The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined 34 religious groups in strong opposition to fast-negotiating authority for trade agreements. The interfaith coalition, made up of Quaker, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic organizations, sent a letter this week to Congress urging members to ensure that trade policies “reflect the highest moral values and promote the common good.” 

 Fast track would allow trade bills to move rapidly through the approval process, eliminating efforts to fully explore their impact on workers, vulnerable populations, and the environment. In its letter, the coalition said the process promotes corporations at the expense of people in need. 

“As people of faith, we are advocates for fair trade, not free trade,” said the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness. “No nation should experience increased suffering due to a trade agreement with the United States.” 

The coalition argues that trade agreements should receive fair public hearings, protect people living in poverty, promote the dignity of all workers, and responsibly protect God’s creation. “Trade must be mutually beneficial to all countries and peoples, particularly those living in marginalized communities, not just the wealthy. We are living in a time of significant global inequality, and trade policy must be aimed at promoting the well-being of all.” 

The letter describes fast track as a “broken and undemocratic process” that supports the views of global corporations while excluding the voices of those adversely impacted by the agreements. 

“Fast track ensures that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is flawed from its inception,” said Nelson. “Our role as Christians is to advocate for the least of these and choose economic reciprocity for all nations involved. Fair trade encourages transparency and values people power over corporate greed.” 

If Congress approves fast track, only the president and certain corporate advisors will have the power to negotiate these trade agreements. 

To learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, go to: