FROM FJC’S SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE

DID YOU KNOW? [Week of June 9, 2017 / 15 Sivan 5777]

June 20th is World Refugee Day, which was established in 2001 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The world’s refugee population is increasing steadily.  There are over five million Syrian refugees who have left their war torn county and are seeking a safe, permanent home.   But here in the United States, our government’s attitude toward welcoming the stranger is that of hostility, fear, and suspicion.  In this 2017 fiscal year, the number of refugees resettled has declined in 46 states, dwindling to just 400 individuals per week, down from almost 2500 per week in October of 2016.  This could mean the U.S. will resettle only 50,000 refugees in 2017.

As Rabbi Dov Pesner said last year on World Refugee Day: “Jews and Muslims, refugees and immigrants, we are all the children of Abraham, and we must stand up together to call out Islamophobia and bigotry in America and to actively welcome refugees of all religious backgrounds.”

Call your members of congress and urge them to support measures to welcome more refugees.

How To Contact Your Elected Officials:  Sen. Edward Markey (D) 218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2742; http://www.markey.Senate.gov; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) 317 Hart Senate Office Bldg; 2 Russell Courtyard, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 228-2072, https://www.warren.senate.gov; Rep. William R. Keating (D) (9th Cong. Dist.); 315 Cannon House Office Bldg; Washington, DC 202 225-3111, http://keating.house.gov.

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DO YOU KNOW? (Week of June 2, 2017 / 8 Sivan 5777)

The “Johnson Amendment,” to the U.S. Tax Code was adopted in 1954.  It prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations, including houses of worship, from being involved in partisan politics.  While this doesn’t preclude houses of worship from being involved in moral and political issues, including supporting or opposing legislation, it does preclude them from endorsing or opposing candidates or using their tax-exempt donations to contribute to partisan campaigns.

On May 4th, the president signed an Executive Order titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”  The order instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to ensure that no individual or house of worship shall be penalized by a tax, tax penalty or delay or denial of tax-exempt status because the individual or organization speaks about moral or political issues from a religious perspective.

As the Religious Action Center said about this order:  “Using the prophetic voice to speak truth to power is a core characteristic of houses of worship, and is enhanced, not hindered by the Johnson Amendment.  In an ever more polarizing political climate, it is important these houses of worship remain spaces where people can come together in faith across so many other lines of difference. “

Urge your Members of Congress to oppose any effort to weaken or repeal this legal provision that prohibits houses of worship from engaging in partisan politics.

How To Contact Your Elected Officials:  Sen. Edward Markey (D) 218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2742; http://www.markey.Senate.gov; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) 317 Hart Senate Office Bldg; 2 Russell Courtyard, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 228-2072, https://www.warren.senate.gov; Rep. William R. Keating (D) (9th Cong. Dist.); 315 Cannon House Office Bldg; Washington, DC 202 225-3111, http://keating.house.gov.

Week of May 26, 2017 / 1 Sivan 5777

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism released the following statement regarding the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018:

The budget proposal released by the Trump administration seeks irresponsible and dangerous program cuts that if fulfilled would hurt millions of Americans. Drastic reductions in spending on health care, food assistance, education, affordable housing, and family planning would do profound harm to the most vulnerable members of our society and abdicate the government’s responsibility to those most in need of support.

Egregiously, the proposal includes over $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade, and $72 billion in cuts to disability benefits. Medicaid helps 77 million Americans access the healthcare that they need. It further attacks health care by eliminating funding for vital reproductive health care, including Planned Parenthood. The budget also proposes cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by more than 30 percent, threatening the health of our planet. It guts the budget for the State Department and diplomatic programs by nearly a third, placing America’s international leadership at risk. It includes a similarly draconian cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which 44 million Americans relied on in 2016 to fight hunger. The budget also includes $1.6 billion for an ill-advised wall on our southern border and more funding for detention and deportation – an inhumane and enforcement-focused approach to immigration that will force people further into the shadows and tear communities apart.  

Urge your members of Congress to oppose this budget proposal and to support programs that help those among us most in need.

How To Contact Your Elected Officials:  Sen. Edward Markey (D) 218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2742; http://www.markey.Senate.gov; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) 317 Hart Senate Office Bldg; 2 Russell Courtyard, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 228-2072, https://www.warren.senate.gov; Rep. William R. Keating (D) (9th Cong. Dist.); 315 Cannon House Office Bldg; Washington, DC 202 225-3111, http://keating.house.gov.

Week of May 12, 2017 / 16  Iyar 5777

  DID YOU KNOW?  The following statement was issued by the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Dov Pesner, on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Reform Movement after passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives.

We are deeply disheartened by the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives, legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cost millions of people access to the quality, affordable health care that should be a right. This reverses the tremendous progress that has been made in recent years to increase the number of Americans with health insurance. We urgently call on the Senate to reject this profoundly harmful legislation.

The stakes could not be higher. While Congress is rushing through this reckless legislation without an evaluation from the Congressional Budget Office, the last CBO scoring of the bill estimated that 24 million Americans would lose coverage by 2026 under the AHCA. Many of these losses would stem from an $840 billion cut to Medicaid—a measure that would force people with disabilities and low-income children and families into particularly perilous circumstances. The legislation also removes protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and allows insurance companies to provide health plans with insufficient coverage. Leaving millions of people without health care would be a moral failure.

We are inspired by the example set over many centuries in Jewish tradition, which instructs communities to provide health care to their inhabitants (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23). Health care is a core aspect of a society of equality and justice. We are not deterred in our pursuit of affordable, high-quality health care for all Americans, and we remain committed to creating a world in which no one has to choose between their health and their financial stability.

We strongly oppose the AHCA, and we call on all Senators to reject this reckless and irresponsible legislation that would harm millions of Americans. 

How To Contact Your Elected Officials:  Sen. Edward Markey (D) 218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2742; http://www.markey.Senate.gov; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) 317 Hart Senate Office Bldg; 2 Russell Courtyard, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 228-2072, https://www.warren.senate.gov.