The Common Good

Blog Posts By Janelle Tupper

Posted by Janelle Tupper 28 weeks 15 hours ago
Editor's Note: Sojourners is celebrating Earth Week with a special message series every day next week. Click here to join us!“Behold, I am making all things new!” says Jesus in the book of Revelation. It’s this spirit of hope and second chances that we celebrate at Easter time. Life triumphs over death and decay. We get a second chance.But what about our planet? A cursory glance shows us that God’s creation could use some renewal.Creation is definitely groaning. We’re losing species, spilling oil, and changing our climate at an alarming rate. We’re building sea walls and responding to pumped-up natural disasters. Energy companies are pushing for even more access to the fossil fuels that are harming God’s creation. Action from Congress seems far away, and moneyed special interests are working hard to block other kinds of action.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 41 weeks 3 days ago
Sojourners campaigns assistant Anna Hall posted a great piece last week de-bunking 5 myths about the minimum wage. One of these myths — that most minimum wage workers are suburban teenagers — was countered by the facts: nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are adult women.Don’t think of a suburban teenager — think of a single mother working full time while trying to raise her children, care for her family, and make enough to pay rent, probably without any paid sick or personal days (not to mention maternity leave). Could you do that on $15,000 a year?On Jan. 13, Maria Shriver – who, in addition to her many accomplishments, is the daughter of the statesman widely regarded as the architect of the “War on Poverty” — released a report focusing on the needs of women in the current economy.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 49 weeks 1 day ago
By official estimates, 26,000 people are sexually assaulted in the U.S. military each year. That comes out to 71 people every day. It’s an epidemic that’s been widely reported in the news.As if that weren’t bad enough, most of the assaults go unreported – only 11 percent of assault victims ended up filing reports last year (3,374). Studies show that those who do not report the assault cite fears of retaliation and a concern that nothing will be done.Leaders in Congress are trying to change that this week with the Military Justice Improvement Act.Right now, if a woman is sexually assaulted in the military, her case is evaluated by a commanding officer. This officer decides whether to bring the case to trial. Once it has been tried, the same commanding officer is responsible for enforcing the consequences. That’s called “convening authority.”
Posted by Janelle Tupper 50 weeks 2 days ago
In the United States, more than 1 in 3 women (and 1 in 4 men) havereportedly experienced sexual assault, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.These are not numbers that disappears when you walk in to a church. Christian women are subject to sexual and gender-based violence, too – but when is the last time you heard about this issue in a church?Talking about the pain and fear of intimate partner abuse can seem daunting, but there are resources to help faith communities get started. On Sunday, Nov. 24, faith communities have an opportunity to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence in the aptly named Speak Out Sunday. 
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 3 weeks ago
It’s a rough month to be a Washingtonian.My morning bike ride past the Capitol Building is leaving me less with the sense of inspiration I used to feel at being so close to the heart of democracy, and more with a creeping sense of disgust. Sometimes it’s tough to live in a city whose very name is a synonym for Congress. “Washington” recently decided to cut off all funding for national parks, health research, and, oh yeah, programs that serve poor Americans.Thanks to Congress, poor women might not get help from the Women, Infants and Children program to feed their babies. Head Start preschool programs have been canceled, leaving parents unable to work. People who need the SNAP program to feed their families could be left with nowhere to turn, while sick and elderly people who get regular visits from Meals on Wheels volunteers are worried about where their food will come from over the coming weeks.There are about 40 members of an extremist ideological minority who are ruining the reputation of the place I live and work, and taking the poor down along with them.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 8 weeks ago
Pipeline projects are moving forward across the country, but a group of tuneful nuns is working to make sure they don’t succeed.  The Sisters of Loretto in Marion County, Kentucky have lived on their rural acreage since the 1800s, serving the poor and enjoying the wide open spaces and forest trails of their home.With a fracking company proposing a pipeline for pressurized natural gas chemicals through their land, the sisters have sprung into action to protect what they see as their “holy land.” They have refused to allow the fracking company to survey their land for pipeline construction, citing past pipeline explosions and the risk of contamination.   The sisters appeared at a public hearing over the proposed pipelines, singing “Amazing Grace” until they were asked to be quiet.  Their unexpected activism has gained them attention locally and across the internet (you can meet the sisters by watching this video.)   
