U.S. Religious Leaders Report Back on Meeting with Iranian Religious Leaders

February 23, 2007, 5:31 pm | Posted by

Delegation Is Scheduled to Meet Iranian President Saturday

A delegation of U.S. religious leaders returning from a week-long trip to Iran will hold a Washington, DC press conference on Monday, February 26 to brief reporters on their meetings with the Iranian president and Iranian religious leaders. This is the first religious delegation to meet with an Iranian president in Iran since the revolution in 1979.

WHEN: Monday, February 26, 9:00am.

WHERE: National Press Club, Peter Zenger Room, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC

The 13-person religious delegation traveled to Iran to encourage a dialogue in the hope of averting a war. The group is scheduled to meet with the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Saturday before flying back to Washington. The religious leaders will brief members of Congress on the result of their trip in the coming weeks.

In meetings with Christian and Muslim leaders in Iran, the delegation talked about how people in Iran and the U.S. can help reduce the tension between their two countries.

“I am convinced that the only path for a true and lasting peace with justice will require that we find a way to tell our stories and to have our stories heard,” said Jeff Carr, Chief Operations Officer of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. “Then we must begin to write a new narrative together, one that comes out of humility, mutual respect, and shared understanding. May God help both our nations and peoples to begin the healing and reconciliation process so we may avoid war and build that lasting peace.”

“Interfaith dialogue strengthens our own theology,” said Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana of the National Council of Churches and a member of the U.S. delegation. “This is a new paradigm that has arrived out of many years of engaging in dialogue.”

Delegation members also discussed with government officials the political situation inside Iran, Iranian foreign policy, and Iran’s nuclear energy program. After the visit the group will meet with members of the U.S. Congress, informing them of what the delegation heard from leaders in Iran and suggesting ways to move toward lessening current tensions.

The delegation that visited Iran from February 17-25, included representatives of Mennonite, Quaker, Episcopal, Catholic, and United Methodist churches, churches as well as the National Council of Churches, Pax Christi and Sojourners/Call to Renewal in Washington, D.C.

For more on the delegation, visit www.irandelegation.org

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Thousands from Across America Worship and Protest to End Iraq War

February 20, 2007, 4:36 pm | Posted by

Christian Peace Witness set for March 16th; Worship to be Followed by Procession to White House and Peaceful Protest

Washington, D.C. —– (Tuesday, February 20, 2007) Thousands of Christians—Evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics— from across the country will worship together on March 16th to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War with public prayer, a candlelight procession through the center of the nation’s capital, vigils in cities and towns throughout the country and a protest culminating with 1500 Christians surrounding the White House with the light of peace. The Christian Peace Witness, organized by a broad cross section of Christian denominational peace groups and organizations, is expected to be the largest peace gathering of Christians expressing opposition to the war since it began four years ago.

Prominent religious leaders and peace activists, including Jim Wallis, Celeste Zappala, Bernice Powell Jackson, and Raphael Warnock will speak at a worship service, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C on Friday, March 16, 2007.

“The mistaken war in Iraq can only be mercifully ended, in ways that cause the least damage to everyone involved: the Americans and the Iraqis, the volatile surrounding region, and a world longing for security,” says Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal and bestselling author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.

After the worship service, thousands of Christians will make a two-mile candlelit procession to the White House, where a solemn, prayerful vigil will dramatize the Christian call for peace in Iraq. Following the vigil, hundreds of participants, including many clergy members, will encircle the White House with a band of candlelight to express their conviction that the teachings of Jesus call unequivocally for an end to the war.

“Jesus taught us that nothing could be more impractical, or more foolish, than responding to violence with more violence,” says Rick Ufford-Chase, convener of the national steering committee of Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. “Congress needs to act swiftly and boldly to challenge the escalation of the war in Iraq. We will pray, worship and protest on March 16th and send a message to our leaders and the world that peace and reconciliation stand at the very heart of the Christian message and our respective traditions.”

Thousands more Christians yearning for peace will organize simultaneous rallies and vigils throughout the country. And to date, 20 bus loads of peace pilgrims are traveling from cities throughout the country.

WHAT: Christian Peace Witness

WHEN: March 16, beginning at 7 p.m. (admission tickets required, visit www.christianpeacewitness.org)

WHERE: Washington National Cathedral

WHO: Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal

Celeste Zappala, a peace activist and United Methodist mother whose son was killed in Iraq in April 2004

Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, President for the North American Conference of the World Council of Churches

Rev. Raphael Warnock, Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.

SPONSOR ORGANIZATIONS: Adventist Peace Fellowship, American Friends Service Committee, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Brethren Witness, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Christian Alliance for Progress, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Disciples Justice Action Network, Disciples Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Every Church a Peace Church, Faith in Public Life; Kairos: A Time to Speak, A Time to Act; Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA, National Council of Churches, No2Torture, On Earth Peace, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, Pax Christi USA, Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Protestants for the Common Good, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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Please visit Christian Peace Witness for Iraq for more information

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National Religious Campaign Against Torture Announces Support for “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007″

February 13, 2007, 2:35 pm | Posted by

Bill Would Restore Right of Habeas Corpus

(Washington, DC) – The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) today announced its support for legislation introduced by Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russell Feingold (D-WI), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to rollback key provisions of the Military Commissions Act signed into law in October of last year by President Bush. The bill, “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 — A Bill to Provide for the Effective Prosecution of Terrorists and to Guarantee Due Process Rights”, would restore the right of habeas corpus, reinstate the United States’ commitment to the Geneva Conventions with respect to the treatment of detainees, and restore important elements of due process to hearing procedures for detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.

