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Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign Interfaith Statement Supporting Human Rights in Gulf Coast Recovery Is a Moral Priority

As Hurricanes Ike and Gustav hit the Gulf Coast, internally displacing over one million people, we as a nation were reawakened to the needs of the Gulf Coast. Three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and the levees breached, the slow pace of recovery and the new needs caused by Ike and Gustav’s destruction have created a moral crisis along the Gulf Coast that demands a powerful response from people of faith. While the nation has learned to better prepare for this latest hurricane, whether by inaction or injustice, we have still failed to protect the wellbeing of Gulf Coast survivors, new residents and their families, especially the children, the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable through just long term rebuilding policies which fully support human rights. The collapse of local institutions, homelessness, internal displacement, poverty, abusive labor practices and environmental degradation mean they continue to suffer and struggle unduly. A spiritual wound remains open across the region, one felt in God’s creation and every community across this country. Our God is a God of justice, of humanity and of healing, and this moral injustice calls each of us to bold action in support of the common good. We must act to justly rebuild communities, restore the Gulf Coast, and empower families to overcome the devastation they suffered in our nation’s worst natural disasters. As people of faith and as Americans we believe in transcendent human dignity and place our trust in basic human rights. Many of the survivors of these disasters lack the resources to return to their communities to reunite with their families. Many families still have not recovered and have not been able to resume their lives with the dignity and safety that are their right. New residents who came to work in the recovery face hardships and abuses. Gulf Coast communities continue to suffer from toxic trailers; closed schools, police stations, and hospitals; a shortage of affordable housing; crumbling roads and water systems; and workplace abuse. As we have seen during Hurricane Gustav, an inadequate flood protection system and accelerating erosion of the wetlands left residents vulnerable to this and future disasters. Through years of improper stewardship, preventable coastal erosion has destroyed billions of dollars worth of natural flood protection and threatens the homes, places of worship, schools, and businesses of those who live along the Gulf Coast. This also threatens the security of the majority of our nation’s energy infrastructure, parts of which were once built above land and now reside below salt water. The result is an American human rights and national security crisis that requires the attention all Americans, regardless of where they live, their faith, or their political party. Together Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav killed more than 2,000 people. They destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and places of worship, causing over $150 billion in damages and displacing hundreds of thousands of families. Members of diverse faith communions have responded generously, volunteering thousands of hours to rebuild lives across Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and giving millions in charitable donations. Faith groups have formed powerful new partnerships with local community leaders, non-profits, and other denominations, to lead some of the most successful efforts in the recovery. We have learned that acts of faith and mercy alone, no matter how profound, cannot provide everything needed for a sustainable recovery. Gulf Coast families deserve a federal government that recognizes their needs by rebuilding their communities, supporting basic human rights of all communities, addressing poverty and displacement, and confronting coastal erosion. The government must empower local communities to take the lead in rebuilding their neighborhoods, renewing their lives, and restoring God’s creation. We believe it is a moral obligation for the federal government to fulfill its promises for Gulf Coast recovery: empowering residents to return and participate in equitably rebuilding their communities. Now we are joining community and faith leaders across Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and calling on people of faith to form a new partnership for a renewed and just federal Gulf Coast recovery policy to put all Gulf Coast communities, regardless of race, ethnicity or income, on the path to an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable recovery. We ask national leaders of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, as they discuss the future of our nation, to honor the third anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the survivors of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav by pledging to fulfill these obligations in the next Administration and Congress, including:

    • Passing policy based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act for a resident-led partnership to rebuild vital public infrastructure, restore the environment, and create good jobs and economic opportunities for residents and returning displaced families to help create stronger, safer, and more equitable communities;

vIncreasing funding for federal, state, and local partnerships in the Gulf Coast to create more affordable housing and promote home-ownership for returning families, workers, and residents moving out of unsafe FEMA trailers; and

  • Supporting federal funding to restore the coastal wetlands and barrier islands that form the Gulf Coast’s natural barriers to flooding and to build improved levee systems to create a comprehensive flood control system which could protect all Gulf Coast communities from another Category 5 storm.

Signed, Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President, National Association of Evangelicals* Rabbi Steve Gutow, Executive Director, Jewish Council for Public Affairs Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of Churches Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President, The Islamic Society of North America Fr. Larry Snyder, President, Catholic Charities, USA Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World Richard Stearns, President, World Vision Rev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners The Rt. Rev. Wayne Burkette, President, The Moravian Church, Southern Province The Rt. Rev. David L. Wickmann, President, The Moravian Church, Northern Province Rev. Jacob Jang, General Secretary, Korean Presbyterian Church in America Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church Dr. Stanley Noffsinger, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Rev. Jim Winkler, General Secretary, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society Dr. Robert C. Andringa, President Emeritus, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Roberta Avila, Executive Director, Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, President, National Council of Churches Dr. David R. Black, President, Eastern University* Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Coordinator, Disciples Center for Public Wellness, Church of Christ Sr. Simone Campbell, Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby Dr. Tony Campolo, , Eastern University, St. David’s, PA* Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel Dewitt Proctor Convention Rev. Alfred Carter, President, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association Charles Clements, President and CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Dr. Luis Cortes, Executive Director, Nueva Esperanza Dr. Paul Corts, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities* Sr. Anne Curtis, RSM, Leadership Team, Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Sr. Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi USA and Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, President, Common Cause, Former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, Executive Vice-President, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism Mary Fontenot, Executive Director, All Congregations Together Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance Sharon Gauthe, Executive Director, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing Sr. Donna Graham, OSF, Franciscan Justice and Peace Office and OFM for Province of St. John the Baptist Dr. David Gushee, Presidents, Evangelicals for Human Rights* Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Treasurer, Senior Pastor, World Relief, Nineteen Street Baptist Church* Rev. Dr. Leo Hartshorn, Minister of Peace and Justice, Mennonite Mission Network, U.S. Ministries Dr. Frederick Haynes, III, Senior Pastor, Friendship West Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas Dr. Obery Hendricks, Professor of Biblical Interpretation, New York Theological Seminary, Author of “The Politics of Jesus”* Bishop Thomas J. Hoyt, Co-Chair, National Council of Churches Special Commission on the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast Dr. John Huffman, Senior Pastor, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church* Dr. George Hunsinger, Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Founder, National Religious Campaign Against Torture Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, A Distributed Church* Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Professor of Christian Ethics and Theology, Drew University, Madison, NJ* Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Justice and Witness Ministry, United Church of Christ David E. Jehnsen, Chair of the Board, Every Church a Peace Church Ven. Michael S. Kendall, President, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice Hon. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Author of “Failing America’s Faithful”, former Lt. Gov. of Maryland and Board Member, RFK Memorial Rabbi Asher Knight, , Temple Emanu-El, Dallas Texas Chris Kromm, Executive Director, Institute for Southern Studies, Author of “Faith in the Gulf” Rabbi Irwin Kula, President, The Center for Leadership and Learning Dr. Peter Kuzmic, Distinguished Professor, Gordon Cornwell Theological Seminary Rabbi Michael Lerner, Founder, TIKKUN and Network of Spiritual Progressives Rev. Michael E. Livingston, Co-Chair, National Council of Churches Special Commission on the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, Founder and CEO, World Hope International Renaye Manley, Organizaing Director, Interfaith Worker Justice Bishop A.C. “Chip” Marble Jr., Assisting Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina, Greensboro Office* Dr. Molly T. Marshall, President and Professor of Theology and Spiritual Formation, Central Baptist Theological Seminary Rev. Timothy McDonald III, President, African American Ministers in Action Dr. Brian D. McLaren, best-selling Author, Pastor and intellectual leader of “emerging church,”* Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Program Coordinator, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America Fr. T. Michael McNulty, SJ, Justice and Peace Director, Conference of Major Superiors of Men Rev. Gail E. Mengel, Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer, Community of Christ Rabbi Jack Moline, Chair of the Board, Interfaith Alliance and Senior Rabbi, Agudas Achim Congregation Rev. Jethroe Moore, II, President, San Jose NAACP Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair, Council of the Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Dr. Pamela Nath, , Listening & Discernment, Mennonite Central Committee Sr. Ann Oestreich, IHM, Congressional Coordinator, Congregation Justice Committee, Sisters of the Holy Cross Vicky Partin, Lay Missioner, Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry Dr. Ron Patterson, Executive Director, Christian Disaster Response Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness, Director, Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministries, Presbyterian Church USA Sr. Claire Regan, Office of Justice and Peace, Sisters of Charity of New York Rev. Carl W. Rehling, Director, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Diocesan Liaison for Justice and Peace Sr. Jane Remson, O.Carm. Main Representative to UN, Carmelite NGO Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Dr. Meg Riley, Director of Advocacy and Witness, Unitarian Universalist Association Congregation Bill Robinson, President, Whitworth University* Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Robert S. Runkle, Chair, Social Justice and Outreach Ministries Commission, Episcopal Diocese of Spokane Dr. Andrew Ryskamp, Director, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Director, Hispanic/Latino Leadership Program, Princeton Theological Seminary* Rev. Dr. Virginia Samuel, Interim Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs, Drew University, Madison, NJ* Sr. Marylin K. Scheib, Regional Administrative Office, Sisters of Mercy of the Regional Community of St. Louis Rev. Bill Schulz, Chairman, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Board of Directors Rev. Dr. Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action Dr. Ann E. Smith, President, Gamaliel Foundation Rev.Dr. Cory Sparks, Chair, Commission on Stewardship of the Environment, Louisiana Interchurch Conference Dr. Glen Harold Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Seminary* Rev. Ron Stief, Organizing Director, Faith in Public Life Russ Testa, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network Rabbi Uri Topolosky, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Israel, A Community Synagogue in New Orleans Rev. Romal Tune, President, Clergy Strategic Alliances Sr. Mari Turgi, CSC, Director, Holy Cross International Office Rabbi Stewart Vogel, President, Southern California Board of Rabbis Rabbi Brian Walt, Executive Director, Rabbis for Human Rights Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Executive Director, Shalom Center Alix Webb, Program Manager, The Poverty Initiative, Union Theological Seminary Rev.Dr. C. David Williams, President, Union of Black Episcopalians Dr. Lauren Winner, Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality, Duke Divinity School, Duke University* Rabbi David Wolpe, Senior Rabbi, Sinai Temple* Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins III, Executive Director, National Ministries, American Baptist Church, USA Dr. Amos Yong, Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity* Susan Youmans, Executive Director, Environmental Partnership