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 14 weeks ago
Jesus calls us to help the poor. That is a point that few would debate. One key indicator of our obedience is how we treat the poor and vulnerable among us. Where we fall into debate is how to do it the most effectively.One thing that gets lost in the rhetoric is that many of the solutions we have are already effective — they just need to be improved. And we have plenty of ideas that already help lift families out of poverty while encouraging them to work. Sounds perfect, right?The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one such program. It provides a tax credit based on how much income a worker takes in — the more income they take in, the more benefit they get, up to a maximum point when it starts to phase out. This gives working people incentive to keep working rather than rely on assistance alone.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 16 weeks ago
When you think of an evangelical Christian, do you think of a climate scientist who is passionately concerned about the impact of climate change?After this week, you should.  Over 200 top scientists who identify as evangelical Christians from across the country released a letter this week calling on Congress to act on the moral and scientific imperative to address climate change. The letter — framed in scripture — points to the call to care for the poor and steward God’s creation as key elements contributing to their concern.  
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 16 weeks ago
On the eve of the GOP immigration summit, during which Republicans will determine their position and strategy on immigration reform, the Evangelical Immigration Table held a press conference with national leaders to strongly urge House members to find the political courage to move forward on commonsense immigration reform. “We have forgotten to engage in conversation and instead have focused on throwing stones at arguments,” David Cooper, President and Head of School at Front Range Christian School in Littleton, Colo., said.Currently, hundreds of Evangelical Christians are expected to join in a day of prayer and action in Washington, DC on July 24, following the 92-day Pray4Reform challenge. During this challenge, people of faith across the country are taking a few minutes each day to lift up their political leaders in prayer as they consider the options moving forward. More than 25,000 prayer partners have signed up for the challenge since its start, and we welcome many more to join.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 17 weeks ago
Forget about future generations – climate change is already hitting poor people around the world, not to mention contributing to natural disasters in the U.S. from New York City to Arizona. Apparently that’s not enough for some members of Congress, who have chosen to use their authority to try to block any and all attempts to do something about the problem.Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced a major, comprehensive plan of action on climate change – changes that would do much to protect human health, the poor, and future generations by mitigating some of the worst impacts of climate change. A central part of the plan is to address climate pollution at its largest source: coal-fired power plants.Unfortunately, many members of Congress are already taking steps to decry the president’s plan as a “war” – on coal, on American energy, and yes, even on America itself. Leaders from John Boehner to Michele Bachmann to Joe Manchin have made it pretty clear that they view attempts to care for creation as an assault on our country.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 17 weeks ago
By a 68-32 vote, the Senate just passed S.744, a bipartisan immigration reform bill that people of faith have held up as part of a solution to the United States’ broken immigration system. While it still has to make its way through the House of Representatives, here are the top 10 things that would happen if S. 744 became law:1.  It would create a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. Current immigration law has no way forward for immigrants who don’t have the right documents. The Senate bill would open doors for them to become full members of society.2.  It would bring hope to lots of people. Around 8 million of the 11.4 million aspiring Americans living in the shadows would be able to gain legal status, giving them hope and opportunity. That’s as many people as live in the entire state of New York – a huge impact.
