• Tell the Obama Administration: Save Rosa from being deported
    In Tucson we witness the disappearance of community members by Border Patrol every day. We see mothers and fathers taken from our neighborhoods, the pews in our churches, the desk next to us at work. We cannot bear to see any more families torn apart—which is why we welcomed Rosa into Sanctuary on August 7. She will stay within the safety of our church grounds until her deportation order is closed. Through the power of Sanctuary and the power of our petition, we stand in-between a deportation order and a mother in our community. As people of faith, when we witness things that are against the will of God (like a mother torn away from her children), we are called to act. Rosa has two beautiful boys, a loving husband, and has lived in Tucson since 1999. She is an active member of the community, volunteers at her church, her sons’ school, and their baseball teams. But she was ordered to be deported after a minor traffic violation. Like millions of other undocumented immigrants in the United States, Rosa's case is considered low-priority for ICE—she has no criminal history, is a caretaker for minors and has long-standing community ties. But she was in detention for 53 days and fought her immigration case through the courts to no avail. Now, Rosa lives with an order of deportation hanging over her head and is not safe to move freely in her home community of Tucson. The only way to keep Rosa’s family together is for Secretary Johnson to hear from you that her deportation must be stopped right now. CAN WE HELP? Yes. ICE officials have been directed to use "prosecutorial discretion" in cases like this, and showing Secretary Johnson that Rosa and her family have a community that supports and loves her will force them to review Rosa's case. It is critical we ACT NOW on her behalf. Rosa cannot stay in sanctuary forever, and even a stay of deportation would need to be renewed each year—we need a real solution to stop family separation and stop deportations. The House of Representatives has failed to take up immigration reform, and now the President must act to expand deferred action for all undocumented people that will provide relief from deportation and a work permit. It's why we're also telling the Obama Administration: "Stop tearing apart families like Rosa’s and take administrative action to grant Deferred Action for All.” OUR VALUES Compelled by the demands of our faith to love our neighbor as ourselves, we offer Sanctuary to our neighbor Rosa so that she can stay with her family. Our scriptures command us to care for widows and orphan – which is why we must act now to *prevent* the separation of Rosa and her children. We are joined by 17 other local congregations who are working alongside us to guarantee that Rosa is able to watch her sons – Gerardo Jr and Jose Emiliano – grow up. We want to make sure that she is there cheering them on with all the other mothers and fathers in the stands. So we ask that you join us in asking Secretary Jeh Johnson to close Rosa’s deportation order and encourage President Obama to take action and expand deferred action for all 11 million undocumented people who are already part of our congregations and communities.
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  • Tell Obama: Anti-LGBT religious exemptions are wrong and immoral
    Dear Mr. President, As faith and civic leaders dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and equal worth of every person, we are grateful for your upcoming executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors. We urge you not to include a religious exemption in the executive order. In keeping with the principle that our government must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and fairness in its own operations, we believe that public dollars should not be used to sanction discrimination. We recognize in others, and have ourselves heard, a faithful calling to contribute to our communities and country through public service. The imperative to seek healing and justice is one of the most widely shared values across religious traditions and our world is better because of it. In our democratic nation, we believe that public service—especially when it is directly supported by the federal government and our tax dollars—must be aligned with the Constitutional principle that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. Requiring all federal contractors to operate according to the same set of non-discriminatory hiring practices is more than fair; it is a critical safeguard that protects all parties. If contractors were allowed to selectively follow employment or other laws according to their religious beliefs, we would quickly create an untenable morass of legal disputes. Furthermore, if selective exemptions to the executive order were permitted, the people who would suffer most would be the people who always suffer most when discrimination is allowed: the individuals and communities that are already marginalized. Increasing the obstacles faced by those at the margins is precisely the opposite of what public service can and should do, and is precisely the opposite of the values we stand for as people of faith. In a nation as diverse as the United States of America, it is critical that the federal government be trusted to follow—and indeed, to role-model—equitable employment practices. We believe that our mutual commitment to the common good is best served by policies that prohibit discrimination based on factors that have no relationship whatsoever to job performance. We are better and stronger as a nation when hiring decisions are made based on professional merit rather than personal identity. An executive order that allows for religious discrimination against LGBT people contradicts the order’s fundamental purpose, as well as the belief shared by more and more Americans every day, which is that LGBT people should not be treated as second-class citizens. An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora’s Box inviting other forms of discrimination. In addition to protecting current and potential employees, we believe ensuring that federal contractors do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in