The latest effort to breach the sacrosanct wall between church and state comes from PCUSA Staed Clerk Gradye Parsons, who writes to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker urging him to adopt PCUSA doctrine as the standard for the current labor standoff:
I am writing on behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on the matter of collective bargaining by public employees of state governments. The policies of our General Assembly, the highest governing council of our church, have repeatedly addressed matters of unionization and collective bargaining. We fully support the urgent communication you have received from the John Knox Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), our regional judicatory based in Madison, Wisconsin, and repeat what they have quoted for you–a portion of our long-standing commitment to the right of workers to bargain collectively:
The 1995 General Assembly statement (“God’s Work in Our Hands”) specifically provides: “Justice demands that social institutions guarantee all persons the opportunity to participate actively in economic decision making that affects them. All workers … have the right to choose to organize for the purposes of collective bargaining.”
Therefore, The Presbytery of John Knox, meeting on February 19,2011 in Muscoda, Wisconsin, called upon Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s other elected representatives to enter into good-faith negotiations with Wisconsin’s public employee unions to deal with Wisconsin’s current budget issues and to respect the rights of all workers to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.
As Presbyterians we base the rights of all workers, corporations and governments in a doctrine of covenant or mutual accountability that undergirds all contracts and includes our social contract in the United States. We share with many people of faith the conviction that collective bargaining is a concrete measure by which burdens and benefits are shared in a manner deeply consistent with both our faith and our democratic values. Our doctrine of vocation affirms that all human beings have a calling from God to serve the common good.
It is our understanding that your state workers have already agreed to significant sacrifices as an appropriate part of the overall effort to reduce expenses. To take away their future right to collective bargaining is an attack on a basic principle, rather than simply a cost-cutting measure. We challenge your administration to embody fairness and the sharing of burdens in your tax and wage policies, and to lead by your own example.
Three points on the letter: 1) He is completely mistaken if he thinks that the power of collective bargaining has nothing to do with the state’s fiscal condition. When politicians and public employee unions set up the kind of backscratching relationship that both cultivate, the taxpayer–and the state budget that he funds–is always going to be the loser. 2) Note that he slides from the PCUSA statement, which speaks non-specifically of “the right to choose to organize for the purposes of collective bargaining,” to the assumption that that means collective bargaining on every issue. 3) Given his belief that collective bargaining on all issues is a “basic principle,” I assume he will soon be writing to President Obama to decry the violation of basic principle, nay, the involuntary servitude under which federal employees currently labor.
For the umpeenth time, please note that the same people who are among the loudest to cry “church and state! church and state!” when conservatives bring religious principles to bear in public policy debates are among the loudest to use religious principles of their own when it comes to policy outcomes they favor.