News Summary for April 10, 2009

This summary is going out a day early because we are closed for the Good Friday holiday. Blessings to all during this sacred season for both Christians and our Jewish friends.

 

Check out the Actions, Events, News Posts, and Resources below. There is a lot of information here—please know that you aren’t expected to act on everything! Choose the issues that are most important to you and take action! Also—please support this ministry; learn how by clicking here.

 

Actions in this summary:

Urge Pennsylvania’s Congressional Members to Support Proposed Budget Priorities

Urge Senator Specter to Support Comprehensive and Compassionate Immigration Reform

Clergy and Religious Leader Sign-On for Employee Free Choice Act

Supporting Health Care for All Nationally (and having fun while doing it!)

Act Now for Comprehensive Immigration Reform—In-District Meetings April 6-17 and More

Support Immigration Reform by Faxing the President, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi

Help Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy

Change to Win Seeking Congregations Interested in “Cure CVS” Campaign

Urge Governor Rendell to Call for a Moratorium and Study on the Death Penalty

Contact Pennsylvania Legislators to Support SB 400, HB 1660—Publicly Funded, Privately Delivered Health Care for Pennsylvania

Ensure Health Care Reform Includes Health Coverage for All Children

Sign On in Support of a Faith Inspired Vision of Health Care

 

Events:

Pennsylvania Immigration Lobby Day on May 5

Mobilization to End Poverty—Washington, DC, April 26-29

Commonwealth Interfaith Service of Prayers for Peace—Harrisburg, May 4

Bread for the World’s Gathering 2009: Rejoice. Hope. Act.

 

News Posts:

Where DO Your Tax Dollars Go?

Keep Education a Priority in Pennsylvania

 

Resources:

Connect Vulnerable Persons with Services in Tough Economic Times

 

ACTIONS

 

We have posted many opportunities to advocate on a variety of issues on our Take Action page (http://www.pachurchesadvocacy.org/index_files/Page630.htm, and on our Weblog Take Action page at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?cat=10. Please visit these pages to learn more, or click on links in items below.

 

Urge Pennsylvania’s Congressional Members to Support Proposed Budget Priorities

 

President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget, while not perfect, seeks to invest in our future by expanding opportunities for all. His budget commits major investments in health care reform, education, and clean energy, while attempting to restore more fairness to our tax system and to reduce military expenditures over time in a responsible manner. It builds upon the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to protect Americans from the damaging impact of the recession while sowing seeds that should serve to produce a more sustainable prosperity for all.

 

Please urge Senators Casey and Specter and your representative to support the priorities outlined in the President’s proposed budget.

 

The priorities outlined in this budget, if enacted, should begin to turn back the harsh trend of rising poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness. Individuals and families of all economic levels would benefit from extended opportunities and security that would come from expanding health care coverage, making college more affordable, supporting the financial and nutritional needs of low income families, expanding affordable housing, investing in a far-reaching policy that will develop clean sources of energy and protect the planet by reducing global warming pollution, and generate good jobs to rebuild our middle class.

 

These steps will set the federal budget on a responsible path–meeting the needs of families and making long-term investments in our nation’s future while gradually reducing the deficit. Please call upon our Members of Congress to follow and build upon the President’s lead in crafting its Budget Resolution, recognizing that there is no time to waste in meeting the nation’s long-deferred needs.

 

Please urge Senators Casey and Specter and your representative to support the priorities outlined in the President’s proposed budget. To learn more and to take action, go to http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1369. (Also available at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=538.)

 

Urge Senator Specter to Support Comprehensive and Compassionate Immigration Reform

 

“While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.” (“Obama to Push Immigration Bill as One Priority,” New York Times, published online on 4/8/09 at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/us/politics/09immig.html?_r=1&emc=eta1.)

 

While the President’s support is extremely important, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) notes that Senator Arlen Specter’s support will be key if Congress is to pass humane and comprehensive immigration reform this year. Senator Specter is the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which makes him the most powerful Republican to weigh in on this issue.

 

While the senator supports immigration reform, he will need significant constituent support to lead the push for it this year. He needs to hear from his constituents, and voices from the faith community are particularly important. His staff recently told one of FCNL’s lobbyists that his office never receives any positive calls on immigration.

 

Please help by taking action NOW at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1367. There are two actions you can take—calling Senator Specter, and sending him a message—and doing both would be even better!

 

For additional background, visit the action page above.

