• Tell Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to drop charges against #BlackLivesMatter protesters
    In December of 2014, over 3,000 people of all ages, races, and religious traditions gathered at the Mall of America to proclaim that Black Lives Matter; to proclaim an end to the "business as usual" economic policies which oppress and impoverish; and to proclaim that the terrorization of people of color through police violence and mass incarceration must stop. The gathering was a beautiful expression of non-violent protest and was filled with clergy, families, activists and artists who sang, preached, spoke-out and engaged in a powerful die-in. As protesters laid their bodies on the floor in symbolic death and solidarity with Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, and the thousands more lost to police brutality, I stood with other clergy, encircling the peaceful protesters, and prayed. With hands lifted heavenward, I prayed that our economy (and the Mall of America which so powerfully represents it) would stop using the bodies of Brown and Black people to enrich the few. I prayed that the hundreds of police who surrounded us wearing bullet-proof vests, riot helmets and carrying weapons could see, especially in this season of the birth of the Christ child, the truth about the humanity and vulnerability of Black and Brown lives. I prayed that somehow I might continue to find the courage to put my white, woman’s, clergy body in the places that Jesus would have put his body—in solidarity where people are harmed. But instead of receiving our multiracial, peaceful ritual as a witness for justice, the Mall of America and the City of Bloomington responded with police in military and riot gear, shutting down the Mall for a period of time. “What started as a demonstration of Dr. King’s vision of the 'beloved community,' became a reminder of what Dr. King warned could destroy our nation: the triple giants of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism,” said Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the protesters charged. The Mall of America and the City of Bloomington augmented their militarized response by infiltrating meetings and surveilling social media to find the organizers of the protest and charge them with multiple offenses, including trespassing—an action that even former prosecutors have called a misuse of power. Instead of protecting the powerless from the powerful-- the mandate from our faith traditions and, indeed, the core ethical responsibility of our legal system--Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson has used her great power to buttress the powerful against those who hold far less power. On August 5th, in response to a defense motion, the most serious of the charges were dropped against the organizers. But there remain offenses which still require costly legal fees to fight. We demand that City Attorney Sandra Johnson drop ALL the charges against the #MOA36. OUR VALUES This die-in and the prayer that surrounded it were my Advent and Christmas practice. They were my way of marking the reality that God seeks to be born into real people’s lives and real people’s suffering. When Black and Brown lives still don’t matter enough to be paid a living wage, or kept out of the school to prison pipeline, or be spared a fatal bullet from a police officer’s gun, then people of faith of all races need to witness to the fact that Black Lives Matter—even in the rotunda of the Mall of America. HOW IT WILL BE DELIVERED To highlight the need for an end to business as usual and a new economic way of life that honors Black and Brown lives, we will personally deliver these signed petitions to City Attorney Sandra Johnson during the Labor Day commemoration.
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    Created by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel
  • Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Take Down That Flag!
    On June 17, 2015 one young, white man filled with hate accepted the hospitality of nine African Americans and then massacred them. His descent into hatred is well-documented. He has provided a gallery of photos glorifying racist logos and images. We can do nothing to assuage the grief and shock of those who mourn the Charleston Nine. But we can make their slaughter stand for something. We can take action against the display of the flag that motivated the murderer of the Charleston Nine, the latest but certainly not the first, to put into violent action the message of a flag that represents hatred and bigotry.
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  • Stand in Solidarity with Families of Charleston Church Shooting
    On Wednesday night, a gunman opened fire in a historic African American church – at least 9 people were killed, including the pastor. The shooting is the largest attack on a faith community in recent US history. As people of many faiths and beliefs – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, Humanist, and others – our hands tremble with the horror and grief of this bloodshed in a sacred space. We must move quickly to show the community of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church our solidarity, and that we are equally horrified by this shooting. We stand with the Charleston community and reject the hateful actions of this shooter. And we pledge our love and support as the community mourns and begins to heal.
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  • People of faith demand Gov. Cuomo allow special prosecutor to investigate police killings
    Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Mike Brown. Yvette Smith. John Crawford. Kimani Gray. Aiyana Stanley Jones. Reka Boyd. Sean Bell. Ezell Ford. Alex Nieto. Oscar Grant. The list goes on. Our black and brown brothers and sisters are being killed by police every 28 hours. This is unacceptable. We demand that the federal government do more to protect and bring justice to our brother and sisters of color. Our faith traditions tell us that we are all God’s children and created in His image. This calls for every person, regardless of race or ethnicity, to be live in communities free of fear from the very individuals called to serve and protect them. If you too are deeply disturbed by the incidents of police brutality impacting our communities of color … If you too are heartbroken and mourn with the families who have lost loved ones to police violence … Add your name to stand with us as people of faith to demand action.
