Washington, D.C. â€“ As both Houses of Congress consider legislation this week on the treatment on military detainees, religious leaders are calling for the elimination of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as part of U.S. policy in a statement to be published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Originally published in the New York Times on June 13, 2006, the statement will run as a full page ad in Roll Call on Tuesday, September 19.
The statement, â€œTorture is a Moral Issue,â€? proclaims that torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear. Shepherded by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), the statement is signed by 27 national religious leaders, including Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Nobel laureates President Jimmy Carter and Elie Wiesel.
Other signatories include Dr. Rick Warren pastor and author of the runaway bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life; Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Dr. Frank Thomas, pastor and editor of The African-American Pulpit; and Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America.
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.
Fifty-four national, regional and local religious organizations and congregations have already joined NRCAT. NRCAT will continue the â€œTorture is a Moral Issueâ€? campaign by encouraging people of faith across the country to endorse the statement by visiting www.nrcat.org.
Jeanne E. Herrick Stare, the chair of the Coordinating Committee of NRCAT and a member of the staff of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, stated that NRCAT is publishing this ad in Roll Call because â€œCongress is now considering legislation that would no longer make it a war crime to inflict brutal, inhuman and degrading treatment on a prisoner. The legislation would allow coerced testimony to be used in trials of detainees. It would strip detainees of the right to challenge their detention before independent courts, meaning individuals could languish in prison without trial indefinitely.â€?
Ms. Herrick-Stare added, â€œIt would enable detainees to be convicted of capital crimes without seeing the evidence used against them. And, the legislation would exonerate, retroactively, any U.S. official who participated in torture since our invasion of Afghanistan.â€?
Dr. George Hunsinger, the founder of NRCAT and a professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary said, â€œNRCAT urges Congress to stand by the Geneva Conventions and the moral grounding with which our country has governed itself for well over 200 years.â€?
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(Columbus, Ohio) â€“ Gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell has failed to respond to repeated open invitations to meet with We Believe clergy â€“ despite publicly stating three weeks ago through a spokesperson that he would.
On Thursday, August 17, We Believe met with gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland. As reported in the Columbus Dispatch on Friday, August 18, We Believe had sought to meet also with candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell. That request had been turned down by Blackwell prior to the August 17 meeting. In the Dispatch article, Carlo LoParo, a spokesperson for Blackwell, said â€œBlackwell still would be interested in meeting with the group as his schedule permits, even after the group issued the press release criticizing him.â€?
We Believe contacted the Blackwell campaign again the following week. But despite LoParoâ€™s statement, our invitation â€“ delivered via fax, certified mail, and voicemail â€“ has been ignored.
We Believe is an organization representing more than 150 clergy in central Ohio who serve a diverse constituency of moderate, liberal and conservative Ohioans across a broad religious spectrum.
We Believe that the governor and the state must be responsive to all its citizens.
We Believe that it is deeply troubling that a candidate who has expressed the importance of religious life so often and so persuasively as Mr. Blackwell is not interested in hearing from and speaking to those who represent streams of faith outside his own.
We Believe continues to be ready to meet with Mr. Blackwell.
Here is the invitation that was issued to Mr. Blackwell on August 22:
The over 150 clergy of We Believe Ohio again cordially invite you to a private meeting. After you declined our open invitation to meet at any time, we read with interest in the Columbus Dispatch last week that, according to your spokesperson, Carlo LoParo, you are interested in meeting with us.
This is an open request for a meeting and we sincerely hope to work with you to find a time that works for all of us.
This meeting would have the same format as the one we held with Representative Strickland: The pastors of We Believe Ohio would share with you issues and ideas we consider important for Ohioâ€™s future. In turn, we would welcome your responses to those issues and ideas based on your vision for Ohio if elected Governor.
This meeting would not be publicized or open to the public. We are hopeful that this will be a time for you to share with and listen to the pastors of â€œWe Believe Ohioâ€? and the thousands of citizens in the congregations they represent.
The Pastors of We Believe Ohio
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(Columbus, Ohio) — We Believe Ohio applauds the Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage successful campaign to place an initiative on the November ballot to increase the state minimum wage to $6.85. The statewide signature petition garnered over 363,000 valid signatures, reflecting a groundswell of support to raise Ohio workers’ wages above the immoral federal level at which it has languished for almost a decade.
As newspapers across the state reported last week, poverty levels in Ohio have increased dramatically in the last year. These reports are a stark reminder of the economic injustice of Ohio’s miserable minimum wage. But this Fair Wage initiative is one step on the long road toward positively affecting the working poor by lifting many low-wage workers out of poverty.
Clearly, there is tremendous energy in Ohio behind establishing a minimum wage to help restore its purchasing power, not just for goods and services, but for the self-esteem and self worth it affords the worker. The true testament to honoring the social and economic achievements of Ohio workers and the contributions each has to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our state, will be the passage of the initiative on November 7.
We Believe, and other members of the faith community, are lifting up our voices to seek justice for all of God’s precious children, especially those who have to struggle daily to meet their basic needs in this, the wealthiest nation on Earth. From the outset, We Believe has committed to supporting this important ballot initiative. We Believe contributed to the signature gathering campaign and participated in a number of events promoting the Fair Wage campaign. We Believe will continue to spur public engagement and voter outreach around the initiative, including holding a Get-Out-The-Vote rally in early October and a voter turnout rally on October 22.