 

The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament tells us: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt…” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NRSV).  In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger (cf. Matthew 25:35, NRSV), for “… just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, NRSV).

Please support comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform by contacting Senator Specter today!

 

Clergy and Religious Leader Sign-On for Employee Free Choice Act

 

From our friends at Interfaith Worker Justice:

 

You are likely aware by now that the Employee Free Choice Act will soon come to the floor of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. As you know, this historic legislation will go a long way to ensuring the rights of worker to form unions without fear or intimidation.

 

We are inviting members of the clergy and religious leaders from Pennsylvania to sign on to this formal letter of support for the Employee Free Choice Act that will be delivered directly to Senator Arlen Specter. The voices of the members of faith communities will likely be decisive in passing this crucial legislation for working people. (NOTE: Lay persons who are not in leadership but who wish to act may do so at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1280.)

 

If you choose to add your name to the list of supporters, you can sign the letter at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1035/t/9118/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=816. You can also e-mail Jonathan Currie at jcurrie@iwj.org or call him at (773) 728-8400, ext. 14. Please provide your full name, title, denominational or congregational affiliation, and the city or town in which you live. Your help in Pennsylvania in the coming weeks will be indispensible to the national effort to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Thank you for all that you do in this important effort. (This action also posted at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=501.)

 

Supporting Health Care for All Nationally (and having fun while doing it!)

 

Payer.net is calling on all Americans to join them in making Medicare For All a reality. Sign up to receive important information and alerts.  Help spread the word about Medicare For All—full health care access with free choice of doctor, no deductibles, no premiums, no co pays and no insurance company red tape. 1Payer.net asks us to “Help drive insurance company money-changers out of the temple of medicine.” Sign up now at http://www.1payer.net/about-us/sign-up.html or go to http://www.1payer.net/ to learn more. They provide a quick way to learn more in a video that describes the current problem and how a publicly funded, privately delivered can address it at http://www.1payer.net/what-is-single-payer-healthcare-animated.html. Also, view the first of several videos featuring Mike Farrell (BJ Hunnicutt from M*A*S*H) in support of “Medicare for All” at http://www.1payer.net/videos/205-everybody-in-nobody-out.html.

 

1Payer.net is also inviting everyone to join in a ‘CyberMarch’ on Washington on May 30, 2009. This is a fun way to show your support for this kind of health care system. You can sign up at http://www.1payer.net/campaigns/187-join-the-march-on-washington.html and choose your avatar who will go to Washington for you on May 30. Your avatar will join others to demand that insurance companies be removed from health care. (This action also posted at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=504.)

 

Act Now for Comprehensive Immigration Reform—In-District Meetings April 6-17 and More

 

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform, is calling on faith communities throughout the United States to conduct “Neighbor to Neighbor” in-district meetings with their Members of Congress during the April 6-17 Congressional break. To find out what you can do to help, go to http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=399.

 

Other Opportunities for Action

 

Support Immigration Reform by Faxing the President, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi: In order to reinforce the Neighbor to Neighbor visits happening around the country this week and next, America’s Voice is asking advocates to send a fax to Members of Congress, urging them to take action for immigrant families during this holiday season. Their goal is to send 3,000 faxes during the recess. They are asking for our help in getting to that goal—please help by sending a fax and forwarding this message to your colleagues and friends! You can cut and paste this message into an e-mail, or write your own and just send the link.

 

Click on the following link to watch the America’s Voice new video, send a fax to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and share this message with your friends, families, and colleagues to urge them to act: http://www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/Family

 

America’s Voices shares the following message:

 

Keeping families together isn’t just a value for people of faith—it’s a human value. It’s a cornerstone of our society, and it’s supposed to be a foundation of our immigration policies.

 

But the sad reality is that families are under attack in this country right now. They’re threatened by excessive backlogs and immigration raids that rip mothers from daughters, husbands from wives.

 

They ask for our help in reinforcing the message that we must not allow harsh immigration enforcement to harm vulnerable families.

 

Again, here is the link to watch the video and send a message: http://www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/Family (This action also available at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=528.)

 

Help Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy: The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is asking for help to support important housing legislation.

 

Please visit or call Senator Robert Casey and Senator Arlen Specter during the April congressional recess (April 6-17) and urge them to support the Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act (S. 61).

