• VP Pence: Publicly Declare That White Supremacy Has No Place in the White House
    I write to you as a person of faith who has given my life to serve my Lord Jesus Christ. I know you also proclaim a deep Christian faith and it is in the spirit of our shared faith that I call upon you to act with the courage of your convictions in this moment. You are well aware of the horrific events in Charlottesville that injured dozens and killed one young woman, Heather Heyer. Her death is the direct result of the rallying of people who call themselves the Alt Right but who are in fact the modern day manifestations of the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and white supremacists. As you are also aware, President Trump has equivocated in his condemnation of the events of Charlottesville, saying that there are 'good people on both sides'. These organized groups of men bearing torches chanted Nazi slogans from World War II. These are not good people who share American values, and this false moral equivalency has emboldened and encouraged the leaders of the Alt Right who are planning more rallies and threatening more communities in the coming days. While you have condemned the violence you have refused to specifically denounce President Trump and even recently confirmed that you "Stand with the President" and his "both sides" argument. Your position is extremely hurtful to all those who have felt the brutal effects of Nazis, the Klan and white supremacy and betrays the American values and Christian values of dignity, justice and equality that I believe you hold dear. There can be only one moral position when it comes to condemning racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Take the moral convictions of your Christian faith and publicly declare that white supremacy is repulsive, counter to all this country stands for, and has no place in the White House; condemn and affix blame solely on the shoulders of these white supremacy ideologues for inciting hate. You must be clear that there can be no moral ambiguity when it comes to these groups and their fixation on white Christian supremacy in America. We stand by to make faith leaders available to you from around the country to provide counsel. Rev. Dr. Noel Castellanos President, Christian Community Development Association Board Member: National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and World Vision Auburn Senior Fellow
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  • An open letter to clergy who prayed with Donald Trump
    I asked your Lord and mine this question as I was jailed last week for preaching the gospel that every life is precious to God. I had to ask: where are my fellow evangelicals now? And I heard the prophet Amos, echoing through the valley of history: For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. (Amos 5:12) The pay that you withheld from the workers who reaped your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. (James 5:4) I remembered what Frederick Douglass said about our faith after our denominations splintered over the moral question of slavery and the nation stood on the brink of Civil War: Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference. My brothers and sister, I do not single you out because your position is unique. You inherited a heresy, and you are not alone in perpetuating its cruel errors. But in our present crisis, you have publicly embraced a president and a party that embody the abuses of power that the Biblical prophets decried. Millions of people have been led astray by your error, and the whole world is now reaping the consequences. I single you out because the people I know and serve literally cannot afford the cost of your willful blindness. I pen this letter as I stand in support of another group of clergy called to nonviolent direct action against the cruel attempt to withdraw healthcare from the poor and others. I also write to you in faith and in love because I know that redemption is possible — we all raise our voices and sing the words penned by a reformed slave trader, “I once was lost but now am found / Was blind but now I see.” I have watched the sons and daughters of slaveholders work alongside the daughters and sons of enslaved people to build a new and vibrant moral movement. I have prayed with people who decided to follow Jesus when they heard you preach years ago but are now following Jesus to jail because they know this is what faithfulness requires. I write because you have celebrated your unprecedented influence in this administration and the time has come to use it. In prayer and hope, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II Senior Pastor, Greeleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) President, Repairers of the Breach
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  • #StandWithBearsEars: Stand with Tribes.
    Our national monuments, parks, and other public lands serve as the storytellers of our country. Yet, only in recent decades have they include the stories of communities of color. Bears Ears National Monument is the first and only National Monument primarily devoted to highlighting the spiritual, cultural, and natural heritage of tribes. Yet, it is the first national monument being threatened by the Trump Administration, followed by threats to dozens of others designated after 1996.
