If the sirens and hubbub outside our office are any indication, the issue of nuclear weapons has rolled into town in a big way– today, President Obama kicked off the 47-nation nuclear summit here in Washington, DC, with heads of state from across the globe.
And this week’s buzz around nuclear weapons builds on last April’s “Palm Sunday speech” in Prague, where President Obama pledged to work towards a world without nuclear weapons, as well as last week’s signing of the START treaty between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and the release of President Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review.
Former Secretary of State (under President Reagan) George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense (under President Clinton) William Cohen penned an op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times, supporting the START treaty and advising ways for the U.S. to work with Russia to ensure we move even closer to a world without nuclear weapons.
Incidentally, George Shultz has been advocating nuclear abolition for quite some time, and last April, he teamed up with the Two Futures Project to help advance that cause. The Two Futures Project, also supported by prominent evangelical faith leaders, such as Chuck Colson, Bill Hybels, and Shane Claiborne, is gaining more and more attention as a faithful voice for the abolition of nuclear weapons. As Dan blogged about last week, they earned some ink around last week’s activity around nukes, and they can now add the dubious distinction of being attacked by the Family Research Council, which claims 2FP is neglecting the need to work for peace through strength…. wait, what? Yes, you read that right– “peace through strength.” Sure is an odd rendering of turning swords into plowshares. (On another odd note, FRC accuses the Two Futures Project of “flawed theology,” and in the very next sentence analogizes nuclear weapons as “God’s instrument to deal with wrongdoers.”)
The broad-based evangelical support for the Two Futures Project belies FRC’s claims that they’re left-wing partisans to be dismissed. In fact, many of the endorsers of 2FP are quite conservative on a host of political and social issues, and their desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons stems from theological conviction, not a partisan agenda.
add a comment »
When President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the START Treaty this week — which places additional limits on the circumstance under which use of nuclear weapons is authorized and reduces nuclear weapons stockpiles by 1/3 — faith leaders responded with strong statements of support, which received ample news coverage. Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and the Washington Post’s On Faith section placed the treaty in the context of the faith community’s decades-long efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, citing Catholic, Evangelical, Methodist, and Presbyterian advocacy on the issue. Catholic News Service reported that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed the pact, and outlets such as Associated Baptist Press, World Magazine, Religion News Service and the Christian Post reported support for the treaty among evangelical leaders such as Rich Cizik, Joel Hunter, and Two Futures Project executive director Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson. (A USA Today article on the treaty also included a quote from Tyler.) The breadth of coverage speaks to the faith community’s dedication to this issue.
And it’s not just statements. People of faith are organizing and pushing for a action, as well. Today, Faithful America circulated a petition from True Majority calling for “a legally binding verifiable agreement, including all nations, to eliminate nuclear weapons by a date certain.”
add a comment »
As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the Senate health care bill as soon as this weekend, pro-life Members of Congress and faith leaders spoke in strong support of the bill today, citing not only the Senate legislation’s strong provisions guarding against federal funding of abortion, but also its $250 million investment in support for pregnant women, and its coverage of 30 million currently uninsured Americans — thousands of whom will die every year if reform does not pass.
Reps. Kildee (MI-5) and Charlie Wilson (OH-6), along with NETWORK Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell (who organized an endorsement of the Senate bill by the heads of 60 women’s religious orders representing nearly 59,000 nuns), Francis Xavier Doyle, former Associate General Secretary, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good President Morna Murray, and Evangelicals for Social Action President Rod Sider spoke on the call, explaining the connection between their pro-life values and their support for health care reform. As Sister Campbell said:
Catholic Sisters work with people who do not have access to health care and are suffering because of it. We as Sisters follow Jesus in the Gospel and respond to human need. For us, we can not turn our back on the 45,000 people who die every year for lack of access to health care. We also believe from our study of the bill that other life issues are promoted through the prohibition of federal funding for abortion, financial support for pregnant women and new mothers, as well as good conscience protections for health care providers. Taken as a whole the Senate Bill promotes life in a comprehensive way and that is why we support it.
Most observers see concerns about abortion to be the biggest hurdle left for the health care reform bill to clear, as pro-life Democrats are facing intense pressure from anti-abortion groups. Outspoken pro-life support for the Senate bill could make a key difference in passing health care reform.
add a comment »
Today, the faith community officially launched a massive new mobilization around immigration reform. The nationwide effort, “Together, not Torn: Families Can’t Wait for Immigration Reform,” includes delivering hundreds of thousands of pro-reform postcards from people of faith to Members of Congress and one hundred local events across the country, from Maine to Texas to Washington state.
Evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders, along with Members of Congress, kicked off the new initiative this morning on a telephone press conference with journalists.
Check out the full press release here and an audio recording of the call here.
The testimony was moving, from National Association of Evangelicals’ Galen Carey’s heartwrenching story about the mother in Arizona whose immigration status bars her from seeking justice for her son’s death by a drunk driver, to Rev. Jen Kottler’s powerful invocation of Scripture, to Rabbi Abie Ingber’s impassioned remarks:
“Let us commit today, that this tragedy of injustice in immigration will end; that families will no longer be separated; that fathers and mothers will not cower in darkness fearful of a raid; that men and women of every color in the world will have the opportunity to earn a wage openly, to pay their taxes, to study the English language, to go to school and to pursue citizenship in this great land.”
Especially coming on the heels of the report from America’s Voice about the importance of immigration reform to politically critical Latino voters, we’re hoping that leaders on Capitol Hill are paying close attention to the growing call for reform this year. America’s families simply cannot wait.
add a comment »
Last week, David Gibson asked “if Uganda executes gays, will American Christians be complicit?” It’s the right question to ask– living out our faith requires examining potential complicity in the face of injustice, whether such complicity be from our actions, or from our willingness to stand idly by. As Dan pointed out, “part of standing up for what’s right is standing up to what’s wrong and calling out those who perpetrate injustice.” In an effort to do just that, American Christian leaders came together today to stand up and call out against the injustices of a proposed piece of legislation in Uganda, the “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.”
The statement grew out of a shared feeling among American Christian leaders that given the long history of US Christian involvement in Uganda and the fact that the influence of US Christianity is being implicated, they needed to make their voices heard. These leaders are speaking out against what they see as an affront to Christian values:
As followers of the teachings of Christ, we must express profound dismay at a bill currently before the Parliament in Uganda. The “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009″ would enforce lifetime prison sentences and in some cases the death penalty for homosexual behavior, as well as punish citizens for not reporting their gay and lesbian neighbors to the authorities.
…In our efforts to imitate the Good Samaritan, we stand in solidarity with those Ugandans beaten…and left abandoned by the side of the road because of hatred, bigotry and fear. Especially during this holy season of Advent, when the global Christian community prepares in hope for the light of Christ to break through the darkness, we pray that they are comforted by God’s love.
Click here to see the full statement and list of signatories.
add a comment »