We believe our faith compels us to work for justice, and the fact that the current minimum wage worker makes about $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three is a grave injustice.
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Christian Group Completes 2,500-Mile Walk across USA with Surprising Findings
(Mt. Airy, MDâ€¦Just 43 miles from Washington, DC) â€“ Out of the recent increased media attention on the reemergence of the so-called “Religious Left,” one question has repeatedly arisen: is there an actual movement of real people behind the hype? CrossWalk America embarked on a 2,500 mile walk across the country to find out if their fellow Christians are in fact seeking a compassionate, inclusive alternative to the voices that have long-dominated their faith in the public square.
The answer they found was a resounding: “YES!” But perhaps much to the mediaâ€™s dismay, they also found that this movement transcends political labels of “Left,” “Right,” “liberal,” “conservative” and “moderate” â€“ enabling it to broadly attract people from across the spectrums of faith and ideology.
After meeting with thousands of people in twelve states over the past four-and-a-half months, CrossWalk America completes their journey this weekend in Washington, DC.
WHAT: CrossWalk America Final Walk Event
WHERE: Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th St. NW, Washington, DC
WHEN: Sunday, September 3, 2006 at 4 pm
**Hundreds to join the CrossWalk team for a 1-mile walk to Foundry, starting at Meridian Park at 2 pm.
“What do you call a Christian who is against abortion but works tirelessly on behalf of the poor? What about a Christian who prays in tongues and calls upon Jesus Christ as her only Lord and Savior, yet also believes God creates other paths for humanity besides Christianity? Are these people conservative, liberal, or moderate?” CrossWalk co-president and core walker Rev. Eric Elnes put forth.
“Time and again weâ€™ve heard the same comments from twenty-something Emergent-Church evangelicals and older mainline denomination congregants alike: ‘Somethingâ€™s in the air,’ or ‘I can feel it,” â€œYouâ€™re walking for me,â€? CrossWalk co-president and core walker Rebecca Glenn relayed. “Thereâ€™s a growing movement out there.”
CROSSWALK AMERICAâ€™S IMPACT BY THE NUMBERS
â€¢ Number of people who participated: 11,195
â€¢ Number of churches that hosted CWA: 150
â€¢ Number of families that hosted CWA: more than 200
â€¢ Number of unique visitors spending 3+ minutes on website or blog: 120,355
â€¢ Number of walker blog posts from the road: nearly 200
â€¢ Number of steps walked in support of CWA (â€œWalk wherever you areâ€?): 35,789,451
â€¢ Newspaper, TV and/or radio coverage: in all 12 states
â€¢ John Shelby Spong, theologian and author of 18 books including Why Christianity Must Change or Die
â€¢ Bishop Carlton Pearson, a noted voice for tolerance and change in the Pentacostal Church and nationally-renowned speaker and author recently featured on Dateline NBC
â€¢ Rev. Eric Elnes and Rebecca Glenn, co-presidents of CrossWalk America and core walkers
â€¢ Singer/songwriter Michelle Swan, a DC-area favorite, will provide live music
Core walkers began in Phoenix, Arizona on Easter Sunday, 2006 and walked through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, culminating in Washington, DC. Over the four-and-a-half month period, the group walked an average of 26 miles a day, five days a week. CrossWalk America is committed to offering a different voice for Christianity in America, a compassionate, inclusive witness of the Three Great Loves of God, neighbor and self, which Jesus proclaimed as the cornerstone of Christian faith.
For more information about CrossWalk America, to see the entire route walked, and to read posts from the road on their blog, log onto www.crosswalkamerica.org.
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(Columbus, Ohio) â€“ We Believe was troubled to learn that a group is being formed known as â€œClergy for Blackwellâ€? â€“ troubled but not surprised. Spokesclergy for the group noted repeatedly that they are speaking â€œas persons, as individuals,â€? that being a minister â€œdoesnâ€™t take away my right as a private citizen.â€? One might well ask â€“ if one is asserting oneâ€™s individual rights, why wave the clergy flag?
We Believe that individuals do have a right to support political candidates of their choice. Yet We Believe that clergy have a higher obligation to work for the values transmitted for centuries through diverse religious traditions. One might well ask, â€œWhat Would Jesus Do? What Would Moses Do? What Would Muhammad Do?â€? Would they support Kenneth Blackwell? Would they endorse candidates at all? Or would they demand of all candidates that they address the issues that are critical to Godâ€™s people? Issues like poverty, jobs, access to health care, living wage, adequate housing.
That is the conversation that We Believe has been promoting in our community. We Believe has sought to meet with the gubernatorial candidates for a serious discussion of these life-saving issues. As announced last week, We Believe met with candidate Ted Strickland and had a frank and deep exchange regarding these issues. We Believe has also repeatedly asked to meet with candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell. We were initially rebuffed â€“ told that the candidate had no time to meet with us â€“ ever. When this was made public, Blackwellâ€™s spokesman said they would try to make time to meet with us â€œdespite our criticism.â€? We have resubmitted our request and have yet to hear affirmatively from Mr. Blackwell.
We Believe also seeks to meet with the Senate and Congressional candidates for a deep discussion of the issues of the day. We will NOT endorse any candidates â€“ but we are prepared to share our insights based on these conversations.
We Believe that it is time for religious leaders to stop dividing the American people through supporting individual candidates. We Believe that it is time for religious leaders to dedicate ourselves and our country to accomplishing the universal tasks set for us by our prophets, our history, our leaders, and our Creator.
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.
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