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BK Blog Post
Posted by Tom Devine.
Tom Devine is legal director of the Government Accountability Project, where he has worked to assist thousands of whistleblowers to come forward and has been involved in the all of the campaigns to pass or defend major whistleblower laws over the last two decades.
Editor's Note: This op-ed first appeared in the National Catholic Reporter. Martin Edwin Andersen is a former GAP client and national security whistleblower. Here he answers the question, "If you managed to meet up with Pope Francis during his U.S. visit – and you had his full, undivided attention for five minutes – what would you say to him?"
While visiting the world's longest-lasting democracy I humbly ask that you bestow a blessing on whistleblowers — ecumenical "bell ringers" who, like those who tend to church bells, set off alarms when danger threatens our communities.
In a world filled with discord, violence, and hate, in this country we pride ourselves on having democratic roots extending all the way to ancient Athens. Yet in Greece, the “scapegoating" that was practiced was the casting of wrongdoers out of the community, just as the Bible tells us a goat was chosen and sent to die in the desert as part of the Day of Atonement.
The tragedy in the United States is that in government too often it is not criminals who are those cast aside, but rather those who speak truth to power; the wrongdoers hiding behind the cloaks of representatives of modern-day Caesars seemingly willing to wash their hands like bureaucratic Pontius Pilates.
When Jesus cleared the temple of money changers, it is written that he did so by overturning their tables and even using a whip. In keeping with his example, we whistleblowers, although often becoming battered sheep in the process, also seek to fight against fraud, corruption, lies, and other kinds of wrongdoing.
In following Caesar's law today, whistleblowers submit to earthly authority but render unto it the things that are the government's, while still holding fast to God's things.
Too often moral illiteracy in Washington does a lot of heavy lifting for fanatical groups at home and around the world, even as human rights and anti-corruption are two of the boldest banners held high by whistleblowers. If we know anything, it is that bad governments help create bad men.
Although we are a small and still largely unprotected ecumenical group, we try to make a better world where we can. Please give us your blessing and bless those who are our champions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, whose colleagues most need to hear your clear and commanding voice when you speak before them.