Faith Leaders to President Trump: Don’t Use Religion to DiscriminateThe religious freedom upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse religious landscape to flourish. The draft executive order flies in the face of that rich diversity by enshrining one religious perspective--on marriage, gender identity, health care, and the role of houses of worship in partisan politics--into law, above all others. This is neither what religious freedom means in the eyes of the law, nor what religion itself means to millions of Americans of faith. The religious freedom of individuals and organizations, including that of clergy and houses of worship, is already protected by the First Amendment and federal law. Additionally, we as clergy and faith leaders, stand by the right of anyone to hold beliefs that may differ from our own. But for many of us, supporting LGBTQ individuals and families is a principle of our faith, and that needs to be respected as well. Furthermore, freedom of religion guarantees us the right to hold any belief we choose and to act on our religious beliefs, but it does not allow us to harm others in the name of those beliefs. We are appalled by the widespread discrimination that this draft order would unleash across all areas of life--including in some cases with taxpayer dollars--on our congregants, our neighbors, our families, so many Americans we may never personally know, and indeed even many of us personally. As people of deep faith committed to a country that supports robust religious expression, and in the spirit of equality and justice, we urge you to return to the true meaning of religious freedom. We must never allow this precious freedom to be used to discriminate against broad swaths of our nation, including LGBTQ people, women, and children in foster care. We urge you to refrain from issuing this executive order or any substantively similar policies on their own, or as amendments to existing executive orders. Sincerely, Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life, Washington, D.C. Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Director, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Washington, D.C.
We Declare Revolutionary Love as the Call of Our TimesWe, people of faith and moral conscience, reclaim Valentine's Day as a Day of Revolutionary Love, Day of Rising. We resist all executive orders and policies that put people in harm’s way. We commit to fight for social justice through the ethic of love -- love for others, our opponents, and ourselves. On Valentine's Day, we will rise up across the U.S. and around the world in music, poetry, dance and action to declare that #RevolutionaryLove is the call of our times.
We Support Civil Disobedience as #MoralResistance.The President has directed our government to construct a wall on our southern border, punish sanctuary cities, facilitate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and construct a pipeline despite the protests of indigenous people. He has made statements to roll back voting rights and police brutality protections. Most recently, he closed our borders to refugees for 120 days and has banned all immigrants from select Muslim-majority countries for a period of time -- a de facto Muslim ban. Altogether, these policies target people for who they are, not anything they have done. The danger of this presidency is no longer hypothetical -- it is happening now. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote that all nonviolent campaigns have four steps: collecting evidence of injustice, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. The President's executive orders confirm evidence of injustice. Faith leaders have continued to ask for a meeting with no response. Many of us have fasted, prayed, or meditated in self-purification. (You can take this 6-hour meditation with Repairers of the Breach on how to prepare for moral resistance: http://www.breachrepairers.org/moralresistance). We are now ready. People of faith and moral conscience around the nation are preparing for direct actions to protest the laws and policies of this administration. We pledge to support nonviolent civil disobedience as a form of #MoralResistance. We will learn about the moral framework for civil disobedience and choose a role for ourselves, whether as protesters, medics, legal observers, witnesses, or care providers. We will train in civil disobedience as practiced and perfected by thousands before us. And we will show up in the time, place, and manner we are needed. Nonviolent civil disobedience is grounded in the ethic of love – for others, opponents, and ourselves. When people use civil disobedience to protest not just a single policy but widespread injustice, then this act of love becomes revolutionary. It can change a community, a culture, even a country. #RevolutionaryLove is the call of our times. We pledge to answer the call together.
Dear Mr. Trump: Will You Advance a Moral Agenda?Pursuing a more perfect union is serious work for any human being. We want to pray for you because we know this is an especially difficult task today. In the prophetic tradition, we want to exhort and challenge you because you cannot do this work alone. Our sacred text honored by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike declares we must do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before God. America’s Constitution begins “We the people…” because it points toward a form of government that requires a broad and engaged coalition of citizens in order to thrive. We want to pray and point towards these essential goals. Mr. Trump, we hope it is your desire to be successful. Success is measured by how we welcome the stranger, care for the sick, care for the poor, and care for the hungry in practice and in policy. In order to be successful in the eyesight of God, leaders must repent when they are wrong, and they must be committed to promote that which is rooted in justice and good will. As clergy dedicated to the care of souls, we know you can neither succeed in a way that pleases God nor fulfill the duties of your office unless you repent. All of us, even persons who hold powerful positions, are called to repent when we violate the deep principles of love, justice, and mercy towards all, especially the least of these. Since your election, our communities have been fractured by harassment and intimidation. People of color and religious minorities are afraid. Poor working people who you appealed to in your campaign are disappointed that you have attacked their union leaders while appointing Wall Street elites who use them to your Cabinet. We are deeply concerned by the policy vision that your Cabinet selections suggest. After inviting Steve Bannon’s white nationalism into the Oval Office, you nominated Jeff Sessions to head the Justice Department—a man who did not receive Senate approval for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of his long history of racial discrimination in Alabama. If he maintains his past positions on civil rights and voting rights, he could overturn and undermine years of victories and protections secured and signed in the blood of the martyrs. Equally insulting to African-Americans is your nomination of Ben Carson, a black man with no experience in government or housing, to head HUD. But race can never be separated from class in America. We are equally concerned about Andy Puzder’s resistance to the movement for a living wage, which impacts over 60 million Americans and 54% of all African-Americans. We are concerned about Tom Price’s expressed commitment to repeal the ACA and take away healthcare from people with preexisting conditions, veterans, and nearly 30 million Americans. We are troubled that you have chosen several people to lead federal agencies that they have publicly attacked in the past. Both this nation and the rest of the world desperately need your heart to grow into a source of courage, so you might work with all people of goodwill to uphold the most sacred moral principles of our faith and constitutional values, which are: 1. Protecting and expanding voting rights and