Poll Release, National Press Club Panel:
A “Francis Effect” on Catholic Voters?
In less than ten days, Pope Francis will make his first trip to the United States and become the first pontiff in history to address Congress. Many have speculated about how the pope’s leadership and priorities might impact the nexus of religion and politics in this country. How is a pope who puts the moral dimensions of economic inequality and climate change at the forefront of his papacy shaking up the Catholic political narrative? At a time when eight Catholics are running for president, many of the nation’s most powerful elected officials are Catholic and Catholic voters in battleground states could prove decisive in the 2016 election, is there likely to be a “Francis effect” on American politics?
Faith in Public Life and The Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey testing how Catholic voters are responding to the pope’s messages. The results, based on data collected from 1,400 likely Catholic voters, will be released at the National Press Club as part of a panel discussion with prominent Catholic analysts, academics and journalists.
A copy of the survey report is available here.
· Moderator: Luke Russert, NBC News
· Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
· David Buckley, Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville
· Melinda Henneberger, Senior Writer, Bloomberg Politics
· John Gehring, Catholic Program Director, Faith in Public Life
· Stephen Schneck, Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America
Poll release and panel discussion.
The National Press Club
First Amendment Room
529 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20045
9:30-11:00 am (EST)
Wednesday, September 16
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 10, 2015
CONTACT: Allison Walter, Faith in Public Life, email@example.com / (202) 499-4093
Christian Leaders Speak Out Against Clerk’s Refusal to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
Denying Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples a Clear Violation of Religious Liberty
WASHINGTON, DC – An open letter signed by over 200 faith leaders and published today argues that Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a clear violation of religious liberty.
“Religious freedom guarantees that no religion shall oppress those who hold to different beliefs,” said Reverend Jennifer Butler, Executive Director of Faith in Public Life, which organized the letter. “If as a matter of conscience a public official cannot provide equal treatment as required by law, the proper course of action is to resign,” continued Butler.
Signing the letter are prominent faith leaders of diverse denominations, including Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church; Reverend Ken Wilson, Co-Pastor of the Blue Ocean Faith Church; Alan Chambers, author of “My Exodus Story” and former director, Exodus International; Dr. James Trent, professor at Gordon College.
The letter reads in part: “By refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on her religious convictions, Ms. Davis subverted the religious liberty of citizens of Rowan County who do not share her beliefs. Her failure to administer the law equally to those who do not share her beliefs, in defiance of a court order, flouted the Constitution and undermined the values of religious freedom and pluralism that undergird our democracy.”
The full letter and its growing list of signatories can be found at ThisIsOurWitness.com.
The letter’s signatories call on fellow Christians to respect religious liberty by refraining from imposing individual religious beliefs on American citizens and to remember that Jesus calls us to treat each and every person as created in the image of God, even when we disagree.
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For Immediate Release
August 31st, 2015
Leaders from the Catholic, Evangelical and Jewish communities will hold a press briefing call on World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation (Tuesday, Sept 1st) to announce a major welcome rally in Washington for Pope Francis during his visit to the Capitol on September 24th.
The pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home, has created new interest and action on environmental and climate issues among Catholics and other people of faith across the United States and the world.
Faith leaders will describe the new action they’re witnessing, the critical importance of creation care and the growing partnerships with secular environmental and social justice organizations.
Sister Patty Chappell, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Rev. Rich Cizik President, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Director of Social Justice, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Moderator: Rev Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life
Press call announcing a rally scheduled for Thursday, Sept 24th on the National Mall
Dial In Number: (877) 876-9177
Conference ID: CLIMATE
11am eastern, Tuesday, September 1st World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation
For further information, see www.moralactiononclimate.org
or contact Josh Levin, jlevin@FaithInPublicLife.org / (202) 499-4091
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2015
Contact: John Gehring, 410-302-3792, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahead of Presidential Debate, Christian Leaders Urge Candidates to address Economic Inequality & Climate Change
Cite Pope Francis’s recent statements and encyclical on the urgency to act
Washington, DC - As presidential candidates take the stage for the first debate in Cleveland on Thursday, Christian leaders are challenging all contenders for the White House to tackle inequality and climate change.
