Religious Groups Hold White House Counter-Event: Decry Torture Bill Signing

October 16, 2006, 1:31 pm | Posted by

RELIGIOUS GROUPS MOURN AS PRESIDENT CELEBRATES

People’s Signing Statement Rejects Military Commissions Act of 2006

What: As President Bush hosts a signing ceremony to celebrate the speedy enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, legislation that deeply shames America, the Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture will hold a vigil to mourn the attack this legislation wages on basic American and religious values. Religious leaders stand together against the legalization of torture and severe abuse, provision for unlimited detentions, denial of habeas corpus, creation of kangaroo courts, and retroactive pardons of individuals for gross violations of U.S. law.

· A coffin will call attention to the death of some of our most cherished values.

· A choir will sing hymns, and religious leaders of different faiths will speak.

· The People’s Signing Statement will be presented to the White House during which some participants are prepared to commit acts of civil disobedience in order to deliver the People’s Signing Statement to the President.

When: Tuesday, October 17th, 9:00 a.m.

Where: In front of the White House on the Lafayette Park side.

Who: The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture (www.wrrcat.org), in coordination with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Shalom Center, the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, PeaceAction Montgomery, Rabbis for Human Rights, and many others.

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New Book By FPL Executive Director Jennifer Butler!

October 10, 2006, 10:19 am | Posted by

Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized: An Insider’s Account of the Global Reach of the Christian Right

Rev. Jennifer S. Butler, former human rights advocate at the United Nations, launches her new book today, Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized. This compelling narrative reveals how today’s most powerful Christian Right organizations are building international, interfaith coalitions and shaping policy in every corner of the world. Rev. Butler provides the first insider’s account of the strategies and effectiveness of Christian Right lobbying the United Nations, and their efforts to build a global conservative family values movement.

In her book, Born Again, The Christian Rights Globalized, Rev. Butler provides a unique perspective on the Christian Right’s massive political power and what impact it may have on shaping future global policies. Drawing on interviews with Christian Right leaders, she reveals how today’s most powerful Christian Right organizations are poised to challenge progressive social policy on a worldwide scale.

“Butler pulls aside the veils religiosity to show the mean-spirited and elitist ideologies, and yet she never stoops to caricature theology nor bash sincere religious belief.” says Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America.

During her nine years as a Presbyterian Church (USA) Representative at the United Nations, Rev. Butler witnessed Christian Right groups working with Catholic, Mormon and Muslim allies to advance a conservative agenda. The United States recently has joined this alliance, and President George W. Bush has given them significant voice in shaping U.S. positions on issues including women’s rights, reproductive health, human cloning, children’s rights and AIDS.

“It is a global movement,” says Butler. “It’s a phenomenon that promises to challenge progressive activism on a worldwide scale.”

Rev. Butler’s research for this book inspired her to become Executive Director of Faith in Public Life, where she urges moderates and progressives to avoid losing a pending global culture war by more effectively engaging religious communities.

“I joined Faith in Public Life to strengthen the effectiveness, collaboration, and reach of faith movements that share a call to pursue justice and the common good,” says Butler. “Our work is critical to ensuring that those using religion as a tool of division and exclusion do not dominate public discourse.”

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Faith Leaders Available to Respond to Foley Scandal

October 3, 2006, 5:47 pm | Posted by

The abuse and cover-up scandal of Rep. Foley has shown once again that leaders of the Religious Right are out of step with the values of mainstream Americans. While Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins rationalizes the cover-up of Rep. Foley’s predatory behavior by saying members of Congress and their staffs were simply “fearful of acting because they would be seen as homophobic or gay bashing,” faith leaders around the country are speaking the truth that Perkins’ partisan loyalties prevent him from saying. Protecting vulnerable children can never be subordinated to the quest for political power. A group of diverse faith leaders made this points strongly in a letter to House leaders. African American Ministers in Action and the African American Ministers Leadership Council issues a joint statement pointing out that the scandal reveals the hypocrisy of politicians and religious leaders who claim to have a monopoly on ‘values.’

