• Walmart wages violate our core moral values
    As people of faith, we urge Alice Walton to heed the call of the prophet Isaiah, “Maintain justice and do what is right.” (Isaiah 56:1) We stand with workers like Jasmine Dixon from store number 3533 in Denver. Jasmine has two young sons, but struggles to feed them because she is only paid $11.95 per hour. Jasmine has to skip meals and relies on food stamps and food banks to feed her kids because she works at Walmart. We stand with workers like Mary Watkines, who organize because "It is hard for me to understand how a company can do this to people: my coworkers work hungry while stocking food all day. I have coworkers who have to sleep in their car in the parking lot because they can't afford an apartment. Others are parents who work all day only to go home to children who are hungry.” It is immoral that Walmart workers and their families go hungry every day. Alice Walton, we call on you to recognize your moral obligation to end the pain of hunger by ensuring that your workers can feed themselves and their children. We stand with Walmart workers launching a 15-day Fast for $15. Together with allies, workers are lifting up the call for $15 an hour and access to full time work at Walmart-- conditions that would allow workers to feed themselves and their family. It is a brave effort to turn what has often been a source of private shame for workers into a demonstration of public outrage. Will you stand with Walmart fasters by signing on to this letter to Walmart board member Alice Walton calling on Walmart to meet its moral obligation to our communities?
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  • Pope Francis: America needs your faithful message of care for the Earth
    Pope Francis, your first visit to America comes at a critical time. As you have powerfully stated, many people, including some “committed and prayerful Christians,” tend to “ridicule expressions of concern for the environment,” while “others are passive.” Many of the same people, including candidates for our presidency and elected officials, are stirring old embers of racial and religious prejudice and fear in an effort to get attention and votes. When we, as Americans of many faiths, think of our children and grandchildren, we feel the urgency of this moment even more, because, as you say, “the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” We affirm that the cries of pain we feel are interconnected - from the demonization of immigrants, to racial animus, to economic inequality, to ecological destruction -- and we hope that your visit can help ignite a moral (r)evolution that shows us a better path. Multi-faith leaders are developing a plan to help congregations around the country translate your call into action, and we will gather to announce that plan at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, the same day you address Congress. Many others are hosting vigils and prayer services to welcome your message of hope and inclusion. Thank you for your visit, Pope Francis. May God guide and empower you to speak the truth to those in power.
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  • Tell the NY Wage Board: Fast Food Workers Need $15
    A few weeks ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the appointment of a Wage Board, which could dramatically raise pay for hundreds of thousands of fast-food workers across New York state. Now the Wage Board is seeking input from New Yorkers, and as people of faith, we must speak out on behalf of low-wage workers and their families. The announcement of the Wage Board is a huge deal. And let's not forget how we got here: For two and a half years, our underpaid brothers, sisters, and allies have organized with a moral mandate for $15/hour. Leaders like Jacquie, a McDonalds worker supporting a family in Albany, have courageously told their stories and called out low pay and poor working conditions. Their courage and commitment has made this moment possible. The New York Times reported: "workers and labor organizers have made a compelling case for $15 an hour; Mr. Cuomo even cited their reasoning in calling for a Wage Board." We have Gov. Cuomo's attention. Now let's keep up the momentum and make sure the new Wage Board hears us as it makes its decision. The Wage Board will hear the economic argument from business leaders, and the legal perspective from lawyers. It's our job as people of faith to bring the moral fire – to demand that we honor the inherent worth of every person and the dignity of all work, to demand that we care for our neighbors, to demand that we protect the most vulnerable. Sign and share the petition and we'll deliver it to the Wage Board to show that $15 IS THE MORAL AND JUST THING TO DO – and that people of faith and moral values all across New York State stand with our fast-food workers for $15.
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    Created by Emily McNeill Picture
  • Tell Pennsylvania's State Legislature: Our Kids Deserve Full, Fair Funding for Schools
    In the biblical story of Exodus, Pharaoh tells his field hands to stop giving straw to the enslaved Hebrews as they make the bricks to build his pyramids. “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks,” Pharaoh says. “Let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before.” (Exodus 5:7-8) The same thing is happening in Pennsylvania today – more and more is being demanded of our children across the state, but there are fewer and fewer resources to educate them. Our schools are underfunded and Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap between rich and poor districts in the whole nation. Meanwhile, families are asked to shoulder more and more of the burden for school funding. To get the to promise land of fairness and justice, we call on the PA State Legislature to pass a new funding formula this year (we’re the only state in the whole country without a fair and consistent way to decide how much funding our schools get!). We also call on them to have the moral courage to transform our tax system so we will have enough revenue to provide a 21st century education for all of our kids. As people of faith in Pennsylvania, we believe every child is made in the divine image and deserves our full investment. As people of faith in Pennsylvania, we say Never Again to our children dying during the school day without full-time nurses present. As people of faith in Pennsylvania, we demand arts, music, small class sizes, and all the resources that will allow our children to thrive, not just survive. We have enough resources to educate every child, so why are our public schools so underfunded? The answer is a deep moral crisis. Governor Wolf has proposed an increase in state education spending for next year… but it’s only 15% of what is needed to fully fund schools and it doesn’t undo shameful racial bias in how funds are distributed. And, at the same time that we are being told there’s only enough to fund a fraction of our children’s education, the Governor’s plan also proposes a decrease in taxes to corporations. That’s like telling the enslaved Hebrews there isn’t enough straw, while letting wealthy supporters hoard it. We need the Legislature to take the lead on full, fair funding that doesn't come disproportionately on the backs of our families. Since March 23rd, clergy, parents, and whole faith communities across the state have been fasting for a day or more to call attention to the urgent need for corporations to pay their fair share so we’ll have full and fair school funding. We’ll keep fasting until June 30th, the deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget. Show your solidarity with our fast by signing this petition and tell the Legislature to pass a moral budget. Our children deserve the resources to thrive – not to do more with less.
