Bipartisan Presidential Compassion Forum in PA Announced

March 13, 2008, 2:36 pm | Posted by

Religious leaders from across the faith and ideological spectrum today invited Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama to participate in an unprecedented bipartisan presidential candidate forum at Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on the evening of Sunday, April 13 — just nine days before the Pennsylvania primary.

“Messiah College is delighted to host this unprecedented event. The compassion, reconciliation, and social justice issues to be discussed at the Compassion Forum are intrinsic to the mission and values of Messiah College,” said Dr. Kim Phipps, president of the Christian liberal arts college.

Now more than ever, Americans motivated by faith are bridging ideological divides to address domestic and international poverty, global AIDS, climate change, abortion, genocide in Darfur, and human rights and torture. The Compassion Forum will provide the opportunity for candidates to discuss how their faith and moral convictions bear on their positions on these important issues.

Senator McCain, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have each been invited to the Compassion Forum. Each candidate will participate in a separate substantive conversation. The Forum will be moderated by Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, author of American Gospel, and respected scholar on faith and American politics.

The Compassion Forum will offer candidates an unprecedented opportunity to reach religious voters. The Forum will be broadcast on the Church Communication Network (CCN) to tens of thousands of people of faith in at least 1,000 churches across the country on April 20, the Sunday evening before the Pennsylvania primary.

The Compassion Forum is a testament to the power of faith to bring people together. The event has attracted the support of diverse religious leaders and Democrats and Republicans alike.

“The Compassion Forum will give the candidates a chance to talk straight to voters about what they’ll do as president to fulfill God’s command that we be our brothers’ keepers,” said Governor Mike Huckabee, a supporter of the event. “I’m proud that the faith community is taking the lead in asking the candidates to confront the most pressing moral challenges of our times.”

“Issues of faith, compassion and the common good are important throughout Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. “We have a moral obligation to provide a stable foundation for our next generation, but it also makes perfect economic sense. This year’s candidates will be well served discussing these issues in Pennsylvania at the Compassion Forum.”

“The Compassion Forum is a shining example of the faith community’s commitment to justice and compassion for all of God’s children. It’s imperative that the presidential candidates give the compassion issues the attention they deserve,” said Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Compassion Forum Board member.

“At this moment of incredible prosperity and intolerable poverty, it is more important than ever to elect a president who will be a force of justice and compassion. The Compassion Forum provides a unique opportunity for the candidates to tell us what they will do for the least of our brothers and sisters across the globe,” said Dr. William J. Shaw, President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. – the largest African-American denomination in the nation — Pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia, and Compassion Forum Board member.

Other nationally prominent members of the Compassion Forum Board are Dr. Paul R. Corts, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland A Church Distributed; Rev. Richard Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. Oran P. Smith, Palmetto Family Council; Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities; Rabbi Steve Gutow, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission; Dr. Syeed Sayeed, Islamic Society of North America; David Neff, Christianity Today; Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners; Rev. Dr. Tyrone S. Pitts, Progressive National Baptist Convention; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Rev. David Beckmann, Bread for the World; Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rev. Dr. Vashti McKenzie, African Methodist Episcopal Church; Sammy Mah, World Relief; Dr. David P. Gushee, President, Evangelicals for Human Rights; Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action; Rabbi Irwin Kula, President, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; Rev. Joseph A. Darby, Senior Pastor, Morris Brown AME Church, Charleston, S.C.; Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor, Episcopal minister and Author; Rev. Dr. George Hunsinger, Founder, National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Matthew Sleeth, MD, Director, A Rocha USA; Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D, Rector, American Jewish University; Alexia Kelley, Executive Director, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Randy Brinson, Founder, Redeem the Vote; Rev. Sally Bingham, Founder, Interfaith Power & Light; Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., President and CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network; Sister Mary Waskowiak, RSM, President, Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., President, Healing of the Nations Foundation; Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Chair, Rabbis for Human Rights – North America; Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University; Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, North American President, World Council of Churches; Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism

Messiah College is a nationally-ranked Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences with approximately 3,000 undergraduate students in 55 courses of study. Founded in 1909, Messiah College is located in Grantham, Pennsylvania, twelve miles from Harrisburg.

# # #

add a comment »

The Evangelical Center Arrives

March 10, 2008, 12:25 pm | Posted by

A breakfast briefing featuring Dr. David P. Gushee, Author of the Newly Released The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center

(Washington, D.C.) Many in the media and politics have observed that a new breed of evangelicals is emerging in American life. These evangelicals care about issues like poverty, torture and the environment, and they don’t look much like the old guard of the religious right. But who are these evangelicals, really? Do they still care about abortion and marriage? Does their emergence have political implications? Author and scholar Dr. David P. Gushee says yes to both, calls them the “evangelical center,” and argues that they may well decide the 2008 election.

Join David Gushee, Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and evangelical student Jill Zimmer for a breakfast briefing on the “evangelical center” on Tuesday, March 11 at 8:45 am at Third Way in Washington, DC.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 8:45 a.m. EDT

WHERE: Third Way, 1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC

WHO: Dr. David P. Gushee, Author, The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center

Respondents: Rev. Richard Cizik, the lobbyist

Cizik is Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the strategist

Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Ron Sider, the founder

Sider is President of Evangelicals for Social Action.

Jill Zimmer, the new generation

Zimmer is an evangelical student at Mercer University in Atlanta.

