Thursday, March 29, 2012

Statement on the Shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida

A Pastoral Message to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

Wake Up! The Struggles of Race and Gun Violence in the United States Have Not Gone Away

Trayvon Martin
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:15-18)

Our nation is facing the terrible implications and heartbreaking aftermath of the tragic shooting death of a young man.  Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American boy who was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a mixed race man. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. George Zimmerman was acting as a neighborhood watch “captain.” Martin wore a “hoodie” sweatshirt and carried Skittles candy and a can of ice tea – items that have become symbols of solidarity with Trayvon and his family. Zimmerman claims he was acting in self-defense. As the nation reels from this racially charged incident, it is important that faith communities, especially churches, not be silent regarding two important implications of this incident.

Prayer for the Families

First, with empathy and compassion, we must join in prayer for the families of both persons involved in this unfortunate incident. Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon’s parents) were both active in Trayvon’s life. They mourn the loss of their son, God’s precious gift to them. Trayvon demonstrated promise and had visions of attending college like his older brother. He was actively involved in developing a future path for himself, under the direction of his parents.

Today and in the days ahead, this family needs our prayers. Parents who face the death of a child confront a lifelong sorrow that the rest of us can only imagine and dread. However, our faith reminds us that “If we live, we live to the Lord and if we die we to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:8-9).

As people of faith, we must also prayerfully lift up George Zimmerman and his family. Although we do not know the full motivations of his actions, our Christian faith teaches us "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25)  Our prayers must be offered with the belief that the God of salvation is able to reveal truth amid the confusion and anger that this incident is causing.

I encourage Presbyterians to be in prayer while the details are sorted out and these two families search for healing.

A Challenge to Racism and Gun Violence

Second, this incident is raising the issues of race and gun violence to the forefront of the national attention. Our challenge as a Church is to recognize that racial injustice is not a thing of the past. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, a controversial measure that allows armed civilians to use deadly force when they feel they are in danger of imminent — but not necessarily lethal — harm, rather than attempting to flee, is raising questions regarding racial profiling. Was Zimmerman acting as a racially biased vigilante? Did the “hoodie” that Trayvon Martin wore set off inner city racial stereotypes that labeled him a criminal in Zimmerman’s mind? Was this a premeditated murder caused by the remnant of historically racist thinking? These questions are among many being raised within communities across the nation, including the African American community. Protests are wide spread and racial tensions are high in our nation.

The complexities of this shooting are fueled by both race and gun violence.  The 219th General Assembly (2010) adopted the resolution, “Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.” In that document it Encourage[s] the church at every level… to become informed and active in preventing gun violence, to provide pastoral care for victims of gun violence, and to seek a spiritual response of grief and repentance, grace and courage to resist that violence and celebrate the Lord and Giver of Life.

The 2010 policy further restates the 202nd General Assembly’s resolution (1990) that called on the U.S. government to establish meaningful and effective federal legislation to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale and possession of guns and ammunition by the general public. Such legislation should include provisions for the registration and licensing of gun purchasers and owners, appropriate background investigations and waiting periods prior to gun purchase, and regulation of subsequent sale.

The 219th Assembly also acknowledges that “little change has been seen in the policies enumerated, and these same calls can and should be echoed today.”In this nation, gun violence is responsible for about 35,000 completely preventable deaths every year. The shooting of Trayvon Martin was facilitated by a law that gives a person possessing a gun the right to self-determine when his/her life is threatened, even when there is no indication of a lethal provocation. This type of law opens the door for vigilante activity on our streets and in our neighborhoods.

The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called on churches to ensure that “liturgies not only call for periodic preaching on gun violence but also contain prayers for the victims and perpetrators of gun violence and confession of our own complicity in the perpetuation and toleration of violence in all its forms in the culture.” We cannot remain silent!

Gun violence is the intolerable by-product of a nation struggling with the essence of community building. Our congregations are essential to communities overcoming the need to choose guns over love. Let us use this tragic event for good and work toward the “peaceable Kingdom.”

As we respond to this tragedy, let us hold up the families of those who have been devastated by this crime, and let us hold out hope that our social conscience and love of justice will allow us to put down our guns and pick up our tools to build communities that learn to study racism and gun violence no more. It is then that Trayvon’s brief life and the nameless others who die such tragic deaths will truly be honored.

Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
100 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Faithful Federal Budget

Second Quarter Publication                                                                                       March, 2012

Advocacy as Discipleship is produced quarterly by the
Office of Public Witness to provide background information to advocates on why we,
as Christian Citizens, engage in public witness ministries.

A Faithful Federal Budget:
Addressing the Needs Deficit
Leslie G. Woods

“Reconciliation...through Jesus Christ makes it plain that enslaving poverty in a world of abundance is an intolerable violation of God’s good creation. Because Jesus identified himself with the needy and exploited, the cause of the world’s poor is the cause of his disciples... A church that is indifferent to poverty, or evades responsibility in economic affairs, or is open to one social class only, or expects gratitude for its beneficence makes a mockery of reconciliation and offers no acceptable worship to God.” (The Confession of 1967, 9.46)

The federal budget is a statement of shared priorities, our collective commitment to each other, and our contribution to the good of all.  Because of this conviction, the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has joined with interfaith partners in the Faithful Budget Campaign.  This campaign has come together to call for a federal budget with integrity and justice, one that will meet the need to address long-term fiscal deficits, while also responding to the already monumental needs deficit created by the recession and decades of growing inequality and neglect of our communities and the created world.

The Faithful Budget Campaign is an interfaith project of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and other faith communities, committed to lifting up the voices of the voiceless, even as the national debates over budgets, deficits, and debt, largely leave behind the concerns of the most vulnerable.  In proposing the budget priorities that follow, we grapple with the choice between calling for what is possible, given the political climate, and what is necessary to comprise a truly faithful budget that reflects a shared commitment to the common good and stands with those most in need. We identify with the Prophet Jeremiah, who despaired when the leaders of Jerusalem would not heed his warnings and persecuted him.  He cried out, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name’, then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” We cannot hold it in, nor can we abandon our brothers and sisters at home and around the world as they suffer, trapped in the cycle of crushing poverty.

Economic opportunity is a value that defines this nation, but it is increasingly available only to those who are already wealthy.   Even before the recession, too many families were struggling to make ends meet; faced with insurmountable odds, they were unable to lift themselves out of poverty.  Now even more families are on the brink of financial disaster, many kept out of poverty only by unemployment insurance and other programs designed to meet rising need in times of economic trouble.  We believe that the federal budget must not only respond to families in crisis, but must also strengthen our long-term commitment to reducing inequality and income disparity, maintaining a robust social safety net for times of hardship such as now, and reducing factors in the economy and in our federal policies that trap people in poverty in the long run. In addition, a faithful budget must also promote a holistic vision for the future, ensuring health, wholeness, and well-being for the human community and for the fragile world in which we live.

The budget principles that follow represent consensus among the interfaith Faithful Budget Campaign.  They are grounded in shared values and convictions that, together, ensure a just foundation upon which to strengthen the economy, our nation, and our relationships with one another.  The Faithful Budget Campaign encourages the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to draft a fair federal budget that does not place an undue burden on the poor.

Principles of a Faithful Budget
excerpted from
“Priorities for a Faithful Federal Budget:
Acting with Mercy and Justice as One Nation under God”