Posted by Liz Schmitt , Janelle Tupper 1 year 18 weeks ago
Yesterday was a momentous day for the creation care movement: after years of inaction from Congress, President Obama announced a major, comprehensive plan of action on climate change. President Obama’s new “Climate Action Plan,” which he laid out in a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, addresses the country’s largest source of climate pollution — carbon dioxide from power plants — as well as boosting energy efficiency standards, renewable energy production on public lands, and resilience for cities, towns and roads.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 19 weeks ago
People of faith and immigration activists around the country have their eyes fixed on Congress this month as both houses take up immigration reform. The bipartisan proposal being considered in the Senate would bring hope and opportunity to 11 million new Americans who aspire to be citizens, doing much to fix our broken immigration system.While the path forward will be difficult, there is some good news this week that will influence the way policymakers think about this issue.Conservative lawmakers have long been worried about the future costs of immigration reform, which they predicted would come from federal programs designed to help the poor such as Medicaid. They asked the Congressional Budget Office – a non-partisan government agency tasked with evaluating the cost of all legislative proposals – to give them a report far into the future to make sure that these costs were not hidden in their analysis. In reality, the CBO found that bipartisan immigration reform in the Senate would trim nearly $1 trillion off the federal deficit, while spurring the economy and creating jobs.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 21 weeks ago
The Nuns on the Bus stopped by Washington, D.C., this week, and Sojourners staffers were on hand to return high fives and listen to speeches from the sisters and leaders in the labor movement. This was just one stop on the national bus tour in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The traveling sisters are encouraging people across the country to raise hands and voices in support of faith, family, and citizenship.Check out the photos of the Nuns on the Bus’ visit. We’ll be praying for the sisters as they continue their journey!
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 21 weeks ago
FAIR’s recent ad campaigns have attempted to whip up fear and hatred for immigrants by claiming that they will steal jobs from working Americans. This kind of thinking has been debunked numerous times – immigrants contribute to the economy and help start small businesses.Pandora radio has 70 million users listening 1.31 billion hours each month. That’s a lot of people who were hearing ads based on fear rather than facts.Along with other groups, Sojourners contacted Pandora and asked them to stop playing these ads. We understand that everyone has the right to say what they want – free speech – but we’re glad that civil society and consumers can put pressure on companies to limit the amount of harmful speech we hear every day.Pandora has ended the relationship* after reviewing FAIR’s record. Thousands of Sojourners readers signed a petition asking them not to accept hateful ads in the future, and donated to help Sojourners run ads with positive messages highlighting the contributions immigrants make to our communities and their inherent dignity as human beings created in God’s image.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 22 weeks ago
The United States is the richest country in the world, but only three-quarters of Americans have enough to eat.New data from the Pew Research Center shows that nearly a quarter of Americans had trouble putting food on the table last year — 24 percent is a lot of hungry people in the richest country in the world. It’s not normal, either – most other advanced economies had much lower rates of hunger. We think that the U.S. economy is similar to that of Canada or Britain; our hunger rate is closer to that of Indonesia, South Korea, or Greece.Numbers like that are shocking, because we prefer to think of ourselves in nationalistic terms. “The richest, most powerful country on Earth” definitely makes us feel better than realizing that things aren’t so great for many of us. One in four of us is hungry.We don’t like to think about this, but we aren’t doing so well by a lot of standards. Last month, UNICEF published a report on child wellbeing in developed countries. The United States was ranked 26 out of 29, above Lithuania, Latvia, and Romania. Our children were doing worse than those of Greece. Is this really where we want to be?
