Sunday, November 22, 2015

Take Action for Syrian Refugees!

WE NEED YOUR VOICE!  More votes on refugee resettlement are coming up!

Tell Congress & Your Governor to WELCOME SYRIAN REFUGEES!

Update:  In mid November, a number of Governors announced that they want to stop their states from resettling Syrian refugees. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4038, The American Security against Foreign Enemies Act, which would grind to a halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. These actions and the anti-refugee sentiment that has accompanied them, go against who we are as a nation. It is critical that public officials hear from their constituents NOW as decisions are being made in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and state governments that will drastically impact the lives of Syrian refugees.

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the PC (USA) Office of Public Witness, says “We must remember the words of Emma Lazarus etched on the welcome symbol of the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.’ Our bible writes it another way, ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.’ Hebrews 13:2.”

Visit the visit the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance website for information on how the Presbyterian Church has been responding to the Syrian crisis and please take action TODAY!

Call your Representative and Senators : 1-866-961-4293

AND if you live in these states, call your Governor!

Alabama: 334-242-7100
Arizona: 520-628-6580 / 602-542-4331
Arkansas: 501-682-2345
Florida: 850-488-7146
Georgia: 404-656-1776
Idaho: 208-334-2100
Illinois: 217-782-0244 / 312-814-2121
Indiana: 317-569-0709
Iowa: 515-281-5211
Kansas: 785-296-3232
Louisiana: 225-342-7015
Maine: 207-287-3531 / 1-855-721-5203
Maryland: 410-974-3901
Massachusetts: 617-725-4005 / 413-784-1200 / 202-624-7713
Michigan: 517-373-3400 & sign the letter!
Mississippi: 601-359-3150
Nebraska: 402-471-2244 / 308-660-9111 / 308-632-1370
Nevada: 775-684-5670 / 702-486-2500
New Hampshire: 603-271-2121
New Jersey: 609-292-6000
New Mexico: 505-476-2200
North Carolina: 919-814-2000
North Dakota: 703-328-2200
Ohio: 614-466-3555
Oklahoma: 405-521-2342
South Carolina: 803-734-2100
South Dakota: 605-773-3212
Tennessee: 615-741-2001 & sign the letter!
Texas: 800-843-5789 / 512-463-1782
Wisconsin: 608-266-1212
Wyoming: 307-777-7434

Tell your Governor's office that as a constituent, you want to help WELCOME Syrian refugees and that you're against their calls to reject Syrian refugees.

Tell your Senator's office that as a constituent, you OPPOSE legislation that would stop or halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees, or only allow Christians to be resettled.

Tell your Representative's office that as a constituent, you OPPOSE H.R. 4038 and other bills that would stop or halt the resettlement
of Syrian refugees, or only allow Christians to be resettled.

Ex: “I’m a constituent from [City] and I support Syrian refugees. I am opposed to any proposal that would stop or halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees or only allow Christians to be resettled. I urge the Senator / Representative / Governor to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome Syrian refugees.”

Here are some helpful points on the security process, but the most important point is your story and why your community wants to welcome Syrian refugees:  The U.S. government handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and the U.S. resettlement process has the most rigorous screening process in the world. Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people to come to the United States, undergoing interagency screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies, including biometric checks, forensic document testing, medical tests and in-person interviews. This is not an either/or situation. The United States can continue to welcome refugees while also continuing to ensure national security. We must do both.

You can also tweet your Members of Congress and your network:
“.@REPRESENTATIVE, Our community is ready to welcome #Syrian #refugees. #RefugeesWelcome #AmericaWelcomes!"

Thursday, November 19, 2015

PCUSA Joins 24 Faith Groups to Advocate for Full Funding for Refugee Resettlement

November 12, 2015

Senate Leadership
Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515

House Leadership
Members of the House Appropriations Committee U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Member of Congress,

We, the undersigned national faith-based organizations, write to urge you to allocate necessary funds for refugee assistance and resettlement in fiscal year 2016.