ending voter suppression and unconstitutional gerrymandering. We must also pursue women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, religious freedom rights, all with a commitment to the fundamental principle of equal protection under the law. 2. Pro-labor, anti-poverty, anti-racist policies that build up economic democracy through employment, living wages, the alleviation of disparate unemployment, a just transition away from fossil fuels, labor rights, affordable housing, direct cash transfers and other support for all families struggling to get by, and fair policies for immigrants; and by critiquing policies around warmongering that undermine our moral standing and ability to address domestic issues; 3. Equality in education by ensuring every child receives a high quality, well-funded, constitutionally diverse public education, as well as access to community colleges and universities and by securing equitable funding for minority colleges and universities; 4. Healthcare for all by expanding Medicaid in every state, ensuring access to Medicare and Social Security, moving decisively towards a universal, transparent, and equitable healthcare system, and by providing environmental protection and protecting women’s health; 5. Fairness in the criminal justice system by addressing the continuing inequalities in the system for black, brown and poor white people and fighting the proliferation of guns; We do not believe that these are left or right issues. They are right or wrong issues. And while we know no human being is perfect, we wish to speak with you about these moral issues because far too much is at stake for you to succumb to your worst demons while in public office. Our faith calls us to love all people but this love can never refuse to tell the truth and stand against hate, systemic racism, and economic inequality. We cannot simply congratulate you on your victory and say, “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. We are bound by our vows to tell the truth in love and stand together for justice, love and truth. As this tumultuous year draws to a close, we will hold a National Watch Night service on December 31st at the historic Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC. We will gather to remember the enslaved people who came together to celebrate the possibility of a more perfect union of the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Like them, we will also enlist free women and men to fight for freedom and justice for all people in 2017 and beyond.
Dear Candidates for President, Senate, and Governors: Will You Advance a Moral Agenda?Our moral traditions have a firm foundation upon which to stand against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists. We believe in a moral agenda that stands against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family. We claim a higher ground in partisan debate by returning public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values. Please add your name to call on our 2016 presidential candidates, senate candidates, and governors to advance a moral agenda.
Stand with Catholic Church Workers!In recent years, many Catholic workers have been unjustly terminated or deprived of fair contract renewals. These firings have typically targeted those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), those who are in relationships not recognized by the Church, those who support women’s equality in Church and society, and those who have made decisions about family life in the sacredness of their conscience. These unjust terminations are not only spiritually, emotionally, and financially devastating for the individual, but they also impact students, parishioners, family members, colleagues, and others, often diminishing their level of trust and respect for the Church.
No Justice without a 9th Justice: Tell the Senate to appoint a Supreme Court Justice now!Today as in the past, we need the Supreme Court to maintain immigrant rights, voting rights, women’s rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, and marriage rights for all who call America home. But the delay in Senate consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination leaves a vacancy on the Supreme Court – jeopardizing our freedom, equality, and access to justice. As people of faith from different and diverse faith traditions, we know from firsthand knowledge that millions of our neighbors and their livelihoods are on the line. We call upon the Senate to take action because we recognize and honor the sacred task with which our nation’s Supreme Court justices are charged. Within our western religious canon, we are guided by the words of King Solomon – wisest of judges – who conferred his Proverbs with this purpose: “That (people) may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight, receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity.” (Proverbs 1:2-3) Today the work of justice in our nation is at risk of being thwarted and wise guidance being denied its people by the continued refusal of the Senate leadership to hold hearings. As representatives of many religious and spiritual traditions, we therefore, respectfully urge the Senate to fulfill its duties as outlined in the Constitution by holding a fair, timely, and comprehensive hearing for Chief Judge Merrick Garland. In faith and in shared hope for our democracy,
American Faith Based Organizations Stand Against the Export of Hateful Anti-LGBTI RhetoricWe decry the continued violence against and persecution of people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities/expression, and sex characteristics. We are heartened by LGBTI activists and their allies across the world who are organizing, mobilizing, and advocating against hatred and violence, and we rejoice in the steady steps that they are making toward equality and justice. As allies of the global movement for LGBTI equality, we forcefully denounce the phenomenon of American extremist religious leaders traveling to countries far beyond America’s shores to spread venomous, often violent, rhetoric targeted at the LGBTI community. According to a 2015 Report by the Human Rights Campaign, such leaders have traveled to Uganda, Russia, Argentina, Kenya and many more countries far beyond their own communities, exporting a message of intolerance that encourages and perpetuates violence towards LGBTI communities. They posit LGBTI people as enemies of faith traditions: One Pastor venomously stated that “there is a war going on in the world… and it’s a war between Christians and Homosexuals.” Others have gone so far as to claim that LGBTI people are luring away children, spreading HIV/AIDS, destroying families, and are responsible for mass atrocities such as the Rwandan Genocide and the Holocaust. This rhetoric is far more than bigoted words. In some countries, these extremists have provided fodder and support for domestic legislation that would criminalize homosexuality—in some cases, going so far as to advocate for the death penalty as punishment. To us, this use of faith and religious teachings to provoke and bolster violence and hatred represents a perversion of our traditions at their deepest levels. As faith leaders and heads of religious organizations, we envision a world in which people can live free of violence, regardless of who they are, whom they love, how they present, or what are the characteristics of their body. We advocate for an end to the criminalization and penalization of same-sex conduct. We advocate for state protection for LGBTI people against violence. We support the adoption of full non-discrimination laws and policies that protect LGBTI people from harassment in employment, health care, education, social welfare programs, and the provision of services. We decry the export of hatred from religious U.S. extremists as it is a direct affront to our vision of global equality and beliefs in justice for all people. Together in solidarity with our LGBTI partners abroad, we will work to build a world that upholds the principles of social justice that are the backbone of our scriptures, traditions, and faiths.