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Hispanic Evangelical Pastors endorsing McCain and Obama. How Hispanic Evangelicals are divided in 2008 Elections.

Pastores latinos nacionales respaldan a McCain por “razones morales”

Francisco Miraval Denver, 21 oct .- Conocidos dirigentes evangélicos nacionales se congregaron hoy en Denver para expresar su respaldo a la candidatura presidencial del senador republicano John McCain, afirmando que ese respaldo se debe a “razones morales y no partidistas” “Creemos en ciertos principios y en este momento crucial en la historia del país es un momento en el que si no se siguen esos principios morales se puede ir en una dirección peligrosa”, comentó el Dr. Gilbert Vélez, presidente nacional de la Conferencia Nacional de Líderes Cristianos Hispanos (NHCLC, en inglés) y miembro de la Asociación de Mega Iglesias Hispanas de Estados Unidos. Vélez también es pastor de Iglesia de la Misericordia, una mega-iglesia en Laredo, Texas. Según Vélez, la NHCLC representa a más de 15 millones de cristianos hispanos pertenecientes a 18.000 iglesias y 75 denominaciones de todo el país, y también representa a numerosas organizaciones religiosas cristianas, institutos, redes de pastores, congregaciones y laicos activos. “En estas elecciones dos de los temas más importantes son la defensa de los niños, incluyendo los niños aún no nacidos y la defensa del matrimonio”, agregó Vélez. “Le pedimos a la comunidad hispana que vote respaldando a esos principios. Este es el momento de salir a votar y de decidirse no por un partido o candidato sino por nuestros principios”, aseveró Vélez. “El hecho que un candidato sea de color o de una minoría no significa que los latinos deben votar por él”, puntualizó. “La comunidad de fe debe defender los principios que son la base de nuestra sociedad, como la santidad de la vida y el matrimonio sólo entre un hombre y una mujer. Ha llegado el momento que nuestro voto refleje lo que creemos”, expresó Vélez.   Por su parte, el conocido pastor, compositor y cantante Marcos Witt, cuatro veces ganador del Premio Grammy Latino y con más de 10 millones de grabaciones vendidas en Estados Unidos y en América Latina, opinó que, además de favorecer la reforma inmigratoria, el Senador John McCain “también favorece la opción de la vida y la defensa de los niños no nacidos”. Witt expresó su deseo de que el respaldo que estos pastores ofrecen a McCain “haga pensar a mucha gente para que vean que éstos son los principios básicos y también ellos lo consideren como su candidato”. El pastor Mark Gonzáles es el vicepresidente de asuntos gubernamentales de la NHCLC, organizador de la campaña “Es Tiempo de Votar”, y pastor en Dallas, Texas. Gonzáles enumeró cinco razones para respaldar a McCain. Esas razones son la postura de McCain en contra del aborto y a favor del matrimonio tradicional, la promesa de McCain de nombrar a jueces conservadores a la Corte Suprema de Justicia (con la posibilidad de la abolición de la ley Roe v. Wade), el respaldo de McCain a Israel, y el hecho que el senador republicano impulsó una reforma inmigratoria integral “desde el principio y cuando no era popular hacerlo”. La conferencia de prensa se realizó en las oficinas centrales de la campaña de McCain/Palin en Colorado, en la localidad de Centennial, al sur de Denver. Junto a Vélez, Witt y Gonzáles estuvieron Federico Lee Maes, presidente de la Alianza Ministerial de Denver; Mario Mencos, presidente de la Red Ministerial de Denver, y decenas de pastores y líderes cristianos locales y regionales. Todos los oradores hablaron únicamente a título personal y no en nombre de sus iglesias u organizaciones, y mencionaron esas iglesias y organizaciones sólo como información de referencia. “Ante todo tenemos que salir a votar. Necesitamos una representación hispana este año en las elecciones para poder alcanzar mayores beneficios. Y cuando voten, háganlo por principios”, enfatizó el Dr. Vélez.


