• Multifaith sign-on: Reinstate Wheaton Professor Hawkins
    Our hearts broke when we learned that Professor Larycia Hawkins – the first tenured African American woman at Wheaton College since 1860, and the only full-time African American woman on faculty – was put on leave after wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims in America. She wrote on Facebook, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.” While the College has framed the issue around theological concerns on whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, it has handled the situation in ways that unveil issues of race, gender and religion. Teaching in the evangelical academy is difficult for people of color, especially black women. The white leaders of evangelical institutions need to take the time to listen and learn from black women. The Black Lives Matter Movement, led by black women, is bringing to light both the suffering and hope of a growing faith-rooted movement for justice. As people of faith, we also cannot be bystanders to the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in our nation, including the spike in acts of hate and violence against Americans who are Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian. We were all inspired by Prof. Hawkins' brave statement of embodied solidarity. Her courageous composure is a powerful testimony that love, not fear, will have the last word. Forged in the fires of the movement to abolish race-based slavery, Wheaton College has a historic commitment to standing in solidarity with those who are hurting. As the prophet Zechariah says “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor” (7:10). As people of faith we should applaud Prof. Hawkins’ decision to stand in solidarity with those who are experiencing violence and misunderstanding. Instead, by firing her and revoking her tenure, an unchristian message would be sent that it's okay to punish someone who is using their body as a holy sanctuary against hatred and fear. We understand that you are seeking to deal with this situation through the doctrines and protocols of the College, but we call on you to attend to a higher judge, your conscience, and Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep and Goats. Jesus says we will be judged based on how we treat the least and the lost: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:40). Jesus clearly exercises solidarity with those on the margins, calling us to follow his example as he aligns himself with the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and prisoner. As people of faith and moral courage, it is vital that we stand in embodied solidarity with African Americans, Muslims, and women. Wheaton College has the opportunity to shine like the sun as an example of what moral courage and compassionate justice look like in the diverse community of creation. Our earnest prayer is that you will do what is right and reinstate Prof. Hawkins as Associate Professor of Political Science. In reconciling with her, Wheaton will reclaim its prophetic legacy through modeling just and compassionate devotion to ‘Christ and the Kingdom.’ In faith, Rev. Dr. Peter Goodwin Heltzel (Wheaton, Class of 1994) Rev. Dr. William Barber II Rabbi Sharon Brous Sister Simone Campbell Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño Dr. Sharon Groves Lisa Sharon Harper Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson Valarie Kaur Rabbi Stephanie Kolin Rev. Dr. Jacqui J. Lewis Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews Rev. Brian McLaren Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III Bishop Gene Robinson Linda Sarsour Rev. Dr. John Vaughn Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock
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  • Petition Against Legislation Preventing Straight Party Ticket Voting in Michigan
    If straight party ticket voting is prevented, it would seriously disenfranchise senior citizens, the physically disabled, and the poor by creating unnecessary obstacles to their participation in the electoral process. Michigan citizens should have the right to vote as they please and not have restrictions placed on them, to do so is a violation of their constitutional rights and a violation of their civil liberties.
