(Washington D.C) Dr. Cindy Jacobs, one of America’s most prominent Evangelical leaders and President and Founder of Generals International, cannot stand idly by while a renewed racist and nativist spirit once again saturates American society under the vestiges of immigration debate.” Racism is a Sin”, declared Jacobs. “Congress has been attempting to reach an agreement on an Immigration Reform Bill for some time. This remains a deeply divisive issue both between and within the Democratic and Republican parties. Stories of racism at the border are terribly common, from people being rudely searched by our immigration officers, to pastors who feel overrun by people who have out-stripped their social services”, she added. In addition, Jacobs believes the Christian community must stand as a firewall against the racist sentiment once again prevalent in the current discourse. “After visiting with some top Hispanic leaders and listening to their concern, the consensus is that this issue will never be settled through natural means. Only God knows what needs to be done for much needed reform. Together, we are going to appeal to the Creator of the universe to adjudicate a just solution to this grievous problem”, pleaded Jacobs. As a result, Christian leaders from all major ethnic communities have issued convocation under the banner; BLEND, Christians Against Racism to take place on May 4th and 5th in Laredo, Texas at the facilities of Mercy Church, a Hispanic Mega Church. Dr. Jesse Miranda, Global Chairman of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization, sees the event as prophetic and pivotal to changing the language of the debate. “For too long the extremist have hijacked the issue of immigration and made it a rallying cry for nativism and racism. We do have a legitimate immigration situation that requires our attention. However the debate must convert to a dialogue and reason must trump rhetoric”, explained Miranda. “Racism is ultimately, a spiritual problem and it is only right the church become involved in seeking reconciliation”, he added. Dr. Jacobs will be joined by prominent Evangelical leaders such as Bishop Harry Jackson, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Rev. Mark Gonzalez, Dr. Alemu Beefetu, Herman Matir, Will Ford III and others. Jacobs recent book the Reformation Manifesto serves as a primer for 21st Century Christianity and societal transformation addressing similar issues.
Samuel Rodriguez Jr. – San Francisco Chronicle, Op-ed
Expressions of hatred and xenophobia toward immigrants, at an all-time high, are producing widespread fear in the Latino community. Unfortunately, the echo of a hate-filled climate is now making its way through Congress. Anti-immigrant forces in the House are capitalizing on fears and stereotypes to push the SAVE Act, a bill that would throw more money at our broken immigration system instead of engaging in the hard work of meaningful reform. The SAVE Act is touted by proponents as an “enforcement” bill, but it would in fact put us on a slow, painful path toward detention and deportation. The bill is championed by hard-line groups that advocate a strategy called “deportation by attrition.” As it sounds, this philosophy espouses making the lives of immigrants and their families so difficult that they simply give up and self-deport. This approach is inhumane and unworkable for a variety of reasons. First, the SAVE Act would require local police to enforce immigration law, a policy that deters immigrants from reporting crimes and diverts police time away from serious threats to public safety. It would allocate millions of dollars for the construction of 8,000 additional detention beds for immigrants awaiting deportation. Second, the legislation drastically expands an employer verification system that is wrought with errors – 17.8 million, according to the Social Security Administration itself. Forcing employers to verify eligibility status of their workers before this database is updated could jeopardize the jobs of millions of U.S.-born and immigrant workers alike, whose information has been entered incorrectly in the system. Enforcement of our nation’s borders is essential, as is holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers. However, if enacted without a legalization program for workers already here, these measures would seriously threaten the livelihoods of immigrants and their children around the country. What is more, the SAVE Act does not realistically address our labor needs and makes no attempt to provide a legal workforce for employers who want to do the right thing. In an election season where vulnerable politicians fear looking soft on immigration, the SAVE Act already has a hefty 151 co-sponsors, 10 of whom are from California. In the Latino community, we regret that politicians are attempting to score political points at the expense of immigrants who have come here only to work and create a better life for their families. We can do better. At a time when all remaining presidential candidates promote humane and effective approaches to fix our immigration system, it is time that Congress recognizes that scapegoating immigrants is not the right approach. It plays to the fears of Americans, instead of our past as a nation of immigrants and our capacity to build strong communities together. This country was built on the contributions of generations of immigrants. We should not allow Congress to turn our backs on this legacy and take us down a road that would create more fear in our communities and push immigrant families further into the shadows. Our leaders should pursue legislation that embodies our best values – reuniting families, strengthening the economy and restoring the rule of law. Samuel Rodriguez Jr. is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Christian organization.