Press Conference Denver 12 El Pastor Marcos Witt (centro, en el podio) exhorta a los hispanos de votar por McCain durante una rueda de prensa en Denver el martes 21 de octubre. Junto a él están (izq. a der.) el Dr. Gilbert Vélez, el pastor Mario Mencos y el pastor Mark Gonzáles. Press Conference Denver 10 (Izq. a der.) Mario Mencos, Mark Gonzáles, Gilbert Vélez, Marcos Witt y Arturo Vargas (pastor del Centro Cristiano Amistad en Lakewood, Colorado). Fotos por FEM


Estas elecciones son las más cruciales en Estados Unidos en las últimas tres décadas. Nosotros seremos en parte responsables por lo que vaya a pasar. Mis hijas, mi nieto, mi esposa y yo votaremos por Sarah Palin porque ella es una dama cristiana, valiente y esforzada. Sé que habrá quienes no simpaticen totalmente on el Senador John McCain, pero la presencia de Palin inclina la balanza del pueblo cristiano hacia McCain, por estar en contra de las prácticas que Dios aborrece y de las ideas liberales que están en contra de los que enseña la Biblia. No votemos tanto por los candidatos, votemos por quienes se inclinen más hacia lo que dice la Palabra de Dios. Ernesto Vergara Pastor Tesorero de la Alianza Ministerial de Denver Después de analizar y de evaluar a ambos candidatos según mis creencias, he decidido dar mi apoyo al Senador John McCain para la presidencia por: 1. Los valores de Vida (Dios da y quita la vida no el hombre). 2. La preservación de las instituciones divinas de la Iglesia y del Matrimonio (Dios las creó y nadie debe regularlas o cambiarlas). 3. La inmigración (Dios siempre nos manda a tratar bien a los extranjeros y nunca promueve el establecimiento de leyes que separen familias). Y 4. Muchos se dicen creyentes pero hasta no ser probados en tiempos de crisis no sabemos que clase de carácter la persona tiene, y el senador McCain ha sido más que probado en tiempos de crisis y sus reacciones me enseñan que es un hombre que se mantiene firme en sus creencias y convicciones a pesar de que no sean las más populares. Arturo Vargas Pastor Centro Cristiano Amistad Lakewood

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NHCLC Partners with Micah Challenge to end extreme poverty

The following is a message from Micah Challenge to the NHCLC membership: Dear NHCLC, Thank you for helping us share these materials with churches in your network. I am attaching the materials in both English and Spanish. As I mentioned, the campaign encourages Christians to fast and pray that the next US president will “act fast” to end extreme poverty. We are encouraging people to sign up to fast for a meal or more between now and January 18. As part of their fast we are also asking them to pray and add their name to our letter to President-elect Obama. I am including the following info to help churches get their members involved in this effort:

  • A one-page background on the “what” and “why” of the campaign (English and Spanish)
  • A sign-up sheet to take down the names of people who pledge to fast, prayer, donate, or sign the petition to the future president (English and Spanish)
  • A 7-week prayer guide that can be used as a resource for fasting and prayer — this can be used by individuals or groups (English Only)
  • A copy of our letter to Obama: “Micah’s Challenge to the Future President” (Spanish)

While we are pleased for individuals to do this on their own, this is also something that could be easily incorporated into a weekly bible class or study group. Please encourage people to sign up, either with on the paper sheet attached or online, as this helps us keep in touch with people about our work and the impact of their efforts. Churches should mail the sign-up sheets or donations they collect to address on the sheet. (While the donations are not the focus of this program, people’s sharing is what allows us to mobilize more and more people to take action against poverty). All this material is also available online: http://www.micahchallenge.us/take_action.shtml. Please do not hesitate to contact me about questions or further assistance. If people want to read more about Micah Challenge in Spanish, they can go to: http://desafiomiqueas.org/. It doesn’t have info about Act FAST but it has background info on what Micah Challenge is about. Blessings, Brian, National Coordinator – Micah Challenge USA “And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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Hispanic Evangelicals respond to the Election of President Barack Obama

An Open letter from the NHCLC to President Elect Barack Obama Dear President-Elect Barack Obama, On behalf of the 16 million strong Hispanic American Evangelical community and 18,734 churches throughout the 50 states and Puerto Rico, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Leadership Organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, wishes to extend our sincerest congratulatory sentiment in your election as our Nation’s 44th President. Our prayer is that the Spirit of Reconciliation will inundate our national family as you lead us in these difficult times. Click here to download and read the full letter.

From Dr. Jesse Miranda President elect Barack Obama’s victory revealed the heart and soul of the Latinos in the United States. In this election Latinos, both Evangelical and non-Evangelicals, marched away from the GOP as it shifted on the issue of immigration. By the GOP narrowing themselves the Latino voted went to for candidate that won’t expel them but rather expand their horizon, i.e. education. According to the NY Times (11/13) Barack is sending signals that education is on the list of priorities of his administration as a way of addressing poverty and growing the economy, issues important to Latinos. As Chief Executive Director of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference I see evangelicals reaffirming their identity, reforming their behavior and repositioning their public engagement to address the righteousness and justice ethic that we seek need our community. The new administrations’ educational initiatives for one will help us as Americans regain the lost ground educationally to our competitors abroad and to restore the fading American dream we once had. un abrazo, Dr. Jesse Miranda Chief Executive Director National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

William McKenzie: How did the GOP lose Latino evangelicals? Dallas Morning News Monday, November 10, 2008 I followed Latino evangelicals throughout the election to see whether this part of the GOP base would chip off because of the harsher rhetoric coming out of some Republican mouths about illegal immigration. I also wanted to understand where a fast-growing part of evangelicalism was headed. Numbers are still coming in, but it’s safe to say enough Latino evangelicals marched away from the GOP to matter in states such as Florida and Colorado. Barack Obama won there after George W. Bush prevailed in 2004. I got back on the phone with the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez to find out why. His name has appeared frequently in this column because he heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the leading Hispanic evangelical organization. The Californian offered a blunt assessment:

  • Immigration, and immigration only, cost Republicans. The Pat Buchanans drove Latino evangelicals away with scary rhetoric about immigration during Congress’ recent debates on the subject.
  • Republicans can win back Latino evangelicals by acknowledging the need to diversify. And the diversification applies to more than Latinos.

The party should “vertically realign,” he said, by reaching out to younger voters, Asian-Americans and African-Americans. He suggests the GOP immediately host a summit with “gatekeepers” in those various communities who lean Republican. I agree. The GOP can’t keep narrowing itself, forcing out minority voters. The party either expands or shrinks into irrelevancy. Almost every day we hear about America’s demographics changing. To survive in a diverse America, the GOP must become more multi-ethnic and multi-generational, as Mr. Rodriguez said. But change won’t come without messiness. For example, Latino evangelicals must challenge their fellow Republicans when the anti-immigration talk morphs into race-baiting. That includes denouncing ads like we saw in Texas. In state legislative races, such as the one featuring Democratic State Rep. Allen Vaught and Republican challenger Bill Keffer, Republicans hit hard with inflammatory ads depicting the Democrat as soft on illegal immigration. Mr. Rodriguez acknowledges confrontation is inevitable and used a biblical story to illustrate his point: There was first fire with the prophet Elijah, then came a healing rain. My larger reason for studying Latino evangelicals is to better grasp evangelicalism’s direction. Since there are about 16 million Hispanic evangelicals in America, they could influence the larger evangelical movement, which remains an important segment of our culture. Like most other evangelicals, Hispanic evangelicals emphasize personal conversions, the inerrancy of Scripture and the return of Jesus. And, politically, most oppose abortion and gay marriage. But there are enough differences that Latinos could reshape the evangelical movement. That includes theologically. Numerous Latino evangelicals believe in speaking in tongues and divine healing. Your normal Billy Graham-evangelical has never been comfortable with charismatic Christianity. In fact, there’s long been a split within evangelicalism over speaking in tongues. The divide could expand unless evangelicals discover how to deal with the new wave of Latino evangelicals. Latino evangelicals also could reshape evangelicalism’s politics. Specifically, their economic populism could drive the movement closer to the I-feel-your-pain approach of Mike Huckabee. During the GOP primaries, the former Arkansas governor tried to articulate the fears and anxieties of families not making it in the global economy. It would be disastrous if this populism prompts evangelicals to retreat from the world economy. But it could land evangelicals on the side of a new suffering class in America. You put that alongside younger evangelicals’ interest in fighting poverty, and you can see an evangelicalism that emphasizes what Mr. Rodriguez calls the righteousness-and-justice ethic: One that opposes abortion and gay marriage and at the same time fights for social justice. Evangelicalism’s direction matters because this movement affects our culture. Latino evangelicals particularly matter to the GOP. We will see whether Republicans are smart enough to create a lasting marriage with them. William McKenzie is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist. His email address is wmckenzie@dallasnews.com This week’s debate on Texas Faith: Californians strike down gay marriage. Participate at dallasnews.com/ William McKenzie is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist. His email address is wmckenzie@dallasnews.com

