Subject: NCC Weekly News: Candidates and Poverty SPECIAL

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Guest Column: Presidential Candidates and Poverty
The Circle of Protection is a coalition of many diverse Christian leaders working together to help provide opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world. As a member of the steering committee, the National Council of Churches in Christ has joined the Circle of Protection in efforts to protect programs vital to poor people, as well as to encourage our leaders to seek creative solutions to end hunger and poverty.
This election cycle, the Circle of Protection has asked every 2016 presidential candidate to produce a three-minute video outlining what he or she “would do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.” These videos are being shared, without critique or comment, with churches, seminaries, faith-based groups, and the media. They can be found on the Circle of Protection’s website at

Ending hunger and poverty is a goal that unites Christians across the broad theological and social diversity of the church. In fact, more than 110 Christian leaders have signed the Circle of Protection’s letter sent to the presidential candidates.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger, while 45 million live in poverty. One in five children lives in poverty. That is 15 million children, 5 million of them under age 6. In the past, presidential candidates have been reluctant to speak on this issue. Our goal is to make hunger and poverty a significant campaign issue in the 2016 presidential election.

The Circle of Protection has already received videos from Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders. The Circle of Protection expects more candidates to submit videos in the coming weeks and months.
I encourage you to visit the Circle of Protection website and watch how each presidential candidate proposes to "give deliverance to the needy.” Decide for yourself which candidate offers the best solution to address poverty both in the United States and around the world. Also, please share these videos with friends, family members, and your congregations. 
As Christians united in our faith, we can lend a powerful voice in this election. Please join me to help ensure that our next president will make ending hunger and poverty a priority. 

Ferguson Protesters Arrested

(Ed. note: NCC Associate General Secretary Aundreia Alexander, pictured wearing her red stole, was among those arrested in Ferguson Monday.)

Dozens of protesters were arrested Monday outside the U.S. attorney's office in downtown St. Louis during a demonstration against police brutality.

DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie -- prominent activists in the Black Lives Matter movement -- were among the 57 people detained during the sit-in. They were released after being issued a summons alleging obstruction of the courthouse doorways, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said in a statement.

The rally, which Callahan said included as many as 200 people, was a part of Moral Mondays, a nationwide social justice movement that began in North Carolina in response to the state legislature's conservative shift. The campaign moved to St. Louis this week, calling on the Department of Justice to take action against police violence toward black people.

Call for clergy to be sign of peace in Ferguson

A pastor is calling on his fellow United Methodist clergy to come to Ferguson, Missouri, as a sign of peace and hope in a beleaguered community that is again facing unrest, amid a state of emergency.

The Rev. F. Willis Johnson Jr. invited clergy and other United Methodists to come to Wellspring Church, the United Methodist congregation he pastors, at 7:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Aug. 12. The church is at 33 S. Florissant Road, Ferguson, about a block from the police station.

After time for training in nonviolence, he asks clergy to join him and Wellspring in a march on West Florissant Avenue, where demonstrators have been gathering in this St. Louis suburb since Aug. 9. A vigil on the one-year anniversary of the death of the 18-year-old Michael Brown was shattered by gunfire.

“Our strategy is not only to provide a sense of safety and solidarity, but also revive a sense of the optimism and hope that change is possible.”
PC(USA) Stated Clerk responds to the creation of ‘Muslim-free Zones’

With every act of violence in the U.S., whether at a church, a military recruiting station, or a movie theatre, we revisit the possibility of yet another incident, carried out by armed, sometimes unstable or radicalized individuals, whose goal is to murder large numbers of people in public places. That fear is exacerbated by daily news of murderous acts by Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other groups that are trying to recruit followers across the globe, including from our own communities.

One of the latest manifestations of fear of such violence is the creation of “Muslim-free zones” by business owners in several states, including Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, and New Hampshire. One gun store owner in New York marked his shop a “Muslim-Free Gun Store.”

In defense of his decision, he told WNYT of Albany, New York: “My Facebook post, I thought about this and said well, there’s only one organization that is advocating for the killing of Americans, trying to get local homegrown terrorists, and somewhat succeeding. They’re not Canadians. They’re not French. They’re Muslims.”

ELCA bishop poses ethical questions to Congress regarding Iran plan 15-51-MRC

In an Aug. 5 letter to U.S. Congress, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), urged for “careful deliberation and consideration” in response to the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” which “seeks to ‘ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.’”  

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Member of Congress,

As presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I am writing you regarding the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” which seeks to “ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.” We urge your careful deliberation and consideration of a number of ethical dimensions which should be taken in account when deciding how to avoid conflict and war.

We believe God calls the ELCA to be a community for peace and justice; that is, to seek among ourselves and to call on other people to seek the things that lead to a world in which everyone may flourish. As such a community, the ELCA in its social teaching statement “For Peace in God’s World,” sets a high priority on seeking non-violent means and on arms control and specifically encourages “a sharp reduction in the number of weapons of mass destruction.” It gives priority to agreements that “decrease the possibility of nuclear confrontation or accident.”

Neither I, nor my church body, pretend to be knowledgeable enough to assess fully the adequacy of the “Joint Plan,” although we have high regard for those in political authority charged with the heavy burden of having brought this Joint Plan into being. I am aware that the United Nations Security Council endorsed the Plan unanimously. The plan is such a critical international agreement it deserves the most careful moral evaluation.

Our church believes that all humans are created for life in community with God, all other humans and the rest of creation. Our church recognizes that governments may employ justifiable force but should do so according to carefully assessed criteria to restrain evil, succor the common good and to protect sovereignty. God’s priority for peace remains paramount, however, and favors the use of wise restraint and sound cooperation that gives significance to the possibilities of peace through non-violent means for all people.

Based on the teachings of our church, we appeal to you to consider several critical questions about the Joint Plan; questions that have not been dominant in the public debates. Precisely because we have high regard for those in political authority, we invite you to weigh heavily the following ethical criteria:

• Does it strengthen the will and ability to resolve conflict peacefully?

• Does it have the support of an international community that fosters differences in unity?

• Does it advocate international codification and support effective ways to monitor and ensure compliance?

• Does it encourage the politics of cooperation that build confidence among nations through forms of state conduct that are legal, nonviolent, verifiable and open?

• Does it improve structures of common security for nations as a whole?

• Does it seem likely to prevent war or reduce the possibility of violence?

These criteria, our church teaches, are critical questions for any political initiative. If these, on the whole, may be answered positively regarding the Joint Plan, then we keenly urge you as a U.S. law maker to support this historic opportunity because it would strengthen the common good and prevent a march to war with attendant horrendous “collateral damage” and unanticipated consequences.

With prayers for your service in government, we commend to you these concerns.

God’s peace,
Elizabeth A. Eaton
ELCA Presiding Bishop

Ecumenical Opportunities:

Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns job opening: Communications manager

Position announcement: Communications manager

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC) represents the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Lay Missioners and works closely with the Mayknoll Affiliates. Our aim is to bring Maryknoll mission experience to public policy debates on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations, to educate about issues related to social justice, peace and integrity of creation and to advocate for social, environmental and economic justice. Our goal is to influence positive change in the areas of systemic poverty, human rights violations, conflict, and environmental destruction. Our offices are located in Washington, D.C., at Maryknoll, New York and across from the UN in New York City.

110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
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