Originally printed in the The Washington Times, May 8, 2007 By Sean Lengell
WASHINGTON-A new Christian group touting liberal immigration reform has begun an extensive nationwide advertising campaign, days before Capitol Hill lawmakers are expected to begin debate on proposed changes to U.S. immigration laws. Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a collection of more than 100 evangelical, mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Hispanic and black religious and social-service groups and activists, began running full-page advertisements yesterday in Roll Call and Congress Daily legislative publications. The ads ask Congress to “enact policies that guarantee humanitarian border enforcement, family-reunification efforts, opportunities for employment and an earned path to citizenship.” The group says it initially will focus much of its efforts in five states — Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania — and will spread its message through local newspaper and radio advertisements, letter-writing to lawmakers and newspapers, telephone calls and public meetings. The group also promises hundreds of lobbying visits to members of Congress by the August recess. “We are coming together today because the Bible tells us again and again about the need to care for the stranger in our midst,” said Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners, an evangelical Christian ministry and key member of the coalition. The coalition’s platform, which includes an option for illegal residents to become citizens and a guest-worker program that includes “legal avenues” for workers to bring their families, is similar to legislation backed by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who has accused Republicans of stalling on the immigration debate, has said he will use a parliamentary maneuver on the Senate floor Wednesday to force a debate on the immigration matter on Monday. Meanwhile, a negotiating team of Democrats led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts is working with the Bush administration and top Republicans to reach a “comprehensive” bill that is expected to include provisions derided by many Republicans as amnesty. But the longer the negotiations drag on, the more Democratic leaders fear the White House will push for a more restrictive immigration bill. The Christian group — which includes the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, the Presbyterian Church USA’s Washington office, National Ministries of the American Baptist Churches USA and Network, a national Catholic social-justice lobby — says it isn’t advocating for a total open-border policy and says some border enforcement is necessary. “Yes, there is a problem at the borders, so let’s fix it, but with compassion and humane policies,” Mr. Wallis said. “I have yet to hear of any hotel cleaning woman from Mexico who has turned into a suicide bomber.” The group declined to say how much the campaign will cost. The Horace Hagedorn Foundation, a New York philanthropic organization, is a significant contributor, group spokesman Adam Taylor said. Mr. Taylor declined to name any other funding sources. The coalition says it will continue its campaign until the issues they are promoting become law. “As Americans, we must reject xenophobia and discrimination,” said Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “At the end of the day, how we deal with immigrants is a diagnostic of the spiritual health of our nation.”
Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Presidential Elections
As a member of the fast growing Brown Evangelical community, we find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. Surely, we resonate with the Vietnam War Hero, Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain, on issues such as marriage, life, and immigration. However, what do we say to our children and grandchildren when they ask whom we voted for in the election that embodied the prophetic possibility of permanently knocking the legs off and crippling the behemoth of racism in our nation via the candidacy of Sen. Obama? Let us contextualize the narrative a bit. Brown Evangelicals currently stand at the nexus of a righteousness and justice platform. Historically, white evangelicals thrived by the continual impetus of a two item platform agenda, life and marriage. On the other side, progressive evangelicals and particularly black Christians coalesced around the social-economic issues such as health care, education, and poverty alleviation. Suddenly, Hispanic Christians, particularly Hispanic Evangelicals arrive with a commitment to reconcile both sides with a platform that incorporates the aforementioned issues within a framework of righteousness and justice. So what do we do? On one hand, do we support the candidate that invested, in comparison to all the other, more political capital in supporting comprehensive immigration reform and deterring the deportation of 12 million of our brethren? Yet, how do we support McCain when his party stands responsible for a xenophobic and nativist strategy rekindling the racist elements within our society? Or do we support Obama who stands on the polar opposite end with Hispanic Christians on issues such as sanctity of life and traditional marriage advocacy , yet resonates with us on health care, education, poverty alleviation, immigration