November 25, 2015


The DISCIPLES CENTER FOR PUBLIC WITNESS is blessed to work with advocates like you, and thankful for your prayers and your support.

Our Board, our Advocacy Team, and our Advisory Network join with our denominational, ecumenical and interfaith partners to wish you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving weekend!

We are also very thankful to all of our financial supporters, and invite you to become one of them. If you are already a supporter, we invite you to make a special Thanksgiving gift today.
You may give online by clicking HERE
or you may send your most generous contribution to:

Disciples Center for Public Witness
c/o Christian Church Capital Area
8814 Kensington Parkway, Suite 208
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6743


NCC Urges Hospitality Toward Refugees

As Scripture is clear about our responsibility to care for refugees, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA supports the extension of hospitality by the United States to those who are fleeing the turmoil and violence of recent years in Syria.

The hysteria developing in our nation regarding the possibility, no matter how remote, that Syrian refugees might represent a potential terrorist threat is misplaced, deeply unfortunate and harmful to our ability to see the humanity of our sisters and brothers from other lands.

Resources for Supporting Syrian Refugees

We want to thank you for the work you are doing on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. So many of you have made statements, joined campaigns, shared Tweets, posted stories, and written op-eds. We are grateful for your voices and hope you will keep us posted on your work.

As we move into the Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to share a couple of resources provided by the White House.

This link will direct you to a resources page with graphics and related links about Syrian refugees in the United States.

This link will take you to the campaign page, #AidRefugees, where you can enter your zip code into a map to see where you can learn about some of the volunteer opportunities with organizations near you that are helping refugees start anew in your community.

A Thanksgiving Prayer for Syrian refugees

From Daily Kos:

by Rev. Sung Yeon Choimorrow

Over the last few months, especially the last few weeks as the weather has started to turn cold, Syrian and Iraqi refugees arriving at the shores of Greece have been weighing on my heart and mind. The pictures of little children being taken off rafts or pictures of children sleeping in the forest in Serbia as they make their way to Hungary with their families.

When I look at these images and hear the stories, I hear parents, a grandfather, an uncle or a widow desperately trying to find safety and refuge for their loved ones. I hear a longing for normalcy, a longing for peace. A longing for a better future for their little ones.

Yesterday some of our political leaders demonstrated, yet again, how disconnected they are to people and their realities. There is no way that you could hear and see these heartbreaking stories and vote to exclude Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming to the United States. Their Islamophobia masked in national security has not fooled anyone.

Organizational Sign On Letter for Syrian Refugees

The Refugee Council of the USA is circulating a letter for signature by national, regional, and local faith based organizations. You can find the full letter here. Here is where you can add your name.

Faith leaders: please sign the religious leaders letter to welcome Syrians of all faiths? Sign on HERE.

All people of faith: please sign this Groundswell petition to welcome Syrian refugees.

Advocacy Groups Send Letter Urging Support for Syrian Refugees

Thirty-eight advocacy groups on Tuesday sent a letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan calling on him to welcome Syrian refugees to the state and trust the federal vetting process for the individuals.

Hogan (R) last week said he would ask the Obama administration to stop sending such refugees to the state “until the U.S. government can provide appropriate assurances that refugees from Syria pose no threat to public safety."

His decision came days after the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people on Nov. 13. More than two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, have said they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states due to concerns that Islamic State terrorists could pose as displaced persons to enter the country.

WATCH: Here's What the Refugee Screening Process Looks Like

Since the attacks in Paris, many have asked about our process for admitting Syrian refugees into this country.

I understand the anxiety that many Americans are feeling right now. And as Secretary of Homeland Security, I share with President Obama the top priority of keeping the American people safe. So let me be clear about what this process of vetting and resettling refugees looks like.

It's important to remember, we're focused on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians -- this means mostly women, children and families. Second, anyone who applies for and is approved for refugee status in the United States, including Syrians, must first go through a rigorous security screening process.

