• 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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  • Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio: Close Rikers and Invest in Restorative Justice
    When 16-year-old Kalief Browder was sent to Rikers in May 2010 for allegedly stealing a backpack, his family could not afford the $10,000 bail. He spent nearly three years awaiting trial with no conviction, two of them in solitary confinement, fighting for his life in a place notorious for rampant violence by inmates and correction officers alike. At age 22, this innocent young black man committed suicide. Nearly 8 out of 10 people at Rikers have not been convicted of a crime – they are waiting for a trial. And the majority of those held cannot afford bail. As of 2015, 41 percent of those detained at Rikers had a mental health issue. This is more than all the adult patients at New York State psychiatric hospitals combined. In the new Bill Moyers documentary, “Rikers,” former detainee Ralph Nuñez said, “It’s gladiator school for real. If you get there and you don’t have a weapon to defend yourself, you have an issue.” You can watch the full documentary below. Rikers is a place dangerous to the flesh, a place where surviving turns you inside out and erodes your soul. As people of faith, it is our moral responsibility to stand for the marginalized, to care for the poor, to have compassion for the children of God who are behind bars, whose lives are shattered, and who live in danger every day. New York City has a history of failed reforms for Rikers. Though Governor Cuomo and City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito have both have called for Rikers to be closed, Mayor de Blasio has said it would be too complicated and too expensive to do so. Locking up just one person at Rikers costs $208,500 a year – a price New Yorkers pay with our taxes. Imagine those funds redirected to more just systems and centers in the five boroughs. And as we think about comprehensive solutions, we must create bail reform, “speedy trial” reform and alternatives to incarceration. https://vimeo.com/191660327
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  • Dear Pres. Obama: Will You Honor Your Commitment To Protect The People Of Standing Rock?
    On October 25th the Episcopal Priest Rev. John Floberg of Standing Rock issued an urgent call to Faith Leaders and people of faith and conscience around the nation to stand with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Hundreds of faith leaders have responded to this call by going to Standing Rock, and by calling on their communities to take action to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Clergy and Faith Leaders acknowledge the role we and our institutions have played in past and ongoing oppression of Indigenous people. It is of the utmost importance that as a country we acknowledge and affirm Native People’s sovereignty and right to prosper and stand in solidarity to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We ask that all people across the nation sign on to this letter in support of the demands outlined by Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault, and Rev. John Floberg, supervising Priest of the Episcopal Church in North Dakota. First, we call on the Army Corps to deny the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline which violates the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, would endanger the drinking water of 10 million people, and is a risk to our climate. Energy Transfer Partners has ignored formal requests to voluntarily “stop work.” It’s time to revoke their permit. Second, we call on the Federal Department of Justice to investigate the Morton County Sheriff Department’s conduct on the Standing Rock Reservation, including: -Inhibiting free speech -Wrongful arrest -Excessive violence in removing the Water Protectors -Harassment of Native Americans, including blocking free travel between Bismarck and Standing Rock Reservation and stopping people without cause Third, we call on the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into how North Dakota engaged the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. What enabled them to remove peaceful protesters as a “State of Emergency”? How can the EMAC process be restructured to prevent this use of EMAC? Fourth, President Obama, we call on you to fulfill your commitment to protect the children of Standing Rock. As you said in a 2014 visit to Cannon Ball, ND: “I understand that the Lakota word for “children” -- “wakanyeja” -- comes from the word “wakan” -- “sacred.” That’s what young people are -- they’re sacred. They’re sacred to your families and they’re sacred to your tribe, and they’re sacred to this nation. And every day that I have the honor of serving as your President, I will do everything I can to make sure that you see that our country has a place for everyone, including every single young person here -- and all across the Dakotas and all across America, and that you’re getting the support and encouragement you need to go as far as your hard work and your talent will take you. That is my commitment to you -- to every single young person here.” We implore you to honor the commitment you made to the Indigenous people of this country, and to act with honor and justice and defend all we hold sacred: our children, water, and the health of all communities.
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  • Together, We Can Create a Nation Where Everyone Thrives. Join Us.