“The 2016 election is an opportunity for a national examination of conscience,” more than 70 prominent Catholic, evangelical and mainline Protestant leaders write in a public statement released today that will be sent to representatives of all the campaigns. “Candidates for the most powerful office in the world have a responsibility to clearly articulate plans for addressing two of the most urgent moral challenges of our time: economic inequality and climate change.”
The leaders cite Pope Francis’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, which highlights the links between poverty, inequality and ecological devastation.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the pope writes in his encyclical. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” Pope Francis affirmed the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is exacerbated by human activity. In blunt language, the pope also challenged what he called “obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers,” as obstacles to progress.
Signatories on the statement include Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; Dan Misleh, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant; several Catholic university presidents; Rev. William Kelley, S.J., Secretary for Social and International Ministries at the Jesuit Conference; Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Jim Winkler, General Secretary and President of the National Council of Churches; Rev. Dr. J Herbert Nelson II, Director of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness; Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners; Rev. Richard Cizik, President of New Evangelicals for the Common Good; Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary and the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Poverty, climate change and inequality are “life and death issues,” the leaders write, noting that in Cleveland, where the GOP debate is taking place, more than half of the children in the city grow up in poverty. Northeast Ohio also has some of the worst air pollution in the country, according to the American Lung Association. African-American and Latino children suffer from disproportionate levels of asthma and lead poisoning. A five-year study from the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions would prevent nearly 70,000 premature American deaths per year by the end of the century.
A record number of Catholics are campaigning for president, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Candidates from both parties are seeking Catholic and evangelical voters in key swing states like Ohio and Florida, where religious voters are critical to the election.
The priorities emphasized by Pope Francis are impacting U.S. political discourse.
“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for this from my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” Jeb Bush said in reaction to reporters’ questions about the encyclical released last month. Religion, he added, “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”
When asked by CNN about the candidate’s comments, Cardinal Peter Turkson – prefect of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a key advisory to Pope Francis on the encyclical – called them “unfortunate” and asked “what is morality about, if not our conduct, our decisions, our conscience, and the choices we make?”
Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has described economic inequality “a powder keg that is as dangerous as the environmental crisis the world is facing today.” He recently joined President Obama’s EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to make a moral case for action on climate change.
The complete statement and full list of signatories can be found here.
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Several polls were released this week examining American public attitudes toward the Pope in advance of his visit to the US in September. The polls showed that the Pope continues to enjoy remarkably strong approval ratings with American voters of all stripes, who agree with his message of equality and inclusion and his call to do more to address climate change.
A Lake Research Partners poll of religious or faith-affiliated likely 2016 voters showed that the Pope is more popular than Oprah, and that his messages of togetherness, community, inclusion, and equality have broad reach and acceptance with these voters.
Quinnipiac University’s survey of registered voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia found that voters agreed by a more than 2-1 margin with the Pope’s call for the world to do more to address climate change.
That’s on the heels of a Gallup survey of US adults (not just voters) that found some polarization in attitudes and a drop in favorability among political conservatives.
Faith in Public Life’s Catholic program director, John Gehring, is the author of the upcoming book The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church. John looked at all three polls, and said:
“Pope Francis brings a powerful message that is both inspiring and challenging. He is making new again what is ancient wisdom about the common good at a time when our politics and culture are too often shaped by individualism on both the right and left. The pope is connecting with people because he taps into a deeper hunger for community that goes beyond self-interest. This has implications for the values that must frame our political and policy debates. Voters are paying attention to the pope’s insistence that addressing climate change, honoring the dignity of work and building an economy of inclusion are at root moral issues.”
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