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  • A Moral Call To Defend Healthcare
    All of our faith traditions teach that healthcare is a moral issue. To care for another human being is to care for God in the Jewish tradition because God’s image is stamped on each human person. Christians know that Jesus healed the sick in his earthly ministry and taught his followers that they care for him when they care for the sick. Because of the Prophet Mohammed’s commitment to healthcare, the world’s first public hospitals were started in Muslim countries. When President Trump recently toured the cradles of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, he visited nations that guarantee universal healthcare to all of their citizens. People of conscience who do not belong to a particular faith tradition recognize that, among the developed nations of the modern world, the United States is the exception because we do not guarantee healthcare to all of our citizens. We face a moral crisis not only because healthcare is a moral issue, but also because the injustice of some people receiving the very best care while their neighbors die without access to healthcare is immoral. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman." Persistent inequities in income, education, civil rights and access to the ballot are moral issues because they impact the quality of life for people in this nation. But Dr. King saw what many who risk losing coverage today know all to well: without access to healthcare, life itself is at risk for many Americans. Access to healthcare, literally a matter of life and death, is currently before the Senate which you lead. We write as fellow Americans to demand immediate action to save the Affordable Care Act and to expand access to healthcare in the United States of America. And we pledge moral resistance to any policy that would deny access to us and our fellow Americans. Forward together, not one step back! Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II Repairers of the Breach, Moral Revival Movement Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove School for Conversion
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  • The Open Internet is Under Attack. We Vow to Protect It.
    Two years ago, millions of us rose up in a movement to protect the open Internet, and we won. The open Internet is a space where all of us -- no matter the content of our beliefs, color of our skin, size of our wallets -- have an equal voice. We will not let President Trump's appointee overturn net neutrality protections. In this critical time, we need net neutrality now more than ever to fight and defend the future of our democracy. Our marches, vigils, petitions, and calls to action depend on organizing on an open Internet. So we vow to continue to champion faith and moral voices in the fight to protect the open Internet as a moral imperative. We, as people of many faiths and backgrounds, ask lawmakers to do the right thing as a moral imperative.
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  • When hate targets our neighbors, we stand together in solidarity
    Our current political leadership has openly targeted, marginalized and discriminated against minority communities. It has been just weeks since the Trump Administration entered office, and a number of faith communities have already been shaken by their actions and orders. Our Muslim and Jewish neighbors have experienced ongoing threats of violence on our streets and in their places of worship. This is not acceptable. Yet sometimes we become so focused on the resistance efforts that we forget to express our affirmation and solidarity with those who are being marginalized. As people around the world seek to engage effectively, let us remember that in the context of incredible dehumanization, recognizing the humanity of one another is a powerful act of resistance. Affirming the dignity of the marginalized helps empower those who are being targeted, honors the diversity of our nation, and strengthens our own local communities. We recognize that our sisters and brothers in faith are enduring oppression, and we stand with them in solidarity. By signing this letter, I commit to serving as an ally for those who are being oppressed, to reach out to my Jewish and Muslim neighbors, and to #LoveMyNeighbor.
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  • Faith Leaders to President Trump: Don’t Use Religion to Discriminate
    The 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.
