• People Of Faith Supporting President Obama's Efforts To End Discrimination Against LGBTQ Students
    President Obama: As people of faith with a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of all children, we want to applaud you and your administration for the recent decision to interpret and enforce Title IX — a statute, written in 1972, that prohibits sex discrimination — as also prohibiting discrimination on the basis of "gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status.” We recognize that this is a confusing and even unsettling issue for many, while for others who have faced discrimination this has been a harmful experience long ignored. From our perspective, however, you have simply taken another step toward creating a nation where the basic civil rights of all are protected. Too many LGBTQ youths are lost and abandoned. Many of these young people end up living in poverty and on the streets. None of these children should face discrimination at school or barriers in getting an education. We believe that protecting young people from discrimination is consistent with our faith. Love – not fear – should be our guiding principle. We challenge those who might respond to this decision to open their hearts and listen to the stories, particularly of transgender students, who are so often marginalized. Thank you for showing us a better path. Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie Director, Center for Peace and Spirituality & University Chaplain, Pacific University Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, President and Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible & Theological Education, Chicago Theological Seminary Rev. Dr. Traci D. Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Israel | Portland, Oregon Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament, Eden Theological Seminary Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology and President Emerita, Chicago Theological Seminary Rev. Michael Neuroth, Policy Advocate for International Issues, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Senior Vice-President for Innovations in Public Programs, Union Theological Seminary in New York City * titles are used for identification purposes only
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  • Tell the Obama Administration to Prohibit LGBTQ Discrimination in Foster Care
    For the more than 400,000 children in foster care across our nation, this action would have an enormous, life-changing impact. The teachings of our respective faiths may diverge on issues of theology and practice, but all speak clearly of our duty to protect the stranger, the orphan and the widow: the most vulnerable members of our society. We are called to do all we can to ensure children grow up with loving, supportive families that will set them on the path toward happy and healthy adulthood. Removing the barriers that currently prevent LGBT adults from becoming parents for these children has the potential to bring an estimated two million potential parents forward to provide loving, permanent homes. The primary reason hundreds of thousands of children remain in, or age out of, the foster care system is a lack of qualified homes. This is a moral travesty. This Administration has made historic progress in the advancement of LGBT rights across the country and your Department has been at the forefront of these changes. Yet, if action is not taken before the end of the Administration to prohibit discrimination in adoption and foster care, a critical piece of this work will remain woefully unfinished. It is crucial that the Obama Administration takes decisive action to ensure that otherwise qualified adoptive and foster parents are not turned away simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, and that LGBT and gender non-conforming youth in care do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A foundational principle of our child welfare services is the best interest of the child. We firmly believe that ensuring qualified parents are not turned away, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, in addition to protecting youth themselves, is one of the most important steps you can take to meet the needs of children in foster care. Further, we do not believe there should be any exemption to permit religiously affiliated child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBT youth and prospective parents while conducting public foster care and adoption placements and service delivery with significant sums of taxpayer dollars. Such an exemption would undermine this foundational principle by prioritizing the provider’s religious beliefs over the best interests of the children they contract with the government to serve, while also sanctioning discrimination with public dollars. Although the primary responsibility of child welfare agencies and their contractors is to meet a child’s need for safety, permanency and well-being, many LGBT youth face physical threat, harassment, rejection and discrimination from state-funded providers. Due largely to family rejection, LGBT youth are over-represented in child welfare systems compared to their non- LGBT peers, are placed in group homes and residential facilities at higher rates, and often exit to homelessness and increased risk of commercial sexual exploitation. While some states offer explicit protections for LGBT youth, most do not, and an LGBT youth’s safety, well-being, and fair treatment depends largely on a luck of the draw. This month is the last National Foster Care Month of the Obama Administration. We hope you will take this opportunity to use your authority as Secretary to put the needs of children first by issuing guidance ending discrimination against potential adoptive and foster parents and children in foster care based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, without exceptions.
