• Take The Pledge: 5 Things to do to stop gun violence in America
    After the 28 deaths, including 20 children, in Newtown, it is time that we immediately turn the tide of gun violence around us before the next tragedy strikes. Here are five things we can pledge to do: (1.) Reach out to young people – especially those who express feelings of being alienated, isolated, or disenfranchised – and those who need mentoring, encouragement, and opportunities to break out of cycles of despair, hate, rage and frustration. Provide that guidance – a “hand up” for success. (2.) Help parents – particularly single parents who need practical support in responding to challenges with older children and teenagers, including those in need of mental healthcare. Determine and achieve what is needed to strengthen those lives, one family at a time – and work to support the availability of services to all people regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds. (3.) Make sure there is a moral compass firmly in the hand of every person. Start with the Golden Rule, build to the 10 commandments, and teach and model peacemaking and non-violence at every opportunity. Demonstrate alternatives to behavior fueled by anger, or by violence seen in media. Parents, teachers and clergy must not neglect these responsibilities. (4.) Support federal policy changes while securing weapons. Write an email or call public officials locally, regionally and nationally to insist on reinstatement of the federal assault weapon ban and increased mental healthcare resources. Every first-grader’s right to learn safely in his or her classroom far outweighs any claim I might invoke to own or operate an assault weapon. Meanwhile, make certain that any firearms in homes are fully locked down, or better yet – surrender those weapons to any local police station. (5.) Express your support for local police officers and first responders who stand in harm’s way on a daily basis. More than ever, these professionals need our care and encouragement to meet the challenges of protecting and serving our communities. If we paid more attention to meeting societal needs in the way of education and mental healthcare, we would not have to depend solely on the expertise of our police and fire safety personnel. ****** The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and founder of Hands in Healing, a non-profit initiative dedicated to advocacy and education for stopping violence and increasing peace. Prior to his 35 years of ordained ministry, he was for six years an officer in Southern California’s Burbank Police Department.
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  • Point Loma Should Charter an Official LGBTQ Club
    Point Loma Nazarene University has no institutionalized club that creates a safe space for current students who identify as LGBTQ. Without the explicit support of the university, these students often suffer greatly with feelings of isolation and depression. Knowing that they are supported and celebrated as full members of the community is integral to their health and success. We understand that the chartering of a club is complex because of the institution's ties to the Church of the Nazarene, a Christian denomination that does not recognize the right of LGBTQ people to be in relationship with one another. However, despite the denominational policy, many of us remain compelled to advocate for LGBTQ rights and find it difficult to remain associated with an institution that so blatantly makes LGBTQ students feel unwelcome and unloved. Institutional complexity does not absolve moral imperative to stand for justice even if that stand comes at great cost. Because of this, we--as students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Point Loma Nazarene University--cannot offer financial support in the form of alumni giving until the club is chartered.
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  • Gov. Cuomo: Get Money out of Politics in NY
    We believe dramatic change is needed so that our proud democracy lives up to the values of being “of, by, and for the people.” As faith leaders, we stand for honoring the voices of each person created in God’s image and for protecting the integrity of those voices in our democratic process. Together, we have worked to sound the alarm over a flood of special interest money into our political system from a privileged few and call upon our leaders to pursue bold solutions to this crisis of democracy. Candidates are spending so much time courting donors that they have less and less time to speak with voters or craft solutions to our biggest problems. Voters, especially younger Americans, tune out because they view our elections as un-democratic and potentially corrupt. The rich and the poor grow further and further apart, a trend reinforced by a path to electoral victory studded with high-dollar fundraisers and special interest backroom deals. Attack ads blanket the airwaves, dividing us when we need to come together to solve our country’s enormous challenges. New York’s national prominence ensures that a strong message will be sent to Washington, D.C., that real, serious change is possible, especially now as we have just witnessed, from coast to coast, an election awash in unprecedented amounts of money. We appreciate that you recognize that the heart of such change must include the establishment of a citizen-led, small donor-driven campaign fundraising system. This paradigm, already in place in New York City and in several states, would encourage candidates to rely on everyday voters for their campaign funds, instead of spending extensive energy and precious time courting a handful of affluent campaign donors or turning to an army of professional influence-seekers and deep-pocket vested interests. It would broaden civic participation, invite citizens back into our democracy and strengthen the ties between officeholders and their constituents. Importantly, it would send a signal that New Yorkers could trust that