Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interfaith Community Responds to Supreme Court Vacancy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell                          Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley
317 Russell Senate Office Building                                    135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510                                                        Washington DC 20510

February 19, 2016

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley:

Though our organizations reflect a diverse array of faith traditions, we share a commitment to justice and wise leadership. These values are also cornerstones of American democracy. For this reason, even as we mourn the death of committed public servant Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, we urge you to swiftly fulfill your constitutional responsibility of providing “advice and consent” on whomever is nominated by President Obama to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

The system of government created by the Constitution’s Framers rests on three fully functioning and co-equal branches. A seat intentionally left vacant for an extended period of time – either through a delayed nomination or delayed consideration – threatens the ability of the government to operate at full capacity, as well as the ability for justice to be served in a timely fashion. Justice delayed is anathema to us as Americans and as people of faith seeking to create a more just nation and world.

That is why we were pleased to hear President Obama make clear his intention to send you a nominee without undue delay. There is clear precedent for President Obama to swiftly put forth a Supreme Court nominee, and for the Senate to hold a fair hearing and timely vote. Since the 1980s, every Supreme Court nominee has been given a hearing and vote within approximately 100 days of his or her nomination. With well over 300 days before a new president takes office, there is ample time for the nomination and confirmation process. And though 2016 is an election year, the precedent here is clear as well: six Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during presidential election years.

While some of our denominations and organizations take positions on individual nominees, others do not. Yet, we are united in our shared commitment to the principle that the President’s and Senate’s constitutional duties regarding judicial vacancies ought to be carried out in a timely fashion. We urge you move expeditiously to hold hearings and vote on whomever is nominated to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.


African American Ministers In Action
Ameinu (Our People)
Anti-Defamation League
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Catholics for Choice
Center of Concern
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Church World Service
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Habonim Dror
Interfaith Alliance
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Women International
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Muslim Advocates
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Religious Institute
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism
Workmen’s Circle

CC: Democratic Leader Harry Reid
       Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Religious Community Responds to Supreme Court Decision to Stay the Clean Power Plan

Religious community’s statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the Clean Power Plan

 Feb. 15, 2016---We are disappointed by last week’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision to stay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan. As religious organizations, we are deeply concerned with protecting the health and well-being of vulnerable communities and God’s Creation. The Clean Power Plan was designed to allow states the greatest flexibility in implementation, while benefiting the health of all peoples by improving the quality of the air we breathe. As religious organizations we strive to be stewards of the earth that God has gifted us and will continue to promote environmental stewardship. U.S. leadership toward a clean energy future is vital. Many organizations in the electricity sector have already began to shift towards a safer, cleaner energy future. In addition, many states have already begun to work on compliance with the Clean Power Plan. We call on them to continue this work and urge all local, state and national policymakers to join efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution and protect the health and wellbeing of all creation. We hope and pray that all states around the nation will continue their efforts to implement a clean energy future, for the well-being of present and future generations.

The Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Church World Service
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Advocacy Office
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
 Interfaith Power & Light
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Maryknoll Sisters Eastern and Western Regions USA
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
 Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Ministry for the Earth

Monday, February 22, 2016

PCUSA and 11 National Christian Groups Urge Department of State to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Abuses

Today, twelve churches and faith-based organizations submitted cases of apparent extrajudicial killings by Israeli forces to the U.S. Department of State.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the organizations indicated that these cases constitute the second submission in a comprehensive project to seek accountability for documented human rights violations by Israeli forces. 

The organizations asked the Department of State to investigate whether these cases constitute violations of the Leahy Law, and requested that the Department of State investigate and identify the units involved in the killings. “If a Leahy Law violation occurred, then the units responsible should be ineligible to receive future U.S. security assistance as stipulated by the law,” the letter concluded.

Two provisions in U.S. law, collectively known as the “Leahy Amendments” or “Leahy Laws” address concerns about human rights related to U.S. security assistance.  Israel receives the majority of U.S. Foreign Military Financing.

The organizations submitting the cases were the American Friends Service Committee; Church of the
Brethren, Office of Public Witness; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; Pax Christi International; Pax Christi USA; Presbyterian Church (USA); United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; and United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Workshops Announced for CPJ Training Day / Early Registration Discount until March 1

Register Now for Advocacy Training Weekend!
Lift Every Voice:  Racism, Class and Power  
April 15-18, 2016 
Washington, DC 

Workshops have been announced for Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day on April 15!
Early registration discount extended to March 1.

Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day has just announced the workshop offerings for Friday April 15th.  Workshops include:

Educate a Child: Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline

A black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a white boy’s chance is 1 in 17. This workshop, focusing on the domestic component of the Educate a Child Initiative, will ask “Who has the power?” in our current educational systems. Participants will examine the relationship between poverty, racism, educational inadequacies, and mass incarceration – including the role that corporations play at both ends of the pipeline. Workshop leaders will share stories of how Presbyterians across the country are disrupting these unjust systems and will equip participants with tools to directly serve students falling through the cracks of the educational system and to impact policy at the district, state, and national levels.
Led by: Alonzo Johnson, Mission Associative for Peacemaking; Ginna Bairby, Associate for Young Adult Social Witness; and Nora Leccese, Associate for Domestic Poverty and Environmental Issues at the Office of Public Witness 

Engaging Corporations on Human Trafficking
This workshop will teach participants about the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. Participants will split into small groups to exchange ideas and explore ways that the Code could be used by their congregation and in their community. We will also explore ways for congregations to participate in corporate engagement and advocacy related to human trafficking.
Led by: Ryan Smith, Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations; Rob Fohr, Associate for Mission Responsibility Through Investment; Bill Somplatsky- Jarman, Coordinator of Mission Responsibility Through Investment

Gentrification and Neighborhood Equity: Self-Development of People

Race, class, and power have all played into the rapidly changing face of the Washington, DC area. Once known as Chocolate City, Washington, DC is no longer a city with a majority of its population comprised of black or brown people. Hear from long-time residents struggling against displacement as they search for housing that is safe and affordable regardless of income or wealth. Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE) DC’s mission is to create and preserve racial and economic equity in DC while envisioning it as an equitable and just place for all of its residents. Come to learn how you can help the residents of DC as well as economically poor and oppressed people around the world through the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People.
Led by: Dominic Moulden, ONE DC; Selma Jackson, Chairperson of the National Self-Development of People Committee; Clara Nunez, Associate for Self-Development of People

Global Corporate Exploitation: Debt and Taxes

Around the world and across the United States, people are impacted by the unfair borrowing and lending practices of corporate banks and lending institutions. In addition, estimates indicate that every year over one trillion dollars in earnings exits the developing world untaxed. Corporations use a network of tax havens, banks, and shell corporations to evade paying taxes in poor countries. Come to this workshop to find out more about corporate financial exploitation, the call for expanded debt cancellation, and the movement to address tax issues so that more can be put into public investment, climate change protections, and policies that benefit the common good.
Led by: Representatives from Jubilee USA; and Catherine Gordon, Associate for International Issues at the Office of Public Witness

For a full list of workshops click here.  
For more information and to register go to our website.  
We're looking forward to seeing you in DC!