Whither the GOP? Margaret Spellings of Texas is the U.S. secretary of education. After a sound defeat, conservatives must refocus, but on what? Points asked thoughtful Republicans from Dallas and beyond; here are their responses: A different kind of Republican… When you look at the big issues – the economy, health care, global competitiveness and national security – one of the common themes is adequately focusing on and investing in education. We have to do that to deal with each issue. Education’s also a kitchen-table issue and one of those areas where we’ve practiced the bipartisan consensus people want. Emphasizing education is part of getting back to being a different kind of Republican, as the president ran as in 2000. We’re at one of those forks in the road, where we either talk to the base of the party or try to be a different kind of Republican, one who understands that fiscal discipline is not mutually exclusive with compassionate conservatism. We need to talk about issues like immigration, housing, AIDS and faith-based initiatives. Some of this means being able to better explain our positions. Many people have a visceral reaction when you bring up immigration, for example. But when you look at the facts, you see how immigration affects many parts of our lives, from labor patterns to population demographics. We can’t just ignore it. The same is true with education and No Child Left Behind. It’s a sullied brand because unions and others have attacked it. It’s heavily linked to President Bush. But we need to keep explaining the policy, because that’s what matters. And we need to explain it in personal terms. Do parents want their schools to teach their children at grade level or not? Do we want to continue to lead the world in innovation? If so, closing the achievement gap is essential.

Freedom. Opportunity. Responsibility. William Murchison, a former Dallas Morning News associate editor, is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Innovation in Lewisville. Do we, in fact, need a Republican Party? Maybe that’s the question. A second party, yes, certainly; but not the inert, intellectually sterile agglomeration of latter years. The Republican Party this cycle had no Big Idea wherewith to inspire. Republicans were just sort of there, and wanting to stay awhile longer. Fie and baloney. That’s not how you win elections. You win with ideas. “Change,” amorphously as the concept played out in Democratic hands, is at least an idea. A conservative party – which is what the GOP must remain, if only to offset the occasionally terrifying liberalism of the Democrats – doesn’t instinctively do “change.” It’s better at affirming. Affirming what, then? Freedom. Opportunity. Personal responsibility. Yes, affirm, then make it sing – the melody rising above the wonkery of policy papers and proposals. Tailor programs to the specified end, not the end to programs designed essentially as vote-buying enterprises. A few ideas on, for argument’s sake, the personal responsibility front. One: Start paying off our national bills and credit cards, the way families must. Two: Teach, teach, teach; connect student noses to the scholastic grindstone, and keep them there until learning takes place. Three: Repel unseemly proposals to roust “religious conservatives” from the party, when what you want isn’t fewer ties to our civilization’s noblest traditions, it’s more. “Idea” – just another four-letter word, perhaps. But what a grand one!

No more ‘go along to get along’ Rick Perry is the governor of Texas. The party needs to reassess how its principles are applied by those who represent us in Washington, where Americans judge how each party delivers on its promises. 2001 was a pinnacle for hard-working Republicans, when we took back Congress and captured the White House. Unfortunately, those we elected on a platform of fiscal responsibly and smaller, smarter government and leadership turned those values on their heads. Our party’s image has been seriously diminished by pork-barrel spending, special interests calling the shots, massive expansion of government and a loss of confidence in the ability of Republican leaders in D.C. to make things work. Change must work its way up from the local level. We must build on our successes at the state level, where we have focused on sound fiscal policies, job creation and transparency in spending. We need to continue to improve homeland security, education results and transportation infrastructure. Governors and state legislators will lead this charge, challenging the status quo with reforms that will matter to everyday Americans. No one has all the answers, but the status quo must be challenged. The “go along to get along” Republicans in D.C. have lost their way. Our party’s future lies with leaders across the country like Linda Lingle and Bobby Jindal, as well as Texas legislative leaders like Steve Ogden, Robert Duncan, Warren Chisum, Carl Isett and Geanie Morrison. Working with leaders across the nation, we will reform our party from the bottom up and return to the values that have long defined us.

It’s not about becoming power players Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas is the senior senator from Texas. I joined the GOP when Democrats ruled Texas. Republicans won by talking to their friends and neighbors, sharing core values. They got involved to change heavy-handed government, not to become power players. Along the way, Republicans lost our grassroots outreach and the energy it produces – especially from young voters. It is time to throw out robo-calls and talk to people about what unites us: supporting families, helping small businesses and assuring education prepares young people for the global marketplace. We must return to being the party of ideas by offering fresh solutions. When we won a congressional majority in the mid-’90s, we reformed welfare, lowered tax rates for all Americans and rebuilt our military. Small businesses are America’s economic engine, and we must reclaim the support of entrepreneurs. By keeping taxes low, removing burdensome regulations to allow job creation and expanding access to health care in the private market, we can spur our free-enterprise system to overcome the recession. We also need to recognize our state and nation’s changing demographics by listening to the innovative solutions minority communities propose. One of the best ways to do that is by reforming our public education system from the bottom up and championing the best ideas from local leaders. As the minority party, Republicans will not be in control. But we have a responsibility to try to protect Americans from poor public policy and shape good legislation where we can.

Americans want a new Contract with America Merrie Spaeth, president of a Dallas- based communications consulting company, was a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got.” We apologize to the American people. They signed on to the Contract with America. We failed them, but we’ve learned our lesson. First, we need to deliver on good government. We’ll abolish earmarks and resist creating pseudo-foundations funded by the companies affected by the committees we control. Second, let the voters vote on term limits. Elected officials hate them, but the excitement over Barack Obama is a clear message from the American people: Give us new faces. Involve a broad range of people. Are we prepared to listen? Third, we fell so in love with the Internet, we forgot the importance of getting out and talking to people. We need an army of volunteers to go anywhere there are more than three people to talk about the importance of free enterprise, entrepreneurs and individual accountability. Fourth, we need to develop a new vocabulary. Just as the “estate tax” was a yawn but the “death tax” rallied people, we need “competitive taxes,” not “lower taxes.” The “Fairness Doctrine” is the “Unfairness Doctrine.” The “Employee Free Choice Act” is the “Employee No Voice Act,” and so on. Finally, we must be optimistic and upbeat. We must celebrate the American “can do” nature. If we make this pledge to the American people, we will be welcomed back to the majority where we belong and where we can tackle the real challenges facing the nation.

Listen to this new hunger for change Rob Portman, a former congressman from Ohio, served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bush. The Republican Party’s revival starts with adherence to our core principles of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, family values and personal responsibility. And not just in how we campaign, but in how we govern. However, this is only a starting point. The key is to develop and communicate compelling policy solutions consistent with these principles. America seeks answers to the problems we face, and Republicans will be rewarded by providing them. There is an understandable nostalgia among Republicans for Ronald Reagan. But two keys to his success are sometimes overlooked. First, he used these beliefs to fashion innovative solutions to the challenges of his time, including the Cold War, a dysfunctional welfare system, stagflation from the Carter years and increased levels of violent crime. Second, he communicated his policies in a way that resonated with Americans. We must do the same thing. This begins with forging innovative solutions, particularly to domestic challenges like rising health costs, global competition, substandard education, stagnant middle-class wages, dependence on foreign oil, environmental worries and the unsustainable growth of entitlement programs. Instead of larger government and more bureaucracy, Republicans must offer solutions that use market forces and reward innovation and personal responsibility. Then we must put more effort and resources into communicating our policies. This includes better use of modern technologies, an area where the Obama campaign broke new ground. In 2006, election losses were a wake-up call not heard. We should listen to the hunger for change in last week’s results and offer ideas that can result in a Republican renaissance.

