• Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Deportation of Asylum Seekers Hilda Ramirez and her son Ivan
    Hilda Ramirez is an asylum seeker in danger of deportation to a country where her family will be subjected to violence, discrimination, and extreme poverty. A 28-year-old Mayan mother from San Marcos, Guatemala, Hilda fled to the United States with her 9-year-old son Ivan after facing threats of violence. Arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 hoping to find safety, she was instead detained at the border and jailed at the Karnes detention center with her son in inhumane conditions for 11 months. There, Hilda participated in a courageous hunger strike with another 77 immigrant moms to shut down family detention centers.1 Hilda was eventually released on bond and forced to wear an ankle bracelet. After several months of staying in an Austin shelter for immigrants, the danger of impending ICE raids became overwhelming, leading Hilda and Ivan to seek Sanctuary in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas while she fights deportation orders for herself and her young son. Although she was previously unable to win her asylum case, she continues to appeal her case with the assistance of legal counsel. After the recent decision from the Obama administration to target Central American asylum seekers for immigration raids and deportation, many immigrant communities have been left in a state of fear. As a result, many families and individuals in danger of losing their lives and loved ones are looking for safe haven and support with legal services. Already, more than 120 people have been apprehended in the raids, 77 people immediately deported, including parents with U.S. citizen children.2 Another round of raids has been announced, but no one knows where or when they will happen. OUR VALUES Families like Hilda and her son should not be targeted by immoral and unjust ICE raids. They should be provided the safety they seek, not met with further violence and discrimination. With continued raids announced, it is more important than ever that we stand with Hilda, Ivan, and all our immigrant brothers and sisters living in danger of deportation and separation. On February 9th, 2016, Hilda and Ivan took the prophetic and courageous step to enter into Sanctuary at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Hilda explains that, "I feel safe here. I don't think immigration agents will break down the door and take me away. That is why I came here." Sanctuary is a place where God’s love and protection is a living reality. Our faith demands that we treat refugees as neighbors. Our faith demands that we open our doors, even when others are shutting theirs. As people of faith and people of moral courage, we cannot stand idle in midst of the inhumanity of raids, deportation and detention. We must be in solidarity with Hilda, Ivan and our immigrant neighbors who are facing similar situations where a deportation could have fatal consequences when returned to their countries of origin. All families are sacred and each individual deserves justice, dignity and hospitality, regardless of their immigration status. TAKE ACTION By signing this petition, you are taking action to stand in solidarity with Hilda and Ivan, and all people suffering because of the United States’ inhumane mass deportation system. Your support of immigrants and refugees as a person of faith or a person of moral courage can help us put pressure on the Obama administration to use their power to end unjust and inhumane raids and deportations. Watch the video of our press conference at St. Andrews Church: https://vimeo.com/154776260 [1] "Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release," The Guardian. April 1, 2015. [2] "U.S. authorities begin raids, taking 121 illegal immigrants into custody over the weekend," The Washington Post. Jan. 4, 2016.
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  • Stand with Native Alaskans: Protect the Arctic Refuge
    For decades, the Gwich'in people have been defending their ancestral land and culture from the imminent threat of oil exploration and drilling. For daily sustenance, the Gwich’in depend on the Porcupine caribou herd, whose birthing patterns would be disrupted by oil exploration. The Gwich'in call the caribou birthing grounds "the sacred place where life begins," and they believe the caribou and Gwich'in people share a piece of each others' hearts. Defending the ecological integrity of the Arctic Refuge is also about defending the lives, livelihoods, spirituality, and culture of the Gwich'in people.
