Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Prophetic Justice Principles

The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. of Riverside Church suggests the following "prophetic justice principles" by which people of faith should test their leaders' policies:

1. Seek the common good: Does the policy represent the common good of society rather than the interest of an elite few?

2. Be truthful in facts and motives: Is the policy based on a true analysis and does it disclose its true intention? How likely is the policy to achieve its proposed purpose?

3. Promote unity and inclusion: Does the policy hold the prospect of reducing the polarization and fragmentation of the society due to race, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin?

4. Care for the poor: Does the policy provide good news for the poor? Does it reverse the trend toward an ever-widening gap between rich and poor?

5. Protect the vulnerable: Is the policy good for the children, the elderly, and the disadvantaged? Does it show sensitivity to the spirit of the golden rule?

6. Guard freedom of thought and discussion: Does the policy provide for free press, free discussion, and the expression of dissent along with fair and just methods of participation in the democratic process?

7. Respect other nations and peoples: Does the policy encourage respect for peoples and nations other than our own? Does it respect the fundamental dignity of every human being? Does it use diplomacy as a valued instrument of statecraft in resolving international conflicts and refrain from unilateral military actions for empire-building and domination strategies?

8. Ensure stewardship of creation: Is the policy supportive of strong measures to insure ecological responsibility and sustainability?

9. Cherish the human family: Does the policy practice good global citizenship involving respect for all cultures and nations, and collective responsibility for the common good of the global community? Does it refrain from nationalism, militarism or imperialism based on a sense of national superiority?

10. Provide moral leadership: Does the policy lead by example, doing the right thing and holding the right lessons for our children and our citizens? Does it promote a more ethical society, and uphold trust in public offices?


I think that this is a pretty good list. A few comments, though. Some of it seems a bit cumulative (7 and 9 for example). I also think that care for the sick should be added. I would either add a separate Care for the Sick number, or I would explicitly add the sick and disabled as examnples under #5. I think it is more than clear that Jesus held a special concern for the sick as well as for the poor.

We also might have a principles which asks whether the policy refrains from vengeance and retribution, as I think that those aims are particularly un-Christian and of special concern in these times.


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