As Farm Bill Floor Debate Begins, Religious Leaders Appeal to Senatorsʼ Conscience

November 2, 2007, 4:20 pm | Posted by

**PRESS CONFERENCE Tuesday, NOV. 6 at 10:00 AM**

(Washington , D.C.) As the 2007 Farm Bill heads to the Senate floor, religious leaders will appeal to Senatorsʼ conscience. Members of the Unites States Senate must make a choice: continue to prop up the wealthiest farmers and landowners with subsidies that undermine the livelihoods of American farmers and the worldʼs poor, or put our great nation on the path to fighting hunger in America and extreme poverty that kills 30,000 of God’s people each day.

Religious leaders will announce support for specific amendments that reduce commodity payments for the wealthiest beneficiaries, which hurt small farmers here and abroad, and increase investment in nutrition programs, rural development, and conservation.

WHO:

Bishop Thomas Kabore, Bishop of Kaya , Burkina Faso

John Carr, Executive Director, Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners and Author, Godʼs Politics

The Right Rev. John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington (Episcopal)

Rev. Dr. Earl Trent Jr., Progressive National Baptist Convention

WHERE: U.S. Capitol Building , Room SC-6

WHEN: Tuesday, November 6, 2007, at 10:00 AM

*Breakfast will be served.*

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Faith Leaders to Senate: REFORM 2007 Farm Bill

October 24, 2007, 4:15 pm | Posted by

October 24, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – As the United States Senate prepares to begin marking up the 2007 farm bill today, an alliance of U.S. faith groups called upon Senators to adopt reforms designed to reclaim the farm bill’s historic moral identity as a covenant with small- and medium-sized farmers in the U.S., and a source of hope to people in need at home and around the world.

“Fairness and opportunity for farmers in times of need were the fundamental values upon which Congress built the first farm bill in the 1930s,” said the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. “Today’s farm policy has abandoned those values. 2007 is the year for Congress to put fairness and opportunity back into U.S. farm policy and establish a new covenant with rural America and those in need at home and around the world.”

“Our country needs a fresh, new approach to the farm bill, one that helps people who need it the most—U.S. farmers of modest means, struggling rural communities, hungry people and farmers in developing countries,” said the Reverend David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World. “The demand for comprehensive reform is mounting from many people of faith and both sides of the aisle.”

“I pray that Congress understands that the future of rural America is no longer inextricably linked to farming, as is reflected in small towns throughout South Dakota that are struggling to survive,” said the Reverend David B. Zellmer, Bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “We need increased investment in rural development, conservation, and nutrition; these are the programs that are most meaningful to rural America.”

“The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has expressed concern that payments are going to the largest, wealthiest farms while leaving behind the majority of farm families,” said the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). “We urge the Senate to pass meaningful commodity program payment limits such as those proposed by Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Grassley (R-IA).”

“If we fail to provide real reform to trade distorting commodity programs, then our subsidized export is not food, but poverty for the developing world,” said the Reverend Dr. Earl Trent Jr., Executive Director of Mission for the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

“We have a historic opportunity with this legislation to reduce hunger and poverty both here in the United States and in some of the world’s most impoverished countries,” said the Reverend Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. “It’s time for our Senators to show courageous leadership to enact reforms that serve the common good.”

“We can and must do more to address the plight of struggling family farmers,” said the Most Reverend Ronald Gilmore, President of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. “Have we honestly done enough to target farm supports to those who need it most?”

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THIRD WAY TO JOIN FAITH IN PUBLIC LIFE, NATIONAL EVANGELICAL LEADERS FOR RELEASE OF GROUND-BREAKING PAPER

October 9, 2007, 2:40 pm | Posted by

Group Identifies Common Ground between Evangelicals and Progressives On Divisive Cultural Issues

October 9, 2007

Washington – On Wednesday, October 10, Third Way and a group of leading national Evangelical leaders will hold a press conference to announce the introduction of Come Let Us Reason Together, a new paper that for the first time charts a path forward to unite progressives and Evangelicals on the most polarizing cultural issues of the day. Faith in Public Life, a strategic organizing and communications resource center for faith leaders dedicated to expanding the values debate, will co-host the briefing.

Evangelical leaders in attendance will include Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, pastor of Northland Church, leader in the Evangelical creation care movement, and one-time President-Elect of the Christian Coalition; Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and columnist for Christianity Today, the leading Evangelical magazine in the United States; Dr. Randy Brinson, Founder and Chairman of Redeem the Vote; and Joe Battaglia, President of Renaissance Communications and a leader in Christian broadcasting.

The Third Way paper includes an original analysis of the most up-to-date polling on Evangelicals and a corresponding report on how progressives and Evangelicals can bridge the cultural divide. The paper also outlines new, common-ground approaches on the toughest cultural issues, including abortion, gay and lesbian issues, the treatment of human embryos, and the role of religion in the public square.