their election officials were working for them. Just as the prophets and saints from our faith traditions railed against economic wealth and power that resulted in injustice for the people, we follow in their footsteps and cry out against a system that tears at the fabric of our democracy. Your leadership will not only benefit New Yorkers, but give great hope to all of us who treasure, and depend upon, a robust American democracy. ______________ The Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson is President of Auburn Theological Seminary, and an international leader in theological education for excellence in religious leadership and progressive moral leadership in the public square. Auburn Seminary equips bold and resilient leaders with the tools and resources they need to bridge religious divides, build community, pursue justice, and heal our complex, multifaith world. For more on this campaign http://bit.ly/VklbXY
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  • Reject Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda
    Our various faiths teach that every person is made in the image of God, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Whatever our biblical interpretation and religious tradition, we know that God calls us to love each other, not persecute each other. We condemn the criminalization of homosexuality, especially state-sponsored violence against LGBT people, their friends and families. Passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would rip the very fabric of communities, turning Ugandan families against themselves. Our faith demands we stand with Uganda’s sexual minority community rather than use our religion to justify their persecution. Silencing and criminalizing any group based on who they love or how they express their gender chafes against our very moral fiber. It breaks a core teaching of our many traditions: that we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. "Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?" -Job 31:15 “Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen." -1 John 4:20 LINKS TO DETAILS OF THE BILL: -Description and full text of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: http://bit.ly/2denrG -Info on renewed push to pass Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: http://bit.ly/TulT60 -Rachel Maddow 2010 interview with David Bahati, who formerly introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill: http://bit.ly/TdNOIW
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  • Raise New York's Minimum Wage
    At $7.25 per hour, New York’s minimum wage remains decades out of date. With growing numbers of New York State residents relying on low-wage jobs to survive, too many workers do not earn enough to afford basic expenses. Governor Cuomo proposed raising New York's minimum wage to $8.75 per hour during his State of the State address this year. Key leaders in the Assembly and Senate have promised action on raising the minimum wage during this session. Now it's time for the legislature to deliver. New York’s lowest-paid workers cannot wait any longer. The Senate and Assembly should pass legislation raising the minimum wage to $8.75 per hour and indexing it to rise automatically with the cost of living each year. Raising the minimum wage is politically popular and morally right. Eighty percent of New York voters support raising the minimum wage.
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  • Tell the FBI: Track hate crimes against Sikh Americans
    The FBI currently doesn't track hate crimes against Sikhs, as it does for many other groups. The Sikh identity of the 6 Sikh Americans killed in Oak Creek will not appear as a statistic in the FBI’s reports. How can we effectively respond to a problem we're not measuring? This is our chance to advocate for real policy changes to combat hate in America. The FBI is finally meeting June 5th to decide whether or not to track hate crimes against Sikh Americans. To make sure they do the right thing, they need to hear from us. The alternative? After Oak Creek, I met with the local Police Chief Edwards, who showed me the FBI Hate Crime Incident Report sitting on his desk, still blank. "There is no box for me to record the 6 homicides at the Sikh gurdwara," he said. "How can we combat a problem we're not measuring?" Because of our action together in the wake of Oak Creek, and the work of our partners all over the country, the Justice Department promised to explore whether the FBI should track anti-Sikh hate crimes in mid-October. This is living proof: when we the people find bold new ways to call for love and respect, not just in the halls of power but in our schools, houses of worship, and communities, we can be heard. And when our government responds, we can build an America fully committed to civil liberties. Because I dream of a day when we see a turbaned Sikh on the street and think – not "foreigner" or "terrorist" but "American." That will be the day that all people, in all our diversity, are truly embraced in America. We long for that day. We fight for that day. And I believe working together in the Sikh spirit of Chardi Kala, everlasting hope and optimism, we will see that day. *We are proud to work with the Sikh Coalition and the Sikh American Legal Defense Fund on this important effort.*
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  • Richard Mourdock: Apologize for your comments on rape and God
    Associating pregnancy resulting from rape with God’s Will violates the respect for human dignity required by all faith traditions. Such language has no place in political campaign rhetoric. Rather, we must strive to change the conversation surrounding the reproductive rights of women. We must address related physical and mental health issues and the role religious congregations can play in supporting women who have been victims of sexual abuse.
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  • Help Free Our Daddy!!!
    Save my family.