their hiring helps to reduce the likelihood that these contractors will discriminate against clients or other parties in the provision of services. If contractors are free to discriminate in their hiring, it is at least plausible, if not probable, to conclude that clients will experience discrimination as well. We believe that the best way to eliminate discrimination at one level is to reduce discrimination at all levels. We are a pluralistic nation—one that is among the most religiously diverse and devout in the world. Each day we continue to make progress on our journey toward “a more perfect union,” in which all God’s children are treated with fairness and dignity. Many forces help spur this progress. They include the courage of everyday people who live openly as who they truly are; the witness of faith leaders who provide a compass for religious growth; the commitment of political leaders such as yourself who help guide our nation toward a more just path; and the passage of laws and policies that ensure fair treatment for all people. In conclusion, Mr. President, we believe that the path to national unity lies in affirming the full equality and potential of every person. In the spirit of equality, fairness, and justice, we urge you to issue an executive order that ends discrimination against LGBT people in federal contracting without exceptions. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Signers.pdf?showEmbed=true *This emerging coalition of leaders includes diverse faith leaders from around the country, including seminary Presidents, NGOs heads, congregational clergy, theologians, denominational heads, and others.*
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  • Thank you for protecting our parks, President Obama
    Dear President Obama: Thank you for your leadership in protecting our national parks, monuments and public lands, most recently the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico. As members and friends of America's faith community, we believe we have a shared moral responsibility to protect our national parks, monuments and public lands. The clean air and water, wildlife habitat and natural and cultural heritage contained therein are our legacy to our children and grandchildren; the threats posed to these resources by climate change and unfettered oil and gas development require our urgent attention. The U.S. House of Representatives’ recent passage of legislation to curtail your authority to protect new parks and monuments is just the latest example of the unproductive partisanship of this Congress. Across the country, local communities are fed up and eager for you to use your “pen and a phone” to conserve their public lands heritage. As important as many of these lands are for oil and gas and clean energy production, we are confident that you agree that our most prized national parks and monuments are equally deserving of enhanced protections in recognition of their value for clean air and water, wildlife habitat, local economic opportunity, and our physical and spiritual health. America’s Great Outdoors is our shared legacy on behalf of our children and grandchildren. Thank you for working to conserve the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and other public lands that, as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said so eloquently, are “too special to develop.” Sincerely, People of faith and friends who care about our environment Including: ∙ Rev. Richard Cizik President, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good ∙ Eric Chivian, M.D. Founder and Director Emeritus, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School ∙ Bob Doppelt The Resource Innovation Group ∙ Larry Schweiger President, National Wildlife Federation ∙ Rev. Sally Bingham Environmental Activist ∙ John Elwood Founder, Beloved Planet ∙ Lise Van Susteren, M.D. CEO, Lucky Planet Foods, Inc. ∙ Dena Merriam Founder, Global Peace Initiative of Women ∙ Rev. M. Dele Founder, Nature's Friends Institute
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  • Migrant children require humanitarian response
    Our sacred scriptures say.... “You are not to abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them in any way, and they cry to me, I will certainly heed their cry. - Exodus: 22: 21-23 “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. “ - Luke 18:16 As people of faith we see all children as our children. We believe that all children must be ensured international protection and be treated with dignity and respect. We believe we are called to care for all children, as if they were our own. The reasons these children have left their countries of origins are complex and interrelated and have been well documented by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees Report, “Children on the Run,” which has warned of this growing humanitarian crisis. The vast majority have come seeking refuge from surges of violence, and to be reunited with their parents and families living in the United States. Extreme poverty and economic forces, along with situations of surging violence has pushed many of these children out of their home countries. Many have endured horrific trauma and violence as they flee their countries often crossing multiple borders. It is heartbreaking and appalling to see and hear of the inadequate conditions in which children are being held along the US southern border. Children should never be held in detention facilities or makeshift holding centers. Policing and enforcement agencies should not be taking care of children. independent oversight and human rights monitoring must be allowed to ensure the safety and protection of these children. Children should be reunited with their families in the U.S. immediately. We as people of faith believe that these children must not be forgotten . We call on our government to act with purpose and humanitarian resolve. This petition is sponsored by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice- California, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice in San Diego, the Cal-Pacific Immigration Taskforce of the United Methodist Church and attendees of the Let My People Work Conference in Los Angeles (June 9-11, 2014).