Kentucky Governor Issues Executive Order on Rights Restoration

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order that will make it possible for thousands of Kentucky citizens with past criminal convictions to get back their right to vote — an incredible breakthrough in the movement to end criminal disenfranchisement policies nationwide. Over 140,000 Kentuckians with past non-violent convictions and who have fully completed their sentences (including probation and parole) can act now to reclaim their voting rights, through a simple rights restoration process.

Going forward, Kentuckians completing sentences for non-violent felony convictions will automatically regain their voting rights – we estimate that another 30,000 people will have their voting rights restored over time. The figures used to assess the order’s impact were estimated using data from several sources, including the 2010 U.S. Census, the Sentencing Project’s estimates of disenfranchised populations, and federal Bureau of Justice Statistics data of the proportion of individuals on parole and probation with felony convictions classified as non-violent or otherwise.

NC Worker Arrested After Reporting Lost Wages

When desperation drove Miriam Martinez Solais to sneak across the Rio Grande in 2007, she imagined life in the United States would be worth the risk.

Here, Solais thought she would find decent pay for honest work. She imagined earning enough money to feed and clothe Ruth, the 3-year-old daughter she left behind with family in Mexico.

Instead, Solais, 28, could spend the next five years or more in prison. Roxboro police say she is a thief who used a stranger’s Social Security number when seeking work as a cook at a local Italian restaurant.

Are you Hungry for Justice this Thanksgiving?

Walmart's poverty wages are forcing many of their employees into a situation where they have to choose between food and other necessities. No working person in this nation of plenty should have to go hungry.

This holiday season, we are giving thanks and giving back for those who work so hard at Walmart, yet take home such a tiny share of the earnings. We hope you'll join us in getting involved to help feed Walmart workers and others in need this holiday season and taking action to call out Walmart and other employers who keep their workers in poverty all year long.

ACA Partnerships Update: Open Enrollment Snapshot

The second week of Open Enrollment for Marketplace coverage saw millions more Americans exploring their health insurance options by calling the call center, attending enrollment events, or visiting or

“In communities across the country, Americans are turning to or to get covered for 2016,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. “We’re pleased that people are getting the help they need and finding affordable options. More than a million consumers have signed-up for Marketplace coverage for the first time or have returned to renew their coverage.”

Congress: Don't Leave Any Working Families Behind

Hopefully you saw our action alert last week about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). If you didn’t, don’t worry, it’s not too late to take action! There are also sample tweets at the end of this post you can use. In short, Congress will soon be taking up legislation to extend more than 50 tax breaks, mostly for corporations, at a cost of billions of dollars. However, key provisions of these tax credits for low-income working families will expire in two years without action, hurting more than 50 million people, including 25 million children. Of those, more than 16 million people, including 8 million children, will be pushed into or deeper into poverty. A single mother with two children working full time at the federal minimum wage would lose her entire Child Tax Credit – over $1,700. 

PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Beyond Distrust: How Americans View Their Government

A year ahead of the presidential election, the American public is deeply cynical about government, politics and the nation’s elected leaders in a way that has become quite familiar, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.

The survey, based on more than 6,000 interviews conducted between August 27 and October 4, 2015, finds that just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in the past half-century. Only 20% would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected officials are held in such low regard that 55% of the public says “ordinary Americans” would do a better job of solving national problems.

Building upon previous reports about the government’s role and performance in 2010 and 1998, the study finds that the partisan divide over the size and scope of government remains as wide as ever: Fully 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they prefer a smaller government with fewer services, compared with just 31% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

ACTION ALERT: Get Your Rep's Attention on U.S.-Cuba Policy

If your representative in the House is a Republican and hasn't co-sponsored legislation to change policy toward Cuba (check our list of Republican co-sponsors at the end of this email), we need you to get their attention by writing a letter-to-the-editor to be published in your local newspaper!

Your representative pays close attention to your district's local paper, so this is a great way to educate your representative and make your voice heard!

We've created some talking points and a few sample drafts to get you started!

Netanyahu Suggests Unilateral Moves

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday hinted at the possibility of an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.

“There’s all sorts of unilateral moves and sorts of directions. Wait and see. And they’re not necessarily in the direction that people think,” he said, refusing to elaborate.