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    Created by Sheila Armstrong
  • Cancel Student Debt from Corinthian College Inc. Fraud
    Corinthian Colleges Inc. isn’t a school, it's a fraud factory that buried vulnerable students, low income people of colour, veterans, and single mothers in unbearable debt. So why did the Department of Education bail them out while sinking students? Currently there are 107 (and counting) former Corinthian students demanding a full debt discharge not only for themselves but for the half a million other students Corinthian defrauded. As people of faith, our tradition of jubilee reminds us never to accept an economy that isn’t working for the betterment of everyone within their society. The Biblical call to debt forgiveness is more than just an economic safeguard, it is a sacred teaching - a reminder of how human economies drift toward inequity and injustice, and must be routinely checked in the service of all God's children. The fraud perpetrated by Corinthian Colleges Inc. not only represents clear abuses perpetrated against these particular students (which the Department of Education has the clear authority to relieve), it illustrates a much broader problem facing all student borrowers. An entire generation is sinking under the unreasonable burden of predatory lending practices, and the time has come for a fair debt cancellation process for all students. Inspired by the student debt strikers? Donate to their Strike Fund to support future travel and organizing: https://debtcollective.org/studentstrike#donate
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    Created by Rev. Michael Ellick
  • RSVP: VOICE-Buffalo Public Meeting
    As people of faith we believe that we should be an undivided community. On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial, along with 250,000 religious and labor leaders calling for an end to racism, segregation and poverty, and to call for guaranteed civil and economic liberties for all. On November 6th join us at 7 PM Elim Christian Fellowship (70 Chalmers Ave., Buffalo 14214) as we bring our community together with our public officials for the 2014 VOICE Buffalo Public Meeting! You may have already heard, but if not, we have had some major breakthroughs recently and this year’s public meeting is one you can’t miss! The Sheriff’s office, Erie County Legislature and County Executive have committed to work together with VOICE-Buffalo and the community to reinstate the Local Conditional Release Program in early 2015. The Sheriff’s office, members of the Erie County Legislature and the County Executive will be joining us on November 6th to discuss the benefit of the Local Conditional Release Program and to share their commitment to its reinstatement. We are also in dialogue with the Sheriff’s office about creating a Restorative Justice program at the Alden Correctional Facility to bring trained community leaders to work with youth through restorative conferences and peace circles. We will also highlight the work and commitment of the congregations who are becoming ‘Peace Hubs’ by training facilitators in peace circles, restorative practices and community organizing. Please RSVP to join us on November 6th at 7pm, to build a bridge over the river of injustice.
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    Created by Shaketa Redden Picture
  • Migrant children require humanitarian response
    Our sacred scriptures say.... “You are not to abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them in any way, and they cry to me, I will certainly heed their cry. - Exodus: 22: 21-23 “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. “ - Luke 18:16 As people of faith 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. The reasons these children have left their countries of origins are complex and interrelated and have been well documented by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees Report, “Children on the Run,” which has warned of this growing humanitarian crisis. The vast majority have come seeking refuge from surges of violence, and to be reunited with their parents and families living in the United States. Extreme poverty and economic forces, along with situations of surging violence has pushed many of these children out of their home countries. Many have endured horrific trauma and violence as they flee their countries often crossing multiple borders. It is heartbreaking and appalling to see and hear of the inadequate conditions in which children are being held along the US southern border. Children should never be held in detention facilities or makeshift holding centers. Policing and enforcement agencies should not be taking care of children. independent oversight and human rights monitoring must be allowed to ensure the safety and protection of these children. Children should be reunited with their families in the U.S. immediately. We as people of faith believe that these children must not be forgotten . We call on our government to act with purpose and humanitarian resolve. This petition is sponsored by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice- California, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice in San Diego, the Cal-Pacific Immigration Taskforce of the United Methodist Church and attendees of the Let My People Work Conference in Los Angeles (June 9-11, 2014).