SPONSORED BY: Third Way, Faith in Public Life, Evangelicals for Social Action and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

# # #

add a comment »

New Ohio Post-Election Poll Demonstrates Political Diversity of Evangelical Voters

March 7, 2008, 3:15 pm | Posted by

Two Ohio Megachurch Pastors to Speak on Teleconference Monday

Exit polls sponsored by the major networks, CNN, Fox, and the Associated Press, which provide the basis for election analysis, continue to only asked one party’s primary voters whether they considered themselves “born-again or evangelical Christian.” Faith in Public Life, Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Sojourners conducted a post-election poll in Ohio to demonstrate that self-described evangelicals are not an ideologically monolithic voting bloc, and are more diverse in their views than the media assumes.

WHEN: Monday, March 10, 2008 at 11:00 AM EDT

WHERE: By telephone 1-866-682-6100, ID: Evangelical Poll

WHO: Rev. Jim Wallis, author of The Great Awakening and president of Sojourners

Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor of the 7,500-member Vineyard Church of Columbus, Ohio

Mike Slaughter, Pastor of the 4,000-member Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio

Shaun Casey, Visiting Fellow, Center for American Progress Action Fund and Professor of Christian Ethics, Wesley Theological Seminary

Dr. Robert P. Jones, expert on religion and politics, and author of Progressive & Religious: How Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist Leaders are Moving Beyond the Culture Wars and Transforming American Public Life

The poll had a sample of 400 Republican voters and 400 Democratic voters with an oversample of 200 Democratic and 200 Republican white evangelical voters. Conducted for Faith in Public Life, Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Sojourners by Zogby International on March 4-5, the poll found:

• Forty-three percent of all white evangelical Ohio primary voters participated in the Democratic primary and 57 percent participated in the Republican primary. While exit polls identified these 395,000 Republican white evangelical voters, they failed to identify 300,000 white evangelical Democratic voters. (MOE +/-5.0 points)

• A majority of white evangelical Ohio voters support a broader agenda that goes beyond abortion and same-sex marriage to include ending poverty, protecting the environment, and tackling HIV/AIDS (54%), rather than sticking to the more limited agenda of opposing abortion and same-sex marriage (39%). (MOE +/-5.0 points)

• Three times as many white evangelical voters ranked jobs and economy as the most important issue area in deciding how to vote (42%) as those who ranked abortion and same-sex marriage most important (14%). (MOE +/-5.0 points)

• Senator Hillary Clinton’s support from white evangelicals surpassed that of Senator Barack Obama’s in Ohio 57 percent to 35 percent. Senator John McCain and Governor Mike Huckabee ran even among white evangelicals, 41 percent to 42 percent. (MOE +/-7.0 points)

In failing to ask both Republicans and Democrats if they are evangelicals, the media pollsters reinforce the false and outdated stereotype that evangelicals are only concerned with one set of issues and ignore the increasing ideological diversity of the evangelical movement. It’s time for the media to update their script and provide balanced coverage of the role of religion in public life.

add a comment »

9,000 Faithful America Members Ask Pollsters to Fix Exit Polls

February 28, 2008, 3:49 pm | Posted by

Letter asks ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the AP to stop stereotyping people of faith by asking all voters — Republicans and Democrats — the same religion questions on the exit poll surveys

This afternoon,, sent a letter individually signed by 9,000 people of faith to the polling directors at the media organizations that sponsor the presidential primary exit polls. The letter asks ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the AP to stop stereotyping people of faith by asking all voters — Republicans and Democrats — the same religion questions on the exit poll surveys. We expressed particular concern that Republican voters in every state have been asked if they are evangelical, while Democrats have not been asked if they are evangelical in a single state. Signatures are still streaming in at

Here’s a link to the letter sent to the polling directors, signed by 9,000 Faithful America members:

Faith in Public Life’s poll in Tennessee and Missouri, released earlier this month, demonstrated the political diversity of evangelical Christian primary voters. Millions more voters head to the polls this Tuesday. It’s time for the exit pollsters to finally ask all voters the “evangelical question.”

add a comment »

We Believe Ohio Calls for Informative, Sleaze-Free Presidential Debate in Cleveland

February 26, 2008, 4:21 pm | Posted by

It is crucial that civility and truth-telling reign this evening in Cleveland.

(Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio) – Last fall, We Believe Ohio launched a Political Sleaze-Free Zone campaign calling on all candidates to positively promote what they stand for, focus on common good issues critical to Ohioans, and refrain from divisive, misleading and inflammatory attacks. Ohioans want to know where the candidates stand on the issues and where they would lead our country if elected.

Tonight’s debate may well be the pivotal event of the Democratic primary season. It is crucial that civility and truth-telling reign this evening in Cleveland. We call on Senators Obama and Clinton to engage in an issue-focused debate and refrain from personal attacks and misrepresentations of their opponent’s positions. Such tactics corrupt the political process, alienate voters, exacerbate social divisions, and provide a poor example for our children.

We Believe Ohio calls on both candidates to treat each other in a manner consistent with their religious traditions tonight and for the duration of the campaign.

Governor Ted Strickland and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and more than 1,000 Ohioans have already endorsed We Believe Ohio’s “Political Sleaze-Free Zone” campaign. We Believe invites all citizens, including Senators Clinton and Obama, to join in this campaign.

We Believe leaders are actively meeting with officeholders, candidates, and campaigns to discuss the principles put forth in “Political Sleaze-Free Zone’’ declaration — including a public meeting in Columbus on February 28 at 9:00 am at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus, with at least eight candidates and campaigns.

The We Believe Ohio Political Sleaze-Free Zone petition is available at

We Believe Ohio is an interfaith coalition of clergy and lay leaders dedicated to uniting diverse religious voices to achieve social justice.


add a comment »