Poll on Southern Evangelicals’ Attitudes toward Torture

August 12, 2008, 3:33 pm | Posted by

Results to be Released During National Summit on Torture in Atlanta

ATLANTA — Results of a new poll of Southern Evangelicals on their attitudes toward torture and its connection to their faith and moral values will be released next month in conjunction with a national summit on torture sponsored by 15 diverse faith groups. The conference, titled “Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul,” will convene on Mercer University’s Atlanta campus Sept. 11-12.

The poll results will be released at 10:45 a.m. on the first day of the conference. Commissioned by Mercer University and conference co-sponsor Faith in Public Life, the poll is the first major survey of Southern Evangelicals — a group that has been disproportionately supportive of the Bush administration’s foreign policy — on the issue of torture. Reporters may participate in the press conference in person or via teleconference. Dial-in instructions will be provided to journalists a week before the conference.

“Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul” is being organized by Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer. Among the more than 50 speakers, presenters and moderators scheduled to participate in the conference are academics from institutions such as Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, New York University, Seton Hall Law School, Morehouse College, Georgetown University, Vanderbilt University, Princeton Theological Seminary and Mercer. Presenters will also include retired senior military officers and leaders from Christian, Jewish and Islamic organizations.

Among the other co-sponsors of the conference are the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Center for Victims of Torture, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Evangelicals for Social Action, Faith and the City, the Islamic Society of North America, Morehouse College, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, No2Torture, Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners and Third Way.

Journalists who plan to attend and cover the conference are asked to pick up media credentials at the media desk in the lobby of Mercer’s Administration and Conference Center, which will host the sessions. Credentials will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 11. The conference begins at 9 a.m. A media workroom with wireless Internet access will be set up in Room 240 of the Administration and Conference Center.

Additional program details, including a full schedule, are available at www.evangelicalsforhumanrights.org. For more information about the conference, call (678) 547-6457. For media-related questions, call (478) 301-5700.

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Faith Leaders Call for Defeat of Ballot Initiative Promoting Racial Profiling

July 28, 2008, 5:09 pm | Posted by

Diverse religious and community leaders will gather on the steps of the Denver City and County Building today from 5:00 – 5:30pm to urge voters to vote NO on Denver Initiated Question 100 on the August 12 primary ballot. If passed, the measure would increase the likelihood of racial profiling and place a tremendous burden on law enforcement and other agencies. The speakers are announcing an unprecedented effort to educate their congregations on the harm this initiative would produce.

“Discriminatory laws clearly do not fit with our understanding of the Common Good, and that’s why We Believe Colorado is embarking on an extensive campaign to encourage people of faith to vote no on Initiative 100,” said the Rev. Jim Ryan, Council Executive of the Colorado Council of Churches and member of We Believe Colorado.

“We’re working hard to defeat Initiative 100 in order to preserve and protect the dignity of all persons and to prevent racial profiling,” says Rabbi Steven Forbes of Congregation Emanuel.

Speaking on behalf of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, Father Bernie Schmitz says:

“In a city as diverse as Denver, the atmosphere we want to create is one of courtesy and respect for the dignity of every human person. Initiative 100 would only create an atmosphere of fear and suspicion for anyone of diverse ethnicity-whether they are citizens or not. The Archdiocese of Denver urges Denver residents to oppose Initiative 100.”

Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. of the Rocky Mountain Conference of The United Methodist Church says, “I stand in opposition to this unnecessary ballot initiative. It is contrary to the values of Denver’s religious

communities as it encourages discrimination and harassment based on language, ethnicity, and race.”

Imam A-Rahim Ali of the Northeast Denver Islamic Center says, “We firmly believe that the values of tolerance will supplant the politics of fear, and that voters will soundly defeat this divisive and discriminatory measure.”

Where: Denver City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, front steps

When: Today, July 28, 5:00 – 5:30 pm.

What: Diverse religious and community leaders urge voters to vote NO on discriminatory ballot initiative

Who:

• Imam A-Rahim Ali, Northeast Denver Islamic Center/Greater Denver Interfaith Alliance

• Rev. Andrew Simpson, Vice-President , Colorado Council of Churches, Presiding Elder, African Methodist Episcopal Church

• Rev. Janet Forbes, on behalf of Bishop Warner Brown, Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church

• Councilmember Paul Lopez, Denver City Council, cosponsor of Council Proclamation to oppose Initiated Question 100.

• Father Bernie Schmitz, on behalf of Catholic Archdiocese of Denver

• Rabbie Steven Foster, Temple Emanuel

• Lisa Duran, Executive Director, Rights for All People

• Rev. Lucia Guzman, United Methodist Church minister

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Clergy Put Political Ads to the Test

July 15, 2008, 10:36 am | Posted by

Debut New Tool to Evaluate ’08 Campaigns

(Columbus, OH) – As the campaign season heats up, We Believe Ohio is stepping up its effort to make Ohio a “Political Sleaze-Free Zone.” Clergy will introduce the Sleaze-Free Zone Test – a new tool they will use to determine whether political ads are truthful and instructive OR polarizing and dishonest. We Believe clergy will demonstrate how the Test works by evaluating political ads that have recently aired in Ohio.