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 22 weeks ago
The Farm Bill might not sound like the most exciting piece of legislation ever to come out of Congress, but it has huge implications for nutrition in the United States. Among other things, the Farm Bill determines support to small farms, promoting farmers’ markets, and, oh yeah, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), what we used to call food stamps.SNAP is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs, set to expand with increased need and decrease when people no longer need help. Most benefits are modest, and the majority of recipients who are able to work do. In fact, SNAP is effective because it not only helps people get the food they need, but its benefits encourage them to find work. Unfortunately, it seems like both houses in Congress are set on changing the SNAP program for the worse. Putting aside the cuts the House has planned for nutrition assistance that would kick 2 million people off the program, the Senate recently accepted a change to SNAP that flies in the face of the criminal justice system and will probably have racially discriminating effects.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 23 weeks ago
Last week, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million – nearly 15 percent over what many scientists estimate is a safe level. Amid this and other crises in creation, the Environmental Protection Agency needs a strong leader to navigate the complex policy and economic situation that governs environmental policy.In March, In March, President Barack Obama nominated Gina McCarthy to lead the EPA. At the time, many regarded her as a shoo-in, as she has held top posts under Republican governors, was endorsed by many in the energy industry, and has acted as assistant administrator of the EPA under President Obama since 2009.It was surprising, then, when all eight Republican members of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee decided to boycott McCarthy’s nomination hearing. This surprise decision, which effectively canceled the vote, was part of a longer-term pattern of obstruction and partisanship on once-routine matters.In the face of such unprecedented risk to human health and well-being, many were surprised that senators tasked with studying issues of clean air, clean water, and similar issues put ideology ahead of fairness in obstructing the vote. Sen. David Vitter, the leader of the obstructionist group, said it best himself in 2005 when discussing judicial appointments: “I think that every nominee deserves a vote. It’s a matter of fairness.”
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 23 weeks ago
There might be big changes coming to the United States food aid program this year, and it could save millions of lives.U.S. food aid, which began in the 1950s, spends an average of $2 billion a year* and has done much to prevent hunger and starvation across the globe. However, it has also been criticized for being inefficient, wasteful, and even self-serving.Currently, up to 75 percent of the money we spend on food aid has to be used to pay for purchasing food from American farmers and shipping them overseas. This food saves lives, yes, but up to 16 percent of the money is spent on shipping. To make matters worse, American commodity crops are often significantly more expensive than food bought elsewhere.Without such high requirements for American commodities, more money could go to buying food and saving lives. In fact, the United States is the only donor country to mandate by law that a certain amount of its donations must support its own economy.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 26 weeks ago
Before last week’s Senate vote, we learned that 90% of Americans supported universal background checks as a way to reduce gun violence.The Senate’s vote against background checks shows that public opinion is not the driving — or defining — force behind America’s gun culture. In fact, to find that force, you don’t have to look any farther than money. 
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 27 weeks ago
In the midst of our celebration of Earth Day, government agencies continued the debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands across the United States into the gulf coast of Texas to be refined and shipped elsewhere. The State Department, tasked with reviewing the pipeline’s environmental impact, gave it a tentative pass a month and a half ago.Activists across the country sprang into action to oppose the pipeline, citing its contribution to climate change and risk of oil spills. Supporters of the pipeline shot back, denying the climate impact of the pipeline and claiming that the oil would be produced whether or not the Keystone project moved forward.The Environmental Protection Agency responded yesterday, calling into question the State Department’s findings and echoing the concerns of environmental activists everywhere: the Keystone Pipeline would be greatly exacerbate climate change. 
