Statement of Conscience of the First Unitarian Church of San Jose on Corporate Personhood and Its Destructive Role in Our Society
We understand that when corporations, especially large corporations, have the same Constitutional rights as real people, they inevitably have greater access to these rights. Corporations have greater economic and legal resources to enforce these rights. And these resources allow them to press for broader interpretations that favor corporate rights over the rights of real people. In many instances, these new interpretations are applied to the detriment of real people and the communities in which we live. Since large corporations choose to use these rights in ways that harm real people, with ever greater negative consequences, our society can no longer afford to grant these rights to corporations.
We understand that when we give corporations, especially large corporations, access to these rights, we undermine our democracy. Most recently, with the Citizen’s United v. The Federal Election Commission decision in 2010, the Supreme Court has found that money was in fact speech, and that it was unlawful to limit the free speech rights of corporations. There is no way real people can compete with the financial resources large corporations have at their disposal. We can no longer afford to allow our democracy to slip under the control of large corporate interests.
We, the members of the First Unitarian Church of San José, agree that corporate personhood has been a destructive force in our democracy. By equating corporations with people, the Supreme Court has degraded what it means to be a person in our society. It has also elevated corporations to the same level as real people in our society. Corporations have no spirit, no conscience, and no morality - to equate them with people in any sense is morally and spiritually wrong.
We are not opposed to business or corporations. We are opposed to corporations (usually large corporations) that use their power to the detriment of real people, our environment and our society.
We understand that we can not wait for our government officials or our court system to remedy this situation. It is up to real people to take back our rights, our democracy and our society from corporations. We will only be able to do this when we join together with the other real people in our society, both within our congregation and our community.
We will take personal actions, such as educating ourselves and meeting with our elected representatives. We, as a congregation, will join with our fellow real people and take mass actions until we have taken our democracy back.