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  • Amid anti-Muslim hate, sign this letter of support to the Muslim community
    In the famous words of German anti-Nazi Lutheran pastor and theologian Martin Niemoller: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. Today, they are coming for Muslim Americans. And when they come for any member of our community, they come for all of us. As we watch the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in our nation, as we listen to preposterous hate speech and rhetoric from political candidates -- particularly Mr. Trump -- our hearts are cracked wide open. Even more alarming than the rantings of a single politician are the thousands cheering on bigotry. People are afraid and concerned for their safety. However, responding to fear with hatred diminishes us all - both in spirit and safety. We must not allow fear to undermine the values that stand at the very core of who we are as faith leaders and Americans. Every time there is a surge in anti-Muslim speech, there is a corresponding spike in acts of hate and acts of violence against Americans who are Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian. You are our neighbors and our doctors, our local merchants and our school board presidents. We know you as restaurant owners and soccer coaches, as policewomen and public officials. We know you as mothers and fathers and caregivers, and as allies and colleagues in movements for justice. You are us. We know you as our brothers and our sisters. America is not America without you. We are speaking out, and we have your back, friends. We commit to building a circle of protection around you; we are standing with you. We love you, and we pledge to show our love in every corner of our lives. May we walk hand in hand into a future where racism, hate, and violence are relics of the past, where differences are celebrated, and our children inherit our joy. نحن نقف بجانبكم (We stand by you.) | نحن نساندكم (We support you.) Signed: Valarie Kaur Linda Sarsour Rabbi Stephanie Kolin Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel Rev. Brian McLaren Rev. Dr. Jacqui J. Lewis Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III Bishop Gene Robinson, Lisa Sharon Harper Rev. Dr. William Barber II Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock Rabbi Sharon Brous Sr. Simone Campbell
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  • Assign Special Prosecutor to Investigate Cover-up of Laquan McDonald Execution
    In the City of Big Shoulders, we have witnessed, once again, the killing of a young Black man, by the name of LaQuan McDonald, at the hands of a civil servant called to serve and protect. Chicago, unfortunately, is no stranger to police misconduct and political corruption. For example, a lengthy investigation uncovered forced confessions in the Chicago Police Department under the unethical leadership of then-Commander Jon Burge. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and the 90s, officers under Burge’s leadership routinely tortured citizens until they signed confessions for acts they did not commit. The tragic death of LaQuan McDonald is part of Chicago’s long history of racial tension, failed police policy, and unethical political maneuvering. We are calling upon local and national leaders and activists to join with citizens of Chicago to demand several reforms, including: · Demilitarization of the Chicago Police Department · Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the potential cover-up · A police department that reflects the community it serves · Put in place an elected civilian police board with indictment power · Secure proper funding for restorative justice programs · The resignation and firing of ALL involved, and · Indictment of implicated officers and commanders We are called as people of faith to do justice and to love kindness and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) We call upon all people of faith and moral courage to join with the citizens of Chicago and demand institutional change to these systemic issues.
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  • Tell Politicians: Refugees fleeing violence need help, not hate
    As people from diverse religious traditions we are united in the core value of welcoming the sojourner and loving our neighbors. Just as the Israelites wandered through the desert to escape slavery in Egypt, and as Mary and Joseph traveled from place to place before finding a stable in the inn for the birth of Jesus, today’s refugees face similar struggles. We must stop conflating terrorism with Islam; the form of violent extremism practiced by ISIS is not part of the Muslim tradition. Islam is a religion that promotes peace, not violence. As the Qur’an reads, “Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” Qur’an 5:32 The United States has a proud history of resettling refugees of all faiths. Keeping Syrian refugees out of this country based on their nationality or religion sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about who we are as Americans and dishonors our historic legacy of welcoming. We are a welcoming country with a religiously diverse society and our resettlement program must continue to reflect this. To not do so only feeds into ISIS’ propaganda and makes us all less safe. To be clear, the U.S. process for admitting refugees prioritizes security concerns. The United States handpicks the refugees who resettle here, going through multiple layers of security checks and making them the most thoroughly vetted group of people to enter the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple other intelligence agencies. However, despite the proven safety of the U.S. resettlement program, more than half of U.S. Governors have signaled they would like to refuse entry to Syrians. It is important to recognize that states cannot unilaterally block resettlement -- governors do not have the legal authority to determine who lives in their states. Syrian refugees are legally admitted to the United States and therefore have the right to move freely throughout the country. To stop someone from entering a state due to their nationality is an attack on fundamental rights that we as Americans hold true and is against everything that we stand for as a nation of immigrants proud of our history of welcoming. We reject the notion that our country or state can exclude certain refugees based on nationality or religion and ask our Governor and our Congresspersons to welcome all refugees including Syrians as they desperately flee violent persecution.
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  • 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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  • 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.