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  • Tell Secretary Jeh Johnson: Close Daniel Neyoy Ruiz's Deportation Case
    In 2011, Daniel was driving to work and was pulled over by the Department of Public Safety because his car was emitting too much exhaust. Although he was never cited, Border Patrol was called and he was detained for one-month and placed in removal proceedings. 30 days ago, he was told he had to leave the United States by May 13th. On May 12th Daniel, surrounded by a large group of clergy walked into our church and entered into sanctuary. Although ICE has said that they will not actively come and apprehend him, this does not guarantee that he won’t be arbitrarily pulled over by the police, turned over to Border Patrol and immediately deported. Daniel will remain in sanctuary at our Church in Tuscon until ICE officials close his deportation case. Now, for the first time in over 30 years, Southside Presbyterian Church has offered sanctuary to a family in our community. WHY DANIEL? Daniel Neyoy Ruiz came to our country 14 years ago, seeking what we all seek: a better life. During the past 14 years, he and his wife had a son, he has paid state and federal taxes since 2005, he is a music leader at his church, he is the primary financial provider for his family, and has no criminal history. CAN WE HELP? The good news is that what we are asking ICE to do, is something they do every day. The Obama administration has said that people like Daniel - individuals with no criminal history, with strong ties to the community, and with US Citizen children are a low priority for deportations and he has said recently that we should not be in the business of tearing apart families. While our current system needs serious reform, there is grace within our current system for people like Daniel and we are simply asking the administration to show Daniel that grace by closing his deportation order and allowing him to remain in Tucson with his wife Karla and son Carlos. OUR VALUES As a Pastor in Arizona, I have witnessed the way in which our broken immigration system is tearing families apart. I have heard over and over the stories of mothers afraid to go to the grocery store, fathers who want to chaperone their children’s field trips but can’t for fear that a simple traffic stop could result in deportation. As people of faith, scriptures command us to care for the widow and the orphan but sometimes we are called to act sooner and prevent the loss of parents and spouses through our immigration policies, and at Southside we believe this time is now.
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  • Pope Francis: Support U.S. Nuns & Remove the Unjust Mandate Against LCWR
    The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing 80% of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, remains under scrutiny from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In the spring of 2012, the CDF issued a statement accusing LCWR of promoting "radical feminist themes" and "corporate dissent," causing outrage among Catholics around the globe. On April 30, 2014, the Vatican chief of doctrine, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, accused U.S. nuns of not abiding to the harsh and unjust reform agenda imposed on them by the Vatican. In addition, the document personally attacked renowned theologian Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ. The unjust mandate forced upon the nuns, which threatens their works of justice, is a prime example of how the hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church misuses its power to diminish the voice of women. Catholics deeply value the prophetic witness of women religious and appreciate their commitment to social justice. The behavior that Cardinal Gerhard Müller recently exhibited toward the leaders of the LCWR and Dr. Elizabeth Johnson CSJ is deeply concerning. It is time to stop bullying Catholic women leaders. For more information: http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/head-vatican-doctrinal-congregation-confronts-lcwr-noncooperation or www.nunjustice.org
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  • Get racism out of pro sports: Sack the 'Skins!