Our many faith traditions call us to welcome the stranger; a sentiment that is not simply an ideal it must be a reality that we practice. As we grapple with increasingly heartbreaking and tragic reports of Syrian refugees seeking safety in the region and in Europe, coupled with the over 60 million people displaced worldwide, there is a clear imperative to respond. The United States has a responsibility to act with historic leadership and compassion in response to the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

With the President’s call to increase refugee resettlement from the current 70,000 level to 85,000 in FY16 and 100,000 in FY17, Congress must also stand strong with those seeking safety and provide the initial assistance needed to build a new life. From administering life-saving assistance overseas to supporting local communities with the resettlement process, these funds are crucial in ensuring the success of the U.S. refugee resettlement program at all levels. When we invest in the lives and success of refugees, we strengthen both our position internationally and our local communities. In the face of this overwhelming need, we strongly urge you to robustly allocate specific funds for refugee assistance during the FY16 appropriations process.

We ask that the subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies allocate:
  • $2.42 billion for International Disaster Assistance, to respond to the growing numbers of persons internally displaced, particularly in Syria and Iraq. 
  • $3.6 billion for Migration and Refugee Assistance to assist refugees abroad and identify, process, and provide initial integration assistance to refugees resettled in the United States.  
  • $250 million for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance to enhance the United States' ability to respond quickly and effectively to unanticipated crises, such as those in and around Syria.

We ask that the subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies allocate:

  • $2.44 billion for Refugee and Entrant Assistance to ensure local communities have the resources they need to help refugees integrate and thrive as they rebuild their lives.

We ask that the subcommittee for Homeland Security allocate:

  • $49.6 million for the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to screen refugees for resettlement to the United States, a process that is currently fee-funded.

Now is the time for this nation to take a leading role in response to this ever-growing crisis. With these funds, Congress can ensure safe and expedient resettlement for those most at risk, aid individuals internationally displaced, prepare communities to welcome refugees, and ensure their success and self-sufficiency in the United States.

As people led by faith we recognize this as an opportunity to truly put our faith into action and live up to our responsibility to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor, and accompany the vulnerable. We ask that Congress seize the occasion to act.


African American Ministers in Action
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Bread for the World
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada Christian Reformed Church in North America

Church of the Brethren
Church World Service
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Islamic Society of North America
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd National Council of Jewish Women
National Justice for Our Neighbors
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Pax Christi USA
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

PCUSA Office of Public Witness Signs on to Letter in Support of Syrian Refugees

November 17, 2015

Dear Senator/Representative:

As refugee and immigration law experts, humanitarian aid organizations, faith, labor and civil and human rights groups, we write to express our support for the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. More than 4 million Syrians have fled from their home country fleeing conflict and violence, and 6.5 million are displaced internally.

At a time when the world needs humanitarian leadership, some are now calling for the suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program or the imposition of restrictions on funding for Syrians and other groups of refugees. We oppose these proposals and believe they would jeopardize the United States' moral leadership in the world.

Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris. They have suffered violence just like this for almost five years. Most have lost loved ones to persecution and violence, in addition to having had their country, their community, and everything they own brutally taken from them.

Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies. Department of Homeland Security officials interview each refugee to determine whether they meet the refugee definition and whether they are admissible to the United States. Refugees undergo a series of biometric and investigatory background checks, including collection and analysis of personal data, fingerprints, photographs, and other background information, all of which is checked against government databases. The entire process typically takes more than two years and often much more before the refugee would arrive in the U.S. In addition the Administration is already taking steps, with its existing authority, to increase the capacity of its security and screening procedures for refugees. There is no need for Congress to impose additional restrictions or security measures.

The United States decides which refugees to resettle. Because so few refugees in the world are resettled, the U.S. often chooses the most vulnerable, including refugees who cannot remain safely where they are and families with children who cannot receive the medical care they need to survive.

To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation's core values. It would send a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion. This feeds into extremist propaganda and makes us all less safe. We call upon Congress to demonstrate leadership by speaking out against the scapegoating of any group during this time of crisis and to ensure that our nation’s humanitarian efforts are robust.

The United States is a welcoming country with a diverse society and our resettlement program must continue to reflect this.

