(Columbus, Ohio) â€“ As the 2008 campaign season gears up, We Believe Ohio, a statewide interfaith coalition of religious leaders, today announced a campaign declaring Ohio a â€œPolitical Sleaze-Free Zone.â€ The group is circulating a online petition calling on all candidates for public office to run clean, positive campaigns that focus on common good issues. Even before the campaign has kicked-off, the petition has gathered almost 1,000 signatures.
Press conferences were held with clergy in both Columbus and Cleveland. A statement of support from Gov. Ted Strickland thanking We Believe for â€œelevating political discourse in Ohioâ€ was read at both.
â€œThe momentum behind our petition shows that the people of Ohio hunger for political campaigns that reflect their values of honesty and fair play,â€ said Cantor Jack Chomsky of the Congregation Tifereth Israel. â€œSome will say that we are looking for a miracle. Who would work for miracles if not us? We embrace the idea that miracles happen every day.â€
As people of faith, We Believe Ohio believes political campaign tactics and priorities are a moral and spiritual issue. This belief draws on the common values of the leadersâ€™ diverse faiths.
â€œAll of our faith traditions tell us that we shall not bear false witness. What more fundamental belief should guide our actions in the public square? If candidates bear false witness in their campaigns, it speaks volumes about the actions they will take in office. If they run campaigns with integrity, they will be able to serve people immediately, work with others, and be better public servants,â€ said Rev. Tim Ahrens of First Congregational Church.
Rev. Stephen Smith of St. Patrickâ€™s Episcopal Church, Rabbi Misha Zinkow of Temple Israel and Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin each spoke of how the campaign specifically reflects the values of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.
We Believe Ohioâ€™s petition calls on campaigns to promote the common good by addressing issues critical to all Ohioans such as poverty, jobs, education and health care, and to reject the politics of character assassination and polarization.
â€œRather than voting for a candidate based upon half truths or attack ads, as people of faith we should be compelled to vote for those candidates and issues that are concerned about the poor, the hungry, those who are mourning and the despised,â€ said Rev. Mark Diemer of Grace of God Lutheran Church.
We Believe Ohio is currently presenting the â€œPolitical Sleaze-Free Zoneâ€ petition to candidates and political parties. We Believe Ohio asks all citizens of Ohio to sign its petition calling for a â€œPolitical Sleaze-Freeâ€™â€™ state by going on-line to http://www.webelieveohio.org/noguttersignup.html.
Following is the text of the petition:
Declare Ohio a Political Sleaze-Free Zone
We, the undersigned, call on candidates for public office and all political parties to make the following commitment:
â€¢ We will positively promote what we stand for.
â€¢ We will refrain from negative and inflammatory attack ads.
â€¢ We will describe truthfully what we will do for the people of Ohio.
â€¢ We will not distort our opponents’ records and positions.
â€¢ We will exemplify transparency and responsibility in all campaign activities.
â€¢ We will denounce attacks by outside groups, and do everything possible to bring them to a halt.
â€¢ We will promote the common good by addressing issues critical to all Ohioans, including poverty, jobs, education and health care.
â€¢ We will reject the politics of polarization, which focuses on deeply divisive issues and exploits them for partisan advantage.
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Full Page Ad Runs in Roll Call Calling on Senators to Support Reform
(Washington, DC) As the 2007 Farm Bill reaches the Senate floor, religious leaders appealed to the consciences of U.S. Senators. Clergy speaking at the Capitol today made clear that Senators have a choice: continue to prop up the wealthiest farmers and landowners with subsidies that undermine the livelihoods of American farmers and the world’s poor, or put our great nation on the path to fighting hunger in America and extreme poverty that kills thousands of God’s children each day.
Many of the religious organizations participating in the press conference also signed their name to a full page ad that ran in Roll Call today calling on the Senate to support reform.
