TELE-PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY: Religious Leaders Express Moral Outrage at Senate’s Failure to Restore Family Values in Immigration Bill

June 7, 2007, 2:03 pm | Posted by

Faith Leaders Call on Pro-Family Advocates to Speak Out

In response to the Senate’s failure to pass the Clinton-Hagel-Menedez family-reunification amendment to the immigration bill last night, religious leaders will hold a tele-press conference today at 1:30 PM EST to call for family values to be restored as the bill moves forward, and for pro-family advocates throughout the religious community to join in call for legislation that values families. Sen. Hillary Clinton will join the religious leaders on the teleconferece.

The current immigration bill does nothing to fix the fact that an estimated 1.5 million legal immigrants in the United States have been waiting as long as seven years to bring husbands, wives and small children to live with them. The bill actually reduces the number of family reunification visas available each year, which means that the backlog of families waiting to be reunited will only continue to grow.

WHO: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical organization

Sen. Hillary Clinton

Jim Wallis, Founder, Sojourners and Author, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It

Rev. Derrick Harkins, Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Washington, DC and World Relief Board Member

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby

WHEN: 1:30 PM Eastern

CALL-IN: 1-800-599-9186

PASS CODE: FAMILY

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Faith in Public Life is a communications and organizing resource center dedicated to strengthening and increasing the visibility of faith leaders dedicated to justice and the common good. Faith in Public Life is a not-for-profit nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization.

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Leaders Call for Balanced Religious Debate

May 29, 2007, 6:16 pm | Posted by

Religious Leaders Address Findings of New Report on Lack of Media Representation

The report is available online at:

www.mediamatters.org/LeftBehind

Washington, D.C. – Media Matters for America, along with Faith in Public Life and progressive religious leaders from throughout the country, held a press conference today to discuss “Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in the Major News Media,” a new report documenting the overrepresentation of conservative religious figures in the major news media. Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog organization; Faith in Public Life, an organization dedicated to increasing the strength and visibility of faith leaders working for justice and the common good; and the diverse group of progressive religious leaders called on major media outlets to provide a more balanced expression of religious values and views.

“The overwhelming presence in the news media of conservative religious voices leads to the false implication that to be religious is to be conservative, and worse, that to be progressive is to lack faith or even to be against faith. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “People of faith have long been, and will continue to be, active leaders on progressive causes for justice. Our faith compels it.”

“I have long felt the media have given Americans a distorted view of what people of faith believe. This research from Media Matters proves that. I hope both the print and electronic media in this country will now seek the balance so many of them profess to have as they continue to report issues of religion and its impact on our society, government, and the American culture,” said Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA.

“The media have a vital responsibility to represent the fullness of Catholic social teaching in what needs to be a broad and rich debate about the role of religion in public life,” said Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. “Catholic leaders who speak to the moral dimensions of an unjust war, the dignity of the human person, the growing gap between rich and poor, and global warming, speak from the heart of our Catholic faith. They must not be routinely passed over for strident commentary from culture warriors.”

“This report clearly indicates what we’ve always suspected — that the media prefer to see the world through a simple lens, a casualty of which is that the right and the conservative voice can often take control of the conversation,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes, host of the Air America program The Time Is Now. “So what do we do now? Those of us on who call ourselves progressives need to speak out and be heard.”

“Unfortunately, much of the secular and religious media are stuck in the habit of secular-left/religious-right bipolar reporting, and they’re failing to see that the religious and political landscape isn’t that simple anymore, if it ever was,” said Brian McLaren, Board Chairman for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

Media Matters undertook this study in large part because of the media’s response to the 2004 elections, in which key media figures overemphasized the impact of “values voters” — a misleading term used by the media to describe conservative religious voters motivated by opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, which suggested that progressive voters did not care similarly about values.

In their coverage, news organizations overwhelmingly presented a picture in which religious Americans were defined as conservative Americans. This representation in the media proved to be a misleading characterization of how these so-called “values voters” influenced the 2006 elections, in which the “value” cited most by voters was the Iraq war, not issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

• A 2006 Zogby International exit poll showed that the “moral issue” cited most by voters was the Iraq war, and that more than twice as many voters cited greed and materialism or poverty and economic justice as “the most urgent moral crisis in American culture” as those who cited abortion or same-sex marriage.

• Despite their depiction in the mainstream media, only 10 percent of evangelical Christians said abortion and same-sex marriage would be the most important factor in determining their vote, according to a 2006 study by the Center for American Values in Public Life.

• Even though close to 90 percent of Americans identified themselves as religious in the Center for American Values in Public Life study, according to a post-election survey in 2004, only 32 percent of Americans identified themselves as conservative.

KEY FINDINGS:

• Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders we studied were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders between November 3, 2004 — the day after the 2004 presidential election — and December 31, 2006.

• On television news — the three major television networks, the three major cable channels, and PBS — conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.