    WE SAY ENOUGH! We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. As communities of faith and conscience, we have a moral obligation to call out evil in high places, to challenge the lies we are being fed, and to refocus our nation’s attention on the conditions that are leaving people and places locked up, locked out and left behind. Any hope for a new future demands that there be a reckoning -- a moment to unapologetically expose the ugly truths of our nation’s past and present. We declare that moment is now. WE ARE ENOUGH! We are the ones we have been waiting for. As determined spirits, fired by an unshakable faith in a bold, transformative vision for the future of our nation, we have the power to alter the course of history. We will not stop, nor will we be satisfied until every person in this country enjoys full access to the opportunity to thrive and live a life of dignity. WE DEMAND ENOUGH! We reject the fraudulent narrative of scarcity. We know there is more than enough for everyone to thrive. We stand in the sacred truth that sharing in the earth’s abundance ensures there will be plenty for all. We will no longer tolerate systemic racism, nor continue to accept the self-interested, unbridled greed and hoarding of wealth that creates conditions where millions of our people are forced to live without enough -- economically and socially. We insist on a better future for our nation. A future that doesn’t depend on chance, but on avenues of opportunity where our children attend quality schools, our communities are safe and our families are whole. A future where we can leave our homes without fear of death, detention or deportation. A future that guarantees good jobs with living wages. One with bold investments that strengthen our communities. We demand ENOUGH for all of our families to thrive. We Say ENOUGH! Join the refrain. Join the movement. Together we can define a new moral agenda for our next President and the future of our nation.
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  • End Discriminatory Car Towing in Philadelphia / Fin al Remolque Discriminado de Carros
    [Español Abajo] • Live Stop towing is financially crippling for low-income families. An average Live Stop tow costs $500 to $1,000 in fees and tickets. If a driver cannot pay, or is scared about being undocumented, and does not claim their vehicle within 15 days, the car is sold at public auction. • Live Stop towing leaves families on the side of the street in the middle of the night, putting people in danger. The fear of being pulled over or losing a car has an emotional and mental impact on people. •Philly grew for the first time in 50 years because of the immigrant population. Immigrants are key to a thriving city and help the growth of Philadelphia through starting new businesses, paying taxes, and enriching the city’s culture. Live Stop towing undermines these benefits. • Nearly half a million Philadelphia residents have been affected by Live Stop since 2002. This has a disproportionate effect on undocumented immigrants who are barred from obtaining driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania. Reinterpreting the law will have a tremendous impact on the lives of immigrants and all low-income families in Philadelphia. • This is an opportunity for Philadelphia to be a leader in the state and country. While we work on a statewide campaign for driver’s licenses for all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, Philadelphia can take a concrete step that will alleviate the negative impacts of not having a license. ******************************************************************************************************* • El remolque de vehículos tiene un efecto financiero agobiante para las familias de bajos ingresos. El costo estimado por un encuentro con Live Stop es de $ 500 a $ 1.000 en cargos y multas. Si el conductor no puede pagar, o tiene miedo por ser indocumentado, y no recupera su vehículo dentro de 15 días, el vehículo se vende en una subasta pública. • El remolque de vehículos deja a los conductores en la calle en medio de la noche, poniendo a las personas en peligro. El temor a ser detenido o perder el vehículo tiene un impacto emocional y mental en las personas. • Philadelphia creció por primera vez en 50 años debido a la población inmigrante. Los inmigrantes son clave para una ciudad próspera y ayudan a su crecimiento a través de la creación de nuevos negocios, el pago de impuestos, y enriquecen la cultura de la ciudad. El programa Live Stop que remolca los vehículos menosprecia estas contribuciones y beneficios para la ciudad. • Casi medio millón de residentes de Philadelphia se han visto afectados por el programa Live Stop desde el año 2002. Esto tiene un efecto desproporcionado sobre los inmigrantes indocumentados que son excluidos de obtener una licencia de conducir en Pensilvania. La re-interpretación de la ley tendrá un tremendo impacto en la vida de los inmigrantes y todas las familias de bajos ingresos en Philadelphia. • Esta es una oportunidad para que Philadelphia sea líder en el estado y en el país. Mientras trabajamos en una campaña para que el estado de PA otorgue licencias de conducir para todos los inmigrantes, independientemente de su condición migratoria, Philadelphia puede dar un paso concreto ahora para aliviar los efectos negativos de no tener una licencia.
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  • 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,
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