Family Film Reviewer Won't Approve Films Featuring Loving LGBT Families: Fight Back!In April, "Love Free or Die" – the story of the first openly gay bishop Gene Robinson – was denied a family-approved rating by the Dove Foundation, a family film reviewer. Why? "Two men kiss and hold hands" and "many people state they are gay." As a minister who pastors to loving LGBT families, including a family shown in the film (two committed dads and the 4 at-risk children they adopted), I cannot emphasize enough that more families need to see "Love Free or Die." It is a film about love, family, and faith, as well as equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters. "Love Free or Die" shares a message that all of our families and children need to explore together: that our faiths and values teach us to love each other and our neighbors, no exceptions. The Dove Foundation exercises a lot of power by narrowing the choices for parents deciding what films are appropriate for their children. It's clear now that Dove focuses not only on the appropriateness of the content (violence and drug use, for example), but also, alarmingly, on what constitutes a family (no LGBT families need apply). It's alarming because many film industry studios, like Fox Home Entertainment, include the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal on all nationally marketed Dove-approved DVDs. Is "Love Free or Die" really the same as "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D," which also is not Dove-approved? I know from experience that you can't help but be positively moved by the love displayed in "Love Free or Die." The film inspires conversations about love and commitment, faith and God, equality and dignity, that make our families stronger, and lay the foundation for our children to grow up as people of faith and values. Now, as a family film reviewer that writes their reviews based on Judeo-Christian values, the Dove Foundation has the opportunity to say that movies like "Love Free or Die," which show loving families, gay and straight, are faith- and family-approved! The faith that I know doesn't teach Love Only Thy Straight Neighbor. In fact, the church where I met Fred and Michael, one of the loving gay couples in Love Free or Die, decided not to perform marriages until same-sex couples could marry. Fred and Michael chose the church because it was a welcoming church for them and their children. Fred and Michael also chose that church for its strong family-focus. Together they had adopted 4 at-risk children, conquering the challenge of raising kids who would have otherwise had a tough life with love and devotion. Fred and Michael saw this as God’s work. Together, we can raise our voices to tell the Dove Foundation that the incredible stories of loving LGBT families – like Bishop Gene Robinson's, like Fred and Michael's – make our families stronger by illustrating a love that our faiths teach: one that embraces all. http://vimeo.com/39888349
People of Faith Say: Lift the Ban on Gay ScoutsWe issue our call as Eagle Scouts, as Christians, and as ministers ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We support the full inclusion of gay, bisexual, and transgender boys in the Boy Scouts of America. This is a moral choice: there is no way for us to be true to our oath as Eagle Scouts without affirming the dignity and inclusion of all God’s children. The Boy Scouts Executive Board just announced that they’re considering ending the longstanding ban on gay Scouts and leaders. The question is: Will they only hear from religious extremists advancing discrimination cloaked in scripture, or will we drown out hate with our call for dignity for all Scouts? We invite people of faith and fellow Eagle Scouts to join us in this petition. The Boy Scouts need to know that the “religious” voices calling for the ban to stay in place do NOT represent the whole of the faith or Scout community – especially when we are so close to a victory for equality. (Rev. Dr. Chris Iosso and I, Rev. Patrick Heery, both Eagle Scouts – share our own personal stories in a short letter titled, "Two Eagle Scout Ministers Say, Lift the Ban on Gay Scouts" - http://justiceunbound.org/action-alerts/two-eagle-scout-ministers-say-lift-the-ban-on-gay-scouts/.) To secure victory, the Boy Scouts need to hear from congregations pledging to maintain, if not enhance, support for scouts and their troops when the ban is lifted. And to know that troops currently hosted and sponsored by churches will not suddenly find themselves kicked out and on the street – or that, if they do, new worshiping communities will take them in. It’s why we’re: (1) calling on the Boy Scouts to lift the ban, and (2) promising to support newly inclusive Scouting. Let’s make sure the Boy Scouts know we've got their backs when they stand for equality! We know that this change may be challenging for some, even though troops will remain able to make their own local policies on this issue. Others of us would like to see a stronger policy guaranteeing protection for gay Scouts. But the truth is that lifting the ban will provide an opportunity for Scouts all over this great nation to discuss and wrestle with these questions—to do so bravely and openly as leaders for today.