Restoring Economic Opportunity: The opportunity to work hard and improve one’s economic condition is a value that defines this nation. But it is a reality increasingly available only to those who are already wealthy. We believe in the inherent worth of every individual and that God intends dignity, health, and wholeness for each person. We need an economy that empowers workers to self sufficiency and provides pathways out of poverty. The principles of “liberty and justice for all”, as enshrined in our Pledge of Allegiance, seem hollow in light of the pace at which wealth and opportunity have shifted from the many to the few. We believe that everyone deserves equal opportunity and must therefore have equal access to the building blocks for success. We urge Congress to make the long-term investments needed to sustain the United States’ economic renewal, create economic opportunity for all, and work toward ending poverty. This requires investments in high-quality, affordable education, sustainable jobs with living wages, and policies that help families to build assets.
Ensuring Adequate Resources for Shared Priorities: From the time a federal income tax was established, the concept of a progressive tax system, based on the ability to pay, has been widely accepted as fair and equitable. Over the last several decades our tax system has grown less progressive, and now frequently places more of a tax burden, as a percentage of income, on the middle class than it does on the wealthiest among us. The tax system also creates financial incentives for individuals to act in ways that are thought to strengthen our social fabric, such as investing and saving for retirement, starting a business, owning a home, getting a college education – even charitable giving. Because of the way tax benefits are structured, however, too often low-wage workers do not earn enough to access those benefits. This results in a system that perpetuates inequality by rewarding behavior that generates financial security for those who already have it, while excluding those who are working hard at low-wage jobs and need help the most. An equitable, moral tax code should reward the efforts of low-income people to work and save at every level. A Faithful Budget will act to correct this imbalance. Investment in the renewal of our nation’s economic well-being and protecting the poor and vulnerable will itself serve to reduce the long-term deficit. Such investment should be financed through an equitable tax system founded on fairness, where those who have reaped extraordinary benefits contribute proportionately to the good of all.
Prioritizing True Human Security: With well over half of the discretionary budget dedicated to military spending, the United States is unable to invest in other areas that build substantial human security in our communities. Global threats to peace and security need not instill a national inclination to make an imbalanced investment in new weapons systems, detention centers, and militarized border walls, leading to disproportionate spending on the mechanisms of war and enforcement, while we become less secure in so many other ways. We believe a faithful budget must reevaluate these priorities, increase investment in the areas of health, education, and community well-being that are essential to true security.  Our budget priorities should reflect a more balanced approach to the full spectrum of investments that build meaningful security for individuals, families, and communities.
Meeting Immediate Need: As it always has been, the faith community itself continues to be committed to serving vulnerable populations at home and around the world. At the same time, we urge our nation to implement policies that will reduce poverty and hardship. As a united people committed to compassion and justice, we fulfill our calling as a people when we invest in a social safety net that will support the vulnerable in times of hardship, such as recession, unemployment, sickness, and old age. Even as the economy has begun to revive, unemployment rates remain remarkably high. Proactive stimulus policies and the elasticity of the mandatory safety net programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid, are incredibly effective measures that have prevented millions from falling into poverty. Congress has the moral and pragmatic responsibility, even as it pursues long-term deficit reduction, to adequately fund critical human needs, social service, environmental protection, and humanitarian and poverty-focused international assistance  programs, all of which ensure human security in its broadest sense.
Accepting Intergenerational Responsibility: We cannot leave our children a legacy of debt, but neither must we leave them a legacy of rising poverty and growing inequality. As educational programs, adequate housing, health care, nutrition programs, job training, and other community services all fall victim to pressures to reduce the deficit, economic vulnerability continues to grow and more families find themselves one disaster away from poverty. Our nation’s vital social safety net did not create the deficit, and the vulnerable populations served by the social safety net it should not bear the brunt of deficit-reduction measures. A Faithful Budget will seek wise and far-sighted ways to reduce the nation’s long-term deficits while protecting the most vulnerable among us.
Using the Gifts of Creation Sustainably and Responsibly: In the book of Genesis, God called Creation “good.” Because of Creation’s intrinsic worth, the earth and its resources deserve our respect and our consideration. While the earth has been given to us as a home, and while its resources are bountiful and good, we have abused this gift, placing unsustainable burdens on our environment and its resources. As a human community, we owe a debt to our environment, both for its own sake as well as our own. Environmental degradation has substantial, and potentially irreversible, short and long-term impacts, such as rising health care costs from air pollution and resulting respiratory problems; increased premature deaths due to the cumulative impacts of poor air quality; declining water quality in our communities; degradation of public lands; global climate change, which is already affecting some of the most vulnerable populations on earth; and loss of open space. A Faithful Budget must encompass a reverence for our created environment, making choices that protect air, water, and land—the entirety of Creation—gifts from God that must be available to and protected for this generation and those to come.
Providing Access to Health Care for All: As providers of services and care, both physical and spiritual, our members, congregations, and institutions are wellacquainted with the importance of providing access to health care for all people. All individuals, regardless of their age, income, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, geography, employment status, or health status, deserve equal access to quality, affordable, inclusive and accountable health care. Reducing health care options for some based on any of these factors is profoundly unjust. As we examine the interwoven web of access within the federal budget, there are areas of profound concern for the common good and practices of good stewardship. A Faithful Budget will ensure access to quality health care by investing in wellness and making needed improvements in the health care system.
Recognizing a Robust Role for Government: We are inspired by a common conviction that God has called on all of us – as individuals, as communities of faith, and as a society acting together through our government – to protect the vulnerable and promote the dignity of all people. For this reason the faith community has worked alongside the United States government for decades to protect those struggling to overcome poverty in the U.S. and abroad. People who need help paying rent or feeding their children come to us, frequently as a first and last resort, and we do all we can to provide the aid that compassionate love demands. And yet, faith communities and agencies cannot do it alone. The need is great as many who once gave to our ministries of mercy are now recipients of our charity. We need the government’s continued partnership to combat poverty by providing a truly adequate short-term safety net, and by means of policies that serve to prevent poverty, reduce extreme inequality, restore economic opportunity for all, and rebuild a robust middle class.