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  • Catholics Support Women Priests. Pope Francis Should Do The Same.
    Pope Francis says that "No one can be excluded from the mercy of God...[the Church's] doors remain wide open." Pope Francis has demonstrated his commitment to this mercy by reaching out to other orders of priests who have broken away from the church. In this spirit, we ask Pope Francis to affirm primacy of conscience for the women priests worldwide. In prophetic obedience to the Spirit, women priests live a renewed priestly ministry in communities of faith that welcome all and exclude no one. Roman Catholic Women Priests, who stand in apostolic succession, serve in a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. Those of us who are divorced and remarried, who are LGBTQ, and who have struggled with the Catholic faith, have found spiritual shelter in their worshipping communities. Here, we can fully participate in the Word of Jesus and the sacraments. They are living the Gospel message of radical inclusion. Pope Francis, you have inspired the world with your message of a merciful Church, and we now implore you to live up to your message. Use the power of your office to open wide the doors to dialogue and lift all excommunications and ecclesiastical punishments against Roman Catholic Women Priests and their supporters. We are the Church. Listen to our cry for justice.
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  • Dear Candidates for President, Senate, and Governors: Will You Advance a Moral Agenda?
    Our moral traditions have a firm foundation upon which to stand against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists. We believe in a moral agenda that stands against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family. We claim a higher ground in partisan debate by returning public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values. Please add your name to call on our 2016 presidential candidates, senate candidates, and governors to advance a moral agenda.
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  • Tell U.S. Bishops to Work With Catholics to Build a Church for Our Daughters
    It's time for our Church leaders to work with us to build a Church that strikes down every oppressive practice, teaching, and law that assigns women and girls to a subordinate status. So that our daughters and yours may know radical inclusion and justice, equality without qualification, and an institution that transforms oppression into love without bounds, we must build a Church for our daughters. PLEASE JOIN US IN SIGNING THIS PETITION AND FOR MORE ACTIONS ON JUNE 14, 2016! Learn more at AChurchForOurDaughters.org.
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  • Protect our children. End the #LeadEpidemic.
    Every child deserves a safe and healthy home. Innocent children are being lead poisoned and our current laws do nothing to stop it. Over 1.6 million low-income families rely on the federal government to provide them with safe, decent, and affordable housing. Yet, the majority of these homes are clustered in areas at high risk of lead poisoning. Lanice Walker learned this truth the hard way. When she received a housing voucher, she felt like she could breathe again, like her children finally had a place to grow and thrive for the first time. Shortly after moving into her new home, Ms. Walker’s hopes were shattered when all of her young children were diagnosed with lead poisoning. Unknowingly, Lanice Walker and her family had moved into a home that was rife with lead hazards. Today, her youngest children Emaurie and Mahogahny receive special education services while Ervin struggles to speak. This mother’s dream of security became a tragic reality. (Mahogahny is pictured above. Photo credit: Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune) Across the country, families like the Walker's have been exposed to dangerous lead hazards in their homes, with poor and communities of color disproportionately at risk of harm. These risks are multiplied by outdated policies that don’t respond until after a child suffers severe brain damage. Our respective faiths teach us that life is sacred and as such we each have a responsibility to care for one another and protect the most vulnerable in our society. It is time to pay more than lip service to these beliefs because, in this case, inactive faith invites death. Taking action to end the #leadepidemic is a way to respond to the call to confront and eradicate that which harms the most vulnerable in our human family. To ignore the threat of lead poisoning, or the devastating effects it has on our children, is to turn our backs on all we hold to be sacred and true. The Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 will identify lead hazards before a child is harmed, ensure that federal policies reflect the prevailing science, and allow families living in toxic homes to move if they so choose. These actions are critical to stem the tide of lead poisoning and represent the long overdue solution to a widespread problem that has endangered far too many lives. Signing this petition is a good first step in calling on our country’s moral consciousness to protect our children and telling Congress that we wont stand by as more children are lead poisoned. Called to do more? Here are some suggestions: Spread the Word to Project Our Children - Movements grow in strength as people are engaged. Make sure this crisis is known more broadly by sharing with your networks and communities by word of mouth, on your website, in your newsletter, on your social media pages. The more people know, the more they can protect themselves and others at risk of lead poisoning. Here are some informative articles that can be shared with your community: The Poison in Our Walls: http://nyti.ms/1VTRv8P We Know How To Stop The Epidemic Of Lead Poisoning. So Why Aren’t We?: http://bit.ly/1ZwWM4q Legislation to protect children in public housing from lead exposure introduced in House and Senate: http://bit.ly/1pIrACr Durbin, Quigley target lead hazards in Section 8 housing with new bill: http://trib.in/1QSE6pi Federal housing policy leaves poor kids at risk of lead poisoning: http://trib.in/1QlbIzc Chicago medical clinic prescribes legal help for housing: http://apne.ws/1pIrWcn Stand with Us and Join the Movement - Partner with us for change as a faith leader or as a community. Let others know that faith inspires action to end the #LeadEpidemic through your endorsement. Add your organizations, institutions, and communities to the growing list of those publicly standing in solidarity through endorsement as a means of addressing this #LeadEpidemic harming our nation's children. (Send us a message through our Facebook page to endorse the bill as a community or organization.) If we act together, we can end the #leadepidemic!
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  • Tell Chicago ICE: Don't deport Jose Juan, father of 5
    My church took emergency moral action when Jose Juan was placed in deportation proceedings and ordered to leave the country and his family by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chicago Field Office. "Abandoning my children is not a choice I can make. I live for them, and I will fight to stay with them,” says Jose Juan. As people of faith, we opened our doors to Jose Juan and offered him a sanctuary so that he can continue to fight to stay with his family. On behalf of University Church, my congregation, and signers of this petition, I urge you to reconsider Mr. Moreno’s request for use discretion, and allow him to stay with his family. I understand that Mr. Federico Moreno has a charge for an “aggravated” DUI, and that the aggravated charge is solely because as an undocumented immigrant he had no access to a driver’s license and that Illinois law unfairly punishes those without one. As people of faith, we also understand that we are more than our mistakes and that all of God’s children deserve second chances. Faith compels us to respond to injustice, to welcome the stranger, and to promote families staying together. My church first offered Sanctuary to immigrants fleeing violent war in Guatemala and El Salvador in 1985. Now, because of cruel US immigration enforcement practices, my church has once again opened its doors for Sanctuary. As a church, we have seen firsthand the loving and generous sacrifices Jose Juan makes for his family each day. As people of faith, we call on you to stop his deportation to allow this family to stay together.
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  • Declare Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church.
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955), priest, geologist, paleontologist, philosopher, theologian, and mystic, was both a distinguished scientist and one of the most influential and visionary thinkers that the Catholic Church produced in the twentieth century. Grounded in the theology of St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Ignatius Loyola and informed by the modern scientific discovery of cosmic and organic evolution, Teilhard created a pioneering synthesis of religious and scientific thought that many have found to be profoundly fruitful. His concept of the “noosphere” was startlingly prescient in its anticipation of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and other forms of electronic communication that have truly unified humanity as a single community of thought. He is recognized by many scientists and theologians as one of those whose ideas paved the way for the work of the Second Vatican Council, whose 50th anniversary has just been celebrated. Teilhard’s synthesis continues to stimulate theological thought, inside the Catholic Church and beyond, including notably the development in recent decades of vigorous scholarly and popular movements of evolutionary theology and creation spirituality. His hopeful eschatological vision continues to inspire people throughout the world. For these reasons, Teilhard is already, in all but name, justly acclaimed as a Teacher par excellence of the universal Christian Church. Doctors of the Church comprise about three dozen ecclesiastical writers, from early Christian to modern times, who have been honored posthumously by popes or general councils with that title due to the integrity of their faith, eminent learning, and personal holiness. Although those formally designated in the past as Doctors of the Church had previously been canonized, there is no requirement for this in Canon Law. Therefore, we respectfully and earnestly petition His Holiness Pope Francis to declare Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church.