People of Faith Statement on Pulse Orlando ShootingOur faith traditions call us to love one another, to mourn those who have died, to comfort the despairing, to speak out against injustice, and to work for the transformation of our world. In this time of mixed emotions and responses, we turn to our faith for guidance, hope, and healing. We lift up the voices of LGBTQ people and stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community against transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia. We acknowledge that this shooting is part of a larger culture of hostility toward transgender, gender nonconforming, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. We reject the use of religion to promote judgment or violence toward LGBTQ people. We acknowledge that the shooting at Pulse occurred on “Latin Night” and disproportionally affected the Latinx LGBTQ community. We lift up the voices of LGBTQ Latinx people and stand in solidarity with the Latinx community against racism, the targeting of black and brown bodies, and the ongoing criminalization of Latinx lives. We disavow rhetoric that seeks to devalue and dehumanize Latinx people. As we seek to respond to this tragedy, we celebrate the lives of those who were killed and the gifts of their sexual and gender diversity. Our faith traditions draw us closer together—not to further exclusion, fear, or enmity. We lift up the voices of LGBTQ Muslims and stand in solidarity with the Muslim community against Islamophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry, and the scapegoating of Islam for this act of violence. We mourn and seek justice together as a community of faith. We also lift up those who are diagnosed with mental illness. We refuse to succumb to rhetoric that hastily or unduly assigns mental illness as the cause of this tragedy, further stigmatizing those diagnosed with mental illness. As people of faith, we long for a world where love triumphs over hate and fear. Our faith traditions call us to seek justice. We commit to working so that all people can flourish and live whole, authentic lives.
People Of Faith Supporting President Obama's Efforts To End Discrimination Against LGBTQ StudentsPresident Obama: As people of faith with a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of all children, we want to applaud you and your administration for the recent decision to interpret and enforce Title IX — a statute, written in 1972, that prohibits sex discrimination — as also prohibiting discrimination on the basis of "gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status.” We recognize that this is a confusing and even unsettling issue for many, while for others who have faced discrimination this has been a harmful experience long ignored. From our perspective, however, you have simply taken another step toward creating a nation where the basic civil rights of all are protected. Too many LGBTQ youths are lost and abandoned. Many of these young people end up living in poverty and on the streets. None of these children should face discrimination at school or barriers in getting an education. We believe that protecting young people from discrimination is consistent with our faith. Love – not fear – should be our guiding principle. We challenge those who might respond to this decision to open their hearts and listen to the stories, particularly of transgender students, who are so often marginalized. Thank you for showing us a better path. Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie Director, Center for Peace and Spirituality & University Chaplain, Pacific University Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, President and Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible & Theological Education, Chicago Theological Seminary Rev. Dr. Traci D. Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Israel | Portland, Oregon Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament, Eden Theological Seminary Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology and President Emerita, Chicago Theological Seminary Rev. Michael Neuroth, Policy Advocate for International Issues, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Senior Vice-President for Innovations in Public Programs, Union Theological Seminary in New York City * titles are used for identification purposes only
Tell the Obama Administration to Prohibit LGBTQ Discrimination in Foster CareFor the more than 400,000 children in foster care across our nation, this action would have an enormous, life-changing impact. The teachings of our respective faiths may diverge on issues of theology and practice, but all speak clearly of our duty to protect the stranger, the orphan and the widow: the most vulnerable members of our society. We are called to do all we can to ensure children grow up with loving, supportive families that will set them on the path toward happy and healthy adulthood. Removing the barriers that currently prevent LGBT adults from becoming parents for these children has the potential to bring an estimated two million potential parents forward to provide loving, permanent homes. The primary reason hundreds of thousands of children remain in, or age out of, the foster care system is a lack of qualified homes. This is a moral travesty. This Administration has made historic progress in the advancement of LGBT rights across the country and your Department has been at the forefront of these changes. Yet, if action is not taken before the end of the Administration to prohibit discrimination in adoption and foster care, a critical piece of this work will remain woefully unfinished. It is crucial that the Obama Administration takes decisive action to ensure that otherwise qualified adoptive and foster parents are not turned away simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, and that LGBT and gender non-conforming youth in care do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A foundational principle of our child welfare services is the best interest of the child. We firmly believe that ensuring qualified parents are not turned away, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, in addition to protecting youth themselves, is one of the most important steps you can take to meet the needs of children in foster care. Further, we do not believe there should be any exemption to permit religiously affiliated child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBT youth and prospective parents while conducting public foster care and adoption placements and service delivery with significant sums of taxpayer dollars. Such an exemption would undermine this foundational principle by prioritizing the provider’s religious beliefs over the best interests of the children they contract with the government to serve, while also sanctioning discrimination with public dollars. Although the primary responsibility of child welfare agencies and their contractors is to meet a child’s need for safety, permanency and well-being, many LGBT youth face physical threat, harassment, rejection and discrimination from state-funded providers. Due largely to family rejection, LGBT youth are over-represented in child welfare systems compared to their non- LGBT peers, are placed in group homes and residential facilities at higher rates, and often exit to homelessness and increased risk of commercial sexual exploitation. While some states offer explicit protections for LGBT youth, most do not, and an LGBT youth’s safety, well-being, and fair treatment depends largely on a luck of the draw. This month is the last National Foster Care Month of the Obama Administration. We hope you will take this opportunity to use your authority as Secretary to put the needs of children first by issuing guidance ending discrimination against potential adoptive and foster parents and children in foster care based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, without exceptions.