• In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

ATTENDING TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE:

• Rev. Brian McLaren is a best-selling author, a leader of the “emerging church” — a Christian evangelical movement that seeks new ways to worship and understand the gospel in a postmodern era — and Board Chairman for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

• Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes is the former Senior Pastor of The Riverside Church in New York City and host of The Time Is Now on Air America.

• Rabbi David Saperstein is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which advocates on social justice issues on behalf of the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration.

• Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar is General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, composed of 35 communions that count 45 million Americans among their members, and author of Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right.

• Alexia Kelley is Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the fullness of the Catholic social tradition in the public square.

The report is available online at:

www.mediamatters.org/LeftBehind

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Media Matters for America is a not-for-profit, progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Media Matters for America is the first organization to systematically monitor the media for conservative misinformation every day, in real time. For more information, visit www.mediamatters.org.

Faith in Public Life is a communications and organizing resource center dedicated to increasing the strength and visibility of faith leaders working for justice and the common good. Faith in Public Life is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit www.faithinpubliclife.org.

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Religious Leaders to Address Findings of New Report on Lack of Media Representation

May 24, 2007, 6:42 pm | Posted by

“Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in the Major News Media” to be Discussed

Washington, D.C. – Next Tuesday, May 29, Media Matters for America, along with Faith in Public Life and progressive religious leaders from throughout the country will hold a press conference to discuss “Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in the Major News Media,” a new report documenting the overrepresentation of conservative religious figures in the major news media. Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog organization, Faith in Public Life, an organization dedicated to increasing the strength and visibility of faith leaders working for justice and the common good, and this diverse group of progressive religious leaders are expected to call on major media outlets to provide a more balanced expression of religious values and views.

WHO:

Paul Waldman, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America

Katie Barge, Faith in Public Life

Rev. Brian McLaren, “Emerging church” leader and Sojourners

Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes, Host, The Time Is Now on Air America

Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, National Council of Churches

Alexia Kelley, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

WHAT: Press conference to address the new Media Matters for America report “Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in the Major News Media.”

WHEN: TUESDAY, May 29, 2007 @ 1pm ET

WHERE: National Press Club

Peter Lisagor Room

529 14th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20045

KEY FINDINGS:

Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders.

On television news — the three major television networks, the three major cable channels, and PBS — conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.

In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

OVERVIEW:

Since the 2004 election there has been a marked increase in coverage of religion in newspapers and television across the country. But, as this study by Media Matters for America shows, this increased coverage not only over-represents some voices and under-represents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives.

Instead of giving readers and viewers an accurate picture of American religious beliefs, the media has systematically silenced the diverse voices of religious Americans and distorted the role of religion in American politics.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

Paul Waldman is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit, progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Katie Barge is Director of Communications Strategy at Faith in Public Life, a nonprofit organizing and communications resource center dedicated to increasing the strength and visibility of faith leaders and groups working for justice and the common good.

Rev. Brian McLaren is a best-selling author, a leader of the “emerging church” — a Christian evangelical movement that seeks new ways to worship and understand the gospel in a postmodern era — and Board Chairman for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes is the former Senior Pastor of The Riverside Church in New York City and host of The Time Is Now on Air America.

Rabbi David Saperstein is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which advocates on social justice issues on behalf of the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration.

Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar is General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, composed of 35 communions that count 45 million Americans among their members, and author of Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right.

Alexia Kelley is Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the fullness of the Catholic social tradition in the public square.

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers is General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, which represents many of the most dynamic and progressive African-American faith leaders and their congregations in the United States.

Report will be made available at the press conference and online Tuesday morning at:

www.mediamatters.org/LeftBehind

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Faith in Public Life is a communications and organizing resource center for faith leaders sharing a call to pursue justice and the common good. Faith in Public Life is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization.

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Thousands to Create Domestic Jewish Agenda

May 8, 2007, 6:15 pm | Posted by

Independent Jewish groups, blogs promote online forum; Presidential candidate given opportunity to offer solutions to grassroots Jewish priorities

(NEW YORK CITY, May 8, 2007) — More than a dozen independent Jewish groups today launched an online campaign to engage thousands of Jews in shaping a domestic Jewish agenda for the 2008 election. After publicly presenting the agenda and urging presidential candidates to respond, the coalition will run full page advertisements in Jewish newspapers explaining the agenda, publicizing candidate responses, and noting those candidates who choose not to respond. This groundbreaking effort is the first time unaffiliated Jews will shape a Jewish public affairs agenda.

Mik Moore, the editor of jspot.org, said the campaign was developed in response to two phenomena. “First, most Jews are unconnected to the Jewish organizations that speak to presidential candidates in their name,” said Moore. “Second, despite a strong interest in domestic issues among Jews, Jewish organizations in recent years have focused much of their attention on international issues.”

