A group of Baptist pastors and leaders writing as “moral theologians” has issued a Christmastime letter challenging Wal-Mart to become a “Golden Rule” company.
An initial 132 church leaders signed the Dec. 14 letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. The <Baptist Center for Ethics spearheaded a similar letter last year, signed by 13 moderate Baptist leaders.
This year’s letter expressed concern about Wal-Mart corporate practices that conflict with “pro-family values” like justice and responsibility.
“We believe that Wal-Mart has been given and entrusted with much wealth, power and influence,” the Baptist leaders wrote. “We believe that much is required of and demanded from Wal-Mart in terms of its responsibility to working families. That responsibility necessitates that Wal-Mart treat well its employees with such things as:
–Fair-living wages, not poverty-level wages.
–Generous health care benefits, not eliminating low-deductible health care plans.
–Decent places to work that treat women with dignity and equality.
–Respectful schedules for children in school.
–Good benefits for sound retirements.
“A company with the wealth of Wal-Mart has the responsibility to advance the common good for a better society, not seek only personal gain,” the letter continued. “Wal-Mart’s leaders need to recognize their moral obligations to be good stewards of what the corporation has been given and entrusted, not simply through acts of charity but with justice for working-family employees who have built but not necessarily benefited from Wal-Mart’s vast earnings.”
The letter observes that Christmas celebrates the birth of the Messiah who gave the “moral imperative of the Golden Rule,” which “encourages Christian consumers to consider where they shop and that guides corporate practices.”
“We challenge you this Christmas to make Wal-Mart a Golden Rule company, one that is mindful in reflecting the best of Christian values and one that seeks a higher standard for its employees and their families,” the letter concluded.
The letter was drafted by Robert Parham, executive director of the BaptistCenter for Ethics in Nashville, Tenn. Signers are predominantly Baptist pastors and church staff, professors and agency heads, but there are 10 Lutherans and one Episcopalian as well.
Other signatures will be added in coming days to the letter.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.