We can welcome refugees while ensuring our own security. Refugees have enriched communities across our country and have been part of the American fabric for generations. Historically our nation has responded to every major war or conflict and has resettled refugees from Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Europe as well as the Middle-East. Closing the door to refugees would be disastrous for not only the refugees themselves, but their family members in the United States who are waiting for them to arrive, and our reputation in the world.

The Advocates for Human Rights
Alliance for Citizenship
American Civil Liberties Union
American Immigration Lawyers Association American Jewish Committee (AJC) American Refugee Committee

America’s Voice Education Fund
Anti-Defamation League
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence.
Association of Jewish
Family and Children’s Agencies
Center for Applied Linguistics
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Center for New Community
Center for Victims of Torture
Centro de los Derechos de Inmigrante, Inc.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries Church World Service
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Concern Worldwide (US) Inc.
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Council on American-Islamic Relations
The Episcopal Church
Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Farmworker Justice
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Habonim Dror North America
Human Rights First
International Catholic Migration Commission
International Refugee Assistance Project
International Rescue Committee
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, National Advocacy Office Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
Mi Familia Vota
Muslim Public Affairs Council
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Jewish Women
National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)
National Immigration Forum
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Asian Pacific American Advocates
Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration
Oxfam America
Peace Action West
Presbyterian Church USA
Refugees International
Save the Children
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Justice
Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
Syria Relief Development
Tahirih Justice Center
ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
United to End Genocide
United Farm Workers
United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, Inc. Win Without War
Women’s Refugee Commission
s Circle
World Relief

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reproductive Health and Marginalized Women



By the Reverend Dr. J Herbert Nelson, II
Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of god, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
-John 4:10-11

The United States Congress and Planned Parenthood

Two months ago we were on the verge of a possible government impasse regarding funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Planned Parenthood” as it is commonly referred is one of the largest reproductive health service providers in the United States of America.[i] The health services they provide include, but are not limited to parenting skills; counseling; mammograms; birth control; and STI testing and treatment. Most notably, Planned Parenthood is known as a provider of low cost healthcare for poor women. Despite the range of services that Planned Parenthood provides, the most debated aspect of its work revolves around abortions. Planned Parenthood reports that only three percent of its services are abortion related. However, when one takes under consideration services related to abortions such as counseling, health education and money received as revenue for services, the percentage of Planned Parenthood spending dedicated to abortion services could rise to 12 percent.[ii]  It must be noted that it is illegal for government money to be used for abortions. Therefore, arguments on Capitol Hill, state legislatures and local municipalities are morally based rather than directly related to the utilization of government funds for abortions. At the center of the debate is discontinuing government contracts for Planned Parenthood as a service provider for poor people.

Since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a state law that banned abortions except to save the life of a mother, both the Church and Society has struggled with the issues related to abortion rights. [iii] Planned Parenthood is at the center of many debates regarding reproductive rights in the United States, due to its policy of performing abortions. However, these debates often dismiss the good work of counseling and providing other medical services to both children and adults. Oftentimes these services are provided to address both personal and family health issues.[iv]

Jesus’ challenge in biblical scripture with the woman at the well was to take the demonization off of her by the larger society. He counseled her by telling her truths about herself. He treated her with respect and restored her dignity to build a sense of belonging despite her lowly role in the larger society. She could not own property and without a man that she could call her husband was destined to poverty. Jesus named her exploitation by the system by reminding her of the number of men she knew as her husband. Her survival tactics are oppositional to establishing a life in the Spirit. Surely, the laws regarding her personhood did not fully affirm her as a person of standing in the society. However, Jesus challenged her on the basis of learning to affirm her own sense of self worth. He did not tell her what to do, but instead gave her the impetus to make decisions on her own about the life she was living. She heard his voice and walked away from the well a different person. She brought the men who engaged in mutual usury with her to hear the word of Jesus that penetrated her soul.[v]  The issues in this text are not simply about prostitution, multiple marriages,  or abortion, but the integrity by which we live.