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    Created by Crystal Walthall
  • Tell President Obama: You left out the migrant children and families
    On November 20th, 2014 President Obama announced modifications to immigration policy, providing temporary relief from deportation to many undocumented Americans, recognizing the values of family unity and the inalienable human rights of our immigrant sisters and brothers. The President's relief action, however, has left out the most vulnerable population: Children and others who have fled terror and violence, seeking safety and protection with family members living here in the United States. This year we witnessed one of the largest refugee crises in the Western hemisphere, with 69,000 unaccompanied migrant children, half of whom are girls, arriving at the US border. They are primarily from four countries: Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. An equal number of adults, many traveling with their young children and families, also arrived this year. In every way, they are refugees. They are fleeing unspeakable violence and harm: death threats, rape, extortion by organized crime, and other forms of terror and violence. Honduras has the #1 murder rate in the world; El Salvador #4; Guatemala #5. Their governments either will not or cannot protect them from harm. Additionally, they have experienced terrible trauma on the perilous journey to the US border, often traveling on the tops of trains, overtaken by gangs and corrupt police forces. In every way, they are refugees; but the Obama administration is not treating them as refugees, but criminalizing them for seeking protection and safety. Instead of being housed by refugee agencies, they are arrested and detained in family immigration detention centers. See http://grassrootsleadership.org/facts-about-family-detention Instead of being welcomed and supported, our nation's resources are being used to deport them and send them back to danger. Their deportation cases are being expedited on "rocket dockets," forcing children and families to appear quickly in immigration court, in some cases with as little as one week or a few months. This gives impossibly little time to find an attorney and adequately prepare a viable aslyum case. Rocket dockets are compromising due process under national and international law. Immigrants are not provided attorneys, and many are unable to obtain or hire an affordable attorney in such a short time. 70% of migrant children cannot afford an attorney. Without an attorney, children as young as 2 years old, would be required to represent themselves before an immigration judge. 9 out of 10 children without attorneys will be deported. Asylum laws are outdated and do not adequately protect people fleeing from the kind of harm currently facing people from Mexico and Central America, such as persecution by organized crime, gangs, and narco traffickers. WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA MUST DO: We are a nation that believes in providing safe haven for those facing persecution and threats to life. Pope Francis declared on July 15, 2014 “This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected." And that these measures “must be accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.” The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Senior Protection Officer, Leslie Velez, testified before the United States Congressional House Judiciary Committee, June 25, 2014, that the children require international protection. As people of faith and people of conscience, we see all children as our children. We believe that all children must be ensured international protection and be treated with dignity and respect. We believe we are called to care for all children, as if they were our own. President Obama just protected up to 5 million immigrants. Surely he can do the same for approximately 120,000 Central American and Mexican children, individuals and families who should be considered refugees and kept safe from harm. Some of us are Sanctuary congregations, joining together with other People of Conscience. We will not allow these child and refugee families to be sent back. If our government will not protect children, we, Sanctuary and people of conscience, will. Petition Co-Sponsoring Organizations: University Lutheran Chapel - Berkeley, The East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights- CLUE,
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  • Tell the NRA: A Catholic priest protecting Chicago kids is not a ‘terrorist’
    Fr. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic leader organizing against gun violence in Chicago, was viciously attacked by a local chapter of the NRA. In an effort to smear his character, the Illinois State Rifle Association compared Fr. Pfleger to ISIS. Father Pfleger is a community hero in Chicago who has fought to save the lives of children and teenagers. He has relentlessly sought to hold gun shops and gun manufacturers accountable for profiting off the bloodshed they produce. He was compared to ISIS after speaking at a rally at Chuck’s Gun Shop where he asked gun shop owners to make sure their weapons don’t get into the hands of criminals. (Chuck’s is the #1 supplier of the guns used in murders on the southside of Chicago. They sold more guns between 1996 and 2000 that ended up in the hands of criminals than any store in the country.) As people of faith, we are called to ask the National Rifle Association to distance itself from the violent, painful, and reckless words of its local affiliate. Father Pfleger should be praised for his courageous work to heal our country and prevent gun violence, not targeted with violence in the form of painful and irresponsible smears. Right now, the NRA has the opportunity to make amends and show its commitment to dialogue about gun violence prevention with community leaders who are on the frontlines and working to heal our country. If we as a nation want to protect our children from gun violence, we have to challenge the NRA’s misleading and often hateful language, which spreads fear and undermines public support for reform. This is our chance to invite the NRA to support a faith leader with a goal we all share: To protect our children and end gun violence.