Our message needs new messengers Jonathan Neerman is chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party. When a political party suffers the type of defeat Republicans did Tuesday, there is a temptation to talk about returning to our base. I disagree. Rather than narrowing the party further, we should broaden the Republican coalition that led to our past successes. There is no reason we should change our core beliefs: lower taxes, limited government and strong national defense. Indeed, I believe these principles still resonate with the majority of our country. I do believe we need new messengers for that message. I hope the party continues to recruit and nurture younger candidates with fresh ideas and a younger perspective. These new leaders undoubtedly will disagree with some of the older leadership on issues ranging from the environment to foreign policy. That is OK. No, that is great. Our party cannot and should not become an echo chamber. A little dissent within is a good thing if it means our leaders will be able to deliver a coherent message that brings voters to the polls. The GOP is in danger of losing two key demographics: youths and Hispanics. We need to work diligently to recapture both by speaking directly to them about our core principles. It will take a serious effort to gain their support for our candidates and our positions. Particularly the youth vote, which, I believe, views Republicans as the “anti” party. If we give them reason to be “pro” something, we have a better chance of gaining their support.

Stop drinking the Kool-Aid in Washington Steve Forbes, a former GOP presidential candidate, is chairman, chief executive and editor in chief of Forbes. The GOP’s got to get back to basic principles. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid in Washington. By that, I mean: Don’t think pork or expanding entitlement programs wins you lasting support. Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan gets this. He’s put his career on the line by embracing tighter spending, reforming entitlements and improving our monetary policy. The weak dollar is one reason we’re in this economic mess. When it comes to entitlements, we’ve got to get away from the accountant’s mentality. Talking about unfunded liabilities to Medicare and Social Security is too hard to comprehend. We also need to make it clear that we won’t tamper with current benefits. We instead should talk about what we’re going to do for younger people. Otherwise, entitlement programs will become a catastrophic burden for them. On Social Security, for example, we need to frame personal investment accounts as a way to create capital and savings. You even would be allowed to pick your own retirement age. We also should talk about simplifying the tax code. Tax rate cuts work, but tax simplification is also essential. It would make companies even more competitive. Finally, we need to favor comprehensive immigration reform. Many parts of our economy need this, including the high-tech industry. And while we’re talking about that, why hasn’t anyone finished reforming the immigration service? It’s too bizarre and byzantine. If you play by the rules, you should stand a chance of staying in the country.

We simply must reach out to Hispanics Pastor Mark Gonzales, president and founder of Standing For Truth Foundation in Dallas, is a vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. My party undoubtedly faces issues that need addressing to remain viable. The GOP repeatedly claims it needs to reach Hispanics, but it has yet to meaningfully invest in a get-out-the-vote effort in the Hispanic community. To reach the estimated 50,000 new Hispanic voters each month, we need to invest in a strategy to reach “the awakening giant” in American politics. Just look at both presidential campaigns. The Hispanic vote goes to the campaigns that intentionally reach out to them. Republicans also should rebuild the bridges burned due to anti-immigrant rhetoric. I want to reiterate rhetoric. Legislatively, we can always agree to disagree. But we can never stop treating people, regardless of their status, with dignity and respect. Some rhetoric was definitely not in line with a party that values life and liberty. That sends the wrong message to voters who are examining the parties. And the GOP needs to remain true to its conservative principles. Quit walking around in fear of what “all” people think. What made this party great was that it represented a conservative set of standards: family, life, marriage, limited government, less taxation leading to greater opportunity, etc. These issues Hispanics truly appreciate, and they should bring them – and other voters – to our party. But we frequently try to please everyone and end up compromising our principles and representing no one. Enough with RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in order to save the party. We must examine the platform and connect with what the people really need and want from the government and the Grand Old Party.

Focus on these four cornerstones Jeb Hensarling, a congressman from East Dallas, chairs the House Republican Study Committee. There are people in every district in every state in America that long for Republicans who will stand and fight on their behalf. Americans are tired of a government that makes their health care more expensive, their paychecks smaller and their jobs less secure. In the days and months ahead, Republicans will rededicate themselves to a noble cause – the preservation of the American Dream. It is a dream that I believe relies on four cornerstones – faith, family, free enterprise and freedom. These are our values, and while they do not change, our message, tactics, and strategy will. We will apply those values and speak directly about the challenges faced by struggling, disaffected, 21st century families. We must regain the trust of the single suburban mom trying to scrape together rent money, the factory worker worried about his job, the senior who has watched his retirement funds plummet and the short-order cook dreaming about one day owning his own restaurant. We will not just speak to their heads, but to their hearts as well. We must have new ideas, strong ideas, ideas that solve their real challenges. We will resolve to remain optimistic in the face of difficult challenges. And we will resolve to go forward with an unbreakable unity to revitalize our party with bold colors.

The base doesn’t equal a majority Rob Schlein is president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas. Almost every election cycle, “it’s the economy, stupid.” Yet the GOP focuses its candidate selection on almost every other criterion except for economic prowess. We live in a center-right country. Yet the party structure of the GOP is composed of far-right social conservatives. Since they almost always evaluate a candidate’s stance on abortion or gay rights as their No. 1 issue, it tends to push away more moderate independent voters and the youth vote to the Democrats. For the GOP to return to power, it must select candidates who appeal to the common desires of all Americans – to feel safe in their homes, to have good education for their kids, to live in freedom, to have good business opportunities. We will differ with Democrats, of course, on the path of achieving these desires. We need to center our party on the issues most Republicans (and many Americans) agree on – the issues of liberty, smaller government and lower taxes. Our party will spend a long time in the wilderness unless social conservatives focus more on electability and qualifications, and are open to differences in ideology on social issues. The base doesn’t equal a majority. The GOP has a choice: Be a smaller regional party of the South and Midwest or be a majority party that unites around inclusive kitchen-table issues, plays down divisive social issues and truly becomes a big-tent party that welcomes people from all walks of life. The choice is clear.

Provide the solutions America needs Karen Hughes, former counselor to President Bush, is global vice chairman of Burson-Marsteller. I have a message for my fellow Republicans: Hold your fire. Yes, we lost the election, convincingly. We have plenty of thinking and rebuilding to do. But the Democrats’ victory did not repudiate conservative principles, and our comeback will not be hastened with a self-defeating spiral of blame aimed at our candidates, campaign decisions, the Bush administration or one another. Barack Obama won by promising GOP-sounding programs. Now, however, he must govern. He will face pressure from liberals. His prescriptions of raising taxes on small businesses and individuals, enacting new mandates and restricting trade will not be popular in an economic crisis. Republicans should spend the next several years developing conservative solutions to complex problems like energy independence, affordable and accessible health care, Social Security and Medicare reform, smart environmental stewardship, and a foreign policy that prevents the spread of weapons of mass destruction and defeats terrorism. We must reach out to women, whose futures are affected by economic and retirement security issues, and socially conservative Hispanics who want greater opportunity. For leadership, we should look to our governors, including the one from Alaska. Despite the negative press and criticism from the arrogant elite, Sarah Palin has star power. She connects with voters and has a record of cutting spending, taking on special interests and leading toward energy independence. Governors like Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota are delivering fiscally responsible government and highlighting education reforms and American innovation. Voters want solutions. If we are smart, Republicans will provide them.

