Religious Leaders’ Message to Congress: Restore Habeas Corpus

June 26, 2007, 10:54 am | Posted by

Religious Leaders Speak Out on “Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice”

(Washington, DC , June 26, 2007) – As Congress prepares to consider restoring habeas corpus for individuals held in U.S. custody, Evangelical, Jewish, Catholic and Muslim leaders today called for an end to the suspension of habeas corpus and due process, CIA kidnappings, secret prisons, and all acts of torture – without exceptions.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill prior to the “Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice” rally and lobby day, organized by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberty Union and the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights, the leaders specifically called for Congress to reform the abuses of the Military Commissions Act by enacting the Restoring the Constitution Act.

“Torture aims to break not just the body, but the very spirit of a human being,” said Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, “Torture is a major transgression of God’s limits. The impact of such a transgression is not just on the victim, but on the souls of all those engaged in and complicit in the evil act.”

Dr. Charles Gutenson, an Evangelical leader and professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, “Jesus not only commanded, but also modeled a way of life that refused to repay evil with evil. When his enemies came for him, he embodied the call to love our enemies. How, then, can we who seek to imitate this Jesus ever see torture as a legitimate tool wielded to serve our own purposes?”

“I am representing hundreds of Rabbis across our land,” stated Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Chair of the Board for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, “who have declared that torture shatters and defiles God’s image. We mean that torture violates the tortured human being, who was created in the likeness of God, as well as the torturer’s human soul, which is inevitably defiled and compromised in dishonoring the image of God in his victim.”

Bishop Walter Sullivan, retired Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese of Richmond, Virgnia added, “It is unacceptable that our country which professes a belief in freedom and human rights would resort to acts of torture. Supposedly our nation upholds truth and justice, yet we perform inhuman acts emulating rogue nations where people’s lives are expendable.”

Today’s “Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice” activities for people of faith were organized by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture – a growing membership organization of more than 115 religious groups committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its inception in January 2006, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture has:

• Gathered almost 16,000 individual endorsements for NRCAT’s Statement of Conscience, “Torture is a Moral Issue” and placed the statement, signed by 28 national leaders – including Elie Weisel, Pastor Rick Warren, Sayyid Syeed, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, and Jimmy Carter – on the op-ed page of the New York Times.

• Initiated a project to screen the HBO documentary Ghosts of Abu Ghraib in 1,000 congregations during the week of October 21-28, 2007.

• Supported Evangelicals for Human Rights, which authored “An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture,” which was adopted by the National Association of Evangelicals in March 2007.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture empowers members of America’s faith community to join one another in religious witness to ensure torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment never play a role in U.S. policy. “For a nation that tortures, compassion and mercy are shoved to the corner of our hearts or buried in self-justification,” said Dr. Mattson in her closing remarks. “We must repent of our actions, restore the ethical basis of our collective authority and repair the damage to the body politic.”

www.tortureisamoralissue.org

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New Online Database Documents Resurgence of Faith Organizing for the Common Good

June 21, 2007, 3:03 pm | Posted by

Google Maps-Powered Database ID’s 3,000 Groups Nationwide

Mapping Faith Database:

http://faithinpubliclife.org/map/index.html

Mapping Faith Report:

http://www.faithinpubliclife.org/content/feature/upload/2007/06/MappingFaithRp.pdf

(Washington, DC) – Amidst a political season riddled with religious references, Faith in Public Life, joined by religious leaders from across the country, today launched Mapping Faith — a new online database documenting a nationwide resurgence in faith-based organizing around causes for justice and the common good.

Searchable by issue focus, state, and zip code, this Google Maps-powered database identifies and locates 3,000 groups organizing around more than a dozen causes, including poverty, the environment, human rights and peace, race, and immigration.

“After a year of research and interviews with faith leaders in all 50 states, Mapping Faith documents the vibrancy of faith-based organizing for justice and the common good nationwide, allows groups across the country to find new allies, and provides reporters with an unprecedented resource for finding local sources,” said Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director of Faith in Public Life.

In a teleconference with reporters today, Rev. Mark Diemer, Co-Convener of We Believe Ohio, noted how Mapping Faith helped his organization grow. “We Believe Ohio began in central Ohio in November of 2005. With Mapping Faith, we have been able to expand statewide, with a sister group in Cleveland and individuals in other parts of the state seeking to start We Believe Ohio chapters in Akron/Canton, Cincinnati, and Dayton.”

A analytical report accompanying the Mapping Faith database finds:

1. A diverse faith community: 631 Interfaith, 554 Catholic, 499 Mainline Protestant, 263 Jewish and 100 Evangelical groups organizing around causes for justice and the common good.

Across the country, American Jews are joining hands with their Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters, and partners across lines of race and class, to build power for justice,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Founding Director of Just Congregations. “Called by our ancient tradition’s demand to ‘do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God’, synagogue leaders are leading their congregations into effective coalitions fighting for issues that reflect our deep faith.”

2. No red state-blue state divide: 1573 groups in red states; 1331 in blue.

Ms. Boo Tyson, Executive Director of the MAINStream Coalition of Kansas noted, “In so many ways, those color-descriptions of “red” and “blue” misunderstand the reality of voters here on the ground,” she said. “People in Kansas are more interested in protecting our democracy and our religious vitality than in promoting one political party to the exclusion of the others.”

3. A broad values agenda: 46% of groups nationwide prioritize poverty; 40% peace and human rights; 20% health care/AIDS; and 10% environment.

The rapid growth in grassroots religious advocacy on behalf of the environment was notable in the Mapping Faith research process. Mr. Allan Johnson, Founder of Christians for the Mountains in Dunmore, West Virginia, elaborated on this trend: “We ourselves are Christians from various denominations, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant. In certain areas we differ from each other, yet we are united together in our advocacy for God’s creation. What is especially touching is that a number of battle-worn environmental activists have told us that our bringing in our religious faith stance has given them fresh hope and new energy that the cause will be won.”

Faith in Public Life looks forward to building on the launch of Mapping Faith with continued organizing and communications support for faith groups organizing nationwide.

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Faith in Public Life is a communications and organizing resource center dedicated to increasing the strength and 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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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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