 

Senator Casey: (202) 224-6324; http://casey.senate.gov/ for Pennsylvania offices—bottom of page)

 

Senator Specter: (202) 224-4254; http://specter.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.OfficeLocations for Pennsylvania offices)

 

The Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act (S. 61) is designed to help stabilize our economy by allowing homeowners a final option to modify their mortgages in bankruptcy court, which would reduce foreclosures. It is estimated that 6,600 families are losing their homes to foreclosure every single day.

 

S. 61 would provide homeowners with a final option to prevent foreclosure through the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process, by setting up realistic and affordable mortgage payment plans. This last resort gives homeowners, local communities, and the economy an opportunity to recover from this current crisis, without cost to taxpayers. S. 61 is not a “bailout” for homeowners. However, in passing this bill, the Senate will provide homeowners an opportunity to stay in their homes in these difficult economic times—helping strengthen our local communities, not just corporations on Wall Street.

 

The House of Representatives passed a similar bill (H.R. 1106) in March, but the Senate has yet to bring this bill to the floor for a vote. We can’t end the financial crisis without stemming the rising tide of foreclosures. Please call or visit our senators during the April recess and urge them to support S. 61.

 

To learn more about S. 61, go to http://www.civilrights.org/action_center/helping-families-save-their.html. (This post also available at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=533.)

 

Change to Win Seeking Congregations Interested in “Cure CVS” Campaign: The Cure CVS campaign is a project of the Change to Win labor federation that calls on CVS/pharmacy to be more responsible health care providers and stop discriminatory practices.

 

According to the campaign, CVS has been caught selling expired baby formula and children’s medication, locking up condoms mostly in communities where people of color predominate, and redlining.  The Cure CVS coalition urges CVS to change these policies.

 

The campaign is interested in going to churches to talk about a petition and upcoming actions. If you would like to learn more, you can find further information at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=516.

 

Ongoing Actions

 

Urge Governor Rendell to Call for a Moratorium and Study on the Death Penalty: Please call on Governor Rendell to commission a moratorium and a thorough study of the death penalty in Pennsylvania. (Faith message from the Council’s Principles for Public Advocacy: We believe there is no room for vengeance and retribution in the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system. Because we believe every soul is redeemable, we oppose capital punishment in any form because it denies opportunity for rehabilitation and restoration and is often racist and classist in its application.) Call (717) 787-2500 or e-mail by going to http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Governor/govmail.html. For more information, go to http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=447.

 

Lots of Opportunities for Health Care Actions:

 

Contact Pennsylvania Legislators to Support SB 400, HB 1660—Publicly Funded, Privately Delivered Health Care for Pennsylvania

 

The Council believes that comprehensive health care must be available to ALL persons—regardless of ability to pay. A comprehensive care system should be: 1) universal; 2) continuous; 3) affordable to individuals and families; 4) affordable and sustainable for society; and 5) able to enhance health and well-being by promoting access to high-quality care that is effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered, and equitable.

 

Therefore, the Council has chosen to endorse and support the following legislation: Pennsylvania’s soon to be reintroduced legislation that embodies this concept—Senate Bill 400, and House Bill 1660. These bills were introduced in the previous session as SB 300 and HB 1660. Links will be provided as soon as the bills are posted.

 

The Council is joining the effort in Pennsylvania with Health Care for All PA (http://www.healthcare4allpa.org/home.php) to collect signers to a petition (http://www.pachurchesadvocacy.org/index_files/web_attachments/SB400_HB1660_petition.pdf) in support of this legislation. You can sign online (http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=315), or download a petition and ask your friends to join in support.

 

More important, however, is for you to contact your legislators to let them know you support these bills and ask for their support. You can do this at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1329. This is the easy way to show your support, but your personal calls, letters and

e-mails have even more impact—so please consider a personal approach if you have time!

 

Ensure Health Care Reform Includes Health Coverage for All Children

 

There is growing momentum for President Obama and Congress to take up health care reform this year, and we want to make sure that any reform legislation includes health coverage for all children.

 

Therefore, we are joining with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and thousands of other child advocates to help ensure this happens by urging you to send an email to your Members of Congress today!

 

You can take action by visiting CDF’s children’s health action page.

 

Sign On in Support of a Faith Inspired Vision of Health Care

 

The Council is joining with people of faith around the country to support a new, Faith Inspired Vision of Health Care. Directions for signing on in support of this statement are included at the following links:

 

Sign on as a congregation or faith organization (http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=297)

 

Sign on as an individual (http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=302)

 

Printer friendly version of sign-on statement (http://www.pachurchesadvocacy.org/index_files/web_attachments/faith-vision-statement.pdf ) (NOTE: If used, please fax to (717) 545-4761, send to Pennsylvania Council of Churches, 900 S. Arlington Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17109, or e-mail to s.strauss@pachurches.org)

 

EVENTS

 

For a full listing of events, go to the Events Calendar at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?page_id=92.