and other justice concerns? Correspondingly, the 47 million strong Hispanic populous and particularly the entire Hispanic faith community may very well determine the outcome of the 2008 election via the swing states of New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Arizona and Colorado. The question is not whom do we vote for? The true question is, which Isaac do we place on the altar? In order to address the question, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference hosted the “Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Presidential Elections Summit” this past weekend in Costa Mesa, Ca. Both McCain and Obama sent representatives to this unprecedented gathering. Dr. Jesse Miranda stated that for the first time in American history, Hispanic Evangelicals stand committed to contextualizing the narrative of political social activism within the framework of the Presidential elections. Accordingly, the summit participants, including the denominational leaders of America’s largest Hispanic Christian denominations, from the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Pentecostals and others a long with mega church pastors, organizational leaders, scholars and members of the evangelical Hispanic media, discussed which candidate best addresses the concerns in the Hispanic Evangelical electorate and which one best reflects the core values of such constituency. Dr. Juan Hernandez, McCain’s National Hispanic Outreach Director explained to the group that McCain should be the candidate of choice simply on three key areas: Immigration reform, sanctity of life and traditional marriage. Hernandez in essence stated that McCain’s commitment to Immigration Reform a lone should prompt all Hispanics to make him the candidate of choice. The only problem with Dr. Hernandez’s assertions is that according to research presented by Dr. Gaston Espinosa from Claremont McKenna College a few minutes earlier, Immigration does not even appear in the top 5 concerns for Hispanic Americans voters. On the life issue, McCain does have more traction. The leaders unanimously voted and determined that a commitment to a life platform stands as the deal breaking issue for Hispanic evangelicals. After Joshua Dubois, Faith Outreach Coordinator for the Obama Campaign, addressed the gathering via Speakerphone, Dr. Shaun Casey, who flew in on the final day of the gathering addressed the summit on behalf of Sen. Obama. Shaun was recently appointed as the National Evangelical Outreach Director for Obama 08. Dr. Casey articulated the position of Sen. Obama as it pertains to the other half of the Evangelical platform, justice issues. In addition, Shaun expressed the Senators’ commitment to reducing abortion while addressing the causes of abortion such as poverty and the lack of a high school education. Undoubtedly, Casey’s presentation provoked many questions and exchanges with various summit attendees. Conclusion? Obama is one issue away from capturing the Hispanic Evangelical vote”, stated Bishop Steve Perea of Christian Worship Centers, a multi ethnic mega church Pastor and participant. If he can move a bit center right on abortion, than the Democratic nominee may capture a constituency that voted 68% for George W. Bush in 2004. Even America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical organization stands divided on the Presidential candidates as NHCLC Vice President for Social Justice, Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, Senior Pastor of the 4500 member strong New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, just joined the Obama Campaign and serves as spokesperson for Matthew 25, a progressive evangelical Political Action Committee committed to Obama’s election, while Rev. Mark Gonzalez, NHCLC V.P. for Governmental Affairs, serves on McCain’s faith advisory board. At the end of the day, here’s the question. Will abortion trump immigration? Will Latinos ignore the xenophobic and nativist rhetoric allowed by the Republican Committee and vote for McCain? In other words, will Hispanics vote for McCain in spite of his party or will they vote for Obama in spite of his abortion stance? The answer may very well determine who occupies Pennsylvania Avenue come January 2009.
Obama meets with America’s leading Christian Leaders including National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
(Chicago, Illinois, Hispanic Christian Newswire). Democratic Presidential Presumptive Nominee, Sen. Barack Obama meet with leading religious figures in a private off the record gathering in downtown Chicago on June10th. Rodriguez joined Franklin Graham, TD Jakes, Max Lucado and others in the frank and deliberate exchange of ideas. Although the attendees did not elaborate on the discussion, Rodriguez believes the meeting was substantial in its purpose of contextualizing the evangelical narrative within the framework of Obama’s campaign. “It’s good to see a Democratic Nominee engage Evangelical leaders. For too long the Democratic party seemed hostile to Evangelicals”, stated the Reverend. Rodriguez did present the Senator an invitation and shared the importance of the Latino vote in this election.
Presidential Hopefuls, McCain and Obama issue statements acknowledging the leadership and success of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in celebration of annual board convention.