The Call

As faith communities and Americans of conscience, we stand with those among us with those whose need is great and we call on all of us to act together as the American people with mercy and justice, and to re-arrange our national priorities to focus on the common good. Accordingly, this Faithful Budget boldly proclaims the aspirational goals toward which, we believe, our nation much strive. More pragmatically, we urge Congress and the President to show their intent to move toward these goals by enacting legislation that enhances the well-being of all Americans and to make a good faith increase in funding for the impoverished and the vulnerable here and abroad in fiscal year 2013.

Let us embrace a call to live together in community, not agreeing on everything, but sharing in the common purpose of bettering our nation, protecting our brothers and sisters here in the U.S. and around the world, and sustainably caring for our environment. We call on Congress and the Administration to craft a federal budget that protects the common good, values each individual and his or her livelihood, and helps lift the burden on the poor, rather than increasing it while shielding the wealthiest from any additional sacrifice.

To learn more about Priorities for a Faithful Budget and to read to complete document, including policy recommendations, visit

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
as delivered by J. Herbert Nelson, II, Director for Public Witness

Prepared Remarks for the Release of “Priorities for a Faithful Budget: Acting with Mercy and Justice as One Nation Under God.”

I am proud to stand with my sisters and brothers in the Faithful Budget Campaign to put these budget priorities before Congress.

This Faithful Budget provides a stark counterpoint to the budget conversations going on among Congressional leaders this week.  Right now, members of Congress are approaching budget decisions from a perspective of scarcity.  But this is the wrong approach.  This nation has abundant resources, not only in money and commodities, but in human spirit and a commitment to care for one another.

The faithful budget calls on decision makers to think from a new paradigm. We should not base budget decisions on an artificial understanding of how little there is to go around, but rather, we must identify the need and then meet it.  Budget decisions are not about graphs and pie charts – they are about people, whose lives are affected daily by the budget decisions we make at the national level.

In the Church, we know this.  Our ministries of charity and mercy are the front lines of the fight against poverty, inequality, and injustice.  In a recent survey of Presbyterian churches, we found that nearly 120,000 Presbyterians engaged in congregational mission to people suffering from homelessness, and at least 75% percent report increased homelessness in their region. 

And we know from our partners, as well, that the need is growing, even as resources are dwindling.  Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, reports that demand has risen 46% in the last four years.   

We know that people are struggling, because they come to us first.  Pastors and churches are frequently the first stop after someone loses a job or learns that rent is going up. People who were once generous donors to our ministries now find themselves in need, and receiving the services they once funded.  The faith community needs the social safety net to remain strong.  It is only through a partnership between government programs and private and faith-based charity, that we are keeping millions of heads above water. 

We must ensure that our federal spending reflects our national priorities, and that means realizing that these numbers are really faces.  It means changing the way we do budget altogether.  It means identifying what we need to do, to ensure wholeness and security for all people, and then doing it.  And if that means that those who have been richly blessed must contribute more to the good of all, then let it be so. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Invites Presbyterians to a dinner cruise...



 An Evening Dinner Cruise on the "
Virginia's Jewel"

Come celebrate with other Presbyterians who are in Washington participating in Ecumenical Advocacy Days!  All are welcome.


