hatred, fear and malice among the people.
    • 2. We lament the appearance that the Administration makes decisions of great importance using very little information or reason.
    • 3. We lament the use of social media to broadcast messages that can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and adversely affect the lives of people, the health and welfare of organizations, and the global economy.
    • 4. We object to any irresponsible and antithetical statements that compromise the safety, peace, and harmony of peoples and nations.
    • 5. We lament the proposed nominees for Cabinet positions who hold positions contrary to administering their agencies with balance and foresight.
    • 6. We oppose the nominations of candidates for Cabinet-level positions who have significant conflicts of interest.

No longer seen as a shining city on a hill and a beacon of hope for people all over the world, the United States of America finds itself at a crucial time in history. We, the undersigned citizens and parties to this Statement, pledge our effort to hold the incoming Administration to the highest standards of conduct and adherence to the laws of our nation.

We will advocate for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and those who have no voice in the affairs of our nation, reflecting our beliefs in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. We will tell truth to power and be present when wrongs need to be righted. We will use the tools of democracy to forge a better future and oppose any or all who would diminish our nation for personal gain or petty retribution.

Finally, we would echo the thoughts of the prophet Micah: We should act justly, to love mercy, show kindness, and walk humbly before God and each other.


Wayne R Shipman

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