WHAT:

Come Let Us Reason Together Press Conference

WHO:

Rachel Laser, Third Way

Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland Church

Dr. Robert P. Jones, Third Way

Dr. R. Randolph Brinson, Redeem the Vote

Dr. David P. Gushee, Mercer University

Joe Battaglia, Renaissance Communications, Inc.

Katie Barge, Faith in Public Life

WHEN:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10:30 a.m.

WHERE:

Mayflower Hotel – Senate Room

1127 Connecticut Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20036

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Bipartisan Congressional and Religious Leaders to Urge Override of Presidential SCHIP Veto

October 1, 2007, 2:46 pm | Posted by

PRESS CONFERENCE TOMORROW AT NOON

Anticipating a veto by President Bush of the SCHIP legislation on Tuesday, congressional leaders from both parties and prominent religious leaders will participate in a press conference to speak to the very conscience of our nation about the need to override the veto in the Senate and the House. The religious leaders represent millions of faithful people who support expanding health care coverage to all of America’s children, particularly the most vulnerable. Over the past few weeks, Sojourners, the largest national network of progressive Christians, PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organizations) and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have been working together to mobilize thousands of clergy across the country to support passage of the SCHIP legislation.

Who:

Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan

Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri

Congresswoman Heather Wilson, R- New Mexico

Religious Leaders Participating:

Rev. Jim Wallis, Executive Director of Sojourners and best-selling author of God’s Politics

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS – Executive Director, Network, a national Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Father Ray East – Executive Director, Office of Black Catholics, Archdiocese of Washington

Rev. Wes Granberg – Michaelson-General Secretary, Reformed Church of America

Dr. Glenn Palmberg-President of the Evangelical Covenant Church

Rev. Sharon Watkins , General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Heyward Wiggins, PICO National Network and others.

Where: U.S. Capitol, Room S115 (NOTE; Mult-box may not be available)

When: Tuesday October 2nd 12:00PM, Noon

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Religious Leaders to Congress: Vote for Real Farm Bill Reform

July 25, 2007, 11:17 am | Posted by

Roll Call Ad Bolsters Values Message to Congress on Eve of House Floor Vote

(Washington, D.C.) – As the 2007 Farm Bill heads to the House floor tomorrow, Christian leaders are calling upon Members of Congress to reform the bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee to redirect resources to those who need them most. In last-minute lobby efforts and an ad that will run in Roll Call tomorrow, they are urging members to support reform amendments like the Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment, sponsored by Congressmen Kind (D-WI) and Flake (R- AZ).

“The Fairness Amendment is the only farm bill proposal that approaches justice,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “It will make our nation’s farm policy work for farmers in the 21st century and help people who struggle to feed their families.”

“The Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee fails to reflect our most deeply held biblical and moral values of fairness, equity, and justice,” said Rev. Jim Wallis, Editor and Executive Director of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, “Congress is faced with a real test of moral leadership in changing currently unjust policy that props up the wealthiest farmers and landowners at the expense of struggling family farms and people living in poverty at home and abroad. The Fairness Amendment provides desperately needed reform to improve conservation, nutrition, rural development.”

Leaders agree that the Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee harms poor farmers around the world.

“It undermines the livelihoods of American farmers and violates the global consensus on fair trade and fighting the extreme poverty that kills 30,000 of God’s people each day,” said The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

“If we fail to provide real reform to trade distorting commodity programs, then our subsidized export is not food, but poverty for the developing world,” Rev. Dr. Earl Trent, Jr., of the Progressive National Baptist Convention said.

“We can and must do more to address the plight of struggling family farmers,” said the Most Rev. Ronald Gilmore, Bishop of Dodge City, Kansas and president of National Catholic Rural Life Conference. “Have we honestly done enough to target farm supports to those who need it most?”

Specifically, the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill:

* cuts $1.8 billion from the nutrition title improvements approved by the Nutrition subcommittee

* increases payments to the largest farms

* fails to meet the needs of struggling farms and rural families in the US

* fails to reform trade distorting commodity programs that paralyze the efforts of farmers in poor countries to feed their families and earn their way out of poverty

* restores a controversial cotton subsidy ruled in violation of our existing international treaty obligations

* fails to provide increased funding and access to programs that protect God’s creation.

“The House Agriculture Committee’s bill is unjust: it maintains the status quo on a commodity system that does not support the majority of farmers in the US, while harming farmers in poor countries,” said Rev. Philip Hougen, bishop of the Southeast Iowa Synod Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “Members of Congress are now faced with a moral choice, and we urge them to support real reform of US agriculture policy, as encompassed in the Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment.”

Intensive lobbying efforts of organizations participating in the Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill have included nearly 1,000 lobby visits, and more than 85,000 letters and 8,000 phone calls to Members of Congress.

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