Religious Leaders Urge Congress to Extend Military Commissions Regulations Deadline Pending Public Comment

January 11, 2007, 10:53 am | Posted by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 11, 2006

(Washington, DC) – The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) and the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) have sent a letter to every member of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging them to insist that the Pentagon allow for a public notice and comment period before adopting regulations implementing the Military Commisions Act. The Act, which legitimizes the use of brutal and inhumane treatment, calls for the Pentagon to adopt regulations implementing the Act by January 15; but that deadline, can be extended. The NRCAT/CVT letter urged Congress to approve such an extension pending public comment.

“Pentagon officials are coming perilously close to repeating errors that led to the Supreme Court’s rebuke of the administration in the Hamdan case,” said Jeanne Herrick-Stare, Chair of NRCAT. “In Hamdan, the Court struck down the administration’s design for military commissions – a design constructed without public comment or congressional hearings and debate. Once again, the Pentagon, going it alone, appears poised to adopt a set of regulations that it has not published for a public comment period, nor opened to public congressional hearings.”

Human rights organizations and military justice specialists have urged Pentagon officials, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, to delay adoption of the regulations until after the regulations have been exposed to the evaluation of experts outside the narrow circle of the administration’s military commission design team. No announcement of Pentagon delay in issuing the regulations has been forthcoming.

“The world is watching how the United States handles these military commissions and the subsequent trials of terrorist detainees. Nothing will be lost by a short delay, but we all have a lot to lose if hastily and secretly drafted regulations fail to implement American values and legal traditions,” Herrick-Stare added.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) empowers members of America’s faith community to join one another in religious witness to advocate for an end to U.S. policies permitting torture and inhumane treatment– without exception. With more than 90 religious member organizations, NRCAT’s “Torture Is a Moral Issue” statement has been endorsed by such high profile leaders and groups as Rick Warren, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Jimmy Carter and Eli Weisel. Full membership and more information about NRCAT is available on the NRCAT website at www.nrcat.org.

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) is an independent nonprofit based whose mission is to heal the wounds of torture on individuals, their families and their communities and to stop torture worldwide. Established in 1985, CVT was the first comprehensive torture treatment center in the U.S., the third in the world. CVT is headquartered in Minneapolis with offices in St. Paul, MN, Washington D.C., Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. More information about CVT is available at http://www.cvt.org/main.php.

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Faith in Public Life is a nonprofit, nonpartisan communications and organizing resource center for faith leaders and groups sharing a call to pursue justice and the common good.

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National Religious Campaign Against Torture Welcomes Withdrawal of Haynes Nomination

January 10, 2007, 4:01 pm | Posted by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2007

Washington, D.C. – In response to the announced withdrawal of the judicial nomination of William J. Haynes, Jeanne Herrick-Stare, Chair of the Coordinating Committee for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, released the following Statement:

“The National Religious Campaign Against Torture welcomes the withdrawal of William J. Haynes’ judicial nomination. As General Counsel for the Department of Defense, Mr. Haynes was the primary architect of the Department’s policies with regard to adoption of a narrow definition of torture; failure to apply Geneva Convention protections to detainees captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world; authorization of private and therefore unaccountable interrogation sessions. These erosions of safeguards intended to prevent the abuse of detainees paved the way for the incidents of abuse, torture, and violations of human rights by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere.

“Our communities of faith share a profound commitment to affirm the worth and dignity of all people. Every person should have the protection of law. We reject torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and we endorse human rights principles because these flow directly from our religious experience of every person as a child of God. Further, as representatives of our communities of faith we believe that expediency and short term ‘necessity’ are no excuse for rejecting the rule of law or the moral imperative of justice. Let us abolish torture now — without exception.”

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (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 play a role in U.S. policy. With more than 80 religious member organizations, NRCAT’s “Torture Is a Moral Issue” statement has been endorsed by such high profile leaders and groups as Rick Warren, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Jimmy Carter and Eli Weisel. Full membership and more information about NRCAT is available on the NRCAT website at www.nrcat.org.

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Faith Community to Hold Congress Accountable

January 9, 2007, 6:01 pm | Posted by

*** Tele-Press Conference Tuesday***

Faith leaders will hold a press teleconference at 11 AM this Tuesday to hold Congress accountable to the faith agenda.

Successful candidates across the country spoke on the campaign trail more than ever about their faith and how it influenced their positions on Iraq, poverty, the minimum wage, and other issues. Religious groups working to expand the values debate also were more organized and active than in any previous election.

As the headlines boasted – and post-election polls demonstrated – on Election Day, faith voters rejected a go-it-alone strategy in Iraq and politicians that put power ahead of policies that promote the common good.

Join faith leaders on Tuesday as they discuss how Congressional leaders now have an opportunity to move American forward on issues that are not a matter a right a left, but a matter of right and wrong.

WHAT:

Teleconference with prominent faith leaders, each representing a national campaign aimed at a critical legislative issue.

WHO:

Jeff Carr, COO, Sojourners and ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. Carr will discuss Sojourner’s grassroots lobbying campaign around the Covenant for a New America, a policy agenda designed to overcome domestic and global poverty.

Rev. Sam Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which serves approximately 15 Million Evangelical/Born Again Christians. Rodriguez will discuss how Hispanic Evangelicals and working with other faith leaders to press the 110th Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Rev. Dr. Paul de Vries, National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) board member and President of New York Divinity School, will discuss the Evangelical Climate Inititive and how the NAE is taking action on the creation care agenda.

Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, National Coordinator of Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, which played a major role in state minimum wage increases in 2006. Sherry will discuss Let Justice Roll’s efforts to pressure Congress to pass a clean wage increase bill, which included sending a letter signed by more than 1,000 faith leaders to Congress and mobilizing thousands of people of faith to call Congress in support of the issue this week.

Rev. Rick Ufford Chase, Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. Chase will discuss efforts to pressure Congress to end the US occupation of Iraq and improve support for our troops when they come home. Chase will discuss a massive upcoming mobilization, including a service at the National Cathedral and an all-night prayer vigil at the White House.

Jeanne Herrick-Stare, Chair of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Herrick-Stare will discuss NRCAT’s request for hearings on the military commissions legislation passed last year, which permitted torture and inhumane treatment of detainees. NRCAT works for passage of legislation that will prohibit all policies that allow for or encourage torture – without exception.

WHEN:

Tuesday, January 9, 2006 at 11 AM Eastern

WHERE:

Call-in number: 1-800-658-0035

Password: Faith Agenda

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Faith Leaders Promote Petition Calling on Rep. Goode to Affirm Religious Toleration

January 5, 2007, 4:01 pm | Posted by

For Immediate Release

January 5, 2007

In the wake of comments by Rep. Virgil Goode regarding the swearing in of now Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, a diverse coalition of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders are calling on people of every faith to stand together with our Muslim neighbors in defense of religious liberty, mutual respect and tolerance.

Religious leaders are inviting persons of every faith to sign a petition urging Rep. Goode to make public his affirmation of the importance of preserving religious toleration by attending a mosque in his district with a delegation of interfaith leaders. By this action, Congressman Goode can show that he supports the rights of all Americans to worship as they see fit and that it is possible for all of us to live in peace with people whose views are very different from our own.

Signatories of the petition already include George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary; David A. Robinson, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA; Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches; Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President, Union Theological Seminary; and Rev. Timothy F. Simpson, Christian Alliance for Progress.

For more information, please contact:

Rev. Timothy F. Simpson, President, Christian Alliance for Progress at 888-381-0108 or 904-737-3906 cell

George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary, at 609-252-2114 or 609-683-7830

Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches, 917-821-0852 or 201-947-9378 or 212-870-2025

The text of the petition, which can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/virgilgoode, is as follows:

A Call for Inter-Faith Reconciliation

As religious people from diverse traditions, we call upon Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode to re-examine his opposition to newly-elected Representative Keith Ellison, a Muslim, taking his unofficial oath of office using the Quran, and to apologize for his statement that, without punitive immigration reform, “there will be many more Muslims elected to office demanding the use of the Quran.”

Mr. Goode insinuates that having more Muslims in the United States would be a danger to our country. As people of faith, we reject such ill-considered words.

An attack against one religion is an attack against them all. Next week, it could be Jews. Next month, it could be Christian fundamentalists or evangelicals. Right now, it is Muslims. It is they who feel targeted by repression and abuse, and they who live among us in a growing climate of fear.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once implored us: “No religion is an island! We are all involved with one another. Spiritual betrayal on the part of one of us affects the faith of all of us.”

We hold it to be self-evident that all Americans have the right to practice their faith, whatever it may be, and that any Americans – regardless of race, color or creed – may be elected and sworn into office holding whatever book they consider sacred.

We would point out that there are some five million Muslims in the US. Many have been here for generations. They are every bit as American as Rep. Goode. Some Americans have also converted to Islam, including Rep. Ellison. We call for a renewed unity among people of conscience and of faith.

We would further point out that just as it was appropriate for the late President Ford to be honored by a profoundly Christian memorial service, so it is equally appropriate for Rep. Ellison to be sworn into office, in a private ceremony, holding the book representing his deepest religious convictions.

Above all, we urge all Americans to stand up for religious freedom and to deplore the hurtful words of any public figure who would disparage a particular religion.

In a spirit of reconciliation and peace, we invite Rep. Goode to join with us in an inter-religious delegation to visit a mosque in his district, in order that the healing may begin.

Please visit http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/virgilgoode for a list of signatories so far.

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We Believe Denounces Efforts to Undermine Minimum Wage Amendment As Passed By the People of Ohio

December 11, 2006, 4:27 pm | Posted by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2006

On November 7, the people of Ohio recognized what was at stake for the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who struggle every day to make ends meet. They stepped into the polls, and voted to increase our state’s minimum wage. They stood up for human dignity, and embraced the common good.

Now, however, some elected officials at the State House are attempting to undermine the will of the people of Ohio. Senator Steve Stivers and Representative Bill Seitz have introduced legislation that would exclude home health care providers from the minimum wage and change existing Ohio law to make it harder or impossible for minimum wage workers who feel their rights are violated to go to court.

We Believe Ohio stands with Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage and Let Justice Roll in opposing any and all efforts to exclude some low wage workers from the new minimum wage.

In the religious community, we actively search for the common good, and in this quest there is no room for stealth efforts to undermine the people’s will to lift up their brothers and sisters who so desperately deserve a hand.

It is because we value the personal dignity of every citizen of this state, and the soul of our society, that we will continue to stand up for the minimum wage increase as it was passed by the people of Ohio on Election Day.

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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