(Chicago, Illinois). Republican Presidential Hopeful John McCain and Democratic Presumptive Nominee Barack Obama issued statements congratulating the National Hispanic Christian Leadership’s Conference annual Board Convention. Both candidates acknowledged the work and ministry of the organization a long with the National leadership in addressing various issues including immigration and justice matters. Both camps sent envoys who read the declarations. In addition, Mayor Richard Daley and Alderman Billy Ocasio, Chicago officials issued welcoming statements. The Board meeting set an attendance record with delegates from over the Nation and Puerto Rico attended in formulating policy that will impact over 18,000 churches and close to 15 million constituents. The annual report presented by the executive board formally submitted via the National Chairman celebrated the organization’s recognition in the following areas:
- The Nation’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization ( Source: Christian Post, others)
- The Nation’s leading Hispanic Organization in Defense of Marriage (Source: Alliance For Marriage, others)
- The Nation’s Hispanic Civil Rights Organization (Dr. Gaston Espinosa, Leading Hispanic Church Scholar)
- The Nation’s Leading Immigration Reform Faith Advocates (Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, etc)
In addition to leading in advocacy of a Life agenda and addressing justice issues such as Darfur, sex trafficking, torture, among others. “We give Praise to God for all these achievements however we must continue to work diligently to sustain and grow the leadership capacity for the sake of God’s kingdom and the future of the Hispanic American community”, declared Dr. Jesse Miranda, NHCLC Chief Executive.
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President asks Sen. Obama to clarify Abortion stance on CNN’s Compassion Forum
(Harrisburg, Pa. Hispanic Christian Newswire) NHCLC President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Global Chair, Dr. Jesse Miranda joined leading Religious leaders at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pa in a values forum discussion with Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference co-sponsored the event hosted by the Compassion Forum. Rev. Rodriguez was one of two speakers invited to share a word prior to the arrival of the candidates. “The kingdom of God is not Republican or Democrat, Red State or Blue State, Liberal or Conservative but it was, is and forever shall be righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”, declared Rodriguez to a vociferous affirmative response from the standing room only crowd. In addition, Rodriguez asked Sen. Obama a question on Abortion where the Senator reaffirmed his views on the controversial issue. “There is a moral component that cannot be denied”, stated Obama. The Compassion Forum under the leadership of Katie Barge plans to host another forum in the fall with both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.
Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Elections; Obama or McCain? Which candidate will Hispanic Evangelicals Support?
(Washington, D.C) The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical Organization, will host a Summit in Vanguard, California on August 7th and 8th titled “Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Elections. Will this community determine who wins the White House in 08’”? Dr. Jesse Miranda, Chief Executive of the NHCLC believes the summit speaks to emergence of the Hispanic Evangelical Community as a viable and significant ecclesiastical, social and political force in the American religious and political landscape. “Our strength lies in the fact that we stand as a people committed to both a Kingdom message of Salvation and a societal message of transformation. As brown evangelicals take center stage as the fastest growing force in the Hispanic American family, we will address the issues important to our people and contextualize them within the framework of the 2008 elections”, declared Miranda. The Jesse Miranda Center will host the event on the campus of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. Both the Obama and McCain campaigns, who already via telephone conference and representatives attended the 2008 National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Board Convention in Chicago last April and addressed 1,200 plus attendees in the annual service, committed to participate. “Which issue will take center stage this election and which candidate will better serve our concerns? This summit will present a national platform for a most necessary discussion on race, the Latino community, faith and the 2008 elections”, explained Dr. Miranda. To register, download our form by clicking on the button to the right. For more information Contact Information: Media Director, Diana Arenas: 916-919-7476, 916-417-4036
National Hispanic Evangelical Leader, Rev. Wilfredo DeJesus, Meets with Obama, Hispanics embracing “change” message
(Washington D.C.) The Vice President of Social Justice for the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, meet with Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama last Friday and discussed the importance of justice values in the Latino community. Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois, joined a contingency of Hispanic pastors and clergy from Texas with the purpose of discussing with the Senator some of the concerns within the Hispanic evangelical community. “The meeting went very well and the Senator really understands the importance of justice issues such as Health Care, Education and Immigration within the Hispanic faith community”, declared De Jesus. The meeting represents the importance of Latino Evangelicals in the 2008 election as a significant wildcard, primarily in swing states such as Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania. “Latino Evangelicals want to confront any notion of a black/brown divide”, stated Dr. Jesse Miranda, NHCLC Global Chairman. “Hispanics need to vote for the candidates that best reflects our values”, he added. The Senator received from Rev. De Jesus an invitation to attend the annual Board Convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference on April 15th in Chicago. Serving 18,000 churches and close to 15 million Born Again Christians, the organization currently directs a voter registration campaign in order to present a deliverable constituency that will activate the Latino faith vote to address issues such as immigration reform. “Hispanic Born Again believers are the quintessential values voters that reconcile a platform of righteousness and justice”, proclaimed Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Conference President. The convention is set to follow a historic April 2nd meeting in Dallas, Texas where Hispanic Evangelicals and African American Evangelicals will come together for a historic unprecedented meeting to address the black/brown divide and establish collaborative relationships that may very well impact not only the 2008 elections but the future of American cities and race relations. “Pastor De Jesus’ meeting with the Senator a long with the April meetings coalesce around communities embracing a change message that invigorates our nation with hope”, explained Rev. Felix Poso, National Chairman in a pre conference prayer call.” Rev. De Jesus, one of America’s most successful and important Pastors, carries the burden of addressing the Justice issues for the Hispanic faith community” he added. Rev. DeJesus concluded his meeting with Senator Obama in a traditional Hispanic Evangelical Manner by praying and laying his hands upon the Presidential hopeful.
