Thank You for Passing the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act
On December 10, the Senate unanimously agreed to approve legislation requiring federal and state prisons, immigration detention facilities, county jails and police departments to report to the U.S. Department of Justice the circumstances surrounding all deaths in custody. The measure now heads to the President for his signature.
Passage of the Death in Custody Reporting Act is an opportunity to applaud Congress for their efforts to bring accountability to the criminal justice and law enforcement systems.
Thank your Senator today by sending a short "Thank You" message.
Urge Your Senators to Support PEPFAR, Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria & Tuberculosis
Encourage your Senators to support, at a minimum, the House appropriations numbers for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria in any final spending bill.
In the case of a continuing resolution, ask your senators to please work with your colleagues to ensure that $300 million from the base be redirected to PEPFAR to keep funding for HIV/AIDS up and U.S. contributions in line with our commitments to the Global Fund. Declining incidence and prevalence rates have been achieved in many areas.
The tide of the pandemic is turning. This is not the time to step back from so much that has been accomplished thanks to the U.S. commitment to defeat HIV/AIDS.
The AIDS epidemic continues to unnecessarily ravage communities and families leaving millions of children without parents and impacting economies creating a cycle that strips too many of God’s children from experiencing abundant life.
In 2014, UNAIDS reports the lowest levels of new HIV infections this century at 2.1 million [1.9 million–2.4 million]. In the past three years alone new HIV infections have fallen by 13%. According to Dr. Benjamin Young, chief medical officer of the International Assn. of Providers of AIDS Care, “The pediatric AIDS epidemic has been eliminated in the United States.”
The World Health Organization estimates that 35 million people in the world were living with HIV at the end of 2013. Of these, 3.4 million are children most of whom acquired HIV from their HIV-infected mothers during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
Because of the commitment of the global community:
- AIDS-related deaths are at their lowest since the peak in 2005, having declined by 35%.
- New HIV infections among children have fallen by 58% since 2001 and dropped below 200,000 for the first time in the 21 most affected countries in Africa.
New HIV infections have risen by 7% in the Middle East and North Africa, however, and by 5% in eastern Europe and Central Asia since 2005.
- AIDS-related deaths were seen to be rising steeply in the Middle East and North Africa by 66%.
- The only other region where AIDS-related deaths are increasing is eastern Europe and Central Asia where AIDS-related deaths rose by 5% between 2005 and 2013.
Biblical and Theological Context
The United Methodist Social Principles (¶162U) state:
Persons diagnosed as positive for Human Immune Virus (HIV) and with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) often face rejection from their families and friends and various communities in which they work and interact … All individuals living with HIV and AIDS should be treated with dignity and respect.
We affirm the responsibility of the Church to minister to and with these individuals and their families regardless of how the disease was contracted. We support their rights to employment, appropriate medical care, full participation in public education, and full participation in the Church.
"We urge the Church to be actively involved in the prevention of the spread of AIDS by providing educational opportunities to the congregation and the community. The Church should be available to provide counseling to the affected individuals and their families.
Write or call your senators today. We have prepared a sample letter that you can use or modify to your own message. Please act now to defeat this pandemic that is ruining so many lives.
Support Second Chances for People Leaving Incarceration
In 2008 Congress came together to pass historic crime prevention legislation, the Second Chance Act, focused on strengthening individuals, families and communities burdened by mass incarceration.
The bill's authorization has now expired and Congress must act to ensure people and families touched by the criminal justice system have the resources they need to restore their lives and become successful, contributing community members.
Please tell your leaders in Washington, D.C., to support the Second Chance Reauthorization Act today!
Urge Congress to Pass the International Violence Against Women Act
“We [The United Methodist Church] recognize that family violence and abuse in all its forms — verbal, psychological, physical, sexual — is detrimental to the covenant of the human community. We encourage the Church to provide a safe environment, counsel and support for the victim. While we deplore the action of the abuser, we affirm that person to be in need of God’s redeeming love” (Social Principles ¶161G, Book of Discipline).
One out of three women worldwide will experience physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse during her lifetime. Human Trafficking is a $32 billion industry. The United Nations estimates that 2.4 million people are enslaved for labor and/or sex at any time.
The United Methodist Church “…affirm[s] with Scripture the common humanity of male and female, both having equal worth in the eyes of God” (Social Principles. ¶161E.)
United Methodists understand that violence impacts every aspect of women and girls’ lives. The UMC calls for “…the prevention of further abuse by addressing the societal roots and not merely the symptoms of violence and abuse.” (Book of Resolutions #3423)
The bipartisan International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 3571/S.2307), also known as IVAWA, makes ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic and foreign assistance priority by codifying, implementing and giving congressional oversight to the ongoing U.S. Strategy to Prevent & Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. IVAWA will streamline and better coordinate anti-gender-based violence (GBV) programming across various U.S. government agencies, making this a cornerstone of U.S. development and foreign policy. Because the goal of this legislation is to coordinate and integrate existing programs, no new funding is required.