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  • Join In Interfaith Friendship and Support for Sonoma County's Muslim Community
    An alarming wave of Islamophobia is sweeping our nation. It has taken the form of hate crimes, profiling and verbal attacks. Increasingly inflammatory political rhetoric has included calls for internment camps and halting the resettlement of Muslim refugees who are fleeing war and terror. As people of many faith backgrounds living and worshiping in Sonoma County, we, the undersigned, and so many other people, are committed to working for justice, equality, inclusion and safety for all the members of our community. We are keenly aware that the scapegoating of religious minorities has never ended well - in this country or elsewhere - and we do not want to see it in our county or under our watch. We call on this community to oppose and reject Islamophobia in all its forms. We will not be silent or indifferent. We call on all people of good conscience to stand up for peaceful coexistence. We call on this community to extend the hand of friendship to our Muslim neighbors so they know they do not face this challenging time alone. Sponsored by: INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF SONOMA COUNTY SonomaCountyInterfaith@sonic.net (707) 206-2650 Endorsed by: Interfaith Council of Sonoma County, First Congregational United Church of Christ – Santa Rosa, Congregation Ner Shalom – Cotati, Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, Redwood Forest Friends Meeting, Congregation Shomrei Torah – Santa Rosa, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Santa Rosa, Islamic Center of North Marin, First Congregational Church of Sonoma - UCC, North Bay Organizing Project, Institution of None And All, Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, Congregation Shir Shalom – Sonoma, and Presbyterian Church of the Roses – Santa Rosa
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  • 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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  • Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Raids on Central American Refugees
    On January 2, the Department of Homeland Security began to raid homes of Central American mothers and children who entered the United States seeking asylum in states across the country. ICE officers showed up at their doors unannounced, deceiving them to gain entry, waking up sleeping children, and taking away the families to detention centers, where mothers and children will spend months jailed until they are deported back to the dangerous situations they fled. Raids are a traumatizing experience, especially for those already suffering from the distress of rape, murder, domestic violence, and deadly poverty in the countries they have fled. These raids are being used as scare tactics against the immigrant community — resulting in fear of being separated from their families, fear that keeps mothers from sending their children to school, fear that keeps workers from returning to much-needed jobs, fear that has a domino effect on all of our communities. What is happening to our brothers and sisters in Central America is a humanitarian crisis, and must be met with a compassionate response that integrates respect for human rights, finds and heals the root causes of migration, and provides safe haven for the families and individuals in need of safety and compassion. OUR VALUES Faith communities have a long-standing history of providing sanctuary and accompaniment for our immigrant brothers and sisters. Back in the 1980s when Central Americans were fleeing the horrific violence of civil war, they came to our country seeking asylum but were met with deportation orders and were sent back to the death squads they sought to escape. And so communities of faith did the only thing we could: We formed an underground railroad and declared sanctuary for Central American refugees. During the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, over 400 congregations were involved and thousands of refugees were protected from deportation. Leaders in this movement ended up suing the U.S. government for failing to follow their own asylum laws — and they won. The U.S. government agreed to stop all deportations to Central America, granted refugees from these areas temporary protected status, and reformed their refugee law. More than 30 years later we find ourselves in the same situation with the U.S. government once again violating their own asylum law and international human rights standards. And once again we feel as if we have no choice but to do everything we can to resist these recent actions by the Department of Homeland Security targeting asylum seekers for deportation, because once again, human lives are on the line. Last year, the Sanctuary Movement was rebirthed at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, and over 300 congregations and synagogues joined them in a pledge to protect mothers, fathers, and individuals with the courage to defy the deportation orders threatening to separate them from their families and communities. Every day we are talking to a new congregation who wants to get involved and every day we are hearing of a new family devastated — that’s why we’re asking the Obama Administration to stop the raids and deportations now! The movement will continue to grow stronger until there is not one more family living in fear of deportation.
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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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  • Pope Francis-Reinstate Fired Nun
    Sister Letitia "Tish" Rawles, a faithful, committed Catholic, has served as a Catholic sister for 47 years: 22 with the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, and 25 with the Sisters of the Precious Blood. She has also felt a call to the priesthood since her childhood. In April of this year, facing serious illness, she followed God's call and her conscience and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Since Sister Tish's ordination, she has faithfully served the sick and dying, performing prayer services and administering last rites at her nursing home. When the Sisters of the Precious Blood discovered that she was following her call to the priesthood, she was dismissed. Pope Francis has promoted a "Church of Mercy, which he states "excludes no one". He has shown mercy to controversial priests across the political spectrum, allowing formerly dismissed priests to say Mass, and schismatic groups to grant absolution. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Roman Catholic Womenpriests ask Pope Francis to live the Church of Mercy by overturning all excommunications. This action will allow Sister Tish and all women called to the priesthood to serve their communities in peace.
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