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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We Believe Ohio Puts Prayer into Action on National Day of Prayer

May 2, 2007, 4:59 pm | Posted by

“Day of Prayer in Action” Includes Meetings with More than 20 State Reps and Senators

Clergy and lay leaders of We Believe Ohio will put their prayers into action at the Statehouse tomorrow, the National Day of Prayer, to call for passage of a moral budget. Meetings are scheduled with 22 State Representatives and Senators — including 8 Democrats and 14 Republicans, most in positions of leadership — as well as Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and Governor Ted Strickland’s office.

Because the state budget reveals of the values and priorities of Ohio, clergy and lay leaders from across the state, including a bus load from Cleveland, will gather in Columbus to fulfill their duty, right and responsibility as people of faith to advocate for a budget that is just and compassionate. Specifically, We Believe Ohio will ask legislators to:

• Resolve long-term funding inequalities in public education by maintaining the Governor’s proposal to increase the foundation amount (basic aid) by 3% per year, to increase poverty-based assistance by 22% over the biennium, and to target parity aid to 60% of the districts most in need, as well as the House-passed budget’s increases in funding for early childhood education — because every child in the state of Ohio is entitled to have the opportunity to receive a quality education.

• Lift the cap on the Housing Trust Fund — because We Believe Ohio acknowledges God’s call that we care for the poor, the wayfarer and the stranger.

• Raise parents’ eligibility for Medicaid to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level, allow uninsured children in families with incomes over 300% of the poverty level to buy into Medicaid/SCHIP on a sliding fee scale, and allow children aging out of the foster care system to keep Medicaid coverage until age 21 — because our Creator desires health and wholeness for all people and quality healthcare is a God-given and constitutional right.

Statewide clergy leaders of We Believe Ohio are available for comment. Please contact Katie Barge at kbarge@faithinpubliclife.org or 202-481-8147 to arrange interviews.

WHAT: “Day of Prayer in Action”

WHO: More than 75 clergy and lay leaders of We Believe Ohio.

WHEN: The National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 3, 2007

10:30 AM: Prayer and Preparation, including expert briefings and lobby training (First Congregational Church, 444 E Broad Street in downtown Columbus)

12:30 PM: March to the Statehouse

1:00 PM—3:00 PM: Meetings with State Representatives and Senators inside the Statehouse

WHERE: First Congregational Church and the Statehouse

We Believe Ohio is a coalition of clergy and lay leaders that launched in 2006 to unite diverse religious voices to achieve social justice. We Believe Ohio considers the inclusion of religious traditions and perspectives critical to the creation of informed public policy, while respecting the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state. We Believe is committed to acting and speaking in public ways on behalf of the poor, the voiceless, and the unrepresented.

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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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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Major Religious Coalition Advocates Sweeping Farm Bill Reforms

April 23, 2007, 10:23 pm | Posted by

Church leaders urge Congress: Reform Farm Bill to Reflect American Values

As Congress begins the work of reauthorizing the U.S. farm bill, sixteen Church and faith-based organizations have come together as the Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill to urge major changes in U.S. agricultural policy aimed at reducing hunger and poverty and promoting the livelihood of farmers and rural communities, in the U.S. and around the world.

“Passing a new farm bill is an important opportunity to reshape our agricultural policies to build a more just framework that better serves rural communities and vulnerable farmers in the U.S., overcomes hunger here and abroad, and helps poor farmers and their families in developing countries,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Domestic Policy Committee.

The Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill, which includes Christian denominations and major faith-based organizations, has developed a statement of legislative principles for farm-bill reform (see below). Members of the group currently are in the process of visiting congressional offices and sharing those principles.

“As people of faith who are also constituents, we must let our members of Congress know that we support broad reforms in the farm bill,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “We are advocating for farm policy that strengthens our rural communities and better supports farmers of modest means, people trying to put food on the table in the United States, and struggling farmers in developing countries.”

Members of the Religious Working Group support a farm bill that strengthens investment in communities in rural America; ensures all Americans an adequate and nutritious diet; provides better and more targeted support for U.S. farm families of modest means; and conserves the land for present and future generations. Group members also are urging Congress to address the negative impact current U.S. agricultural and trade policies have on people living in impoverished countries around the world.

“Over the past decade, the U.S. government has made unprecedented, bipartisan commitments to address the deadly poverty that kills one person every three seconds in our world,” said the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. “Reforming U.S. agricultural policy to help farmers in poor countries sell their crops is a way to follow through on that moral commitment while also improving the financial livelihoods of farmers in our own country.”

The Religious Working Group also urges critical reforms to address poverty and human need in the United States through initiatives like the Food Stamp Program, the United States’ first line of defense against hunger.

“Our nation’s lawmakers have a historic opportunity in 2007 to pass a farm bill. Let us work together for a bill that strengthens the livelihood of rural communities, helps lift people out of hunger and poverty, and safeguards the integrity of God’s creation for generations to come,” said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The faith communities represented in the group believe 2007 represents a critical moment in U.S. agricultural policy, and will be working with congregations throughout the country to carry the voice of reform to the halls of Congress.

“Farming ought to be regarded as a sacred calling to take care of the land and to bring forth the food and fiber that sustains the community. The time is now to advocate for a dramatic reform of U.S. agricultural policy so that rural communities in the United States and in the developing world can survive and prosper,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service.

Principles

(Email kbarge@faithinpubliclife.org to request full statement)

The 2007 farm bill should:

· Increase investments that combat rural poverty and strengthen rural communities

· Strengthen and expand programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States

· Strengthen and increase investment in policies that promote conservation and good stewardship of the land

· Provide transitions for farmers to alternative forms of support that are more equitable and do not distort trade in ways that fuel hunger and poverty

· Protect the health and safety of farmworkers

· Expand research related to alternative, clean and renewable forms of energy

· Improve and expand international food aid in ways that encourage local food security

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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