Catholics Support Women Priests. Pope Francis Should Do The Same.Pope Francis says that "No one can be excluded from the mercy of God...[the Church's] doors remain wide open." Pope Francis has demonstrated his commitment to this mercy by reaching out to other orders of priests who have broken away from the church. In this spirit, we ask Pope Francis to affirm primacy of conscience for the women priests worldwide. In prophetic obedience to the Spirit, women priests live a renewed priestly ministry in communities of faith that welcome all and exclude no one. Roman Catholic Women Priests, who stand in apostolic succession, serve in a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. Those of us who are divorced and remarried, who are LGBTQ, and who have struggled with the Catholic faith, have found spiritual shelter in their worshipping communities. Here, we can fully participate in the Word of Jesus and the sacraments. They are living the Gospel message of radical inclusion. Pope Francis, you have inspired the world with your message of a merciful Church, and we now implore you to live up to your message. Use the power of your office to open wide the doors to dialogue and lift all excommunications and ecclesiastical punishments against Roman Catholic Women Priests and their supporters. We are the Church. Listen to our cry for justice.
Stop Anti-LGBTQ Laws: Discrimination is not a Religious Value2016 has been a startling year for legislative attempts to restrict justice, dignity, and equality for LGBTQ people. More than 175 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in 32 states. Of the record 175+ anti-LGBTQ bills filed, 45 of those bills directly target transgender people. Already in 2016, legislatures in South Dakota, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina have considered and, in some cases, passed anti-transgender bills. Too often these anti-LGBTQ efforts are perpetrated in the name of religion. These bills and their proponents perpetuate false narratives about transgender people and vilify transgender women, in particular, as threatening safety in women's restrooms. This dishonest rhetoric perpetuates hostility and violence toward transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking to access public accommodations. Some of this anti-LGBTQ legislation, like the recently passed bill in North Carolina, override local ordinances protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination—preventing local municipalities from outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ people. *When you sign this petition, you'll be invited to the Religious Institute’s network of more than 15,000 people of faith.
Dear Presidential Candidates: #WeMakeAmericaGreatAs people of faith and moral courage, we believe all people are part of one family, and that we need to act together to build a world that respects everyone’s dignity. We reject the messages of candidates whose platforms, language, and campaigning exclude, discriminate against, and perpetuate violence towards members of our communities because of their citizenship status, gender, race, or sexuality. Many 2016 presidential candidates have chosen to build their campaigns on fear. Their use of xenophobic, racist and derogatory language has activated nationalist and white-supremacist groups throughout the country, inspiring further hate speech and violent hate crimes against immigrants and people of color. More so-called “moderate” presidential hopefuls have failed to stand up against these dangerous ideas. Some have defended the racist term “anchor babies” to describe infants born to undocumented parents, recommended we track immigrants like FedEx packages, and suggested we send air-strike drones to the U.S.-Mexico border. Our Values As people of faith and moral courage, we are called to welcome the sojourner and love our neighbor. We are appalled by the ugly, divisive, and cowardly tactics from candidates running for the most powerful office in our country. The United States was founded on the moral principles of liberty and justice for which civil rights leaders have struggled to make a reality for generations. We can’t move backwards to policies that resurface segregation. Instead we must move forward, with moral principles that value the diversity of all people and make America great. This includes immigrants, both new and established, and a range of identities in gender, faith, sexuality, race, and ethnicity that enrich our communities and strengthen the values we hold as people of faith and people of good conscious. Our vision of a better and more just world means calling on all political leaders to recognize the inherent value of all people, regardless of citizenship status, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Please sign this petition if you are ready to dump the divisive language and policy proposals pushed by extremist candidates, so that together, we can make America great!