Renounce the Roveian rhetoric Mickey Edwards, a former GOP congressman from Oklahoma City, is author of “Reclaiming Conservatism.” The Republican Party has received a drubbing, but that happens; a party finds itself out of favor, takes its beating, mutters “wait till next year” and starts retooling. This time, that won’t be enough. Although John McCain was saddled with an unpopular president, an unpopular war and a staggering economy, he had advantages: He was the conservative in a right-of-center country, running against a liberal; he was experienced, running against a neophyte in a time of great difficulties. Yet not only did Mr. McCain lose, he found himself struggling in traditionally Republican states. And Republicans took heavy congressional losses. It wasn’t just Mr. McCain; the party was being rejected. Worse, the GOP deserved it. So, how to find its way back? Scrap the ’60s Cold War rhetoric; people who disagree with you aren’t unpatriotic. The Roveian rhetoric turned off Democrats, independents and all but the nuttiest Republicans. We’re not pacifists, but we’re not warmongers; when war is necessary, it’s a last resort. Address the real concerns of real people; we believe, as Ronald Reagan said, in a government that “can and must provide opportunity.” Conservatives once were about ideas, about tailoring their philosophy to real-world problems. It’s time to rediscover that commitment. Remember that conservatives are about liberty and that liberty is the Constitution’s central focus. How did we become the party of wiretaps, government secrecy, locking people up without charges? How did we become the party that believed in centralized, almost unaccountable, government power? We do not need to create a new party. We need to rediscover the old one.

Principles over politics Wick Allison, former publisher of National Review, is publisher and editor of D Magazine. Most young people don’t know what a conservative is. To them, the word conjures up the face of a Tom DeLay or a Sean Hannity. That would be enough to scare anyone away from a political party. The new Republican minority will be tempted to play Mr. DeLay and follow Mr. Hannity: Go deep into opposition, and by their obduracy polish their credentials to an ever-diminishing base. Not wise. Fighting a rear guard action for the Reagan Revolution 28 years after it occurred will seem outdated to people who weren’t born 28 years ago. Republicans need to shake off the ideological blinders that put them in the ditch – and which threaten to lose them an entire generation. For example, neither Ronald Reagan nor Barry Goldwater was famously religious. So how did the GOP become the evangelical party? Neither made a fetish of momentary pragmatic moves, such as lowering taxes, so how did the GOP become the party of only one solution to all problems for all time? Rather, Mr. Goldwater and Mr. Reagan staked out their ground on principles that transcended mere politics: liberty, limited government, the Constitution, America as “the city on a hill.” That political cynics claimed their mantle while paying so little respect to their principles does not diminish the original power of those principles. A party that actually holds to them instead of merely mouthing them can someday recapture this country. Barack Obama is a formidable figure. But his party will overreach. As we have seen, all parties do. The question is, will conservatives have the credibility to call them on it?

A step-by-step to-do list George Seay, CEO of Annandale Capital in Dallas, is chairman of Legacy, a national network of conservative leaders & CEOs. Rebuilding will take patience, determination, focus and Texas-style grit. Here’s what we must do. Focus on integrity: Require Republican leaders and candidates to have great personal and professional integrity. Recruit private-sector leaders to run for major public office: The Republican Party’s strength comes from the private sector, not from career politicians. Focus on substantive solutions to issues that real people care about – education, immigration, job creation, global competitiveness, the environment, energy independence, entitlement reform, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and homeland security. And stop manufacturing phony issues to motivate the base. Remember what we stand for – consistent conservative policy on social, economic and national security issues; in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. Be trustworthy, accountable and scandal free: Let our words and our actions be identical, without exception – if we say it, we do it – and leave the scandals and bad behavior to the other guys. Restore civility and decency to the political process, the “reformation of manners,” as William Wilberforce called it. Bury petty partisanship. Focus on what we are for, not what we are against. Remember, as Ronald Reagan said, that those who agree with us 80 percent of the time are our friends, not our enemies. Have charity for all, malice for none, show great courage, and win future elections because Republicans have the best leaders, ideas and energy, and the fiercest, most able, effective competitors running for office.

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How Hispanic Evangelicals are working with the Obama Administration addressing issues of concern in the Christian Communities

A Proclamation from the President of the United States

September, 2009 The story of Hispanics in America is the story of America itself. The Hispanic community’s values — love of family, a deep and abiding faith, and a strong work ethic — are America’s values. Hispanics bring together the rich traditions of communities with centuries-old roots in America and the energy and drive of recent immigrants. Many have taken great risks to begin a new life in the hopes of achieving a better future for themselves and their families. Hispanics have played a vital role in the moments and movements that have shaped our country. They have enriched our culture and brought creativity and innovation to everything from sports to the sciences and from the arts to our economy. Hispanics have served with honor and distinction in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, and they have made invaluable contributions through their service to our country. They lead corporations and not-for-profits, and social movements and places of learning. They serve in government at every level from school boards to state houses and from city councils to Congress. And for the first time in our Nation’s history, a Latina is seated among the nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. As Hispanics continue to enrich our Nation’s character and shape our common future, they strengthen America’s promise and affirm the narrative of American unity and progress. To honor the achievements of Hispanics in America, the Congress, by Public Law 100-402, as amended, has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating September 15 through October 15 as “National Hispanic Heritage Month.” NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 15 through October 15, 2009, as National Hispanic Heritage Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth. Barack Obama


Some Christians Applaud Obama’s Push for Immigration Reform

By Ethan Cole, Christian Post Reporter April 10, 2009 A diverse group of Christian leaders and organizations voiced support for plans by the Obama administration to address immigration reform this year, a move that has riled opponents who argue that he should first focus on fixing the economy. “Christians throughout the United States are energized and encouraged by the courageous steps taken by the Obama administration to prioritize reform of our broken immigration laws,” said Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR) in a statement released on Thursday. “Today’s statements from the administration indicate that Obama will make good on his campaign promise by committing to reform within the first year of his term,” said the coalition, which consists of diverse Christian organizations, churches, and leaders united in support of comprehensive U.S. immigration reform. Christian leaders who are part of CCIR include Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic evangelical organization; and the Rev. Derrick Harkins, pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and World Relief board member, among others. Senior White House staffs this week informed select reporters that the administration plans to address immigration reform as early as May. According to CNN, President Obama plans to listen to the advice of a bipartisan and diverse group of experts to form new legislations. But a White House official said that immigration reform will not be given higher priority than other key issues like health care and energy, and there is no promise for a vote this year on new immigration laws. The Obama administration wants to find a way for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States to be legal, while increasing border security, removing incentives to enter the United States illegally, and working with Mexico to reduce illegal immigration, CNN reported. Critics of Obama’s plan argue that the current economic crisis has put millions of Americans out of jobs and there is no room right now for efforts that help illegal immigrant workers. “It just doesn’t seem rational that any political leader would say, let’s give millions of foreign workers permanent access to U.S. jobs when we have millions of Americans looking for jobs,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that supports reduced immigration, to the New York Times. “It’s going to be, ‘You’re letting them keep that job, when I could have that job,'” he said. But Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform supports President Obama and said it is committed to “fostering civil dialogue” about immigration in members’ congregations and communities. “We will continue to build momentum and support across the faith community for effective political solutions on immigration that restore the rule of law while also upholding moral and theological principles that call us to show compassion and mercy toward our undocumented brothers and sisters,” the coalition vowed. CCIR has helped organize more than 100 prayer vigils across the country in support of immigration reform in February, and is preparing to meet with members of Congress during April to push for a new U.S. immigration system.