Netanyahu first raised the notion of unilateral steps last week, when asked about his plans to prevent Israel from becoming a binational state should a two-state agreement with the Palestinians continue to prove elusive. “Unilateralism… I supposed that’s possible too, but it would have to meet Israeli security criteria and that would also require broader international understanding than exists,” he said at an event in Washington. Later, his aides clarified that he was referring to unilateral steps to improve Israel’s position on the ground — not, as initially reported, possible unilateral withdrawals in the West Bank.

Keep our Elections Free from Hateful Rhetoric

The National Council of Churches calls on all candidates for office to refrain from utilizing speech that reflects hatred of others and results in the division of society as a way to promote their candidacies. We similarly call on media outlets covering the candidates and their campaigns, debates, and addresses to exercise care not to sensationalize such rhetoric at a time when we should be lifting up our best values, living out the democratic process.

Our democracy has many building blocks. It is not perfect, but these blocks together define the national effort to form a “more perfect Union” (preamble, U.S. Constitution). The preeminent witness to this national effort is the democratic election process that provides opportunity to anyone to seek office, including the presidency.

November 14, 2015

St. Louis-Area Disciples Summit on Racial Justice

The St. Louis-Area Disciples Summit on Racial Justice, held on September 19, 2015, was an opportunity to gather and challenge Disciples to forge a unique mission imperative for racial justice in the St. Louis area. In cooperation with other Disciples, the NBA has supported local efforts for justice and racial reconciliation following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014. This event brought St. Louis-area congregations together to dialogue around issues of racial justice and to equip congregations theologically and emotionally to enter, and sustain, this difficult work.

We share the following resources from the St. Louis-Area Summit, for anyone interested in issues of racial justice, white privilege, and reconciliation, as well as other congregations or organizations interested in hosting a similar summit in their communities.

President Obama's Full Keystone XL Remarks

This morning, speaking from the Roosevelt Room, the President announced that the State Department determined that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States.

For years, this topic has occupied a huge portion of our country's climate discourse. And after explaining why this pipeline "would not serve the national interest of the United States," the President called attention to the broader climate challenges facing America and the global community heading into international climate negotiations in Paris this December:

"…we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can. If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now. Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now."

Netanyahu Visit Sparks Internal Backlash at Powerhouse D.C. Think Tank

A simmering internal disagreement at the Center for American Progress over the think tank’s decision to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week escalated into open dissent and infighting during an intense but civil all-staff meeting on Friday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the exchange.

The powerful liberal think tank — known in Washington simply as CAP — will host Netanyahu on Tuesday as part of the Israeli leader’s closely watched visit to the United States aimed at repairing ties between Jerusalem and Washington following the bruising debate over the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday morning and will finish the day at an award dinner at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Since the announcement of the event at CAP last month, the progressive group has come under fire from former CAP officials and peace activists who argue that hosting the Israeli leader inadvertently gives his right-wing policies a bipartisan stamp of approval. In an effort to quell concerns internally, Winnie Stachelberg, CAP’s executive vice president for external affairs, and Brian Katulis, a senior fellow, explained and defended the decision to host Netanyahu in an all-staff meeting on the 10th floor of CAP on Friday.

Capitol Workers to Strike Ahead of GOP Debate

Hours before a Republican primary debate, workers in the U.S. Capitol are going on strike and calling on the GOP senators running for president to help the workers who serve them.

Senate food-service workers and some cleaning staff are set to walk off their jobs Tuesday morning to call for higher wages and a union. The event is set for Tuesday to highlight GOP presidential contenders who, in the opinion of the striking workers, have been silent on the Capitol workers’ low wages.

With the presidential hopefuls set to take the stage in Milwaukee, Wis., for the Fox Business Network debate, the strike organizers have specifically called out Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

“Senator Rubio promises to create good jobs for America, but he hasn’t helped the low-wage workers who serve him every day,” James Powell, a chef at the members’ dining room, said in a news release. “He likes the fancy dishes we prepare, but he doesn’t care that we can’t afford to feed ourselves.”