Click here for audio responses from faith leaders available for comment. And please call Jessica Watson with Faith in Public Life at 202.544.7821 or 781-367-7746 to arrange interviews.

Rev. Jennifer Butler is the Executive Director of Faith in Public Life

“The failure of Congressional leadership to take swift action in response to Mark Foley’s behavior exemplifies placing personal power and greed above moral behavior.”

Rev. Joseph Darby is Senior Pastor at Morris Brown AME Church, Charleston, SC

“The Foley incident and the resultant fallout should be a cautionary tale for those who take a narrow view of faith and morality, with exclusionary moral absolutes which do not allow for what those of the Christian tradition call ‘grace.’ Those on the so-called “religious right” have been vocal, judgmental and mean spirited on issues of gender and have drawn a strict “us versus them” line in the sand.”

Rev. Debra Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, & Healing

“How ironic that Rep. Foley was chair of the Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and that the bill he championed in July concentrated on registering treated sex offenders rather than the prevention methods we know keep children safe from abuse.”

Sr. Simone Campbell is National Coordinator of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby

“What the Foley cover-up brings to mind is that the use of power to protect self-interest is inevitably corrupting….Congress must face its sins to come to redemption as an institution. ”

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Religious Leaders Warn Congress: Don’t Let President Mislead with Iran as he did with Iraq

September 25, 2006, 4:05 pm | Posted by

Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Leaders Agree: Direct Talks are Needed

*** Telephone News Conference Call Tuesday, September 26 at 10:00 a.m.***

Over one hundred religious leaders will call on Congress this week to assert its oversight function to prevent a preemptive attack on Iran. Religious leaders are encouraging Congress to pursue unconditional negotiations with Iran.

Evangelical Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, including Dr. Brian McLaren, Dr. Susannah Heschel, and Reverend Jim Wallis will hold a telephone news briefing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the call to action.

The leaders, alarmed at parallels between the White House’s public relations campaign and trumped-up intelligence that led to war with Iraq and the administration’s current maneuvering on Iran, will urge Congress to assert its oversight function.

Specifically, the religious leaders cite four causes for concern:

1) As reported by the Los Angeles Times and NPR, the administration is repeating the same tactic to justify a military strike against Iran as it used against Iraq. The creation in March of the Iranian Directorate in the Defense Department is staffed with the same objective and the same stove-piping of intelligence as the Office of Special Plans. Douglas Feith ran the Office of Special Plans while Abraham Shulsky, a senior Iranian policy advisor to Vice President Cheney, directs the new Iranian Directorate.

2) The administration is using Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist organization on the State Department’s List of terror groups, to destabilize the southern region of Iran. Some intelligence officials believe that the administration is outsourcing to the MEK in an effort to pave the way for United States military action.

3) Time magazine reported September 17th, the U.S. Navy has communicated “Prepare to Deploy” orders and are revising long-standing plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf.

4) Currently, the EU states have given diplomacy a boost and are reaching an agreement with the Iranians on the details of a suspension that would enable full negotiations to take place. Secretary Rice even agreed to give the Europeans a bit more time to reach a deal. For the White House to go behind the back of the Security Council and its EU allies – in the midst of the talks with Iran – and take significant steps towards military action, makes the conduct of the Bush Administration on Iran even worse than it was on Iraq.

WHEN: Tuesday 10:00 a.m. EST

HOW: Dial 1 (800) 795.1259, Conference ID: “Talk to Iran”

WHO: Jim Wallis is the leading figure at the crossroads of religion and politics in America today. He is a public theologian, nationally renowned preacher, faith-based activist, author of seven books, including the best-selling God’s Politics, and the founder of Sojourners, a nationwide network of progressive Christians working for justice and peace.

Brian McLaren: Listed as one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals, Brian McLaren is the founder and pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, an innovative multi-denominational church in Spencerville, Maryland. He holds a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Carey Theological Seminary. McLaren is a frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs, and has appeared on many broadcasts including Larry King Live, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and Nightline.