Presbyterians have struggled with the issue of abortion for more than 40 years, beginning in 1970 when the General Assembly voted to declare that “the artificial or induced termination of a pregnancy is a matter of careful ethical decision of the patient … and therefore should not be restricted by law”[vi]

Reverend Nelson speaks at a rally in support of
healthcare March 2015
I remember sitting in the Health Issues committee at the 220th (2012) General Assembly in Pittsburgh, PA. while Commissioners discussed an overture titled Calling the Church to a New Way Forward on the Issue of Pregnancies and Abortion. The Health Issues Committee disapproved the overture with comment:

Considering this resolution invited the committee to consider the 1992 report of the Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion. This noteworthy study brought twenty years of relative peace on a matter that has been a source of intense conflict in the PC(USA) for many years prior to the study. The study accomplished no mean feat in setting forth common ground that Presbyterian can gather around; common ground that eschews partisanship on either side of the cultural divide. We found insight and guidance in this document that was both eloquent and relevant to our work; therefore we do not see the need for a new study but rather commend the existing study to our church.[vii]

The 1992 report recognizes and includes many reasons for which abortions might be an option, including incest, and rape. However, it calls for abortions not to be used as birth control. Therefore, the policies of our denomination, call women to responsible care and decision making related to their bodies. The 1992 policies represented various theological positions on the issues related to reproductive health.  Eleven years post reunion the PC(USA) demonstrated the courage to reason together regarding one of the most divisive issues of our Church and Society. This represented an attempt to build unity in the body of Christ, while acknowledging that this issue of reproductive rights for women was divisive, but needed to be addressed. The deliberations and writing of this report was intended to provide a balanced view of the issues related to abortions without disrupting a woman’s right to choose.[viii] This effort by Presbyterians represents prophetic courage in a contentious time in the life of the denomination and larger society.

The 1992 policy states that “We affirm the ability and responsibility of women, guided by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, in the context of their communities of faith, to make good moral choices in regard to problem pregnancies.[ix]

Women Marching for Equal Rights.
Source: Library of Congress
It is unclear as to how this issue of abortion has been watered down to the language of pro-life and pro-choice. We have forgotten or never been made aware of the complexities of bringing children into the world. Or, we do not understand the impact that remains as scars for so many women in our society who are victims of rape, incest and a host of other violent acts upon their personhood. Our faith calls us to an awareness of the issues and the individual. We are all pro life, however there are variances in how we live and move and have our being.

Addressing  The Double Standard

A Presbyterian minister in a rural congregation shared with me that he was once challenged when he refused to continue the practice of making a woman stand before the congregation to repent when she became pregnant outside of marriage. He raised the question with the elders of the Church as to whether the man who impregnated her was to publicly repent as well. The response from the all male Session was “no” although they knew the father of the child. During a time in this country when it was an embarrassment to be pregnant without a spouse, the Pastor felt that to have the woman stand alone before the congregation admitting her sin as though it occurred without the assistance of a male (who remained blameless) was exploitation of this woman.

The issue of unwanted pregnancies remains the imperfection of a woman rather than a shared responsibility in our society. The woman at the well was blamed for hustling men in order to make a living. However, the societal laws and standards placed her in a position that she had to engage in usury of men to survive. While I was pastoring a New Church Development in the late 1990’s in Memphis, Tennessee, our church committed to evangelizing the poor to the PCUSA. Over the course of that evangelism, it was shocking to discover that thousands of men in Shelby County Tennessee were behind in paying child support. The challenge to this type of behavior leaves the responsibility to raise children solely on the woman. The failure to provide child support by such a large number of men raises significant questions regarding the collusion of government with the expectation that women are to bear the sole responsibility of raising children. This type of inaction on the part of our government sends a message to men that their irresponsibility in supporting their child/children is given a pass.

As a Church we cannot dismiss our societal standards that place the sole responsibilities of becoming pregnant; delivering a child; and bearing the financial responsibility of the child’s upbringing on a woman. Maybe, when our government leaders vote affirmatively to pay women the same amount of compensation as a man for doing the same job it may take away the need to consider the financial hardships that women must bear in many cases to become a single parent.[x] Or, when our leaders determine that stricter enforcement of childcare payments are paid in full and on time, women will have another view other than to abort a child.