Leaders will also distribute the Test at their houses of worship so their congregations can join in the effort to monitor this election season’s political ads.

We Believe clergy believe that people of faith have a moral obligation to call for clean, instructive campaigns that promote democracy and keep the focus on the critical issues of the day and the people of Ohio.

WHAT: We Believe Ohio introduces and demonstrates the “Sleaze-Free Zone Test” – a tool for evaluating ’08 political ads.

WHEN: Thursday, July 17, 2008, 11:00 AM

WHERE: First Congregational Church, 444 E. Broad Street, Columbus

WHO: We Believe Ohio Diverse Clergy Leaders

Governor Ted Strickland and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner have endorsed We Believe Ohio’s “Political Sleaze-Free Zone” campaign and many area ’08 candidates have already signed on. We Believe Ohio asks all citizens of Ohio to sign its petition calling for a “Political Sleaze-Free’’ state by going on-line to http://www.webelieveohio.org/.

We are called as people of faith and loyal Americans to be united in dialogue and action to say:

YES to justice for all; NO to prosperity for only a few; YES to diverse religious expression; NO to self-righteous certainty; YES to the common good; NO to discrimination against any of God’s people; YES to the voice of religious traditions informing public policy; NO to crossing the lines that separate the institutions of Religion and Government.

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Evangelical Group to Convene Interfaith Summit on Torture

July 7, 2008, 9:46 am | Posted by

Mercer University to Host, Faith in Public Life to Co-Sponsor National Conference in Atlanta on 9/11

ATLANTA — An unprecedented national summit on torture sponsored by 15 diverse faith groups will convene on Mercer University’s Atlanta campus Sept. 11-12 to examine how U.S. government policy in recent years came to sanction torture and discuss ways Evangelical Christians and Americans of other faiths can mobilize to secure a “no torture-no exceptions” policy.

Titled “Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul,” the conference is being organized by Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer. Among the more than 50 speakers, presenters and moderators scheduled to participate in the conference are academics from institutions such as Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, New York University, Seton Hall Law School, Morehouse College, Georgetown University, Vanderbilt University, Princeton Theological Seminary and Mercer. Presenters will also include retired senior military officers and leaders from Christian, Jewish and Islamic organizations.

“I have believed for some time that the descent into torture is primarily a spiritual issue,” Gushee said. “I picked September 11 for the conference date intentionally, to address the spiritual realities of fear, grief, and anger that fueled our national turn to officially sanctioned torture, as well as address our subsequent national unwillingness to renounce torture once it was discovered.”

Gushee, who also serves as president of Evangelicals for Human Rights, a conference co-sponsor, said the program is designed to “go to the source of the problem, to diagnose how we got here, and to chart a way forward to a better American future.”

Among the other co-sponsors of the conference are the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Center for Victims of Torture, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Evangelicals for Social Action, Faith and the City, Faith in Public Life, the Islamic Society of North America, Morehouse College, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, No2Torture, Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners and Third Way.

The conference is limited to 250 registrants. Online registration and additional program details are available at www.evangelicalsforhumanrights.org.

For more information, call (678) 547-6457.

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Faith, Politics and the Common Good Draw Catholics to National Convention in Philadelphia

July 1, 2008, 10:15 am | Posted by

700 delegates will affirm platform addressing economic justice, health care, immigration and other moral issues

Washington, DC- During an election year when religious voters are being aggressively courted by both political parties, Catholics and other people of faith will participate in an unprecedented convention in Philadelphia, July 11-13, to urge the presidential candidates and all elected officials to put the common good before narrow partisan agendas.

Seven hundred delegates representing more than 20 religious and Catholic social justice organizations from across the country will attend the first-of-its-kind Convention for the Common Good and affirm a platform that addresses issues such as the economy, health care, immigration, environmental stewardship, war and building a consistent culture of life. Over 2000 people in 40 states have contributed to the platform over the last several months. The platform will be sent to both presidential candidates and national political parties.

Convened by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, the convention will be held at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, along with surrogates, have been invited. Elected officials scheduled to attend include Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida. Speakers include Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, Bishop Walter Sullivan, retired bishop of Richmond, Va.; John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO; and Dr. Shawn Copeland of the Boston College theology department. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. will moderate a discussion about faith and politics on Saturday July 12 at 8 p.m.

“Catholics and all Americans are tired of politics as usual and hungry for a new vision of governance that is rooted in a moral commitment to human dignity and social justice,” said Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Ms. Kelley is co-author with Chris Korzen of A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America From the Politics of Division.

Sponsors of the convention include Pax Christi USA; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Center of Concern; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Ignation Solidarity Network; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; U.S. Catholic Mission Association; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Oblates of St. Francis de Sales; Franciscan Mission Service; Franciscan Action Network; Catholics United; Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice and the University of San Francisco, Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought.

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