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    Created by Deborah Lee
  • FAITH LEADERS FOR PRISON REFORM: REINSTATE CONDITIONAL RELEASE, MR. POLONCARZ & COUNTY LEGISLATURE
    UPDATE - Since clergy and faith leaders met with County Executive Mark Poloncarz on April 22nd he has expressed his support of reinstating the conditional release program and has committed to send representation to the June 10th VOICE-Buffalo public meeting. However, we still to convince the Erie County Legislature and Sheriff Tim Howard that this program must be reinstated. We must collectively show that as people of faith all across Western New York that we are called to address the horrendous conditions of our criminal justice system. We can no longer tolerate our neighbors – youth, young adults, veterans, elderly – suffering after being imprisoned for nonviolent offenses or because of treatable mental health or addiction issues. We call on our representatives to help heal our communities by: (1) Reinstating the Local Conditional Release Program for Erie County (1) Joining us in person at our public meeting on Tuesday, June 10th at 7PM at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary RC Church in Williamsville The conditional release program would give our neighbors a second chance at life – the opportunity to return to our communities and their families with the treatment and support they need. It's our vision of liberation and restorative justice in Erie County! How does it work? Under the Local Conditional Release Program, 25 non-violent offenders are selected for early release if they agree to a year of probation and participation in programs that provide mental health care, addiction treatment, job training or a variety of other needed services. Does it work? Yes, it restores lives while saving county tax dollars. The rate of recidivism (return to prison) for people who participated in the local conditional release program from 1992 to 2005 was 15% – compare that to 65% for those who were released without services and support. Take the inspiring story of Jacqueline Gerald. At a time in her life when she was struggling with addiction and financial pressures to support her family, Jacqueline was sentenced to serve time as a result of laundering charges. While in prison, Jackie applied for the early release program and was accepted. In Jackie’s own words about the program: “If you keep your eyes open and strive to do well, the Lord will make a way out of no way. For me the way the Lord provided me was through this program.” After being released Jackie was accepted to Nursing School with help from Rev. Eugene Pierce, who was the chair of the local conditional release commission, and Mr. Dolansky, who was her probation officer for that one year. Today, Jackie is a registered nurse. “I’ve learned that sometimes in life we think we are not good enough and we can’t pursue our dreams, but the Lord puts people in our lives who will support us.” Let's show County Executive Poloncarz and the Erie County Legislature we believe in liberation and redemption. Add your name to tell our public servants to reinstate the Conditional Release program. For more info, visit VOICE-Buffalo at http://www.voice-buffalo.org/ You can hear more in our coverage by Buffalo's NPR News http://news.wbfo.org/post/clergy-members-call-county-jail-release-program
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  • 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
  • Dignified Healthcare Access is NOT Controversial
    Sr. Simone Campbell has been getting a lot of attention in South Dakota in what some are portraying as a "spat" with Bishop Swain about the Affordable Care Act. NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, which Sr. Simone directs, is more concerned about who's NOT getting attention: 49,000 South Dakotans who are poor and uninsured. They could greatly benefit from Medicaid expansion. Sr. Simone is in South Dakota to talk to the Yankton community about healthcare and poverty. Governor Daugaard will be releasing his Medicaid Task Force's report just days after Sister Simone's visit. As the Governor reviews his new report this week, let's show him the media hype about Catholics being opposed to the Affordable Care Act does not reflect the majority public opinion. People of faith, including and especially Catholics, will support the Governor in a decision to ensure every South Dakotan has dignified access to healthcare.
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    Created by Shantha Alonso
  • Tell Education Commissioner King to listen to Buffalo on Aug 8th
    With so many critical issues facing our education system and our children in Buffalo, we need officials to listen to our community. As parents, this is at the core of our hearts, and as Americans, this is at the core of our democracy. Our laws call for community members and leaders to work together to shape our children's future. So do our faith traditions – in His Sermon on the mount, Jesus says that we must live into the law better than those who made it, to help the most vulnerable among us. It's why we call on Education Commissioner King to listen to our community's stories on August 8th before he decides the education budget August 12th. Stories like Elizabeth's – a Burmese parent and teacher's aid at Lafayette. She strives to speak English and communicate with her community the lessons in the classroom. She came to America with hope for the future of her children, a hope that is not limited to vocational training alone. Her hopes include the opportunity for her children to go to college. Commissioner King – you need to meet Elizabeth so you can hear about her dreams. Commissioner King also needs to hear the tragic story of Jawaan Daniels. As he left the Lafayette campus after being suspended in 2010, he was shot and killed at a bus stop. Jawaan was a freshman. He'll never have the chance to go to college. And his parents can never have their son back. As parents, pastors, and community leaders, we are fighting so what happened to Jawaan never happens again, and so mothers like Elizabeth can achieve the American dream for her children. It's why we're calling on Commissioner King to meet with us, so we can share our stories, and call on him to take action to: Restore full funding to Lafayette and East High Schools Fund restorative justice in both these schools, and Work with Lafayette to provide language access through translation Please add your name by filling out the form to the right before our urgent deadline August 8th.
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    Created by Louisa Pacheco