Religious leaders from across America today sent a letter encouraging each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ensure that the bipartisan Voting Rights Act moves quickly through the Senate and is passed without amendment.
Last week, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelming (390-33) to pass The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 without amendment â€“ defeating all four of the amendments that would have greatly weakened the Actâ€™s protections. Now the Senate must work quickly to pass the Act.
Signatories on the letter include local clergy from states that are protected by key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, California and Michigan.
The faith community has been actively supporting Voting Rights Act renewal for months by lobbying Congress directly and waging constituency advocacy campaigns. Today, religious leaders from across the faith spectrum express support with a unified voice for reauthorization of this critical legislation — without amendment and without delay.
The text of the letter sent to each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee follows:
Nearly 100 American Religious Leaders to U.S. Senate: The Right to Vote Is a Moral Issue
Support Voting Rights Act Reauthorization Act (S. 2703), Oppose All Amendments
July 19, 2006
We write to you as leaders of America’s religious community and citizens of this great democracy. Our faith traditions teach us that every person is created in God’s image and that we are all part of God’s family. Therefore we pray and strive for a nation that seeks justice and the common good for all of its citizens.
We write to vigorously support S. 2703, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 (VRARA). Because S. 2703 is critical to ensuring the continued protection of the right to vote for all Americans, we urge you to ensure that S. 2703 moves quickly through the Senate and is passed without amendment.
Although our country has come a long way since the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was signed into law in 1965, the struggle for equality is not over. Throughout the 109th Congress, during oversight and legislative hearings, the House Judiciary Subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee have found significant evidence that barriers to equal minority voter participation remain.
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is considered by many to be our nationâ€™s most effective civil rights law. Congress enacted the VRA in direct response to evidence of significant and pervasive discrimination taking place across the country, including the use of literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats, and violence. By outlawing the tests and devices that prevented minorities from voting, the VRA put teeth into the 15th Amendmentâ€™s guarantee that no citizen can be denied the right to vote because of the color of his or her skin.
The VRA was initially passed in 1965 and has been renewed four times by bipartisan majorities in the U.S. House, and signed into law by both Republican and Democratic presidents. In the 41 years since its initial passage, the VRA has enfranchised millions of racial, ethnic, and language minority citizens by eliminating discriminatory practices and removing other barriers to their political participation. In doing so, the VRA has empowered minority voters and has helped to desegregate legislative bodies at all levels of government.
The House has now passed its version of the bicameral VRARA (H.R. 9), and if the bill is to be signed into law this year, the Senate must now act. By moving quickly to pass S. 2703 without amendment, the Senate can ensure that the Voting Rights Act continues to work effectively to combat discrimination and that the gains that have been achieved for minority voters are not rolled back. We urge you to support this critical civil rights legislation.
Just as faith leaders joined together decades ago to speak out in support of civil rights, so now we are united in calling upon our government to continue to support the struggle for freedom and dignity for all Americans.
add a comment »
July 14, 2006 (Columbus, Ohio) â€“ We Believe released the following statement today denouncing political campaign tactics using religion as a weapon of attack:
â€œWe believe that religion at its best is a binding force. We believe people of faith are meant to build bridges, not construct barriers. Rather than demonize those with differences, we believe God calls us to unite and heal. Religion should never be used as a political weapon. We denounce all tactics by any party or candidate that uses faith to divide the people of this state.â€?
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 Godâ€™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.
From: Chairman Bob Bennett [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 12:08 AM
Subject: Forgot to mention
Ted Strickland has no shame.
The ”minister” who admits he doesn’t even attend church is out with a new Christian radio ad, talking up how much those ”biblical principles which have guided and instructed me in the past will continue to sustain me as I serve as Ohio’s next governor.”
The fact is Congressman Strickland has a longstanding record of opposition to religious expression. We can’t let him get away with this hypocrisy.
Contribute today to the Ohio GOP ”Democrat Reality Check.”
So where does Strickland really stand on religious issues? This is what you probably won’t hear on Christian radio anytime soon:
AGAINST a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage.
