The effort to end unlimited campaign contributions is a fundamental civil rights issue, a chance for people who elect our leaders to take back power from those who give them money. While it is clear what the campaign finance reform movement opposes, we need to make it just as clear what we stand for: reclaiming our democracy. And the House debate on reform made clear how much a government of the people depends on continuous acts of faith.
Working to reform our political system seems very much in keeping with my personal faith as a Christian. Our broad coalition for campaign finance reform includes many denominationsthe Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Methodists, Episcopal Church, the Catholic group Network, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. But the opposition to reform also includes faith-based groups. Even on slavery, President Lincoln noted, both sides "read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other."
Early on Feb. 14, my thoughts returned to the role of faith in reforming our democracy. The House was debating amendments to the Shays-Meehan Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform bill before holding the final vote. By 2 a.m. our lobbying was long since done, and a dozen of us from Common Cause were sitting in the Capitol, watching the debate. In the course of opposing a mean-spirited amendment to restrict the rights of immigrants, Rep. Christopher Shays began by saying, "I had fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."