Representing a new phase in efforts by Jewish Funds for Justice to develop an engaged Jewish netroots, the campaign gives all Jews a voice and a vote in how they want to be represented as a community on domestic issues. Starting Tuesday, May 8, thousands of Jews will go online to choose five of ten pre-selected issue areas:

• Child Care

• Civil Rights

• Education

• Environment

• Health Care

• Housing

• Immigration

• Katrina/Rita

• Seniors

• Wages

After two weeks, the votes will be counted and the top five preferences will be presented as a domestic Jewish agenda.

A letter from the partner organizations and all participants will be sent to each of the currently eighteen presidential campaigns, requesting a written response explaining how the candidate as President would address the challenges represented by each issue area. The campaign responses will be posted on jspot.org and other websites to provide a public forum for evaluation by participants and others. Three weeks after the letters are sent to the candidates, a full page advertisement will be published in Jewish newspapers explaining the agenda, encouraging commentary on the candidate responses, and noting which campaigns had and which had not responded.

The initiative was created by jspot.org, the online action center of Jewish Funds for Justice, a national, publicly-supported foundation dedicated to combating poverty in the U.S., and the injustices underlying it. Partners include Hazon, Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, Jdub Records, Jewish Student Press Service, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Jews United for Justice, Jewschool.com, Moishe/Kavod House Boston, Progressive Jewish Alliance, The Shalom Center, The Tribe, VelveteenRabbi.com, and Workmen’s Circle/Arbiter Ring.

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Christians Launch Ad, Grassroots Campaign Calling for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

May 7, 2007, 3:37 pm | Posted by

(Washington, DC, May 7, 2007) – Evangelical leaders from across the ideological spectrum today launched an ecumenical national grassroots and ad campaign calling for comprehensive immigration reform that is consistent with biblical values. Ads announcing the campaign ran in Roll Call and CongressDaily today to coincide with the launch. Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR) will place ads nationally and locally in newspapers and mobilize at least 200,000 letters, tens of thousands of calls, and hundreds of lobby visits to Members of Congress by the August recess.

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform will mobilize churches and faith groups across the nation with a particular focus in Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania – states where CCIR will be collaborating with the New Sanctuary Movement, an effort to show the human face of the U.S. immigration crisis, launching May 9. The campaign will include local newspaper and radio ads, letters (more than 50,000 letters have already been written), phone calls, lobby meetings, opeds, and letters to the editor.

“We are coming together today because the Bible tells us again and again about the need to care for the stranger in our midst,” said Jim Wallis, Founder and President of Sojourners, and author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. “Compassionate immigration reform is also a critical step toward eradicating poverty in America.”

“Despite differing theological and doctrinal perspectives, groups sharing a common Judeo-Christian heritage are uniting to challenge our lawmakers to create an immigration policy characteristic of a faithful people: compassionate, just, respectful of human dignity and valuing family bonds,” said Rev. Dan Soliday, CEO, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Inc.

The organizations and individuals that make up Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform are uniting around a shared set of common moral and theological principles, including:

• All people, regardless of national origin, are made in the “image of God” and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6).

• There is an undeniable biblical responsibility to love and show compassion for the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:31-46).

• Immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).

• Respect for the rule of law, but also an obligation to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God’s image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7).

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform seeks legislation that is consistent with these biblical principles – legislation that protects U.S. borders while establishing a viable, humane, and realistic immigration system. “We propose that Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform that reflects the American commitment to the three formative pillars of our nation: the rule of law, our faith value system and the pursuit of the American Dream,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical organization, serving 10,700 Hispanic evangelical churches with 15 million members.

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform supports comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes:

• Border enforcement and protection initiatives that are consistent with humanitarian values while allowing the authorities to enforce the law and implement American immigration policy;

• Reforms in our family-based immigration system that reduce the waiting time for separated families to be safely reunited and maintain the constitutionally guaranteed rights of birthright citizenship and the ability of immigrants to earn naturalization;

• An opportunity for all immigrant workers and their families already in the U.S. to come out of the shadows and pursue the option of an earned path towards permanent legal status and citizenship upon satisfaction of specific criteria;

• A viable guest worker program that creates legal avenues for workers and their families to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights and due process fully protected and provides an option for workers to gain permanent status independent of an employer sponsor; and

• A framework to examine and ascertain solutions to the root causes of migration, such as economic disparities between sending and receiving nations.

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform’s biblical and legislative principles are included in the coalition’s Joint Statement of Principles (see it with signatories here), which have been signed by a coalition Christian organizations, churches, and high profile leaders, including, Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Sammy Mah, World Relief; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Ron Sider, Evangelicals for Social Action; Jim Wallis, Sojourners; Noel Castellanos, Christian Community Development Association; Tony Campolo, The Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education; World Evangelical Alliance; We Care America; American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church (USA); United Methodist Church; Mennonite Church USA; and Church World Service.

Also speaking at today’s launch press conference were coalition members Rev. Derrick Harkins, Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Washington, DC and World Relief Board Member and Juan Hernandez, President, Hispania and one of the foremost experts on U.S.-Mexico immigration reform who has been described as one of the most brilliant men in the world (Fortune 2001) and one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. (Hispanic Business Magazine 2001).

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