Dr. Susannah Heschel, daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, holds the Eli Black Chair in Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College. Dr. Heschel has written and lectured frequently on Jewish issues, served for several years as the co-chair of Tikkun, with Michael Lerner and Cornel West, and sits on the advisory board of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom.

To attend the telephone press conference please dial:

1(800) 795.1259, Conference ID “Talk to Iran”

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Religious Commentators Available to Debunk the ‘Values Voters’ Myth

September 20, 2006, 4:18 pm | Posted by

This weekend, as leaders of the Religious Right rally with Republican politicians in Washington, DC at the “Values Voter Summit 2006,� Faith in Public Life and Sojourners offer religious leaders from the Voicing Faith Media Bureau and the Red Letter Christians to debunk the divisive myth that ‘values voters’ share monolithic views about moral priorities.

Clearly, there is a ‘Values Gap’ between many on the Religious Right and the rest of faithful America. In fact, data points to faithful American voters prioritizing poverty, the war on terrorism, global warming, genocide, civil rights, and access to health care as the great moral issues of our time. Rather than focusing on only the wedge issues that divide us, religious leaders are speaking out for the full spectrum of values that represent the faithful majority in our nation.

Media may call to arrange interviews with religious leaders from the Voicing Faith Media Bureau and the Red Letter Christians, including:

• Dr. Tony Campolo. Founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, Dr. Campolo is a much-sought after speaker, the author of 30 books, and a media commentator on religious, social and political matters.

• Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes. Senior minister of The Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. Forbes is a pastor, educator, administrator, community activist and interfaith leader, recognized by Newsweek magazine as one of the 12 “most effective preachers� in the English-speaking world.

• Rabbi David Saperstein. The Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for the past 30 years, Saperstein represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration.

• Amy Sullivan. An editor of The Washington Monthly, Sullivan has emerged as one of the leading experts on politics and religion.

• Jim Wallis. President of Sojourners and Call to Renewal and author of God’s Politics: Why the Rights Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Wallis is a speaker, author, activist and international Christian evangelical commentator on ethics and public life.

The perspectives from members of the Voicing Faith Media Bureau and the Red Letter Christians provide a stark contrast to the ‘values’ professed by several “Values Voter Summit� speakers.

Bill Bennett…

On crime prevention: “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.â€? (Bill Bennett’s Morning on America, 09/28/05)

Ann Coulter…

On protecting the environment: “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’â€? (Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01)

On government surveillance: “I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo.� (Universal Press Syndicate, 12/21/05)

On Illegal Immigrants: “I’d build a wall. In fact, I’d hire illegal immigrants to build the wall. And throw out the illegals who are here. [...] It’s cheap labor.” (O’Reilly Factor, 04/14/06)

James Dobson…

On the Holocaust: “In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind.� (Focus on the Family radio, 08/03/05)

Likening Supreme Court justices to the Ku Klux Klan: “I heard a minister the other day talking about the great injustice and evil of the men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan, that roamed the country in the South, and they did great wrong to civil rights and to morality. And now we have black-robed men, and that’s what you’re talking about.â€? (Focus on the Family radio, 04/11/05)

Jerry Falwell…

On women: “I listen to feminists and all these radical gals … These women just need a man in the house. That’s all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it, and they’re mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They’re sexist. They hate men; that’s their problem.â€? (Working For Change, 11/15/04)

On the environment: “The media, Hollywood and liberal academia are also polluting minds with the message that we must curtail our use of energy and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar panels and windmills to stave off so-called global warming and its alleged disastrous consequences . . . Global warming, in my opinion, is a myth designed by America’s enemies with the evil intent to bankrupt this nation.� (Sermon, 03/05/06)

Newt Gingrich…

On comparing those who oppose the war in Iraq to those who enabled Hitler: “It’s not an insulting comment.� (Hannity & Colmes, 09/01/06)

Sean Hannity…

On the 9/11 widows: “[T]he point here is, is that they [the 9-11 widows] have taken a strong, a harsh line politically against the president, that they name-call on their side, and that now it’s time to challenge them, based on what these issues are, because they’ve gotten a pass because of their positions.” (Hannity & Colmes, 06/07/06)

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