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    Created by Jennifer Kottke
  • Pastors Need to Preach and Teach About Systemic Racism and Implicit Bias
    Dear Clergy Colleagues, Especially during times of injustice and conflict, we celebrate every sign of God’s grace among us. The killing of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. at the hands of police has rocked Hoover and the surrounding area, so we were glad that an interracial group of clergy met on December 5 to worship and affirm their common faith. But we are also aware how often well-meaning Christians have turned to acts of charity to avoid acts of justice, or even used charity as a screen for supporting the status quo. Charity soothes the conscience, while prophetic proclamation pricks it. Collecting money to care for employees affected by the protest is an action that draws attention to the effects of protest, but not the effects of systemic racism that gave rise to protest; perhaps you could also collect money to pay for bail for protesters? We need to speak plainly, because lives are on the line: We know that many people who are making derogatory, inflammatory statements about the protests, who talk about running over protesters with their cars or turning fire hoses on them, are members of Christian congregations. We know that the kind of counterprotest violence that took Heather Heyer’s life in Charlottesville, Virginia is possible here. We have a series of questions that beg for a pastoral and prophetic response. First, how are you helping your congregations understand the perspective of the protesters? How are you de-escalating violent and racist rhetoric? Are you reminding your congregations that nonviolent protest stands at the heart of our faith traditions? That even Jesus turned over tables in a sacred space? Are you helping them empathize with those who constantly feel the effects of systemic racism? Second, how are you helping them to understand the history of the place in which they live? What public decisions and policies that shaped Hoover were driven by racism? You are probably familiar with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written as a response to clergy who blamed protesters for being “divisive.” In the years since his letter, Jefferson County has divided into over thirty different municipalities, a fracturing driven by redlining, white flight, and other forms of systemic racism. The first attempt to incorporate Hoover happened in 1964, the same year the Civil Rights Act was passed, in order to fight the integration of schools. While many lament “divisiveness” and “polarization” (which are often code words for protest), are you preaching about the divisiveness and polarization of systemic racism? And third, how are you helping them understand the times? Alabama Appleseed recently released a report showing that although white and black people use and sell drugs at about the same rate, black people are four times more likely to be arrested for it in Alabama. Nearly every family in your congregation has been affected by drugs. Are you preaching about the huge racial disparities in the ways our black siblings are affected by policing and the criminal justice system? Have you said the names of victims and preached against the rise of white nationalist violence against people of color? You may already be doing these things. If so, we thank you. We ask these questions because the people we pastor are directly affected by them. Some of us clergy have our own necks on the line, too. If you are not already bringing people together in your congregation in worship or small groups to address the sin of systemic racism and white people’s role in eliminating it, those of us in Faith in Action Alabama stand ready to help you do it. Faithfully Yours, Rev. Dr. David L. Barnhart, Jr. Pastor, Saint Junia United Methodist Church Co-chair of Birmingham Hub, Faith in Action Alabama Rev. Dr. Sondra Coleman Presiding Elder, Birmingham District, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Rev. Cat Goodrich Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton Presiding Bishop, Fifth District, Central Methodist Episcopal Church Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson Pastor, Mount Moriah Baptist Church Rev. Adam Mixon Pastor, Zion Spring Baptist Church Rev. Dr. A.B. Sutton Pastor, Living Stones Temple Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church
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  • Help Medicaid Recipients Keep Their HealthCare
    This is important because having access to healthcare is a crucial part of not only surviving, but thriving, as human beings. Jesus revealed to us that access to healthcare was important to Him; this is why he told us the story of the Good Samaritan. As United Methodists, advocating for everyone to have the economic ability to see a doctor, or to be able to obtain needed surgery, medications, or other treatments is in accordance with our Book of Resolutions. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/health-care-for-all-in-the-united-states
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  • An Open Letter to Doug Jones
    Please know that just as we campaigned for you, we want to work with you to ensure that the voices of all Alabamians, particularly those who have historically been marginalized, are represented during your tenure in the Senate. Again, congratulations on a very hopeful victory. Let’s continue working together to take the next step to uplift all Alabamians. Sincerely,
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  • Tell the UN: Act to stop racist voter suppression in the US
    Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people the right to take part in their country’s government, that civic structures should reflect the will of the people they govern. The United States, at present, stands in clear violation of the Declaration’s mandate for universal and equal suffrage. President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission sought last week to obtain the personal information of all U.S. voters. This request was widely decried as not only unnecessary — given voter fraud’s virtual non-existence — but also as a likely pretense to further suppress voting blocs that are unlikely to support Republican candidates. Such attempts at disenfranchisement would not be unprecedented. 33 states have passed voter suppression laws that disproportionately affect poor, African American, and Latino voters. Moreover, in the 2016 election there were almost 900 fewer voting sites when compared to 2012. An Associated Press analysis suggested such policies, on top of race-driven gerrymandering in states like North Carolina and Wisconsin, could have given Republicans as many as 22 unearned seats in the House of Representatives Moreover, black and brown Americans are disproportionately affected by voter suppression efforts, a shameful reincarnation of tactics employed during our nation’s era of racial segregation and Jim Crow. Unfortunately, while our Justice Department has long fought efforts to deny voting rights, it has dramatically changed course under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In February, for example, the Justice Dept. dropped its objection to a racist Texas voter suppression law — one a federal judge later ruled unconstitutional. More recently, In June the Justice Department sent states a letter intended to push state voting commissions to remove more voters from their rolls. Since we can no longer expect our Justice Department to act on behalf of the disenfranchised, we turn instead to the international community, that you might condemn these crimes. Do not let American democracy continue in its drift towards oligarchy without censure. We implore you to send the strong message that equal and universal suffrage is not an optional commitment, but a fundamental right for all people.
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    Created by Auburn Seminary