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  • We Declare Revolutionary Love as the Call of Our Times
    We, 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Join Christian Theologians Opposing Nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
    The justice that is central to the work of Attorney General is a value that is shared by people of many faiths. As Christians, we are guided in our understanding of justice by the biblical witness to Jesus Christ. As made clear in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), we are to “seek first the Kingdom,” as the righteous reign of God “on earth, as it is in heaven.” This reign is marked by love, justice and life. In his teachings, Jesus deepens the love of neighbor to the love of enemy. He calls us to move from retaliatory justice to an ethic of restorative justice. He invites those who follow him to an abundant life that crosses borders. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says, "… I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. ... Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25). The Sermon on the Mount directs our care to the flourishing of all people, especially the vulnerable, and is consistent with the values of justice and human flourishing that are vital to our American democracy. While Jesus stood in embodied solidarity with the vulnerable, it is through the law that our country offers protections for its most vulnerable members. Vulnerable populations in our country — victims of police brutality, undocumented workers, LGBTQ persons, women, people of color, and people of non-Christian faiths — are placed at increased risk of further harm when our laws are not upheld. Yet, throughout his career, Senator Sessions has taken positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations. His racist comments reflect prejudice against people of color. His opposition to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and equal access for persons with disabilities make it unlikely that he shares the Christian vision of justice and protection of the vulnerable that we embrace. Senator Sessions’ racist remarks and unjust policies make it morally unacceptable for him to be America’s top law-enforcement officer. We urge you to reject his nomination. Prayerfully and Respectfully Submitted, Peter Goodwin Heltzel, New York Theological Seminary Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University Gary Agee, Anderson University (Indiana) Cornel West, Harvard University James A. Forbes, Drum Major Institute Lisa Sharon Harper, Sojourners Jim Wallis, Sojourners James Cone, Union Theological Seminary Katharine Henderson, Auburn Seminary Jacqui Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church Gene Robinson, The Episcopal Church Brian McLaren, Emerging Church Movement Noel Castellanos, Christian Community Development Association Yvette Flunder, City of Refuge United Church of Christ Simone Campbell, NETWORK Lobby Macky Alston, Auburn Seminary Efrain Agosto, New York Theological Seminary Fred Davie, Union Theological Seminary Rosemary P. Carbine, Whittier College J. Kameron Carter, Duke Divinity School Shane Claiborne, The Simple Way Don Compier, Kemper School for the Ministry Kaitlyn Dugan, Princeton Theological Seminary Mary Fulkerson, Duke Divinity School Daniel Hawk, Ashland Theological Seminary Kay Higueroa Smith, Azusa Pacific University George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary Catherine Keller, Drew Theological School Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Earlham School of Religion Namsoon Kang, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University Kristen E. Kvam, St. Paul School of Theology Mari Kim, Everett Community College Paul F. Lakeland, Fairfield University Steffen Lösel, Candler School of Theology, Emory University Linda Mercadante, Methodist Theological Seminary in Ohio Stephanie Mitchem, University of South Carolina Silas Morgan, Hamline University K. Christine Pae, Dennis University Marcia Pally, New York University Stephen Ray, Garrett Theological Seminary Kathleen Sands, University of Hawaii Linda Thomas, Lutheran School of Theology (Chicago) Sonia Waters, Princeton Theological Seminary Sharon Welch, Meadville Lombard Theological School Christian T. Collins Winn, Bethel University Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Reformed Church in America Ronald J Sider, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University Elena G. Procario-Foley, Iona College Reggie Williams, McCormick Theological Seminary Charles Campbell, Duke Divinity School Laurel Schneider, Vanderbilt Divinity School Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt Divinity School Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary Teri Merrick, Azusa Pacific University Loye Ashton, Tougaloo College Teresa Delgado, Iona College Lester Ruth, Duke Divinity (Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.)
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  • 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.
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  • We Pledge To Resist Deportation And Discrimination Through Sanctuary
    Calling upon the ancient traditions of our faiths, which recognized houses of worship as a refuge for the runaway slave, the conscientious objector, and the Central American refugee fleeing the civil wars of the 1980s, Sanctuary is once again growing among communities of faith that are standing in solidarity with immigrants and marginalized communities facing immoral and unjust deportation and discrimination policies. We find ourselves entering a new phase of U.S. history wherein the politics of fear has stoked an atmosphere of racism and xenophobia across the country. The new Administration has pledged to criminalize, detain and deport undocumented people at new levels that will tear families and communities apart. As people of faith and people of conscience, we will take civil initiative out of our moral obligation to embody principles of human rights and dignity, and resist any harmful and unjust policy proposals that further undermine due process and lead to racial profiling and discrimination. By signing this pledge, we are dedicating ourselves to educate and activate our congregations, to amplify and respond to the voices of immigrant leaders, and to speak out against the discrimination of any and all marginalized people. We are ready to open the doors of our sacred spaces and accompany those facing deportation and discrimination. We support those answering the call to provide sanctuary at schools, hospitals, college campuses, community centers and family homes. We will work with partner organizations to create sacred space of sanctuary wherever it is needed.
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