William McKenzie is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist.
When Reunion Arena closed last month, most of us in Dallas focused on the end of an era for the basketball showcase. But the religious revival held at Reunion on the night of its last hurrah also had plenty to say about the future, politically speaking. According to Pastor Lynn Godsey of Ennis, the evangelistic rally brought in 13,500 largely Latino worshipers, half of whom he estimates were Hispanic Pentecostals. Defined by their preference for healings, miracles and speaking in tongues, Latino Pentecostals are a fast-growing branch within the larger world of Latino evangelicals. (Not all evangeli cals subscribe to speaking in tongues, healings, direct revelations by the Holy Spirit and miracles.) From a political standpoint, Pentecostals are worth watching, including Latino Pentecostals. Presidential elections are increasingly broken down into winning niches of voters, particularly in swing states. When you consider where Pentecostals are most concentrated, they certainly could be influential in swing states . A New York Times breakdown shows they congregate the most, percentagewise, in Arkansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. After that, it’s Arizona, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Kansas and Oregon. Texas is not a swing state. Neither is Oregon. But some of those others sure will be in play this fall. Consider West Virginia. It’s absolutely a swing state, where every vote matters to the McCain and Obama camps. According to the Times map, 14 percent of West Virginians are Pentecostals. SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson attributes that number to it being a mountain religion, coming out of Appalachia and the Ozarks. The backroom strategists for John McCain and Barack Obama can hardly overlook such a sizable portion of a state they both desperately want – and need – to capture. But Pentecostals aren’t as reliable voters as Baptists or Catholics. Pentecostals tend to live more on the margins of society, so they haven’t always been strongly connected to the political universe. What’s more, they’ve traditionally put a premium on personal piety and second-coming theology. That combination usually leads believers away from a Reinhold Niebuhr-like view of establishing justice in a sinful world. But some of those traditions may be changing, and that’s important for this fall’s election. John Green, who studies religious voting patterns for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, says Pentecostal s’ political views are in flux. They still emphasize traditional families and the sanctity of human life. But young Pentecostals are looking at a broader range of issues, like reducing poverty. That’s been the message I’ve heard in talking to Pentecostal pastors. They describe younger Pentecostals as being both pro-life and pro-women’s rights. Or, as Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference told me, they com bine a social conservatism with an economic populism. What does all this mean for the fall election? John McCain has the edge among Pentecostals, but this is not a done deal. Mr. McCain’s strategists would be smart to emphasize to Pentecostals his belief in conservative social values and his dedication to finding a better set of immigration laws. The values part would reassure Pentecostals that he won’t unravel the social order. And his devotion to fairer immigration laws will show he’s not one of those Republicans who is out to demonize immigrants, some of whom worship in Pentecostal iglesias in cities like Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago. As far as Barack Obama goes, he could play to the younger Pentecostals who have an interest in a fairer economy. And there are black Pentecostals he could win over in large cities. Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas has a Holy Ghost-flair, as do a number of charismatic African-American congregations. In swing states, those voters become part of the mini-universes he needs to win. The bottom line is I’d bet on McCain prevailing among Pentecostals. But I wouldn’t bet everything I own. Pentecostals, especially the Latino Pentecostals who can fill up arenas like Reunion, are going to be a fascinating niche vote to follow.
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
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
DECLARACIONES DE PASTORES HISPANOS DE DENVER SOBRE LAS ELECCIONES
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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.
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.”
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.”