â€œThe Senate has some tough choices to make, but choosing between help for hungry people trying to feed their families and payments to millionaire farmers shouldn’t be one of them,â€ said Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World. â€œThe Lugar-Lautenberg amendment would both strengthen assistance to hungry people and create a safety net for all farmers.â€
“Congress created the first farm bill to be an expression of the character of America and a covenant with farmers rooted in fairness, equity, and opportunity for all, but todayâ€™s farm bill has strayed far from this vision, benefiting primarily large, rich farms while adding to the struggles of hard-working family farmers and exacerbating deadly poverty around the world,â€ said the Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington (Episcopal). â€œ2007 is the year for Congress to reclaim the time-honored values of the past in creating a farm bill for the 21st Century.”
â€œIf our African farmers didnâ€™t have to compete with heavily subsidized crops from the US, they would be able to send more of our children to school, provide better diets for their families, and reinvest in the farming sector,â€ said Bishop Thomas Kabore of Kaya, Burkina Faso, who is in Washington along with other West African religious leaders to press for change. â€œWe ask Senators to hear these voices â€“ far from this place – that want nothing more than a fair chance to grow their crops, to sell what they produce and to make a living for themselves and their children.â€
â€œWe have a historic opportunity with this legislation to reduce hunger and poverty both here in the United States and in some of the worldâ€™s most impoverished countries,â€ said Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners. â€œItâ€™s time for our Senators to show courageous leadership to enact reforms that serve the common good.â€
“Don’t ignore the needs of the poor in the next Farm Bill,â€ said John Carr, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. â€œThe next Farm Bill should target limited resources to those who need the most help rather than those who need it least. This is why we support a meaningful payments limits amendment. We call on Senators to do the right thing for those that need help, for struggling farmers and hungry people at home and for some of our poorest brothers and sisters around the world. ”
“Seldom do legislative issues become as clear cut a choice as greed vs. need, the privileged few vs. the modest majority; but real reform of the Farm bill is just such an issue,” said Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent, Jr. Director of Missions, Progressive National Baptist Convention. â€œThe Progressive National Baptist Convention urges the Senate to take the bold moral steps to insure that the Farm Bill of 2007 is a reflection of true American values of fairness, hope and opportunity for all.”
Religious leaders representing other participating denominations added their support for reform:
â€œThe General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church has expressed concern that payments are going to the largest, wealthiest farms while leaving behind the majority of farm families,â€ said the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). â€œWe urge the Senate to pass meaningful commodity program payment limits such as those proposed by Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Grassley (R-IA).â€
â€œPeople of faith throughout the country are calling on their Senators to do what is right for the common good,â€ said Reverend Jon Anderson, Bishop of Southwestern Minnesota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. â€œI pray Senators will vote yes for amendments that target government support to farmers that need it most and increase investment in rural development, conservation and nutrition programs.â€
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***PRESS CONFERENCES THURSDAY***
(Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio) â€“ One year before the 2008 elections, We Believe Ohio, a statewide coalition of religious leaders, will announce a campaign calling on all candidates for public office to run clean, positive campaigns that focus on common good issues that matter most to the people of Ohio. This Thursday, November 8, 2007, in Cleveland and Columbus, interfaith clergy will declare Ohio a â€œPolitical Sleaze-Free Zone.â€ Even before the campaign has kicked-off, the We Believe Ohio petition declaring Ohio a â€œPolitical Sleaze-Free Zoneâ€ has gathered hundreds of signatures.
WHAT: We Believe Ohio â€œPolitical Sleaze-Free Zoneâ€ Campaign Kick-Off Press Conference
WHEN: Thursday, November 8
WHERE: First Congregational Church, 444 E. Broad Street, Columbus â€“ 11 AM
First United Methodist Church, 3000 Euclid Ave., Cleveland â€“ 1 PM
(Across the street from the Board of Elections)
Columbus: Rev. Tim Ahrens, First Congregational Church; Cantor Jack Chomsky, Congregation Tifereth Israel; Rev. Eric Brown, Woodland Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rabbi Misha Zinkow, Temple Israel; Rev. Stephen Smith, St. Patrickâ€™s Episcopal Church; Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin; Rev. Mark Diemer, Grace of God Lutheran Church.