It is important that we who are of faith recognize the broadness of circumstances that trap the poor, victimized, and abandoned in our society. We must be conscious of the extraordinary struggles that women encounter when laws remain unjust towards them.  It was appalling to see an all male group of religious leaders standing at a Congressional Hearing  in 2012 testifying that the Obama administration went too far with its mandate that all insurers except churches - including non-church religious affiliated organizations - must offer health insurance. The hearing was titled "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State” and centered around reproductive health, however not one person testifying on behalf of a religious organization was female. Linda Valentine, then Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency wrote a letter decrying this insensitive omission in which she wrote:

The views represented by the invited witnesses… boasted some glaring gaps in mainstream religious life in the United States. Not only were the voices of women missing, but also absent was a voice from the breadth of the mainline Protestant community. Grounded in our conviction that God wants healing and wholeness for each of us, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a supporter of universal access to comprehensive health care, including the full range of women’s reproductive health care. [xi]

Whether one agrees or disagrees with denominational policy on this issue, it must be asked “Why does this issue of conscience carry so much weight of authority in our nation when fifty one percent of the children in the United States are low income?[xii] Do we care that in the most developed country in the world  35% of households headed by single women are food insecure?[xiii] Or, does it matter that while we send children to public schools everyday, many do not graduate or possess no skills to work?” It seems reasonable that if we make deeper commitments to mothers and fathers about the future of their children, the issues surrounding abortion may be easier to solve. Most parents want to know that their child or children will have a future. It is difficult to convince a pregnant teenager or an out of work expectant parent that their child can become significant to the world when they have no reference in their own lives to give them hope.

It must be made clear that this is not an attempt to simplify the outcome or remedy to this struggle in the United States regarding women’s rights, but instead that this issue is interconnected to deeper struggles within the Church and Society.

Conclusion - Affirming Our Current Policy

I anticipate that there will be a number of critics and supporters responding to this PCUSA Office of Public Witness policy commentary. Family issues are known to be “hot button” topics for our office. Please be reminded that we advocate for the social justice polices approved by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These policies emanate from congregations, and committee members who sit in pews. Policies are discussed and voted on by persons serving on committees who worship in congregations and not national offices. It is important that we read and review the 1992 policy, before rushing to judgment.

While Congressional leaders hold hearings related to fetal tissue and abortions, it is my prayer that child poverty, low graduation rates, gun violence, food security and a host of other issues related to children and their families would be addressed with the same fervor. More importantly, I pray that the Church of Jesus Christ would recognize that human life does not operate in a vacuum.

Our challenge is to create an environment on this earth that is conducive to human life being received as a blessing by all and not a curse. I pray that we can now focus on ways that all human beings can have life and have it more abundantly.


To Download a copy of this publication click HERE

[i]Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Forbes.
[ii] Fact Check: How Does Planned Parenthood Spend That Government Money? By Danielle Kurtzleben
[iii] The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to debate the issue at General Assembly meetings. In recent years the 1992 report of the Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion has provided the impetus for interpreting the position of the General Assembly on Abortions.

[v] John 4:4-26
[vi] Minutes of the 182nd General Assembly (1970), United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., p. 891
[vii] Minutes of the 220th General Assembly (2012). Presbyterian Church USAPage 68.
[viii] The 1992 policy was developed with a variety of persons who represented various views on the issue of abortion.
[ix] Minutes of the 220th General Assembly (2012). Presbyterian Church USA Pg. 1707.

[x] God’s Work in Women’s Hands: Pay Equity and Just Compensation. Presbyterian Church USA, 218th (2010) General Assembly.
[xi] Valentine, Linda. Letter to Chairman Issa, US House of Representatives. March 1,2012.
[xii] Southern Education Foundation. New Majority Research Bulletin.
[xiii] Feeding America Hunger and Poverty Fact Sheet.

Listen: Witness in Washington Webinar on Criminal Justice Reform

The movement for criminal justice reform has momentum on the national stage as bills that would reduce prison sentences and reduce the number of people going to prison make their way through the House and the Senate. The Office of Public Witness held a webinar to discuss what the proposed reforms would do, how they would impact the struggle for racial justice and equity in the US, and how the faith community has taken leadership to move these policies forward. 