AGAINST a measure that permitted the public display of the Ten Commandments on government property. (Vote 221 6/17/99)
AGAINST a constitutional amendment to guarantee every citizen’s right to pray and express their religious beliefs on public property, including schools. (Vote 201 6/4/98)
AGAINST allowing faith-based organizations to compete for federal housing grants. (Vote 109 4/6/00)
AGAINST allowing government-funded religious organizations to consider religion as a factor in hiring. (Vote 175 5/8/03)
AGAINST an amendment prohibiting the extension of government benefits to unmarried domestic partners. (Vote 352 9/25/01)
AGAINST amendments to require more funding for abstinence education programs. (Vote 157 5/1/03, Vote 379 10/11/01)
AGAINST a law creating criminal penalties for harming an unborn baby during the commission of a crime (now known as Lacy’s Law). (Vote 465 9/30/99, Vote 89 4/26/01, Vote 31 2/26/04)
FOR taxpayer-funded abortions and the taxpayer-funded development of an abortion pill. (Vote 136, 5/10/06-Vote 216, 5/25/05-Vote 362, 7/15/03-Vote 115, 5/16/01-Vote 292, 7/16/98-Vote 373, 7/10/2000-Vote 173, 6/8/1999-Vote 260, 6/24/1998)
FOR continued funding of the following National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants: “Mood Arousal and Sexual Risk Taking,” “Study on Sexual Habits of Older Men,” “Study on San Francisco’s Asian Prostitutes/Masseuses,” and “Study on American Indian Transgender Research.” (Vote 352, 7/10/03)
FOR gay civil unions
Let’s keep Ted Strickland accountable and expose his deceptive rhetoric and record.
Please contribute today to the Ohio GOP “Democrat Reality Check.”
Ohio Republican Party
211 S. Fifth Street | Columbus, OH 43215 | 614.228.2481
add a comment »
Washington, D.C. â€“ The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), joined by other religious organizations, sent letters today to all 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing grave concern about the nomination of William J. Haynes II to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The faith-based coalition also sent a similar individual letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last Friday. A JAG officer himself, Sen. Graham has been outspoken against the administration’s efforts to circumvent anti-torture laws and has expressed concern about Haynes regarding the advice he provided the Bush administration on the treatment of detainees as General Counsel at the Defense Department.
The Judiciary committee plans to hold a hearing on Haynesâ€™ nomination tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11. Since Sen. Graham is one of 10 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and 10 favorable votes are required to report a nominee to the floor of the Senate, Sen. Grahamâ€™s opposition to Haynesâ€™ nomination could prevent a floor vote on his nomination.
The letter from NRCAT outlines Mr. Haynesâ€™ key role as an architect of U.S. policies allowing interrogation techniques that amount under law to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees. The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Haynes in November 2003 and voted him to the floor in March 2004, but Congress adjourned without taking action. President Bush re-nominated him in February 2005.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) empowers members of Americaâ€™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. NRCAT bridges theological and political divides by uniting mainstream Protestants and Evangelical Christians; Muslims with Reform and Conservative Jews; Orthodox and Roman Catholics; Sikhs and members of peace churches behind a single message: Any U.S. policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
Full membership and more information about NRCAT is available on the NRCAT website at www.nrcat.org.
add a comment »
Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback to Attend Anti-Poverty Conference
WHAT: Nearly 600 clergy and lay leaders will gather in Washington, DC on June 26-28 to unveil the Covenant for a New America, a faith-based policy strategy for overcoming poverty. (Read the Covenant document here: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.c4na&item=C4NA_main)
WHO: This three-day mobilization will convene Democrats and Republicans alike. Low-income families are too often stuck between liberal and conservative arguments; our country needs a new alliance that makes overcoming poverty a nonpartisan cause. Confirmed speakers include: Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback.
Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and author of the bestseller God’s Politics, will be joined by hundreds of grassroots and faith-based anti-poverty church leaders, lay leaders, social service providers, and activists young and old.
WHEN: Monday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 28. Media Highlights include:
Opening Day: (Monday, June 26) Address by Rev. Tony Campolo (1 PM) and “The Role of the Church in Overcoming Povertyï¿½? — a panel moderated by Jim Wallis, with John Carr (U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference) and other religious leaders (4 PM).