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    Created by Catholics United
  • People of Faith Call on the Louisiana Legislature to Help the Poor, Stay Out of People's Bedrooms
    On April 15, 2014, the Louisiana House of Representatives voted 66-27 to retain a state law that bans sexual relations between consenting adults. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such laws are unconstitutional, and they cannot be legally enforced. During what is for many people one of the most sacred seasons of the year (Holy Week and Passover), Louisiana lawmakers decided that the best use of their time would be to make an official pronouncement against the 100,000+ Louisianans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the millions more who love them. Their vote means: "You are not welcome in Louisiana. If it were up to us, you would be fined thousands of dollars or put into jail for up to five years." Trying to extend the reach of government, they also said with their vote: "What you choose to do in your own bedroom is our business." This is in violation of a central tenet of all our faith traditions -- to "love your neighbor." It is especially damaging to LGBT children, who like all children need to know that they are loved and respected as God's unique creations. Louisiana lawmakers used their positions and taxpayer resources to express those intolerant and ignorant opinions, instead of focusing on the fact that Louisiana: > Ranks second in terms of state poverty rates > Has the nation's highest murder rate > Has the highest incarceration rate in the world > Stands to lose billions of dollars and refuse medical care to low income people by refusing to accept federal money to expand Medicaid > Is slipping into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of one football field per hour The legislature's vote is not only mean spirited, it is also ironic: Many of these lawmakers are themselves guilty of the "sin of Sodom" as expressed in Ezekiel 16:49: "Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door." As clergy and ordinary people of faith, we call on the Louisiana House of Representatives to repeal Louisiana code 14:89 - the "sodomy law" - and then move on to the real work that needs to be done so the state can live up to its full potential: > Help people to rise out of poverty > Make our streets safe > Keep people out of jail if they don't need to be there > Accept federal money to expand Medicaid > Save this beautiful land before it disappears into the sea.
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    Created by Max Niedzwiecki
  • LIVE OUT THE VISION FOR A GLOBAL ETHIC
    Twenty years ago, more than 100 global faith and spiritual leaders declared a shared vision of the world’s critical challenges, and what we can do in harmony to eradicate these problems. While we celebrate this pioneering global ethic, the work toward true interreligious and human harmony continues. Our generation lives in the face of the same struggles: Continuous war, division, poverty, hunger, violence, ecological danger, and political dysfunction toward achieving true, lasting harmony. And yet, the world is still populated by a groundswell of caring, collaborative, and eager people. The innovators of contemporary interfaith trailblazed; their declaration to fix a world languishing presented a CALL TO ACTION we as millennials are better equipped to accept than any generation before. It is time for a fundamental change of hearts and minds, to act harmoniously with one another and our earth, transcendent of boundary and creed. THE GROUNDSWELL FOR A BETTER FUTURE BEGINS WITH THIS PLEDGE. SIGN AND DECLARE: We are interdependent. We take individual responsibility for all we do. All our decisions, actions, and failures to act have consequences. We consider humankind our family. We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice, and peace. We must strive for a just social and economic order in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. Earth cannot be changed for the better unless the consciousness of individuals is changed first. We pledge to increase our awareness by disciplining our minds, by meditation, by prayer, or by positive thinking. Without risk and a readiness to sacrifice there can be no fundamental change in our situation. Therefore we commit ourselves to this global ethic, to understanding one another, and to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and nature-friendly ways of life. WE INVITE ALL PEOPLE, RELIGIOUS, SPIRITUAL, AND ETHICAL, TO DO THE SAME. Signing is easy, but committing takes guts. Will you: 1) Commit to and sign the Global Ethic!* ( Full text of the Towards a Global Ethic declaration is downloadable by clicking on "Campaign website" on the left sidebar. 2) Share how you will live out the global ethic for a better future for all. 3) Start a conversation with your teachers, faith leaders, family partners, and especially those with whom you seek to find common ground: like your grandparents, co-workers, and in-laws! 4) Ask your neighbors to sign, too. Use Facebook, e-mail, and around the old-fashioned water cooler . Tip: If a debate erupts, steer the conversation toward your common core values. 5) Pick a partner, pick a common cause, and pick a time to act together. 6) Let go of hate. Live out the vision.
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    Created by Parliament of the World's Religions Picture
  • The MoveMeant-Ending gun violence one person at a time
    This is important because people's lives are very important. It is personally important to me because my Dad Mr. Clarence Bibbs, Jr. was a hard-working citizen who had worked over 30 years in a local steelmill. He was also a Foreman for many years. My Dad's life tragically ended on July 2, 1997 due to gun violence. His murder has still not be solved. Gun violence hit home for me and I have decided that I must take a stand in his honor and pray that others will stand with me.
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    Created by Therese Bibbs
  • Open a Civil Rights Case For Trayvon Martin
    The verdict is out, but our fight for justice is far from over. As people of many faiths and beliefs, we stand with the NAACP to ask the Department of Justice to open a civil rights case for Trayvon Martin. Join us in building a groundswell of #Justice4Trayvon.