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  • Dear Presidential Candidates: #WeMakeAmericaGreat
    As 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!
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  • Tell Goff Public: Stop Promoting For-Profit Prisons
    The mass incarceration of vulnerable people in our country is a profound injustice and must stop. Jesus taught his disciples to pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive the debts of others." (Matthew 6:12) Minnesota has the second lowest prison population in the nation, yet has the second highest growth in incarceration rate. As a result of this trend, our prison population is overcapacity and state officials are considering investment requests to open a new private prison facility in Appleton. Our current prison system in Minnesota unjustly and disparately impacts people of color. African Americans make up 35% of prisoners despite being just 6% of the state’s population. Rather than working to heal this racialized injustice and invest in reforms to keep people out of prisons, Swift County has hired Goff Public to promote the opening of a for-profit prison owned by Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) - the largest and oldest private prison owner and operator in the U.S. which has extracted nearly $1 billion in profits over the past 5 years. CCA’s prisons have been dogged by allegations of maltreatment, neglect, and abuse. As just one heinous example, just this past July in Texas, 250 immigrant children were given the wrong dose of vaccine in a CCA facility. This dehumanizing prison system which profits off incarceration of human beings is a deep and profound violation of the sanctity of human life. Minnesota can do better; Goff Public can do better; we can do better than solve the prison overcapacity problem by simply building more prisons, especially prisons making a profit off the vulnerable in our society. Minnesota has no place for a company like CCA, or any company that seeks to profit off incarceration. Therefore as people of faith, we call Goff Public to cease and desist their efforts to promote the CCA facility in Appleton MN, or any for-profit incarceration enterprise.
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  • People of Faith Stand with Sandra Bland’s Family to Demand Justice
    On the morning of July 13, 2015, Sandra Annette Bland was found dead in her jail cell at the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, TX. The video of Sandra's brutal arrest confirms she was subject to a violent, racist and traumatic encounter with the police. And though we still don’t know what happened next, one thing is clear: a traffic stop for a failure to signal should not lead to death. Since Sandra’s death, clergy and others have been keeping a daily vigil outside the Waller County Sheriff’s Office and County Jail. The lack of transparency surrounding both Sandra’s death and arrest has led to a national outcry demanding #Justice4Sandy. We want people to know that Sandy still speaks; her voice can’t be silenced. But over the past week, opposition to our peaceful vigil has escalated – and we are being harassed by law enforcement. First, the space where we gathered was barricaded. Then the tree providing shade for our vigil were cut down. We continue to receive death threats and were told by Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith to “go back to the church of Satan that you run.” As people of faith and moral courage, we condemn these acts and stand with the Bland family in their pursuit of justice for Sandra. Specifically we’re demanding the Department of Justice: 1) Open an investigation into the suspicious circumstances surrounding Sandra’s arrest and death. 2) Call for the immediate termination of Officer Brian Encinia who unlawfully arrested Ms. Bland. 3) Uphold the right of people of faith to peacefully assemble and protest free of intimidation, harassment, and fear. OUR VALUES The Black Lives Matter movement awoke our national consciousness to the persistent system of white supremacy and structural racism that penetrates each of our institutions. As people of faith and moral courage, we have a responsibility to stand in the gap of this broken system that has taken the lives of so many people. Amplifying stories like Sandra’s is one step in building a world where Black lives matter, and all of us can live in safety and peace. We invite people of faith to support the Bland family’s demands for justice for Sandra, and defend our ability to mourn and vigil.