Jim Wallis Holds a Conversation with Gov. Howard Dean on the “Democratic Party and the Faith Voter.ï¿½? (Tuesday, June 27, 8:30 – 9:30 AM) Gov. Dean and Mark Melman were invited to discuss: “How do Democrats and Republicans Plan to Overcome Poverty.ï¿½? Gov. Dean accepted the invitation; Mark Melman of the Republican Party declined.
March and Covenant Launch: (Tuesday, June 27, 11 AM – 1 PM) Nearly 700 people of faith will march from the National City Christian Church to the U.S. Capitol (Upper Senate Park) for a rally to launch the Covenant. Rev. Jim Wallis will be joined by Sen. Sam Brownback and a prominent Congressional Democrat. Religious leaders from over 30 diverse institutions have endorsed the Covenant for a New America.
A Dialogue with Congress: (Tuesday, June 27, 5:00 -7:00PM) Sens. Clinton, Lincoln, Brownback and Santorum will address conference attendees. (HART Senate Office Building, Room 902).
Sen. Obama’s Keynote Address on Faith and Politics: (Wednesday, June 28, 9 AM) Sen. Obama will deliver his first-ever major address on the intersection of politics and his faith at the Amos and Joseph Award Ceremony. This award is given to honor public leaders who are using their position of influence to speak out against poverty.
WHERE: National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle, NW at 14th and Massachusetts,
Washington, D.C. (Conference Headquarters)
MEDIA NOTE: Members of the media should pre-arrange for press credentials for the entire conference. Please send a request to email@example.com or call the media office at 202/745-4625. The entire schedule of the conference can be found here: http://www.calltorenewal.com/events/pentecost06/schedule.html.
The Covenant document can be found here: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.c4na&item=C4NA_main. A list of institutions, leaders and denominations endorsing the Covenant is available here: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.C4NA&item=C4NA_endorsers.
Sojourners is a Christian ministry whose mission is to proclaim and practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and social justice. Visit www.sojo.net. Call to Renewal is a national network of churches, faith-based organizations, and individuals working to overcome poverty in America. Visit
add a comment »
Southern African-American Ministers Available through Faith in Public Life Media Bureau
On the heels of the decision by House Republican leaders to postpone todayâ€™s vote to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Southern African-American ministers and civil rights leaders from Faith in Public Lifeâ€™s Voicing Faith Media Bureau (www.faithinpubliclife.org/press/spokespeople.html) are available for comment from a faith perspective.
A pivotal law in the struggle for civil rights in America, the Voting Rights Act ended poll taxes and literacy tests as requirements to vote, enfranchising millions of black voters. While renewal of the law enjoys support from both sides of the aisle, some lawmakers are proposing unpopular amendments to the original law, including by Rep. Lynn Westmorelandâ€™s (R-GA) amendment that would eliminate an existing provision requiring nine states â€“ those with historically the most egregious voting rights violationsâ€“ to seek approval through the Justice Department or a federal judge before changing existing voting laws. This and other amendments are largely expected to fail and unnecessarily delay a vote on extending this critically important law.
Ministers and civil rights leaders from Georgia, South Carolina and Texas are available to discuss why the Voting Rights has been a keystone in expanding the inclusiveness of American democracy, and how a delay in its reauthorization is morally unacceptable. Those leaders include (find others here, too (www.faithinpubliclife.org/press/spokespeople.html):
Rev. Joseph A. Darby
Senior Pastor, Morris Brown AME Church – Charleston, SC
A dynamic leader in the faith and civil rights communities in the South, Rev. Darby’s congregation is the largest in the Seventh Episcopal District of the AME Church. Winner of numerous civic and professional awards, Darby is also the former first vice president of the S.C. Conference of Branches of the NAACP.
Rev. Timothy McDonald
Pastor, First Iconium Baptist Church – Atlanta, GA
Rev. McDonald is Founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, and current President of the African American Ministers In Action. Rev. McDonald previously served as the full-time Assistant Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta and three times as President of Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta.
add a comment »