Faith leaders descend on Washington, call for a “moral budget”

March 20, 2013, 5:48 pm | Posted by
Katie McDonough, Salon
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FPL organized and coordinated the day of action.

Faith leaders will descend on Washington for a Loaves and Fishes Day of Action on Wednesday. There message for Congress? Reject the Ryan austerity budget and stop “worshipping at the altar of deficit reduction.”

In a statement from NETWORK, the Sister Simone Campbell-led social justice organization denounced Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget as creating “untenable situations for those struggling to survive” through cuts to Medicaid and the social safety net.

In a multi-state, grassroots effort against austerity cuts, a coalition of faith leaders have organized events around the country on Wednesday, including delivering loaves and fishes to members of the House of Representatives (a reference the Biblical story of having enough during a time of scarcity).

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Louisiana religious leaders speak out against Jindal tax plan

March 18, 2013, 6:04 pm | Posted by
Jeff Adelson, New Orleans Time- Picayune
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A group of Louisiana religious leaders representing more than 250 clergy from dozens of denominations statewide was scheduled to gather at the state capitol building in Baton Rouge this morning to voice their opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed tax plan.

The delegation hand-delivered a letter — called “An Open Letter from Louisiana Clergy to Governor Jindal” — to the governor’s office that expressed the concerns of the clergy that his tax overhaul proposal would put an unfair burden on low and moderate income families in Louisiana.

“We, the undersigned members of the Louisiana Clergy, are writing to express our deep concern about the tax proposal you are proposing for the upcoming legislative session,” the letter begins.

“We serve in many different faith traditions, across a broad spectrum of people and communities in this State. As diverse as these traditions may be, we find unity around a few fundamental ethical principles: fairness, a concern for the least of these and an obligation to make our voices heard when matters of justice are at stake.”

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Common ground for bishops, Obama: Catholic leaders who opposed his election need to find ways to work with the president

November 12, 2012, 6:00 am | Posted by
John Gehring, Faith in Public Life
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More than a few Catholic bishops spent this election feverishly warning their flock that voting for Barack Obama put their souls at risk and posed a grave threat to religious liberty. Now that the president has been re-elected with a majority of Catholic voters, leaders of our nation’s most influential church have some self-reflection to do at their national meeting in Baltimore this week…

Catholic bishops have every right to oppose birth control and same-sex civil marriage, even as research shows a majority of Catholics support both, and a recent study in St. Louis found greater access to contraception significantly lowered abortion rates. The real challenge for bishops today is a growing perception that they are simply cheerleaders for the Republican Party. In fact, Catholic social teaching has long put economic justice, respect for immigrants, universal health care, environmental stewardship and labor rights at the center of its tradition. The Vatican’s call for sensible regulations of global financial markets and stark warnings about climate change are to the left of many Democratic leaders. Catholicism is not a single-issue religion, and the church’s “consistent ethic of life” framework has long recognized that being “pro-life” must include defending the sanctity of life outside the womb.

In recent years, a vocal minority of conservative bishops have drifted from this proud tradition. Bishops launched a “religious freedom” campaign this summer, led by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, largely aimed at the Obama administration’s requirement that most employers must offer contraception coverage to women at no cost under the health care reform law. Catholic churches are exempt. Catholic hospitals and universities, which in some states already provided birth control coverage to their employees with little controversy, do not have to pay for coverage under an accommodation that requires the insurance company to pick up with tab. While reasonable people disagree over this policy, and details must still be worked out for some Catholic institutions that self-insure, the apocalyptic rhetoric of some church leaders suggests that President Obama is waging a war on the Catholic Church — a theme adopted in Mitt Romney’s campaign ads.


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Nuns on the Bus Meet Tea Party Protests in Ohio

October 17, 2012, 11:37 am | Posted by
David Gibson, Religion News Service
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FPL provided media support for the Ohio “Nuns on the Bus” tour.

(RNS) The “Nuns on the Bus” have been a consistently popular and effective faith-based tool for religious progressives this campaign season, but on Monday a group of demonstrators apparently organized by a local Tea Party affiliate met the nuns at a stop in Marietta, Ohio, and provided a far different welcome than the sisters usually receive.

Holding placards with slogans like “Bums on the Bus” and “Romney-Ryan Yes, Fake Nuns No,” the protesters focused their fire on the abortion issue, accusing the sisters of not being sufficiently anti-abortion.

Someone claiming to be a member of the local “We the People” chapter — that is the name used by some Tea Party affiliates in the region — posted a YouTube video of the counter-demonstrators taken before the half dozen nuns and some 100 supporters arrived. It says there were more than 175 marchers opposing the nuns and it shows the demonstrators praying the rosary and singing hymns before challenging the sisters.

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Vatican II: Gone but not forgotten Progressive nuns and other concerned Roman Catholics fight to keep the church’s liberalism alive

October 14, 2012, 4:22 pm | Posted by
John Gehring, Faith in Public Life
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Fifty years ago this month, the Roman Catholic Church embarked on a period of soul-searching that reverberated far beyond St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Pope John XXIII called Catholic bishops across the globe to the Second Vatican Council, opening the windows of a monarchical church to the modern world.

The first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, sat in the White House. Clergy infused the civil rights movement with moral transcendence. These were heady days for religious progressives.

They were also fleeting. Just two decades later, Jerry Falwell made the religious right the public face of Christianity. Today, at a time when debates over the role of faith in politics are as prickly as ever, Catholic nuns in the United States are reawakening the spirit of Vatican II and inspiring a new generation of disillusioned Christians as they face harsh rebuke from an increasingly conservative hierarchy.

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