IVAWA focuses on:
- Preventing violence through community-based solutions to transform social norms that condone and/or encourage violence against girls and women, as well as boys and men;
- Increasing legal and judicial protection to address gender-based violence;
- Increasing health-sector capacity by integrating programs to address gender-based violence into already existing health programs focused on child survival, health and HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment; and,
- Improving the economic status and educational opportunities for women and girls thus reducing their vulnerability to violence.
As people of faith, we must work to change cultural, economic, legal and political systems that dehumanize, exploit and abuse women and girls.
Contact your members of Congress and urge them to act now!
Smarter Sentencing Act Interfaith Letter for Clergy and Faith Leaders
Scripture commands “Justice, and only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). For too long Congress has ignored the consequences of the harsh sentencing policies it approved during the 1980s and the disproportionate harm it has caused people of color and those convicted of low-level offenses.
The Smarter Sentencing Act is a step towards addressing racial injustice as well as reducing the mass incarceration that characterizes our current justice system. We welcome all clergy and faith leaders to join the call to Congress to act justly by supporting the Smarter Sentencing Act.
- Rev. Gregory Boyle, SJ Founder and Executive Director, Homeboy Industries
- J. Ron Byler, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee, Washington, D.C. office
- Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director for NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
- Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
- Bishop Sally Dyck, United Methodist Church
- Bishop Grant Hagiya, United Methodist Church
- Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary for the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
- Bishop Peggy Johnson, United Methodist Church
- Sr. Ellen Kelly, RGS, Province Leader, Province of New York
- Rev. Michael Kennedy, SJ, Executive Director, Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative
- Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together
- Sr. Mary Catherine Massei, RGS, Province Leader, Province of Mid-North America
- Bishop William McAlilly, United Methodist Church
- Bishop Mike McKee, United Methodist Church
- Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary for American Baptist Churches USA
- Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association
- Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church, USA, Office of Public Witness
- Bishop Gregory Palmer, United Methodist Church
- Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
- Rev. Dr. David Schuringa, President, Crossroads Bible Institute
- V. Rev. Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, President, U.S. Jesuit Conference
- Sandy Sorenson, Director, Washington Office, United Church of Christ, Justice & Witness Ministries
- Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
- Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners
- Jim Winkler, President, National Council of Churches, USA
Support the Smarter Sentencing Act
The Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1410) would significantly reduce harsh minimum mandatory sentences for low-level drug offenses and help increase fairness, reduce racial disparity and limit overcrowding in the Bureau of Prisons.
Urge Your Senator to End Gun Violence Today
The terrible gun shooting in Newtown, CT happened just a few months ago and already we have seen thousands more die due to gun violence. As the Senate begins to debate gun violence prevention legislation we must let them know that we want them to do all they can to keep our communities safe from this epidemic of gun violence.
This IS the Day to Stop Gun Violence
After the tragedy losing 27 lives to gun violence in Newtown, Conn, all of us know — regardless of where we stand on access to guns — there are simple things that Congress can and must do to prevent gun violence and more senseless tragedies.
This letter is to be sent to President Obama asking that meaningful action be taken. A church in Virignia vowed to keep the letter in its church foyer, solicit new signatures and send it in repeatedly until Congress takes action.
You and your congregation are encouraged to do the same, so we can work together to ensure fewer gun-violence tragedies in the future.
The letter is to go to:
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Send a Message to your U.S. Senators
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Stand Strong Against Malaria, HIV&AIDS and Tuberculosis
The U.S. government is a world leader in providing support to vulnerable communities as they struggle against life-threatening diseases like malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis. Yet, in today's political environment, Global Health funding is at risk.
Join us now in encouraging elected officials to stand strong for Global Health!
I am Prophet-Driven
We the people called United Methodist are committed to ministry with those living in poverty. As witnesses to the economic hardships faced by our brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world, we believe their needs and interests must be the focus of any recovery agenda. We reject the notion that those on the margins must suffer first and recover last. Instead, scripture demands we place those living on the economic margins at the center of our vision of a just economy.
FACT: Every two minutes, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Up to 30% of these deaths could be avoided if all women had access to family planning.
What would the church look like if women and girls were seen as children of God with sacred worth?
More than 222 million women and girls around the world can’t plan for their own lives. Their health, education, and economic security are at risk because they don’t have access to the modern contraceptives they want and need to determine if and when they’ll become pregnant. Because they lack access, hundreds of thousands will die each year. For each woman who dies, ten more will suffer disability.
As the body of Christ, we are called to care for one another (1 Corinthians 2:25), starting with caring for those in our communities and extending that care to those around the globe. Seeing women and girls as children of God with sacred worth means remembering the nearly 800 women everyday who die in childbirth around the world, mostly from preventable causes, and collectively responding to this tragedy with prayer, education, and action.
The Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project is asking you to join our campaign to stand up for safe motherhood. Please help us reach our goal of sending 2,500 letters to Congress urging them to invest in programs that promote the sacred worth of women and girls. With our collective voices, we’ll send a clear message to Congress that people of faith support healthy births, healthy mothers, and healthy families.
You can participate in two ways:
1. Pledge to engage your congregation or community in writing letters to the elected officials in your area. Contact Katey Zeh for more information.
2. Send a letter to your Members of Congress by entering your zip code below.