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In wake of tragedy, faith leaders reach out to Congress with open letter

January 13, 2011, 10:36 am | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Tucson Response Letter.jpgAs Americans continue to cope and debate in the aftermath of last weekend’s tragic shooting in Arizona, faith leaders are reaching out not only to the people of Tucson, but also to Members of Congress who are shaken by the attack on Rep. Giffords and her staff. Today’s edition of Roll Call features a full-page ad consisting of an open letter to Members of Congress from over 50 prominent faith leaders. The religiously and racially diverse group expresses spiritual support for Members, calls for “national soul searching” in the wake of this senseless violence, and urges Congress to engage political adversaries in a spirit of shared American values of civility and cooperation.

Faith leaders have led the way in calling for civil debate in recent months, and on the heels of President Obama’s moving remarks about civil debate last night, this message is especially poignant today. You can view the ad here. Text of the letter and the full list of signers are below the fold.

Dear Members of Congress,

As Americans and members of the human family, we are grieved by the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. As Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, we pray together for all those wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she fights for her life. Our hearts break for those lives lost and for the loved ones left behind. We also stand with you, our elected officials, as you continue to serve our nation while coping with the trauma of this senseless attack.

This tragedy has spurred a sorely needed time of soul searching and national public dialogue about violent and vitriolic political rhetoric. We strongly support this reflection, as we are deeply troubled that rancor, threats and incivility have become commonplace in our public debates.

We appreciate the sacrifices you make and risks you incur by accepting a call to public service, and we urge you to continue to serve as stewards of our democracy by engaging ideological adversaries not as enemies, but as fellow Americans.

In our communities and congregations, we pledge to foster an environment conducive to the important and difficult debates so crucial to American democracy. In our churches, mosques and synagogues, we come together not as members of a certain political ideology or party, but as children of God and citizens called to build a more perfect union. We pray that you do the same.

Naeem M. Baig

Executive Director

Islamic Circle of North America

Council for Social Justice

Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, Sr.

President

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

The Rev. Geoffrey Black

General Minister and President

United Church of Christ

Bishop John R. Bryant

Senior Bishop

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari

President

Islamic Circle of North America

Rev. Jennifer Butler

Executive Director

Faith in Public Life

Simone Campbell, SSS

Executive Director

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Bishop Minerva Carcaño

Desert Southwest Conference

United Methodist Church

The Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin

President

National Council of Churches

Rev. Richard Cizik

President

New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Nathan J. Diament

Director of Public Policy

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Faithful America

Rev. Jan Olav Flaaten

Executive Director

Arizona Ecumenical Council

Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

General Secretary

Reformed Church in America

Simon Greer

President and CEO

Jewish Funds for Justice

Dr. David P. Gushee

Board Chair

New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Rabbi Steve Gutow

President and CEO

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins

Senior Pastor

Nineteenth Street Baptist Church

Washington, DC

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson

President

Auburn Seminary

The Rev. Anne S. Howard

Executive Director

The Beatitudes Society

James E. Hug, SJ

President

Center of Concern

Dr. Joel C. Hunter

Senior Pastor

Northland – A Church Distributed

Bishop T. D. Jakes

The Potter’s House

Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon

General Secretary

National Council of Churches

Chris Korzen

Executive Director

Catholics United

Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Eileen Campbell, RSM

Anne Curtis, RSM

Pat McDermott, RSM

Mary Waskowiak, RSM

Linda Werthman, RSM

Rabbi John A. Linder

Temple Solel

Paradise Valley, AZ

Marie Lucey, OSF

Associate Director for Social Mission

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Rev. Steven D. Martin

Executive Director

New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Brian McClaren

Author/Activist

T. Michael McNulty, SJ

Justice and Peace Director

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Rev. Peter Morales

President

Unitarian Universalist Association

Bishop Paul Morton

International Presiding Bishop

Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship

Muslim Public Affairs Council

Stanley J. Noffsinger

General Secretary

Church of the Brethren

Dr. Walter L. Parrish III

General Secretary

Progressive National Baptist Convention

Rev. Gradye Parsons

Stated Clerk

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Nancy Ratzan

President

National Council of Jewish Women

Rev. Meg Riley

Board Chair

Faith in Public Life

Dave Robinson

Executive Director

Pax Christi USA

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

President

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Rev. Gabriel Salguero

President

National Latino Evangelical Coalition

Rabbi David Saperstein

Director

Religious Action Center

Dr. William J. Shaw

Immediate Past President

National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.

Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, Jr.

Immediate Past President

Progressive National Baptist Convention

Rt. Rev. Kirk S. Smith

Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed

National Director, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances

Islamic Society of North America

Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Thurston

President

National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., Intl.

Rev. Jim Wallis

President and CEO

Sojourners

Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins

General Minister and President

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Heyward Wiggins, III

PICO National Network

Camden Bible Tabernacle Church

Camden, NJ

Jim Winkler

General Secretary

United Methodist General Board of Church & Society

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