Say No to Hate! Sign a letter of support to Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer in GeorgiaMetropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer was desecrated by a spray painted hate message that quoted Leviticus 18:22 and threatened the church with burning. “We are clear this is not just vandalism; this is life-threatening hatred. When people who cite chapter and verse to send others to hell, they are usually prepared to personally send you there,” said Global Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “It is sad that we have to remind people that hate is not a Christian value.” “As an African American woman, I know that hate is hate. Whether it is the shooting of the Charleston nine, burning of churches, or spray painted threats on church doors, the intent is to silence us with fear for our lives,” said the Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, MCC Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries. “We will not be silent! Silence will not protect us. It will only embolden those who use guns, torches, and spray paint because they have not opened themselves to the power of love.” Send your love by adding your name, and if you can go the extra mile, make a donation for the repairs and the security system at: http://www.gofundme.com/mccofourredeemer
Tell Congress Religious Liberty Doesn't Mean LGBT DiscriminationThe religious liberty upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse religious landscape to flourish. Recently, however, what we have seen promoted as defending religious liberty too often reflects one particular religious perspective that does not at all respect that diversity of faith and belief, or the intent of our Founders. We believe that the First Amendment Defense Act does not respect the spirit of religious liberty—nor does it reflect fundamental values of treating all people with fairness and equality—and we therefore strongly oppose this legislation. Further, though people of faith are not a monolith and all are not in agreement on whether their faith sanctions LGBT relationships, we cannot in good conscience support legislation that favors one religious viewpoint over another and in the process discriminates against LGBT people, single mothers and unmarried couples. The religious freedom of individuals and organizations, including clergy and houses of worship, who object to same-sex marriage are already protected by the First Amendment and federal law—and we, as clergy and faith leaders, continue to stand by the right of others to hold beliefs that may differ from our own while recognizing that for many of us, supporting LGBT individuals and families is a principle of our faith. Rather than protecting the First Amendment, this legislation actually undermines true religious liberty. The religious liberty on which our nation was founded guarantees us the freedom to hold any belief we choose and the right to act on our religious beliefs — but it does not allow us to harm or discriminate against others or to infringe on the religious beliefs of others. By opening the door to unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers and unmarried couples, this legislation does nothing to protect our rights as people of diverse faith traditions and it has the potential to do considerable harm in the name of religion. For example, were this bill to become law it would: • allow an organization to accept federal funds to run a homeless shelter or drug treatment program but then turn away from that program LGBT people or anyone who has a sexual relationship outside of marriage; • allow hospitals to refuse dying patients visitation from their spouse or designated support person; and • permit a government employee to deny services they have a duty to provide, including Veterans or Social Security benefits to a surviving member of a same-sex couple. We are also troubled that this bill is so broad it could even prevent the federal government from enforcing longstanding laws designed to combat discrimination and promote equality. For example, it would let commercial landlords violate fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother based on the landlord’s religious beliefs and allow businesses to violate family medical leave laws by refusing to let a gay or lesbian employee care for a sick spouse. As people of deep faith committed to a country that supports diverse, robust, and healthy religious expression and in the spirit of equality and justice, we urge you to oppose the First Amendment Defense Act.
We support the appeal to replace Archbishop CordileoneIn a letter published in the San Francisco Chronicle April 16, 2015, Catholics appealed to Pope Francis to replace the archbishop with a leader true to Catholic values. In response to the ad, the archbishops’s reply was "The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for the Catholic Community of San Francisco...They do not.” We want Pope Francis to know that YES THEY DO speak for us! "Archbishop Cordileone has fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance." say leaders. "He has forced Archdiocesan high school teachers to accept a mean-spirited morality code that violates individual consciences, as well as California labor laws He supports a pastor at Star of the Sea parish who marginalizes women’s participation in the church by banning girls from altar service, contrary to your desire to expand women’s roles in the Catholic Church. He has isolated himself from our community, and brushes aside advice from his priests. The Archdiocese of San Francisco is threatened and cannot survive, let alone thrive and grow, under Archbishop Cordileone’s supervision." Full text of the letter is available at: http://bit.ly/1b1ZLhm The story has been covered at: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Prominent-Catholics-call-on-pope-to-oust-S-F-6202539.php Get involved by following the campaign on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theyspeakforme?fref=nf
Discrimination and fear don't belong in our schools - Sign Now!San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has proposed that teachers and staff at Bay Area high schools within the Archdiocese accept “morality clauses” that condemn homosexuality as contrary to “natural law,” contraception as “intrinsically evil,” ordination of female priests as impossible, and use of assisted reproductive technology as a “grave evil.” Every staff member is expected to “conduct their lives so as to not visibly contradict, undermine or deny these truths.” The Archbishop is also attempting to reclassify all Catholic school employees, including teachers, administrative staff, custodial and food service staff, as “ministers,” a move that could eliminate anti-discrimination and other workplace protections for those staff members. Students need a safe space free of judgment and fear. Not only is the move completely out of step with modern Catholic teachings and beliefs, but we could lose some of our best teachers and staff.