Cleveland: Rabbi Richard Block, Temple Tifereth; Rev. Ken Chalker, First United Methodist Church, Rev. Tony Minor, Community of Faith Assembly; Imam Abbas Ahmad, First Cleveland Mosque; The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Trinity Cathedral; Rev. Dr. John C. Lentz, Jr., Forest Hill Church Presbyterian.
Plus dozens of other clergy and people of faith in both cities!
We Believe Ohio is currently presenting the â€œPolitical Sleaze-Free Zoneâ€ petition to candidates and political parties, asking each to sign on to the declaration. We Believe Ohio asks all citizens of Ohio to sign its petition calling for a â€œPolitical Sleaze-Freeâ€™â€™ state by going on-line to http://www.webelieveohio.org/noguttersignup.html.
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 Godâ€™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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**PRESS CONFERENCE Tuesday, NOV. 6 at 10:00 AM**
(Washington , D.C.) As the 2007 Farm Bill heads to the Senate floor, religious leaders will appeal to SenatorsÊ¼ conscience. Members of the Unites States Senate must make a choice: continue to prop up the wealthiest farmers and landowners with subsidies that undermine the livelihoods of American farmers and the worldÊ¼s poor, or put our great nation on the path to fighting hunger in America and extreme poverty that kills 30,000 of God’s people each day.
Religious leaders will announce support for specific amendments that reduce commodity payments for the wealthiest beneficiaries, which hurt small farmers here and abroad, and increase investment in nutrition programs, rural development, and conservation.
Bishop Thomas Kabore, Bishop of Kaya , Burkina Faso
John Carr, Executive Director, Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners and Author, GodÊ¼s Politics
The Right Rev. John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington (Episcopal)
Rev. Dr. Earl Trent Jr., Progressive National Baptist Convention
WHERE: U.S. Capitol Building , Room SC-6
WHEN: Tuesday, November 6, 2007, at 10:00 AM
*Breakfast will be served.*
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October 24, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC â€“ As the United States Senate prepares to begin marking up the 2007 farm bill today, an alliance of U.S. faith groups called upon Senators to adopt reforms designed to reclaim the farm billâ€™s historic moral identity as a covenant with small- and medium-sized farmers in the U.S., and a source of hope to people in need at home and around the world.
â€œFairness and opportunity for farmers in times of need were the fundamental values upon which Congress built the first farm bill in the 1930s,â€ said the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. â€œTodayâ€™s farm policy has abandoned those values. 2007 is the year for Congress to put fairness and opportunity back into U.S. farm policy and establish a new covenant with rural America and those in need at home and around the world.â€
“Our country needs a fresh, new approach to the farm bill, one that helps people who need it the mostâ€”U.S. farmers of modest means, struggling rural communities, hungry people and farmers in developing countries,â€ said the Reverend David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World. â€œThe demand for comprehensive reform is mounting from many people of faith and both sides of the aisle.â€
â€œI pray that Congress understands that the future of rural America is no longer inextricably linked to farming, as is reflected in small towns throughout South Dakota that are struggling to survive,â€ said the Reverend David B. Zellmer, Bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. â€œWe need increased investment in rural development, conservation, and nutrition; these are the programs that are most meaningful to rural America.â€
â€œThe General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has expressed concern that payments are going to the largest, wealthiest farms while leaving behind the majority of farm families,â€ said the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). â€œWe urge the Senate to pass meaningful commodity program payment limits such as those proposed by Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Grassley (R-IA).â€
“If we fail to provide real reform to trade distorting commodity programs, then our subsidized export is not food, but poverty for the developing world,” said the Reverend Dr. Earl Trent Jr., Executive Director of Mission for the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
“We have a historic opportunity with this legislation to reduce hunger and poverty both here in the United States and in some of the world’s most impoverished countries,â€ said the Reverend Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. â€œIt’s time for our Senators to show courageous leadership to enact reforms that serve the common good.”
â€œWe can and must do more to address the plight of struggling family farmers,â€ said the Most Reverend Ronald Gilmore, President of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. â€œHave we honestly done enough to target farm supports to those who need it most?â€
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