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  • Release Uriel Rosales Martinez
    Uriel’s health is deteriorating in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. The Center is unable to provide adequate health care to him, and both the stress of being away from family members and fear of a fatal return to El Salvador are complicating his condition. Recently, Uriel has had trouble urinating and has been fainting. After surgery, his urinary problems persist with gall bladder inflammation exacerbating the pain and discomfort he is in. We are extremely worried for Uriel, who is only 19 years old. Uriel has been in custody for more than 180 days and this is too long for someone to face as he has already suffered so much. Uriel faced threats in El Salvador to join a gang. Other members of his family who refused to join gangs have been killed. The gangs are especially interested in Uriel because he is very good in karate. He has won various international competitions including, the Caribbean and Central American games. Uriel’s claim on asylum is more than real; we will continue to appeal until his credible fear is recognized in the courts. Uriel’s brother is a leader in the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign in Long Island and New York State. Allies in the cause are allies to Uriel, as well. Now we must stand beside Uriel and his brother.
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  • Reunite Michel and Heidi with their Mother Myrna
    It is important that we keep our families together. Children flourish when they have their parents with them. It is important for the family and it is important for the community. Michele is 9 years old and Heidi is 14. This is a very critical time of their young lives and they need to have their parents with them. Michele cries every night to be with her mother. The only reason that Myrna cannot be with her daughters is that she does not have a piece of paper that says that she is allowed to enter into the US. Both Michel and Heidi are United States citizens but they cannot legally petition for their mother to come into the country because they are too young. And the fact that they are too young also means that this is the time they need their mother the most. Why are they being punished just for being young and children? Here's how you can support Michel, Heidi and their mother Myrna. 1) Sign the petition to reunite Michel, Heidi and their mother Myrna. 2) You can donate for this campaign by going to the NY New Sanctuary website and clicking on the donate button http://newsanctuarynyc.org/index.html. Add a memo to Reunite Michel/Myrna. 3) You can mail a check to help to New Sanctuary at 239 Thompson St NY NY 10012 and write Reunite Michel/Myrna on the memo line
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  • Stop Anti-LGBTQ Laws: Discrimination is not a Religious Value
    2016 has been a startling year for legislative attempts to restrict justice, dignity, and equality for LGBTQ people. More than 175 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in 32 states. Of the record 175+ anti-LGBTQ bills filed, 45 of those bills directly target transgender people. Already in 2016, legislatures in South Dakota, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina have considered and, in some cases, passed anti-transgender bills. Too often these anti-LGBTQ efforts are perpetrated in the name of religion. These bills and their proponents perpetuate false narratives about transgender people and vilify transgender women, in particular, as threatening safety in women's restrooms. This dishonest rhetoric perpetuates hostility and violence toward transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking to access public accommodations. Some of this anti-LGBTQ legislation, like the recently passed bill in North Carolina, override local ordinances protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination—preventing local municipalities from outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ people. *When you sign this petition, you'll be invited to the Religious Institute’s network of more than 15,000 people of faith.
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  • Tell NY Lawmakers: Don't back down on #FightFor15
    Whether or not New Yorkers win a $15 minimum wage could be decided in the next two weeks -- and right now, we as people of faith have reason to be concerned. Opponents of the raise are fighting back by trying to delay the increase, introduce industry exemptions, or keep the wage lower outside New York City. New Yorkers like Monya, a certified nursing assistant in Buffalo, deserve a just wage. “The work I do is important in the lives of the resident I care for, but the pay ($10/hour) leaves me painfully short in my ability to take care of my own family,” she says. Low-wage workers can’t afford for the fight for a $15 minimum wage to fall short. And as people of faith, we can’t afford to be silent. Add your name now to tell New York State lawmakers to stand strong for a $15 minimum wage for all New Yorkers.
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