Kara Gotsch
Director of Advocacy, Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition
Alex Friedmann
Managing Editor, Prison Legal News and Advisor to PHEWA's Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network

Moderator: Nora Leccese
Associate for Domestic Poverty and Environmental Issues, Presbyterian Church USA

Listen to a link of the Webinar by following this link:

Action Alert: Pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act

Urge your Senator to Support this Bi-Partisan Legislation

Click HERE to send a email to your Senator

Our beliefs direct us to protect the dignity and well-being of everyone impacted by the criminal justice system. That commitment extends to people who are victimized by crime, as well as to those who commit offenses. Current federal law demands harsh punishment for even low-level drug offenses. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act seeks to restore proportionality and fairness to federal sentencing and aid in rehabilitation for people in prison. Tell your senators to support this bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation. 
The legislation has twenty six co-sponsors; if your Senator is among them consider thanking them for their commitment to justice and mercy. 
Sen. Durbin, Richard [D-IL]10/01/2015
Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX]10/01/2015
Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI]10/01/2015
Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT]10/01/2015
Sen. Schumer, Charles E. [D-NY]10/01/2015
Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC]10/01/2015
Sen. Leahy, Patrick J. [D-VT]10/01/2015
Sen. Booker, Cory A. [D-NJ]10/01/2015
Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC]10/01/2015
Sen. Tillis, Thom [R-NC]10/08/2015
Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE]10/08/2015
Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS]10/21/2015
Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]10/21/2015
Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]10/21/2015
Sen. Franken, Al [D-MN]10/21/2015
Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA]10/21/2015
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]10/22/2015
Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH]10/26/2015
Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY]11/04/2015
Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [D-PA]11/04/2015
Sen. Burr, Richard [R-NC]11/09/2015
Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA]11/09/2015
Sen. Roberts, Pat [R-KS]11/10/2015
Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY]11/10/2015
Sen. Ernst, Joni [R-IA]11/17/2015
Sen. Murray, Patty [D-WA]
Thanks to the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition for their thoughtful language in this Action Alert. 

Click HERE to send a email to your Senator

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Register Now for Advocacy Training Weekend

“Lift Every Voice: Racism, Class, and Power”


APRIL 15–18, 2016
Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day - April 15
Ecumenical Advocacy Days
April 15-18
Registration Link:

In our neighborhoods and around the world, social, economic, corporate, and political powers are working to reduce citizens’ access to decision-making. These practices violate the rights and silence the voices of those most affected by these decisions and severely hamper the ability of all citizens to determine the best policies for our communities and nations. As Christians, God calls us to lift up all voices so that we the people might regain influence in the policies that affect our nation and our world. Come to Advocacy Training Weekend April 15-18 and lift up your voice for transparent and participatory government at home and abroad.
At Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day, we will take a look at how Presbyterians are working to address the suppression of political and economic rights of people of color, immigrants, workers, and the poor in our own country and abroad. We will examine how decisions that affect the global economy, our day-to-day life, and the well-being of the entire global community are being made in secret with little or no transparency or accountability.
Join the ecumenical community for Ecumenical Advocacy Days, beginning the evening of Friday April 15th and culminating with a lobby day on Monday April 18th. Lift up your voice alongside other people of faith as you speak truth to power concerning the suppression of political and economic rights and the corporate undermining of the local voices of ordinary people, in the U.S. and around the world.


·       Date: Friday, April 15, 2016
·       Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
·       Location: New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (1313 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.)
·       Cost: $75 (CPJ Day, not attending EAD), $55 (CPJ Day, also attending EAD), $30 (CPJ Day, students/youth under 30) (Prices will go up $10 after February 1, 2016)

·       Date: Friday, April 15 - Monday, April 18, 2016
·       Time: Begins at 7:00pm  April 15
·       Location: Crystal City Double Tree (300 Army-Navy Drive)
·       Cost: $199 (Early Bird Registration through March 18), $215 (Registration after March 18), $110 (One-day registration)