In Support of Bearing Witness
To All Employees of Conscience:
We, the undersigned, are people of faith and moral courage from across the U.S. who stand united in our support for those who wish to come forward as torch bearers of truth during this critical time in our nation’s history.
Employees in government and government-associated positions, in particular, may witness abuses that threaten justice and undermine our democracy. At every level of government, the vital role that workplace whistleblowers have played over the decades cannot be underestimated. Whether publicly or privately, when whistleblowers bring forward information that evidences illegality, abuse of authority, gross waste or mismanagement or threats to public health or safety; or when they refuse to obey an illegal order; they are catalysts for accountability. They are preserving the essential tenets of justice that transcend political parties and partisanship. Whistleblowers serve in a place of honor in our nation and around the world.
The consequences of one brave person’s moral courage can make a dramatic difference in the lives of millions. Military analyst Daniel Ellsberg famously disclosed the Pentagon Papers in 1971, revealing that multiple administrations had lied to Congress and the public about the Vietnam War. Their release contributed to ending the war and created landmark legal protections for the press. FDA researcher David Graham prompted the recall of the deadly painkiller, Vioxx, by exposing efforts to suppress findings that it had caused over 40,000 heart attacks. FBI agent Colleen Rowley disclosed that mishandled information and poor cooperation between intelligence agencies prevented her Minneapolis office from getting a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer the month prior to the 9/11 attacks. That the attacks might have been prevented resulted in structural changes at the FBI and CIA to improve counterterrorism efforts.
And recently, whistleblowers have revealed unprecedented interference by the former Attorney General in the decision not to allow a grand jury to investigate the tragic police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice; immigration detention abuses that include separating children from families, harm to children in detention, uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in facilities, and gynecological procedures performed without informed consent; political pressure on political leaders in Ukraine to investigate political opponents of the president; and censorship in climate change science. Even our houses of worship were targeted when law enforcement was used to clear lawful peaceful protesters without provocation and with excessive force, according to a National Guard whistleblower, to facilitate a presidential photo-op near the White House, at St. John's Church.
Our country needs the moral courage of whistleblowers of all political views and all faiths to help us defend integrity, promote honesty and ensure grace in government as a path toward a more perfect union. Without them, corruption and coverups would succeed in thwarting laws and norms upon which lives, democracy and justice rest. Legal protections for whistleblowers are essential and should be strengthened.
We ask that if you find yourself at the crossroads between coming forward in the face of bearing witness to wrongdoing, and remaining silent, that you listen to your conscience and lean into your faith to find the strength needed to speak up and protect our nation’s values, our democratic processes, and the most vulnerable among us.
We stand ready to offer our spiritual guidance with informed support that includes the Government Accountability Project’s faith-based initiative: Bearing Witness. We take seriously the complexities truth-tellers face when they refuse to let violations of the public trust go unnoticed or covered up. Which is why we are taking this public stand in support of all who are called to bear witness. We will stand with you.