On Abortion and Gay Rights, Evangelicals and Liberals Join to Advise Obama

By Dan Gilgoff January 15, 2009 A coalition of prominent evangelical leaders who’ve partnered with Third Way, a Washington think tank influential in shaping Democratic Party policy and messaging, is presenting policy recommendations to Barack Obama’s transition team today that purport to offer a consensus approach to hot-button issues that have long divided evangelicals and liberals. The recommendations include a framework for reducing demand for abortion without further restricting abortion rights, through initiatives like grants for sex education that emphasizes abstinence but includes contra ception, an expanded adoption tax credit, and a call for a federal prohibition on workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians, with an exemption for religious organizations. “This is the first time that evangelicals have taken a gay equality position,” says Rachel Laser, director of the culture Ppogram at Third Way. The memo’s drafters, including the Rev. Joel Hunter, a prominent Florida megachurch pastor, and the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, released the document—”Come Let Us Reason Together: A Governing Agenda to End the Culture Wars”—this morning, ahead of a meeting with religious outreach and policy aides on the Obama transition team. “This is historic,” says Rodriguez, who leads the largest evangelical Latino group in the United States and was a prominent supporter of Proposition 8, California’s recently adopted gay-marriage ban. “Some of these people I’m in complete opposition to on the vast majority of public-policy ideas.” Besides its recommendations on abortion and gay rights, the memo presses Obama to officially ban U.S.-sponsored torture and to enact comprehensive immigration reform, with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The drafters=2 0acknowledge that economic concerns are likely to trump social issues in the near term but argue that that strengthens the case for trying to neutralize sensitive social issues. “To the extent that these issues are always the elephant in the room,” says Third Way’s Laser, “finding common ground is one of the most helpful things we can do to allow for further progress on the economy.” “Why bring up abortion when the economy trumps everything?” says Rodriguez. “It’s precisely why we need to address these wedge issues—so they don’t keep coming up. They will come up again in 2010 if we don’t provide common ground.” The Obama team did not respond to requests for comment on the document or today’s meeting. The drafters—who also include progressive evangelicals Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, and David Gushee, president of Evangelicals for Human Rights—consulted with centrist evangelicals and liberal advocacy groups throughout the yearlong memo-drafting process, attempting to build support in both camps. The document has endorsements from social conservatives like Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw and from a handful of liberal groups. Another endorsement came from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which called it “a welcome addition” to the debate about reproductive rights. An embargo on the memo until this morning made it impossible to get reaction from Christian right groups. “There will be pushback from the extreme right, who will see this as evangelical acquiescence,” says Rodriguez. “There are very conservative quarters of the evangelical world that see contraception as unbiblical, for instance. But it’s a no-brainer to push for a viable abortion-reduction strategy that goes beyond the wedge-issue sound bites.” Regarding abortion and gay rights, the memo’s drafters said consensus was difficult to find. “We struggled most with the gay employment rights discussion, not just on the religious side but on the progressive side,” says Gushee. “It’s becoming the single most divisive issue in public life, but we found common ground.” Though the drafters were in contact with the Human Rights Campaign, the biggest gay rights group, in crafting the language on workforce discrimination, HRC withheld its endorsement because transgender people are not included on the call for a prohibition against workplace discrimination. “We really honor and take very seriously the work that went into the document,” says Harry Knox, director of the group’s faith and religion program. “We just regret that there was not enough time to do the education we thought would get them to a place where they could include transgender people in the document.”


Inaugural Prayers

Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service Religion News Service asked several religious leaders what they would have prayed for if they had been asked to pray at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Posted below include responses from evangelicals, such as Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham; the Rev. Wilfred De Jesus, Chicago pastor and an adviser to Obama’s campaign; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. Some of the responses have been edited for length and clarity: Author and speaker Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham. “We bow before you as the one, true, living God. In a world of confusion, you are the way. In a world of political correctness, you are the truth. In a world of death, you are eternal life. Thank you for our freedom which has not come easily, and is even nowbeing defended by the courageous sacrifice of those willing to lay down their lives. May we never abuse it or take it for granted. Protect us from enemies outside our borders and from the sinful influences that have torn down the barriers of safety around our hearts and minds. Restore our families, schools, churches, and communities: that parents would step up as leaders; pastors would shepherd their flocks; teachers would impart wisdom with their instruction; and individuals would take responsibility for their own lives. We ask that you would bless President Obama with wisdom to make decisions that are right; courage to stand against that which is wrong; innovative ideas to solve problems; heartfelt compassion to meet human needs; patience to respectfully work out differences; counselors who speak the truth; family members and friends who love, encourage and support him. Give our new president a powerful, fresh encounter with yourself, so that on your behalf, he would exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness in this nation, and in the world. Most of all, we pray that we would be reminded that the change we long for, and the change we can truly believe in, is in the human heart as we turn in repentance and trust to you. Give our country the strength, the power, and the means to live out your will to your glory. In the name of your son, our savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.” The Rev. Wilfred De Jesus, pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries in Chicago, and an adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. “Lord God Almighty, you are the author and initiator of change. Today, we stand on the precipice of change, faced with war, as well as economic, environmental, and immigration crises. Yet as in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair… even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,” may we hold on to our dreams. Our country was founded on the dream of brave Americans, and throughout our history, you have raised up prophetic men and women to help us stay the course. Humbly, we ask for the strength to put our hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day — one of freedom and peace. We pray for our new leader, President Barack Obama. Our hope as a nation does not rest on him, but on you alone, Lord. And yet, we pray he would be a man of his word and remain faithful to the promises he has made. May he walk with integrity. Bless him with a double portion of your anointing, with courage and wisdom to lead this great country towards peace. We also pray for our nation, that we would not be divided by our past but be united by your purpose and plan for our future. May we realize our potential as one nation under God, according to our ideals of liberty and democracy. May we pursue our dreams in this land of opportunity. In this time of great turbulence and change, we give all the glory and honor to the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We surrender all these things in Jesus name, Amen.” The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference “Righteous God, heavenly father, we give you praise and declare that your mercy endures forever. In the midst of moral relativism, a global war on terror, economic uncertainty, social injustice and strife, we declare that what America needs most is a fresh move of God’s Holy Spirit. Let the spirit of truth move from New York to Los Angeles, from Dallas to St. Paul. Let the spirit of freedom sound the alarm of righteousness and justice, from Wall Street to Main Street, from our classrooms to the courtrooms. As we give you the glory for the election of Barack Obama, Almighty God, we pray that all Americans come together: black, white, Hispanic, Asian. Let us unite under the canopy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We stand against the voices that attempt to draw us apart and commit ourselves to focusing on what holds us together: our love of God, family and country. Let this generation arise as the firewall against the spirit of violence, poverty, death and injustice. Lord, we present unto thee Barack Obama. Cover, protect and anoint him as he leads the charge in defense of faith, family and freedom. At the end of the day, Lord, may we declare thy kingdom come, thy will be done. For the kingdom of God is not red state or blue state, man or woman, native or immigrant, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. We hereby consecrate Barack Obama as president of the United States. In the name above all names we pray, Amen.” The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal “Oh God, we find ourselves in a moment of both excitement and worry, the paradox of hope and pain. Many tired souls have been lifted up by the promise and possibility that lies before our nation and the hopes of a new generation are giving strength and encouragement to many. But it is also a time of great fear and growing pain as our economic crisis threatens the future, leaving many of us vulnerable. We are faced with the challenge to celebrate hope in the midst of insecurity and uncertainty. We turn to you, oh Lord, in a time of shifting sand to put our trust on a rock that will not be moved. Teach us the lessons of putting false hopes in the material world, and forgive us for succumbing to the allures of consumption and greed. May this structural crisis reveal our spiritual crisis and cause us to repent of all that led us to this place. Change us, renew us, and remind us of what is truly important. May we learn that the common good is our own good. Quicken our hearts for the most vulnerable in our country and world, and help us to remember that each of us is a precious child of God.”