    My name is Peggy Flanagan, I am a Native American person of faith, and a board member of Sojourners. I’m ready for the NFL to stop treating me like a mascot. I am not a mascot. My daughter is not a mascot. My people are not mascots. It’s time to sack the ‘Skins. For more than 80 years, Washington D.C.’s football team has been operating under public racism. To me, this is personal – as a Native American woman and mother, the word “Redsk*ns” offends me. Worse, it makes me fear that my young daughter will be hurt by seeing the racist images that degrade her people every day. Recently, we saw the NBA oust one of its owners for his private racism. But for more than 80 years, Washington, D.C.’s, football team has been operating under public racism. With renewed attention on racism in professional sports, now is the perfect time to get this slur out of the NFL. Join me, Jim Wallis, and people of faith around the country in calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the hurtful “Redsk*ns” name! Our faith tradition tells us that when one member suffers, we all suffer. We’re all created in God’s image. But, let me tell you, turning on a television and seeing a racist, derogatory word for my community does NOT make me feel respected. Some of my proudest moments have been marching and demonstrating against this hateful name, and now I’m ready to turn up the heat. Commissioner Goodell needs to take a hint and work to end racism in his league. Join me in standing against the racial slur “Redsk*ns.” The pressure against the Redsk*ns name is mounting – from sports fans, elected officials, media outlets, and more. As a faith community, let’s make sure Commissioner Goodell knows what side we stand on. Peggy Flanagan Sojourners board member, citizen of the White Earth Nation, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota
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  • Call for Prayers to #BringBackOurGirls
    In this moment, we come together from many faith traditions to show our shared commitment to peace, women, and justice. We pray together to end the enslavement, objectification, and violation of women around the globe. Prayer is both a powerful action and a shared experience across religions that can lead to miracles and healing. Today, on the eve of the one-month anniversary of the kidnappings, please join us and send a prayer or message of hope to #BringBackOurGirls. This is not the first kidnapping, nor is Nigeria the only place in which female bodies are ruined, wounded, stoned, kidnapped, sold, and mistreated. I am so tired of it all, and you probably are too. But our work for justice can't end with our fatigue or frustration. Faith helps us grieve and then inspires us to be agents of change. Offer your prayer here, or join us at Middle Collegiate Church in NYC in person: Interfaith Prayer to #Bringbackourgirls Tuesday, May 13 at 6:30 pm, on the eve of the one month anniversary of the kidnapping of the 276 Nigerian school girls Middle Collegiate Church (112 Second Ave.) in New York City Prayers will be offered by Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith leaders RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/555172931265904/
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  • FAITH LEADERS FOR PRISON REFORM: REINSTATE CONDITIONAL RELEASE, MR. POLONCARZ & COUNTY LEGISLATURE
    UPDATE - Since clergy and faith leaders met with County Executive Mark Poloncarz on April 22nd he has expressed his support of reinstating the conditional release program and has committed to send representation to the June 10th VOICE-Buffalo public meeting. However, we still to convince the Erie County Legislature and Sheriff Tim Howard that this program must be reinstated. We must collectively show that as people of faith all across Western New York that we are called to address the horrendous conditions of our criminal justice system. We can no longer tolerate our neighbors – youth, young adults, veterans, elderly – suffering after being imprisoned for nonviolent offenses or because of treatable mental health or addiction issues. We call on our representatives to help heal our communities by: (1) Reinstating the Local Conditional Release Program for Erie County (1) Joining us in person at our public meeting on Tuesday, June 10th at 7PM at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary RC Church in Williamsville The conditional release program would give our neighbors a second chance at life – the opportunity to return to our communities and their families with the treatment and support they need. It's our vision of liberation and restorative justice in Erie County! How does it work? Under the Local Conditional Release Program, 25 non-violent offenders are selected for early release if they agree to a year of probation and participation in programs that provide mental health care, addiction treatment, job training or a variety of other needed services. Does it work? Yes, it restores lives while saving county tax dollars. The rate of recidivism (return to prison) for people who participated in the local conditional release program from 1992 to 2005 was 15% – compare that to 65% for those who were released without services and support. Take the inspiring story of Jacqueline Gerald. At a time in her life when she was struggling with addiction and financial pressures to support her family, Jacqueline was sentenced to serve time as a result of laundering charges. While in prison, Jackie applied for the early release program and was accepted. In Jackie’s own words about the program: “If you keep your eyes open and strive to do well, the Lord will make a way out of no way. For me the way the Lord provided me was through this program.” After being released Jackie was accepted to Nursing School with help from Rev. Eugene Pierce, who was the chair of the local conditional release commission, and Mr. Dolansky, who was her probation officer for that one year. Today, Jackie is a registered nurse. “I’ve learned that sometimes in life we think we are not good enough and we can’t pursue our dreams, but the Lord puts people in our lives who will support us.” Let's show County Executive Poloncarz and the Erie County Legislature we believe in liberation and redemption. Add your name to tell our public servants to reinstate the Conditional Release program. For more info, visit VOICE-Buffalo at http://www.voice-buffalo.org/ You can hear more in our coverage by Buffalo's NPR News http://news.wbfo.org/post/clergy-members-call-county-jail-release-program