Tell Obama: Anti-LGBT religious exemptions are wrong and immoralDear Mr. President, As faith and civic leaders dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and equal worth of every person, we are grateful for your upcoming executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors. We urge you not to include a religious exemption in the executive order. In keeping with the principle that our government must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and fairness in its own operations, we believe that public dollars should not be used to sanction discrimination. We recognize in others, and have ourselves heard, a faithful calling to contribute to our communities and country through public service. The imperative to seek healing and justice is one of the most widely shared values across religious traditions and our world is better because of it. In our democratic nation, we believe that public service—especially when it is directly supported by the federal government and our tax dollars—must be aligned with the Constitutional principle that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. Requiring all federal contractors to operate according to the same set of non-discriminatory hiring practices is more than fair; it is a critical safeguard that protects all parties. If contractors were allowed to selectively follow employment or other laws according to their religious beliefs, we would quickly create an untenable morass of legal disputes. Furthermore, if selective exemptions to the executive order were permitted, the people who would suffer most would be the people who always suffer most when discrimination is allowed: the individuals and communities that are already marginalized. Increasing the obstacles faced by those at the margins is precisely the opposite of what public service can and should do, and is precisely the opposite of the values we stand for as people of faith. In a nation as diverse as the United States of America, it is critical that the federal government be trusted to follow—and indeed, to role-model—equitable employment practices. We believe that our mutual commitment to the common good is best served by policies that prohibit discrimination based on factors that have no relationship whatsoever to job performance. We are better and stronger as a nation when hiring decisions are made based on professional merit rather than personal identity. An executive order that allows for religious discrimination against LGBT people contradicts the order’s fundamental purpose, as well as the belief shared by more and more Americans every day, which is that LGBT people should not be treated as second-class citizens. An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora’s Box inviting other forms of discrimination. In addition to protecting current and potential employees, we believe ensuring that federal contractors do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in their hiring helps to reduce the likelihood that these contractors will discriminate against clients or other parties in the provision of services. If contractors are free to discriminate in their hiring, it is at least plausible, if not probable, to conclude that clients will experience discrimination as well. We believe that the best way to eliminate discrimination at one level is to reduce discrimination at all levels. We are a pluralistic nation—one that is among the most religiously diverse and devout in the world. Each day we continue to make progress on our journey toward “a more perfect union,” in which all God’s children are treated with fairness and dignity. Many forces help spur this progress. They include the courage of everyday people who live openly as who they truly are; the witness of faith leaders who provide a compass for religious growth; the commitment of political leaders such as yourself who help guide our nation toward a more just path; and the passage of laws and policies that ensure fair treatment for all people. In conclusion, Mr. President, we believe that the path to national unity lies in affirming the full equality and potential of every person. In the spirit of equality, fairness, and justice, we urge you to issue an executive order that ends discrimination against LGBT people in federal contracting without exceptions. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Signers.pdf?showEmbed=true *This emerging coalition of leaders includes diverse faith leaders from around the country, including seminary Presidents, NGOs heads, congregational clergy, theologians, denominational heads, and others.*
People of Faith Call on the Louisiana Legislature to Help the Poor, Stay Out of People's BedroomsOn 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.
Rainbow DoorThis spring a rising trend of hate crimes toward the LGBTQ Community in NYC has led to an atmosphere of fear in our neighborhoods. Given the fact that most of the homophobic rhetoric in our country comes from faith communities (or justifies itself through the faith lens) it becomes particularly important that open and affirming communities of faith stand up and be counted. Not only do we want these communities to visibly identify themselves as "safe sanctuaries" to the LGBTQ Community, we want their voices to be heard in the wider faith dialogue in this country. STATEMENT OF INTENT from the RAINBOW DOOR, A FAITH COALITION Violence against people perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) has existed for millennia. Recent anti-LGBTQ violence in New York City is the latest chapter in this sorry history of bigotry, oppression and discrimination. Urgent action is needed to put a stop to the growing number of targeted bashings and murders in our community. Religion is complicit in this violence. For too long, fearful religious rhetoric has been used to attack the LGBTQ community and to justify discrimination against its members. The Rainbow Door Faith Coalition strongly affirms the right of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identification, to be free of the burden of prejudice in their practice of religion and in all other areas of their lives. We reject the antiquated dogma that LGBTQ people are "sinful" or that their so-called "lifestyle" is immoral or threatening to religion or society. We support full equality for LGBTQ persons and encourage respect for their relationships both inside and outside the spiritual traditions that we represent. We call upon faith leaders and communities to: — acknowledge that speech condemning LGBTQ persons is violent speech and, therefore, unacceptable. — encourage congregations and denominations to accept, affirm, and celebrate the whole identities of LGBTQ persons as gifts from God. — mark their buildings with the “Rainbow Door” symbol of solidarity and sanctuary. — exercise “Rainbow Door Safe Sanctuaries” practices, offering compassionate pastoral and congregational care to LGBTQ persons, not to convert or change, but to empower each person’s sense of wholeness and well-being, particularly in this current culture of anti-LGBTQ violence. — choose to hold themselves accountable to this pledge of safety through education of other faith leaders and communities, through reexamination of their beliefs, actions, and words that instigate violence, and through support for the LGBTQ population in general, as well as all marginalized populations within it. Our respective faiths call us to not only stand up for victims of direct violence and oppression, but to cooperatively work to transform violent religious rhetoric until all LGBTQ persons are safe inside and outside faith communities, not because of changing times, not because of shifting politics, but because our faith has commanded and will always command such truthful, anti-violent action. Endorsed by Judson Memorial Church Community Church of Syosset, UCC Middle Collegiate Church Church in the