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National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez participates in Inaugural Prayer Service

Churches, Groups Look to Obama for Promised Change

Courtesy of The Christian Post Religious and rights groups are calling on President Barack Obama to make good on his popular catchphrase “Change is coming!” by flooding him with letters requesting support and attention to special causes. Several groups have already asked the new president to put into action his promise to unite people that traditionally have been in conflict. Just ahead of the inauguration, several prominent evangelical and progressive leaders came together to issue a “common values” agenda covering divisive cultural issues such as abortion, gay rights, immigration reform, and torture. In the letter sent to President Obama and congressional leaders, the formerly at odds partners offered “a shared vision and a plan for ending the cultural wars.” Together the two sides called for the reduction of abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women and new families, and increasing support for adoption. Moderate evangelical and secular progressive leaders also called on the protection of the rights of gay and lesbian people to earn a living with an exemption for faith-based employers to refuse to hire on the basis of sexual orientation. Other issues they agreed on include the unequivocal renouncement of torture by the government and support for an immigration reform that paves the way to an earned path of citizenship for most undocumented residents. “The culture wars have been characterized by vilifying those who differ from us on provocative issues and treating them as traitors and threats,” said the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Florida. “I believe we can end those wars by thinking of our differences as ways we can learn from each other and advance without compromising core values,” he said. Pastor Joel Hunter has prayed with President Obama on several occasions, including during a private pre-inauguration service held at St. John’s Church across from the White House on Tuesday; over the phone on Election Day Nov. 4, before Obama was declared the winner, and at the closing of the Democratic National Convention. The “Common Values” agenda was spearheaded by Third Way and also included the support of Dr. David Gushee of Mercer University, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, Dr. Robert P. Jones of Public Religion Research, and Katie Paris of Faith in Public Life. Meanwhile, International Justice Mission – a ministry that works to free those victimized by violent crimes such as sexual violence, trafficking, and slavery – is asking the Obama administration and Congress to make the public justice system more capable of protecting the poor and vulnerable. Other groups are seeking Obama’s support to end the Darfur genocide, maintain current policies that ban foreign aid to organizations promoting abortions, and prevent federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.


Joel Hunter, Samuel Rodriguez to Pray at Private Prayer Service

Courtesy of Christianty Today Written by Sarah Pulliam Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, will offer prayers at the prayer service tomorrow that Barack Obama will attend before the inauguration. T.D. Jakes will give the sermon at the service, which is closed to the public. I caught up with Rodriguez tonight and below is the partial transcript of our conversation. What do you think about the inauguration plans tomorrow? I think it was a brilliant move to ask Rick Warren. It speaks to his commitment to bring the country together. My prayer is that [Obama’s] public policy agenda reflects that same commitment. This great man will govern from the center. I believe that he will not make the Freedom of Choice Act his priority. I believe that he will focus on abortion-reduction strategies, lowering the teenage pregnancy rate. That’s my prayer. The Defense of Marriage Act – Dear Mr. President, this would be one of those ‘don’t touch, don’t tell,’ not ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ These are issues that are cultural wedge issues that have historically separated us. His selections on cabinet appointments are center, if not center right. My speculation is, in light of the presidential transition team, my speculation is that he will govern from the center. What did you think of Obama’s selection of T.D. Jakes? I appreciate the selection. Bishop T.D. Jakes is one of the most anointed and articulate orators. I think he couldn’t have picked someone better. I believe that Barack Obama’s selection of speakers and orators, and those that will be praying and reading Scripture, excluding Sam Rodriguez, excluding Sam Rodriguez, other than that, excellent choice. What about Robinson? Excellent? (pause) My problem with Gene Robinson, and of course I have my own biblical worldview, is not that he is openly gay. It has to do more with Rick Warren’s selection. Gene was very apprehensive, very condescending, and totally against the selection of Rick Warren. I think that was wrong. Rick, on the other hand, responded in such a Christ-like manner when he was made aware of Gene Robinson’s selection. My reluctance to put him in the same category as excellent has everything to do with the way he responded to Rick Warren and nothing to do with sexual orientation. If he had not responded in that way, I would’ve said excellent choice. Do you have expectations for tomorrow? Lots of tears, lots of goose bumps. I know that there was speculation over whether Rick Warren would pray in Jesus’ name. Do you plan to pray in Jesus’ name tomorrow? If you invite me as a Hispanic evangelical, I will pray in Jesus’ name, respecting religious pluralism in America. I hope [Rick Warren] does. I hope he would but if he doesn’t I understand. I will be praying in Jesus’ name and I will be sharing from the New Testament from the Gospel of Luke. Which passage? It’s confidential until tomorrow. Anything else you’d like to add? All the Christians in this community should stand around him and support him. We have a moral commitment to cover him in prayer.

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Dr. Gaston Espinosa, Dr. Juan Hernandez, Bishop Harry Jackson, Dr. Alvin Padilla, Dan Garza address Hispanic NAE Board

Special guests addressed a myriad of issues and opportunities for partnership with the NHCLC. Dr. Gaston Espinosa presented research exposing the quantitative evidence for the programs and task forces launched in the 2007 session. Immigration took center stage as Board Advisor Dr. Juan Hernandez expressed the need for mass mobilization from within the Latino Church. Bishop Harry Jackson committed to the threading of the Latino/Black Partnership while Dan Garza presented the need to register Latino Christian voters in order to transcend from influence to power.

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Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Kennedy. Sen. Ken Salazar Join Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Other Prominent Leaders

Rev. Rodriguez joined the Senators and the leaders of La Raza, Marriott Hotel, and Grover Nordquist in an unprecedented bi -partisan press Conference for immigration Reform. The diverse coalition reiterated the call for Congress to pass legislation that will Protect the borders and provide a legal pathway for citizenship.”Let us secure our borders, let us secure all families within that border and together we will secure America’s future”, stated Rev. Rodriguez.
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The National PBS Network via its Religion and Ethics Newsweekly covered and taped for television the September 24th, National Immigration Day Prayer Rally in Laredo, Texas. Dr. Gilbert Velez and the Hispanic Mega Church ICM hosted the National rally. Guest speakers included the most prominent Christian spokespersons on the issue of Immigration such as Dr. Juan Hernandez, Former Cabinet Member of the Vicente Fox Administration, Dr. Albert Reyes, President of the Baptist University of the Americas and NHCLC National Board Member, Rev. Mark Gonzalez, Confia Field Director and NHCLC Policy Liaison, Dr. Gilbert Velez, Vice President of Pubic Policy and NHCLC President Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. In addition, Congressmen Henry Cuellar and Mayor Raul Salinas participated. Click here to watch the video: The Program aired nationally the weekend of October 6th.http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1006/cover.html

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Most Americans favor guest-worker program: poll

Most Americans believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to become guest workers and eventually U.S. citizens, but Congress should do more to close the border to stop more illegals entering the country, according to a new poll published on Tuesday. The nationwide poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found that by a margin of 69 percent to 27 percent, American voters say illegal immigrants should be allowed into a guest worker program with the ability to work toward citizenship over a period of several years. Such a guest worker program had wide support among voters of all political stripes. But 71 percent of voters said Congress must do more to deal with illegal immigrants entering the country. “Two-thirds of Americans favor a guest-worker program with a path to citizenship,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Maybe a lot of Americans think back to the stories of their own immigrant families.” “But Americans also want to close the borders to keep out illegal immigrants in the future,” Carroll added. “There are big margins for a tougher border policy among all parties and among men and women.” Sixty-five percent of American voters support — and 32 percent oppose — laws in their own community to fine businesses hiring illegal immigrants, according to the poll. “Americans think more needs to be done to deal with illegal immigration, and they want it done in their own neighborhoods as well,” Carroll said. The poll was conducted from November 13 to 19 among 1,623 registered voters and had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

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