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  • People of Faith Call on the Louisiana Legislature to Help the Poor, Stay Out of People's Bedrooms
    On April 15, 2014, the Louisiana House of Representatives voted 66-27 to retain a state law that bans sexual relations between consenting adults. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such laws are unconstitutional, and they cannot be legally enforced. During what is for many people one of the most sacred seasons of the year (Holy Week and Passover), Louisiana lawmakers decided that the best use of their time would be to make an official pronouncement against the 100,000+ Louisianans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the millions more who love them. Their vote means: "You are not welcome in Louisiana. If it were up to us, you would be fined thousands of dollars or put into jail for up to five years." Trying to extend the reach of government, they also said with their vote: "What you choose to do in your own bedroom is our business." This is in violation of a central tenet of all our faith traditions -- to "love your neighbor." It is especially damaging to LGBT children, who like all children need to know that they are loved and respected as God's unique creations. Louisiana lawmakers used their positions and taxpayer resources to express those intolerant and ignorant opinions, instead of focusing on the fact that Louisiana: > Ranks second in terms of state poverty rates > Has the nation's highest murder rate > Has the highest incarceration rate in the world > Stands to lose billions of dollars and refuse medical care to low income people by refusing to accept federal money to expand Medicaid > Is slipping into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of one football field per hour The legislature's vote is not only mean spirited, it is also ironic: Many of these lawmakers are themselves guilty of the "sin of Sodom" as expressed in Ezekiel 16:49: "Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door." As clergy and ordinary people of faith, we call on the Louisiana House of Representatives to repeal Louisiana code 14:89 - the "sodomy law" - and then move on to the real work that needs to be done so the state can live up to its full potential: > Help people to rise out of poverty > Make our streets safe > Keep people out of jail if they don't need to be there > Accept federal money to expand Medicaid > Save this beautiful land before it disappears into the sea.
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  • RSVP: Moral Monday on March 3rd at Gov. Cuomo's office in NYC
    Inspired by the Moral Mondays protests in North Carolina, shocked by a city political system that governs on behalf of the wealthiest at the expense of the rest of us, we are called by conscience to mount a Moral Mondays campaign in New York City. We are clergy, chaplains, and people of conscience—of many different faith traditions, and of none—who find our city in a crisis and ourselves on the front lines. Monday, March 3rd we're turning our attention to the budget of New York. Unfortunately, New York State has abandoned its moral responsibilities to the poor in favor of policies that promote and preserve wealth for the few. We reject its tax breaks for the wealthiest among us that require teachers, healthcare workers, and librarians to live on less. We cannot accept a state that denies children the educational resources they need to succeed; that requires young people to go deeper into debt for college, and the elderly to live with less care. We cannot accept a state that denies the homeless and hungry in our state the services they need. Please RSVP to join us on Monday, March 3rd to call out the injustice of the immoral New York State budget. If you can't make it, please add your name to the petition in solidarity: http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/new-yorkers-for-a-moral-budget
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  • URGENT: Tell West Virginia State Senators to Raise the Minimum Wage!
    The 2014 legislative session is set to end on March 8. On the line is a long-overdue increase in the state minimum wage, or in practical terms: the prospect for a better life for West Virginia's working families. Our state senators MUST stand with working people and raise the minimum wage in West Virginia to $8.25 per hour and index it to inflation and increase the tipped minimum wage. ALL workers deserve a living wage and no one who works full time should toil in poverty. Lobbyists from fast-food corporations like McDonald's and state hospitality industry groups are working hard to convince lawmakers that they cannot afford a minimum wage increase and that a raise would be bad for families and the economy. We know—and studies show— that these "bad for the economy" assertions are just not true. It's the workers who cannot afford NOT to get a raise.
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    Created by Michael Livingston