Village Brooklyn Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Tell ESPN: Christian Does Not Equal Anti-GayWhen NBA player Jason Collins came out as a gay man, he noted “My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.” Collins also understands the struggles of LGBTQ youth: “My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found.” The Religious Institute applauds this courageous public witness, and our network of religious leaders affirms sexual and gender diversity as a blessed part of life. The Religious Institute is a national nonprofit advocating for sexual and reproductive justice, education and health in faith communities and in society. As longtime advocates for full equality of LGBTQ persons in all areas of religious and public life, we know that the vast majority of LGBTQ youth regularly hear negative messages about LGBTQ people, and that they are twice as likely as their peers to report being physically assaulted at school (http://hrc.org/youth/view-statistics) ESPN provocatively entered into the culture wars and deliberately skewed the Christian perspective by providing a platform for a voice that is known to denigrate sexual and gender diversity. (Update: The petition language has been amended to reflect LZ Granderson's participation in the segment.) ESPN neglected the many religious voices that celebrate sexual and gender diversity as a blessing consistent with their faith tradition. (http://religiousinstitute.org/sites/default/files/open_letters/diversityopenletter_0.pdf)
Tell Senator Schumer: Protect LGBT Families in Immigration BillDear Senator Schumer: As New Yorkers and as leaders of diverse faiths and backgrounds, we write to you today with thanks and a reminder. Senator Schumer, we acknowledge and applaud your sincere friendship with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community over many years. You stood on the right side of history when it wasn’t as popular as it is today and no one will forget that. Today, we call upon you to lead again by including equal protections for LGBT Americans and their families in comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Same-sex bi-national couples should not be forced to choose between their love for America and their love for each other. These couples are our congregants, friends, and leaders in our communities. They are created in the image of God, just like all people, and should be protected as equals by the law. As President Obama, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and so many others have said, LGBT Americans and their families deserve the dignity of the same family immigration rights as all other Americans. You have supported that cause, too, but at the moment, you have not made it clear that this important provision will be included in the original immigration legislation. Not including LGBT protections in the original draft of the bill sends the wrong message and risks that those critical protections will not be included. It also sends the dangerous message that it is acceptable to continue to discriminate against certain groups of people and would be incredibly damaging to those who support LGBT rights and immigration reform. The dignity of LGBT people, who we love and value, must not be traded behind the closed doors of legislative negotiations. They deserve a vigorous, public, and moral advocate in their U.S. Senator. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from Birmingham Jail, “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We, the undersigned leaders in New York’s faith community, urge you to publicly endorse the inclusion of LGBT protections in the immigration bill and to include the principles of LGBT equality represented in the Uniting American Families Act in the first draft you are generating with your Senate colleagues. This moment in history is an opportunity to cement your legacy as a champion for the civil rights of all Americans. This is God’s work. Please don’t let us, or our LGBT brothers and sisters, down. Sincerely, The Undersigned This campaign is a partnership of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Empire State Pride Agenda, Auburn Seminary, and Groundswell.
Point Loma Should Charter an Official LGBTQ ClubPoint Loma Nazarene University has no institutionalized club that creates a safe space for current students who identify as LGBTQ. Without the explicit support of the university, these students often suffer greatly with feelings of isolation and depression. Knowing that they are supported and celebrated as full members of the community is integral to their health and success. We understand that the chartering of a club is complex because of the institution's ties to the Church of the Nazarene, a Christian denomination that does not recognize the right of LGBTQ people to be in relationship with one another. However, despite the denominational policy, many of us remain compelled to advocate for LGBTQ rights and find it difficult to remain associated with an institution that so blatantly makes LGBTQ students feel unwelcome and unloved. Institutional complexity does not absolve moral imperative to stand for justice even if that stand comes at great cost. Because of this, we--as students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Point Loma Nazarene University--cannot offer financial support in the form of alumni giving until the club is chartered.
Reject Anti-Homosexuality Bill in UgandaOur various faiths teach that every person is made in the image of God, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Whatever our biblical interpretation and religious tradition, we know that God calls us to love each other, not persecute each other. We condemn the criminalization of homosexuality, especially state-sponsored violence against LGBT people, their friends and families. Passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would rip the very fabric of communities, turning Ugandan families against themselves. Our faith demands we stand with Uganda’s sexual minority community rather than use our religion to justify their persecution. Silencing and criminalizing any group based on who they love or how they express their gender chafes against our very moral fiber. It breaks a core teaching of our many traditions: that we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. "Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?" -Job 31:15 “Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen." -1 John 4:20 LINKS TO DETAILS OF THE BILL: -Description and full text of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: http://bit.ly/2denrG -Info on renewed push to pass Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: http://bit.ly/TulT60 -Rachel Maddow 2010 interview with David Bahati, who formerly introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill: http://bit.ly/TdNOIW
Reject transphobic rhetoric; stand with Rabbi SilversteinAs LGBTQI clergy, lay leaders, and allies in a diverse array of faith traditions, we are deeply troubled that Mr. Prager targeted this rabbi, and are alarmed by the attitude of condescension, dismissal, and transphobia that saturates his rhetoric. Beyond that, we find his self-assuredness that compassion is somehow antithetical to the study and interpretation of sacred texts to be unacceptable, and furthermore, dangerous. In this time when unholy acts are being committed around the globe in the name of religion, with the misappropriation of holy texts as justification, we need for than ever for faith leaders to understand and interpret scripture through a lens of compassion and mercy. We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Rabbi Silverstein, his work, and the work of countless other LGBTQI clergy across faith traditions who continue to thoughtfully engage their communities and sacred texts even in the face of those that seek to discredit and silence them.