Jazz Combo with vocalist Christiana Drapkin

 Saturday, March 24, 2012
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Boat departure from: 1300 Maine Ave, SW, DC 20044 

 The cost is $75.00 per person 

Email Catherine Gordon at or 
Call 202.543.1126 to inquire about more details

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Iran Bombing Threat: Creating a Mindset that Leads to War
By Chris Iosso, an editorial
 published by Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice
Ban­ner photo by “jonasjonas,” the chess of cal­cu­lated rhetoric

The first thing one encoun­ters in dis­cussing the war drum­beat tar­get­ing Iran is the one-sidedness of the debate. Glenn Green­wald of Salon gives a quick sum­mary on this point, and James Wall, for­mer Chris­t­ian Cen­tury edi­tor, describes the same real­ity. This sug­gests that the talk of war with Iran, though help­fully called, “loose talk,” by Pres­i­dent Obama in his Sun­day, March 4, speech to the Amer­i­can Israeli Pub­lic Affairs Com­mit­tee (AIPAC), is actu­ally quite delib­er­ate and orches­trated talk designed to cre­ate a mind­set favor­ing war. And even if this talk is a repeated strat­egy to dis­tract the U.S. pub­lic from con­tin­ued set­tle­ments or other Israeli polit­i­cal objec­tives, it con­tin­ues to mil­i­ta­rize U.S. for­eign pol­icy and affects our rela­tions not just with Iran, but with the larger com­mu­nity of nations. In prac­ti­cal terms, it keeps us from build­ing stronger alliances to deal with the cri­sis in Syria (for exam­ple) and revives a uni­lat­er­al­ist mind­set that dis­re­gards inter­na­tional law. (continue reading on Unbound)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Presbyterians Know Much about Mission…Very Little About Advocacy!

Presbyterians Know Much about Mission…
Very Little About Advocacy!
by the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Director for Public Witness
March 9, 2012

I have traveled to over thirty Presbyteries in the past 22 months. My travels reveal to me that Presbyterians of all races are committed to mission, but know very little about advocacy. Although African Americans and women who are Presbyterian celebrate a powerful history of advocacy related to the civil rights movement, today, we are sorely lacking a connection to advocacy work.  We are in need of advocacy and organizing training, given the political realities of our time.

Mission is the response to human and environmental deprivation; it usually seeks to provide humanitarian aid and to reduce suffering. The key to understanding mission is that it is a response after the damage has been done.  We have witnessed the response of the PC(USA) in the wake of many disasters, including the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and the earthquake in Haiti.

Many ministries of the denomination are focused on mission-oriented responses to human and ecological needs. Congregations are often engaged in mission trips to suffering communities across the globe to build houses; work in shelters; install clean water operations and a host of other efforts to assist individuals who are suffering because of intense poverty, ignorance, or systemic evil. Mission is needed and it is good.

On the other hand, advocacy is proactive movement to avert problems before occur. Justice advocacy requires us to challenge political and corporate powers to be just, responsive, and fair in their treatment of all human beings. Advocacy embraces a belief that just laws that demand fair treatment of all human beings, will serve the common good and, one day, will hopefully render mission unnecessary.  Our public witness ministry in Washington, DC, is political advocacy with roots in the prophetic tradition of biblical faith. The Prophet Amos’ words are the calling card of this biblical mandate for all Christians to “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

Justice is at the center of advocacy work. Increasingly, the fight for community stability during these tough economic times will require advocates to address, plead with, and confront the class, race, and economic issues of local communities. I am pleasantly surprised at efforts of some Presbyterians to keep the hope of advocacy alive in their local congregations and communities across the country.

In 2010, I had the opportunity to spend time with Reverend Jimmie R. Hawkins, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Durham, NC, who was arrested with others for demonstrating against a local school board decision to move away from a socioeconomic diversification policy to a system that focused on neighborhood schools. The result would re-segregate the Wake County Schools, which are located in a wealthy community and one of the top twenty largest school districts in the country. The Washington Post ran an article on this issue in Wake County in January, 2011. The Department of Education has weighed in on the Wake County School situation and the School Board Chairperson who held the position at the time the vote has resigned.  As a result of the actions of citizens (including Reverend Hawkins), the national spotlight is shining on a new paradigm for public education in Wake County, with regards to race and class. This is advocacy! The quest for transforming systemic evil into a fair and just pattern of community-building is at the root of advocacy work.