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  • Faith Leaders Against Cage Fighting in New York
    In the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it is unthinkable that lawmakers in any jurisdiction would risk exposing our children to an activity that involves extreme violence and brutality. Cage fighting, also known as “ultimate fighting” and “mixed martial arts,” is sensationalized violence that has no place in civilized society. In these contests, fighters are allowed to knock each other unconscious through elbows, kicks and knees to the head; and to strangle each other to the point of passing out through choke holds. At least four cage fighters from the United States are reported to have died from injuries sustained during amateur or professional cage fights. We are also deeply concerned that cage fighters have competed in public stadiums and on television bearing Neo-Nazi messages in tattoos and on clothing. The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote: “Not surprisingly, this rapidly rising blood sport is likewise wildly popular among racist skinheads and other young extremists with a thirst for violence.” These public displays of violence and hate are all the more troubling in light of the fact that cage fighting is being actively marketed to children. Today, children as young as seven years old are participating in cage fighting tournaments. Videos of these contests show children punching and kicking each other from behind chain-link fences, while adult spectators clap and cheer. Any entertainment spectacle that allows people to pummel each other in bloodstained cages has no place in a state that aspires to be a model for progressives, as well as a capital of art and culture. As a society, we have an obligation to protect our children from extreme violence and hate speech, just as we have an obligation to protect our children from drugs, alcohol and pornography. On behalf of our children, families, communities, and congregations, we strongly urge you to vote against any proposal that would bring cage fighting events to the State of New York. Patrick J. Carolan, Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network, Washington, D.C. Father John P. Duffell, Church of the Blessed Sacrament, New York Rita Freedman, Acting Executive Director, Jewish Labor Committee, New York Joseph J. Fahey, Ph.D. Chair, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, New York Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition Father Brian Jordan, O.F.M.. Saint Francis College, New York Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, New York Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, New York Father J. Cletus Kiley, Director of Immigration Policy, UNITE HERE, Chicago Sister Marie Lucy, O.S.F., Franciscan Action Network, Washington, D.C. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, New York
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  • Join Newtown Clergy: Tell Senate To Approve Gun Reform
    Dear Senators, It’s been less than three months since our community experienced the unspeakable tragedy of the murder of children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the clergy leaders of Newtown, joined by clergy colleagues from across the nation, we have witnessed the scourge of gun violence in our neighborhoods, and we call on Congress to pass comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation that will help stop the slaughter. The moral mandate to protect the weak in our care is clear and present in all of our faith traditions. Our varied faith traditions teach us to seek the peace of the city, to love our neighbor, and to cherish human dignity. To see the rising incidence of gun violence from Chicago to Newtown, Camden to Aurora, Detroit to Tucson – and how that violence particularly targets the young and the poor, especially in America’s urban communities - and yet to refuse to take the steps we know would reduce harm is a violation of religious values so severe that we are compelled to speak out. Nothing any of us do will bring back the victims murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a nation we must do all we can to prevent the next tragedy. We pray that you will vote for meaningful gun violence prevention laws that include a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, enforceable universal background checks, an end to gun trafficking and prosecution of straw purchasers. After the news crews and cameras leave, after the rest of the nation turns away and resumes their normal routines, it is we who are asked to answer why this happened; to bind up the brokenhearted; and to explain why nothing in Newtown or our many communities will ever be the same again. As faith leaders, while we fully support laws that we believe will increase gun safety, we also believe that the larger underlying issue behind violence is spiritual: how we view our obligations to each other in light of our role in God's creation. We draw from a wellspring of tradition that will spark off a spiritual awakening in America that will transform us into a culture of compassion, reconciliation and civility. As faith leaders, we commit ourselves to fostering a culture of peace to complement and serve as a foundation for any proposed gun legislation. The slaughter of innocence in Newtown awakened our nation to the tragedy of gun violence throughout our land and we shall neither slumber nor sleep. Rather, by tireless commitment, loving hearts and the sustaining promise of our many faiths, we believe that Newtown shall be remembered as the bridge to a new and kinder world. Rabbi Shaul Praver, Congregation Adath Israel of Newtown, CT Rev. Matthew Crebbin, Newtown Congregational Church, UCC, Newtown, CT Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd, Trinity Episcopal Church, Newtown, CT Chaplain Eman Beshtawii, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, CT Azeez Bhavnagarwala, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, CT Rev. Mel Kawakami, Newtown United Methodist Church, Newtown, CT Rev. Leo E. McIlrath, Lutheran Home, Southbury, CT Khatib Mohamed El Safty, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, CT Rev. Jane Sibley, Newtown United Methodis tChurch, Newtown, CT Rev. Jim Solomon, New Hope Community Church, Newtown, CT Rev. Janice Touloukian, Newtown Congregational Church, UCC, Newtown, CT This campaign was launched with the PICO Network, a national network of faith-based community organizations working to create innovative solutions to problems facing urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more here: http://www.piconetwork.org/about
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    Created by Newtown Clergy