 

Pennsylvania Immigration Lobby Day on May 5

 

The Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) is holding a statewide lobby day on Tuesday, May 5 at the Capital in Harrisburg from 10:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. The Council has worked as part of this coalition to educate the public and develop support for fair policies that welcome and sustain immigrants.

 

At this event, participants will: learn how to talk about the issues around immigration; meet in teams and practice over lunch (lunch provided); visit lawmakers to voice your views and learn about theirs; and report back and network with other participants.

 

To register for the PICC Lobby Day, go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=wYojcWtG9Lkoo716py1PyA_3d_3d. This is important so that they have a count for lunch and have the information they need for scheduling visits with legislators.

 

PICC is also looking for help in housing out of town visitors. If you or your congregation in the Harrisburg area is able to house one or more visitors on the evening of May 4, or if you need more information in general, please contact Jessica Levy at (215) 459-2456 or picclobbyday@gmail.com. (This event also posted at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=511.)

 

Don’t Forget the Following Important Events!

 

Mobilization to End Poverty—Washington, DC, April 26-29: Sponsored by Sojourners with many partners, the Mobilization to End Poverty will bring together Christians from across the country in a powerful movement committed to the biblical imperative of reducing domestic and global poverty. For more information or to register, go to http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=events.m2ep&item=m2ep-home.

 

Commonwealth Interfaith Service of Prayers for Peace—Harrisburg, May 4: The community is invited to join gathering of representatives from many faith traditions in central Pennsylvania in an interfaith service of prayers for peace on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. at Pine Street Presbyterian Church, 310 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA (across the street from the Capital–directions at http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=Harrisburg&state=PA&address=310+N.+3rd+Street&zipcode=17101&cat=Pine+Street+Presbyterian+Church; click on “directions to” under the address).

 

Plans are evolving for this service, which will involve members from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Bahá’í, Sikh, Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist, and other communities. We come together in the belief that we share a common desire for a more peaceful and just world, and that we can be a powerful voice and presence for peace in our community, throughout the country, and in the world.

 

A flyer that you can use to publicize this service and invite others is available by clicking on one of the following links:  5-4-09-prayer-event-color or 5-4-09-prayer-event-black-white

 

For more information, call or e-mail Sandy Strauss at (717) 545-4761 or s.strauss@pachurches.org. Watch http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=463 for more information.

 

Bread for the World’s Gathering 2009: Rejoice. Hope. Act.—Washington, DC, June 14-16: For more information, go to http://ga4.org/Bread/events/gathering/details.tcl.

 

NEWS POSTS

 

Please visit our weblog (http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?page_id=24) for the latest news and information. For previous News Summaries, click on the “News Summaries” link on the right side of the page.

 

Subscribe to our weblog via RSS (What is RSS?) or e-mail.

 

Where DO Your Tax Dollars Go?

 

A new analysis released by National Priorities Project (NPP, at www.nationalpriorities.org) states that as taxes come due on April 15, taxpayers can take stock of how the federal government spent each 2008 income tax dollar: 37.3 cents went towards military-related spending, while environment, energy and science-related projects split 2.8 cents. In its annual release, Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go? (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/taxday2009), NPP offers a breakdown of how the federal government spent the median income family’s 2008 tax payments in each state and 200 cities. To read the entire release from the National Priorities Project, go to http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=488 (posted on 4/8/09).

 

Keep Education a Priority in Pennsylvania

 

Our friend and fellow advocate Jane Wilshusen graciously agreed to allow us to print her terrific op-ed piece on education funding (“Keep Education a Priority”) that appeared in the April 6, 2009 issue of the Harrisburg Patriot-News (p. A9, “As I See It” column) on our weblog. The piece is available in its entirety at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=522 (posted on 4/9/09).

 

RESOURCES

 

For recently posted resources via these news summaries, go to http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?cat=24. For a more complete listing of resources and links, visit www.pachurchesadvocacy.org and click on the “Resources” link or “Related Links” (left side of page). This list is updated continually. Please report broken links to s.strauss@pachurches.org.

 

Connect Vulnerable Persons with Services in Tough Economic Times

 

See March 13 posts at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=426 for this information.

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