I contend that every mission trip in our denomination ought to begin with participants discussing and developing an understanding of the political, economic, and relational realities that make the mission trip necessary. Simply put, it is not enough to build a home for a family in Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, the Congo, Appalachia, New Orleans, Detroit, or some other deprived people or places, without knowing the context or role that our country and others have played in creating the poverty and unjust environment in which people are living. Then, we are required to commit to deliberate action as Christians to address the issues and policies that would correct the injustices. Micah etches a profound view of advocacy work when he raises a question and then provides the answer amid the foolishness of the temple leadership.  He asks, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

I invite you to learn more, get involved and become an advocate for justice! Register for and come to CPJ Training Day and Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, March 23-26.

The Second Annual CPJ Training Day will take place at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday, March 23, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.  At this event, we will educate Presbyterians about the role that the PC(USA) plays in helping people to overcome and survive these difficult times.  The theme for the day will be Presbyterians and Economic Justice. CPJ Training Day is hosted by the Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry of the PC(USA): Presbyterian Hunger Program; Presbyterian Peacemaking Program; Self-Development of People; Presbyterian Disaster Assistance; Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations; Mission Responsibility through Investment; Environmental Ministries; Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association, Child Advocacy, and Office of Public Witness.  For more information about this exciting event, and to register online, visit 
During Ecumenical Advocacy Days, we will explore the theme, Economy, Livelihood and Our National Priorities through the lens of Isaiah 58You will join nearly one thousand Christians who are working towards a global economy and a national budget that breaks the yoke of injustice, poverty, hunger and unemployment throughout the world, while heeding Isaiah's call to become "repairers of the breach and restorers of streets to live in." Challenging a global economic model based on scarcity, corporate greed, and individualism, we will seek God's alternative vision for global community: one that breaks the chains of injustice and creates the possibility of a sustainable livelihood with dignity for all, thus living into a reality of God's abundance. For more information and to register online, visit

Finally, if you are unable to attend, I ask you to consider sponsoring a young adult. Several Presbyterian college students and other young adults are desirous of attending, but do not have adequate funds for registration and housing. Support may be given through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) secure website:  Please note “EAD Young Adult Scholarship Fund” in the comments section.    

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tell Congress: Only God Should Move Mountains

Tell Congress: Only God Should Move Mountains

Two recent studies have revealed the following shocking facts about mountaintop removal coal mining:
  • Reclaimed mountaintop removal sites, even those that have been closed for decades, continue to harm water quality, poisoning aquatic life and damaging the health of all those who live downstream.[1]
  • Infants have a significantly higher risk of birth defects (by as much as 42%, according to a July 2011 study) in mountaintop removal communities. [2]

Last year we saw legislators in Washington, DC, continue to threaten the few regulations that protect our precious rivers and streams from the destructive effects of this kind of mining. We know that these attacks will only increase in the coming year. For those of us who care about God's Creation and our neighbors in Appalachia, now is the time to speak up.  Sign the petition!

Mountaintop removal destroys and pollutes the homes of our neighbors in Appalachia. Mountaintop removal is what it sounds like; in order to reach coal seams, mining companies blast the tops off of mountains, then often place the resulting rubble in neighboring valleys and streams. Mountaintop removal sites pollute watersheds for years after the coal has been removed. All the creatures and people who live downstream suffer.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a long tradition of opposing this kind of destructive mining practice.  In 2006, the 217th General Assembly “urge[d] state and federal agencies that regulate mining practices, as well as coal companies themselves, to abandon the practice of mountaintop removing coal mining and work to meet our nation’s energy needs in a manner that is just, sustainable, and consistent with Christian values.” 

We know that many of you have long opposed mountaintop removal coal mining because of the irreversible destruction it does to God’s mountains and people. Our faithful voices will only become more important in the coming year. Let’s join with our ecumenical partners, Christian brothers and sisters across the nation, in raising our voices against mountaintop removal.  Sign this petition today!

The Office of Public Witness is partnering with the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program on this, and many other issues.  For more information on MTR, or to order postcards bearing this petition, contact Will Layton at the NCC.

1"Cumulative impacts of mountaintop mining on an Appalachian Watershed" -
2 "The association between mountaintop mining and birth defects among live births in central Appalachia, 1996–2003"