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 30 weeks ago
Residents of Mayflower, Ark., spent Easter weekend evacuated from their homes as Exxon Mobil attended to a major oil spill from a crude oil pipeline. Residents described scenes of oil running down the streets like a river, as 22 families were forced to leave their homes.Since the pipe burst on Friday afternoon, cleanup crews have collected around 12,000 barrels of oil and water. Images from the weekend show quiet cul-de-sacs inundated with thick, black sludge, and parents reported concern for their children and whether they would be able to play outside.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 31 weeks ago
The momentum for immigration reform is building across the country, but leaders in Washington are often the last to realize the seismic shifts taking place. The most recent example is when Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions made the claim that there is no “moral or legal responsibility to reward somebody who entered the country [without documentation].”No moral responsibility? Many Christians believe otherwise.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 34 weeks ago
“I believe the sequester is a pittance.”Those were conservative Sen. Rand Paul’s words in an opinion piece this week about the sequester – severe and arbitrary cuts to the federal budget that Congress did nothing to stop. We could give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he hasn’t seen the numbers:The nutrition program for women with children — WIC — will have to turn away 600,000 to 775,000 women, many of whom have young children.The 3.8 million currently unemployed workers will have their support cut by 11 percent.100,000 low-income families will lose their housing vouchers.125,000 individuals and families are now at risk of homelessness.That doesn’t sound like a “pittance” to me.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 36 weeks ago
One angry constituent asked repeatedly where the “dang fence” that McCain had promised was. The senator turned to a chart illustrating how much fence had been constructed (hint: it’s a lot), and the man shot back that it was not a fence. “Oh, it’s not a fence?” McCain challenged. “OK, it’s a banana. We put up a banana with about $600 million of appropriations.”Wow. Talk about laying down the law.McCain even alluded to the work of the faith community on changing the message on immigration. Why are we not going to deport immigrants who have been living in the country for over 40 years? “Because we are a Judeo-Christian nation,” McCain affirmed. Mass deportation is contrary to our values.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 37 weeks ago
 I had a happy childhood, with few moments of true anguish. One that I will always remember, though, is when they cut down the tree on Euclid Street.Throughout my early years, I would often take walks with my parents down this street, stopping to play on this tree’s bulging roots and hug its large trunk. On this particular weekday, my favorite tree had been replaced with a stump and some sawdust due to the risk of it falling over and taking out all the power lines its branches had engulfed. My four-year-old self was in shock.I spent the afternoon wailing, to the dismay of my parents and the neighbor who came over for a play date. To this day, when I walk down Euclid Street and see pieces of the branches still hanging on to the power lines, I remember what it felt like to lose my first friend.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 37 weeks ago
Good news: the Violence Against Women Act passed the Senate this afternoon. While the bill still must proceed to the House of Representatives, this is a promising step for women across the country.VAWA provides much-needed services and protections for women, which should not be a controversial issue. However, the bill expired in 2011 and has yet to be reauthorized, with most of the delay coming from a debate over whether the protections can extend to Native American women living on reservations.A recent story shows the importance of extending these protections to Native woman: the woman profiled was attacked by her (white) husband, but neither the tribal court nor the local police felt they had proper authority to protect her.This is not an isolated incident: during the Senate hearing on the bill, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D - Wash.) pointed out that Native American women are raped and assaulted at 2.5 times the national rate, and fewer than 50 percent of domestic violence cases on reservations are prosecuted.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 37 weeks ago
As much as we like to believe we live in a safe country for women, we know this is not the case. Women and girls across the country are subject to rape, abuse, intimidation, and sex trafficking, with the number of victims growing each day. Progress has been made over the past decades, thanks in part to the Violence Against Women Act. This policy protects women by providing everything from funding for rape crisis centers to increased collaboration with law enforcement to hold perpetrators accountable. VAWA is our country’s promise to women and girls that we will not allow them to be violated and abused. The Violence Against Women Act is up for a vote in the Senate next week, and Americans from every corner of the country are calling our policymakers to reauthorize this important legislation. Since it was first passed in 1994, VAWA has received strong bipartisan support and shown its effectiveness in making communities safer, healthier, and better stewards of their resources (in the first 6 years since it was introduced, VAWA saved communities $12.6 billion). VAWA expired in 2011, and has yet to be reauthorized.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 39 weeks ago