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  • Tell Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to drop charges against #BlackLivesMatter protesters
    In December of 2014, over 3,000 people of all ages, races, and religious traditions gathered at the Mall of America to proclaim that Black Lives Matter; to proclaim an end to the "business as usual" economic policies which oppress and impoverish; and to proclaim that the terrorization of people of color through police violence and mass incarceration must stop. The gathering was a beautiful expression of non-violent protest and was filled with clergy, families, activists and artists who sang, preached, spoke-out and engaged in a powerful die-in. As protesters laid their bodies on the floor in symbolic death and solidarity with Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, and the thousands more lost to police brutality, I stood with other clergy, encircling the peaceful protesters, and prayed. With hands lifted heavenward, I prayed that our economy (and the Mall of America which so powerfully represents it) would stop using the bodies of Brown and Black people to enrich the few. I prayed that the hundreds of police who surrounded us wearing bullet-proof vests, riot helmets and carrying weapons could see, especially in this season of the birth of the Christ child, the truth about the humanity and vulnerability of Black and Brown lives. I prayed that somehow I might continue to find the courage to put my white, woman’s, clergy body in the places that Jesus would have put his body—in solidarity where people are harmed. But instead of receiving our multiracial, peaceful ritual as a witness for justice, the Mall of America and the City of Bloomington responded with police in military and riot gear, shutting down the Mall for a period of time. “What started as a demonstration of Dr. King’s vision of the 'beloved community,' became a reminder of what Dr. King warned could destroy our nation: the triple giants of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism,” said Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the protesters charged. The Mall of America and the City of Bloomington augmented their militarized response by infiltrating meetings and surveilling social media to find the organizers of the protest and charge them with multiple offenses, including trespassing—an action that even former prosecutors have called a misuse of power. Instead of protecting the powerless from the powerful-- the mandate from our faith traditions and, indeed, the core ethical responsibility of our legal system--Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson has used her great power to buttress the powerful against those who hold far less power. On August 5th, in response to a defense motion, the most serious of the charges were dropped against the organizers. But there remain offenses which still require costly legal fees to fight. We demand that City Attorney Sandra Johnson drop ALL the charges against the #MOA36. OUR VALUES This die-in and the prayer that surrounded it were my Advent and Christmas practice. They were my way of marking the reality that God seeks to be born into real people’s lives and real people’s suffering. When Black and Brown lives still don’t matter enough to be paid a living wage, or kept out of the school to prison pipeline, or be spared a fatal bullet from a police officer’s gun, then people of faith of all races need to witness to the fact that Black Lives Matter—even in the rotunda of the Mall of America. HOW IT WILL BE DELIVERED To highlight the need for an end to business as usual and a new economic way of life that honors Black and Brown lives, we will personally deliver these signed petitions to City Attorney Sandra Johnson during the Labor Day commemoration.
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    Created by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel
  • Tell ICE: Stop Deportation of Jewish Homeschooling Family
    No mother should be forced to flee her homeland in order to homeschool her children because of anti-semitic bullying. Yet, Petra Albrecht was not free in Germany to homeschool her children because Germany’s outdated laws have banned homeschooling since World War I. German families who choose to homeschool their children face legal action, including prison, the loss of custody of their children and fines. Petra had chosen to homeschool her youngest child Jayson because he was experiencing anti-Semitic bullying in school, in a country where a least one-fourth of the population remains openly anti-Semitic even post World War II. She lost her parental rights and was forced to flee to the U.S. But here the family has come across more hardship. Petra and Nicole were picked up by Immigration Enforcement and have been in U.S. immigration detention for 11 months, in separate facilities. Jayson was sent back to Germany alone, and is being held in an orphanage in or near Berlin, though he had an open asylum case. The German government refuses to tell the family his exact whereabouts, and the U.S. government refuses to release Petra and Nicole. OUR VALUES To be Jewish is to be an immigrant. The Albrecht family continues a history of Jewish migration that reaches back to the Old Testament and our exodus from Egypt – stories we retell on holy days. That’s why one of Judaism’s central teachings is to “welcome the stranger” as you would a friend. We’re calling on all people of faith and moral courage to stand with Petra, a mother separated from her children, and demand immigration enforcement officials release and reunite her with Jayson and Nicole. In his last letter to his family before being extradited to Germany, Jayson wrote, "I promise you that we will be together again soon..."
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    Created by Christina Fialho of CIVIC Picture