“This legislation is urgently needed,” Jeanne Herrick-Stare, Chair of NRCAT Coordinating Committee, said, “to not only restore the core elements of due process to our treatment of detainees, but also to restore the United States’ role as a world leader in human rights. Enactment of the Military Commissions Act was a dark day in our nation’s history; the legislation introduced today — if enacted — will help restore a measure of dignity to an America we can again believe in.”

NRCAT empowers members of America’s faith community to join one another in religious witness to ensure torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment never plays a role in U.S. policy. Since its formation in January 2006, 100 religious organizations have joined NRCAT, including representatives of the Catholic, Evangelical Christian, Mainline Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities. NRCAT’s “Torture Is a Moral Issue” statement has been endorsed by prominent religions leaders and organizations such as Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Jimmy Carter and Eli Weisel.

Full membership and more information about NRCAT are available on the NRCAT website at www.nrcat.org.

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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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Religious, Enviro Coalition Aims to Screen Climate Change Film in 10,000 Churches Prior to ’08 Elections

February 7, 2007, 12:42 pm | Posted by

DVD Release of Movie Announced

Emblematic of the growing movement that pairs religious leaders with scientists, a national coalition of clergy, religious groups, policymakers, scientists and environmental groups today announced the DVD release of the critically-acclaimed climate change film The Great Warming and the goal of getting the movie screened in 10,000 churches prior to the 2008 election. Already seen in 500 churches by at least 30,000 people, The Great Warming presents climate change as a moral, ethical and spiritual issue.

The DVD release is part of a major initiative to engage Americans in proactive action and advocacy to make environmental stewardship and creation care a top policy priority. A special package is being offered to churches, which includes a copy of the DVD and a set of downloadable guides specifically designed for religious audiences, including a Sunday School discussion guide and a 60-page Creation Care sermon guide with source material from the Old and New Testaments.

Rev. Dr. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, a signer of the recent statement by evangelicals and scientists demanding policy and lifestyle changes to combat global warming is one of the faith leaders in the film. In an NAE letter recommending the film, Cizik wrote, “The Great Warming presents an objective, balanced, overview of climate change – the science, the consequences, and, most importantly, the solutions. It also features a major sequence about the evangelical response to climate change, emphasizing Christian action… May this film challenge, inspire, and ultimately change you, as it has me!”

Following months of calls from people who viewed the documentary in their communities and churches, Regal Cinemas released the film on the big screen last November. Now, convinced that the movie must reach a broad audience in order to galvanize action on climate change, clergy and religious organizations from across the country are all working to promote the film’s DVD release to their congregations and constituencies.

Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, pastor of the 12,000-member Northland Church in Longwood, Florida who recently stepped down from becoming the president of the Christian Coalition because of the organization’s refusal to broaden its focus, is among the many pastors who have hosted church viewings of The Great Warming. Dr. Hunter is also a member of the Evangelical Climate Initiative and a signer of the recent climate change statement by evangelicals and scientists. “I’m part of the religious right, and am one of those leaders who wants to expand the agenda… to the compassion issues that really care for people and really care about God’s creation,” Dr. Hunter said on a teleconference promoting The Great Warming Call to Action.

Also featured in The Great Warming is Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, Pastor of Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta: “It became crystal clear to me as I watched The Great Warming that environmental concerns must become an integrated, active part of the life-sustaining messages in the African-American community. These essential messages must be mandatory teachings throughout all faith traditions, if we are to survive.”

Click here for audio from the teleconference with evangelical leaders — Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, Rev. Dr. Paul de Vries, and Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo — announcing The Great Warming Call to Action in October 2006, which has included airing ads on Christian radio stations and widely distributing a unified statement through churches and religious organizations.

DVDs of The Great Warming and the special church exhibition kit can be ordered online by visiting www.thegreatwarming.com or by calling 800-493-9369.

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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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Christian Peace Witness Denounces Senate’s Inaction on Iraq Resolution

February 6, 2007, 5:15 pm | Posted by

Plans are under way for unprecedented Christian Peace Witness on March 16, with thousands of people and more than 20 organizations participating

In a show of bickering and partisan maneuvering, the Senate failed to confirm the will of the American people with a resolution condemning President Bush’s escalation of the war in Iraq. Rick Chase, leader of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and an organizer of Christian Peace Witness is disappointed by the lack of action in Congress.

“Jesus taught us that nothing could be more impractical, or more foolish, than responding to violence with more violence,” said Chase. “Congress needs to act swiftly and boldly to challenge the escalation of the War in Iraq. Each day brings news of bloodshed of civilians and soldiers alike. As Christians, we can no longer allow our leaders fail to challenge the actions of a President who disregards the will of the American people and the teachings of Jesus. We will pray, worship and protest on March 16th and send a message to our leaders and the world that peace and reconciliation stand at the very heart of the Christian message and our respective traditions.”

Thousands will come to Washington on March 16th for The Christian Peace Witness,, which will call for an end to the U.S. occupation, real support for our troops, a total rejection of torture and an international commitment to the physical and human reconstruction that is so desperately needed in Iraq.

To arrange interviews with Rick Ufford-Chase, please contact Katie Barge with Faith in Public Life at 202-481-8147 or 202-243-8289 or kbarge@faithinpubliclife.org.

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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.

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