The pressure from the faith community on Congress to address gun violence is building. There have been vigils, marches, and press conferences. Faith leaders have visited the White House and lobbied on the Hill. Now, an interfaith call-in day is being organized on Feb. 4 to ensure Congress hears directly from people of faith demanding change. This is a chance for your voice to ring through the halls of Congress.While the debate on sensible gun restrictions has continued, local  evening newscasts continue to run stories highlighting yet more tragic deaths from gun violence. We need more than a conversation. We need Congress to find the courage to lead.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 39 weeks ago
“Idolatry of guns.” What does that mean, exactly?It might be hard to admit, but if you think about it, you can see that many groups in the United States see guns as sacred. Guns are not only the solution to our problems, they will save us from evil. Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, stated this himself: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”Do we really believe this? If we stop and think about it, we don’t. Our protection does not come from guns, and we do not live in a binary society of good and evil, where the right to hold dangerous weapons can be allocated to people who are entirely virtuous.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 39 weeks ago
President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Address this week included a bold statement about his vision for addressing climate change. In fact, he redefined the issue of environmental protection as not only morally important but a command from God. After the vacuum of discussion of climate change during the presidential campaign, this proclamation came as a welcome surprise.Most analyses of Obama’s speech point to the fact that the reason he was able to say what he did is that American public opinion has solidified behind these ideas. Plenty of polls will tell you that the number of Americans who accept the reality of climate change has soared in recent years, perhaps partly due to the natural disasters the president mentioned.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 39 weeks ago
Conventional wisdom is that President Barack Obama won re-election in November in part because of shifting demographics and the rising Latino vote. The research confirms it, but also tells us another story: both parties have much to gain by courting Latino voters, and much to lose if they assume November’s pattern will be repeated with no additional effort. New polling analysis by Latino Decisions shows that for the first time in history, Latino voters can plausibly claim to have decisively influenced an election. If Latinos had supported Mitt Romney by the same margins they had supported George W. Bush in 2004, the outcome would have swung in favor of Mitt Romney. However, this does not mean that the tide of politics has inevitably turned towards Democrats. In fact, Latino voters are the most “moveable” racial voting bloc, meaning that both parties have an opportunity to win Latino votes, provided they reach out to the community in meaningful ways. 
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 44 weeks ago
Some of my environmentally conscious friends have expressed concern about having a real Christmas tree in their house – it seems wasteful to cut down an entire tree just for a month or so of décor. After all, climate change is a huge problem, and its potential impacts on the world (most especially the poor) seem contrary to the Christmas spirit. It’s not a new worry – Teddy Roosevelt actually banned the White House Christmas Tree during his time in office, as he was worried about the conservation implications of people running out to cut down the forest. We can rest easy, though – the live Christmas tree industry that has developed since that time is actually a benefit to the global climate. Here’s why.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 44 weeks ago
Whoops. I was joking with a co-worker today about writing a subversive post about how the song “Do You Hear What I Hear” is an extended metaphor for the Roman Empire’s takeover of Christianity, contorting Jesus’ message for its own ends. “Listen to what I say,” orders the unnamed king, as he urges adoration of Jesus and calls for peace — Pax Romana. I did a quick Wikipedia search, and learned exactly how wrong I was. Rather than a subversive message about the twisting of the Gospel, “Do You Hear What I Hear” was actually a call for peace during the turbulence of the 1960s.  I mean, think about it: the song talks about the humbleness of the announcement of Jesus’ birth – only the night wind and the little lamb have heard about it. This whisper gets passed up to ever-increasing degrees of authority (a grassroots movement if we’ve ever seen one), until the king himself is calling for peace. 
