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Clergy leaders join fight against controversial Senate Bill 310 changes to clean, renewable energy law

May 22, 2014, 12:02 pm | Posted by
By Robert Higgs, Cleveland Plain Dealer
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Faith in Public Life organized faith leaders to speak out against SB 310.

Leaders from several religious faiths say lawmakers should scrap pending legislation that would enact a two-year freeze on requirements for energy efficiency and renewable energy laws.

Their target, Senate Bill 310, now pending in the General Assembly, would be harmful to the environment, harmful to the economy and harmful to human life and well-being, they say.

A multi-denominational group on Wednesday appealed to Gov. John Kasich, who often talks about his faith, to sit down with religious leaders from around the state to discuss their concerns.

And they intend to make sure the governor knows many of their congregants — Ohio citizens — support their efforts.

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It’s Not Just Pope Francis — God Wants Wealth Redistributed, Too

May 16, 2014, 11:34 am | Posted by
by John Gehring, OnFaith
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John Gehring is the Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life.

Pope Francis has made economic justice, specifically the stark gap between rich and poor, a defining theme of his papacy. In his Apostolic Exhortation the Joy of the Gospel, Francis writes that “trickle down” economic theories — a sacred ideology for many conservatives — express a “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” Framing economic dignity as a “pro-life” issue, the pope insists that we must reject an “economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” In a recent tweet to his more than 10 million Twitter followers, the pope called inequality “the root of social evil.” When Francis dared to utter the “R” word (redistribution) last week, he crossed into highly charged terrain in this country that brought to mind candidate Obama’s infamous 2008 run-in with “Joe the Plumber.”

But Pope Francis’ understanding of “redistribution” doesn’t come from liberal think tanks or display a knee-jerk aversion to capitalism. It grows from orthodox Catholic teaching that is rooted in biblical values about the shared gift of creation.

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Protesters occupy Senate to demand Medicaid expansion

May 7, 2014, 11:59 am | Posted by
By Rudi Keller, Columbia Daily Tribune
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Faith in Public Life worked with our allies at PICO National Network and Communities Creating Opportunities to produce and place a radio ad.

Organized by a variety of groups including Missouri Faith Voices, Communities Creating Opportunities and the NAACP, the protest is just the beginning of a campaign of direct action to influence lawmakers and voters, said Andrew Kling, a spokesman for the protesters.

“To see direct action like this coming from the clergy really underscores the depth of their feelings,” Kling said.

The campaign also will include a radio ad targeting Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia. Schaefer is an opponent of Medicaid expansion and has called it too expensive. His support for a tax cut undermines that argument, Kling said.

In the ad, retired Methodist minister Jim Bryan of Columbia says lawmakers have a moral duty to support Medicaid expansion and that without it, 700 people are at risk of dying next year. He asks listeners to call Schaefer: “Tell him all God’s children should get the health care they need.”

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Faith leaders join call for a higher minimum wage

April 29, 2014, 12:05 pm | Posted by
By Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC
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Faith in Public Life organized the conference call featuring faith leaders.

One day before the Senate is scheduled to vote on a proposed minimum wage hike, a broad coalition of religious leaders urged Congress to approve the measure in an open letter. Over 350 members of the clergy signed the letter, including members of the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

“We respect the dignity of our neighbors who toil under the yoke of today’s unjust minimum wage, and we call on our elected leaders to ease their burden by making the minimum wage a family wage,” according to the letter.

Interfaith Worker Justice national policy director Rev. Michael Livingston announced the publication of the letter on a Tuesday conference call hosted by his organization and the group Faith in Public Life. Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., and United States Labor Secretary Thomas Perez were also on the call to thank the proposed wage hike’s supporters in the religious community.

Religious institutions have played a central role in the minimum wage campaign since the first fast food strike in November 2012, when New York faith leaders joined protesting fast food workers on the picket line as they demanded a $15 base wage and the right to unionize. Since then, many of the larger fast food strikes and state or local minimum wage campaigns have benefited from faith-based support. Tuesday’s letter is an attempt to exert clerical pressure on a national scale, in favor of a $10.10 federal wage hike that would lift standards across most of the country.

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Joint canonization encourages politicized Catholics to bridge divides

April 24, 2014, 11:54 am | Posted by
By John Gehring and Kim Daniels, National Catholic Reporter
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John Gehring is the Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life.

When Pope Francis canonizes Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica, he will do more than honor the lives of towering figures that brought unique gifts to the Catholic church and the world. He will also send a powerful message of unity. By simultaneously declaring as saints these two men so often deployed as symbols for competing Catholic camps, Pope Francis is reminding us that the Gospel leaves no room for ideology.

As two Catholics sometimes pigeonholed as liberal and conservative but who love our church in equal measure, we’re grateful for this moment. The Catholic church is diminished by the nasty rhetoric, tribalism and litmus tests that often define the dysfunctional culture of secular politics. We risk becoming a church of MSNBC Catholics and Fox News Catholics who reinforce our own narratives and tune out discomforting ideas.

Catholic Democrats and Catholic Republicans share a common faith that includes clear teachings about the sanctity of life from conception to natural death as well as a preferential option for the poor. As the world watches the Catholic church with new eyes, we must strive for something better than internecine battles and gotcha rhetoric. Pope Francis is challenging us to build “a church of encounter” that goes to the margins where people are hurting and broken. A divided church will not meet that transcendent mission.

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