Notable Quotes

On Civic Engagement


Activism is my rent for living on this planet.

—Alice Walker


Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel


In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.

—Dag Hammarskjold


The question should not be 'What would Jesus do?' but rather, more dangerously, 'What would Jesus have me do?' The onus is not on Jesus but on us, for Jesus did not come to ask semidivine human beings to do impossible things. He came to ask human beings to live up to their full humanity; he wants us to live in the full implication of our human gifts, and that is far more demanding.

—Rev. Peter J. Gomes


On the Death Penalty


Having lost my father and grandmother to gun violence, I will understand the deep hurt and anger felt by the loved ones of those who have been murdered. Yet I can't accept the judgment that their killers deserve to be executed. This merely perpetuates the tragic, unending cycle of violence that destroys our hope for a decent society.

—The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The movement to abolish the death penalty needs the religious community because the heart of religion is about compassion, human rights, and the indivisible dignity of each human person made in the image of God.

—Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking)


On Education


The health and strength of our nation depends on the ability of its citizens to understand issues and to treat each other with respect. The single entity that is broad and deep enough to assure that ability is our public schools. Children must have every opportunity to develop the skills, both academic and personal, that will ensure a prosperous, equitable, and free society.

—Laura Sadler Olin, Executive Director, Lancaster Foundation for Educational Enrichment


On the Environment


There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.

Marshall McLuhan, 1964


We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

—Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac


On Health Care


Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

—The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey


On Justice


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


On Love


Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can."

—Thomas Merton


On Peace


It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

On Poverty


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed and well-fed.

—Herman Melville


People often make incorrect assumptions about poverty in America. Poverty, some think, only exists in big cities, and only affects the unemployed, the homeless, racial minorities, recent immigrants, or people struggling with substance abuse. In reality, poverty impacts people from all sections of American society: the elderly, the working poor, children, all types of families, and residents of urban, rural, and suburban communities alike.

—Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) website on poverty (no longer available)


On Power


Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power, and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack”


Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

—Thomas Jefferson


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

—Margaret Mead, Anthropologist, Writer, and Speaker (1901-1978)


Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.

—Mr. Rogers


There's nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible. If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible.

—Archbishop Desmond Tutu


On Taxes


Compulsory taxation is the only way our country can obtain a level of revenues that meets the biblical mandate of reasonable opportunity. This is because most of us will never voluntarily contribute our fair share, given our inescapable greedy tendencies resulting from the fall of humankind…

—Susan Pace Hamill, Professor of Law, University of Alabama