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 45 weeks ago
There are many reasons to support comprehensive immigration reform. As Christians, we point to the biblical call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbors as top reasons for our support. We refer to the God-given dignity of each person, acknowledging that God created and loves each person, regardless of their immigration status.But it helps to remember that there are significant economic and political gains to be had, as well. A Politico poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans support comprehensive reform. As we push on our political leaders to make a decision this year, here are some of the other arguments we can use, as described in a recent article on Think Progress:1. Legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would boost the nation’s economy.2. Tax revenues would increase.3. Harmful state immigration laws are damaging state economies.4. A path to citizenship would help families access health care.5. U.S. employers need a legalized workforce. 6. In 2011, immigrant entrepreneurs were responsible for more than one-in-four new U.S. businesses.7. Letting undocumented immigrants gain legal status would keep families together.8. Young undocumented immigrants would add billions to the economy if they gained legal status.9. And DREAMers would boost employment and wages.10. Significant reform of the high-skilled immigration system would benefit certain industries that require high-skilled workers.Read the article for a full explanation of each item.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 46 weeks ago
I’ve been really lucky this month to hear some of my co-workers’ reflections on the social justice implications of their favorite Christmas carols. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect back on what it is we sing and celebrate each year, the truths we profess without even knowing it.Naturally, I wanted to get involved, as well. As I was running through the songs I love, "Joy to the World" suddenly popped up in a new light:  Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 47 weeks ago
There is some good stuff on the God’s Politics blog this week encouraging Christians to drop their concern about the “war on Christmas.” It’s a good idea. However, as we’re getting over our huff about “Happy Holidays,” we’d like to shift your attention to the real war on Christmas: the priorities of Washington politicians that are fundamentally at odds with the hope, love, joy, and peace celebrated by Christians during the Advent season.As political leaders engage in negotiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” we need them to preserve programs that reduce poverty and keep our families healthy. Unfortunately, House Speaker John Boehner and others in Congress are pushing to cut programs for the poor and vulnerable, while protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 47 weeks ago
Delegates from around the world are meeting in Doha, Qatar this month to discuss United Nations’ climate policy. In the past, these meetings were a source of hope for the environmental movement, as governments came together and committed to reducing emissions to collectively try to halt climate change.Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.  Remember the Kyoto Protocol? Even though the reductions it mandated were nowhere near what’s required for us to reverse the trend we’ve started, we haven’t even come close to achieving those reductions. Oh yeah, and the United States didn’t even sign it.The Protocol is expiring this year, and the U.N. Framework Commission on Climate Change (the body that created the Protocol — stick with me here) is trying in Doha to extend it for a couple years until they can reach an agreement on how to move forward.So what’s holding the discussions back?
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 48 weeks ago
The Ugandan Parliament has re-introduced a draconian anti-LGBT bill that has received widespread international criticism. Under this bill, first introduced in 2011 and re-introduced earlier this year, the government would prescribe the death penalty to all LGBT people and those that provide them with housing and resources.The bill is expected to pass before the end of this year; its champions call it a “Christmas gift to the Ugandan people.”In the face of this hatred, I am glad to work for Sojourners, which earlier this year signed on to the following statement along with other Christian groups:Our Christian faith recognizes that all human beings have been created in the image and likeness of God, and Christ teaches that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. All acts of bigotry and hatred betray these foundational truths … Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 48 weeks ago
The day after the election, many top Republicans made statements in support of comprehensive immigration reform. With rising Latino participation in elections, they see the need to work across the aisle for true reform to a broken system.Those behind a new super PAC want to make sure they are successful. The group, Republicans for Immigration Reform, was formed to give political cover to Republicans willing to support bipartisan immigration reform proposals.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 49 weeks ago
Last month, Sojourners joined with other groups around the country to ask the Associated Press to change the guidance in their Stylebook that allows “illegal immigrant” to be used as an acceptable term to refer to a human being.  Following these efforts, the AP  issued this response, claiming that “illegal immigrant” is an accurate, neutral term. According to some linguists, this might not be the case.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 49 weeks ago
The election is finally over, and both parties understand the key role Latino voters played in the outcome. The balance of power in Washington remains the same, but the political winds have shifted dramatically on immigration. During the campaign, President Barack Obama promised to pass immigration reform if reelected. House Speaker John Boehner also recently stated that a “comprehensive approach is long overdue.”Momentum is building. A new consensus is emerging. Progress is possible.
Posted by Martin Witchger, Janelle Tupper, Cynthia J. Martens 1 year 50 weeks ago
On Saturday, Sojourners sent a group of staff members sailing down the Anacostia River.But this was no pleasure trip.Dottie Yunger, from the Anacostia Watershed Society, teamed up with Sojourners’ Creation Care campaign to teach some of our staff and a few other members of the local community about the state of the Anacostia river, how we as people of faith can be better stewards of our God-given resources, and how we can help create a healthier system where all creatures (both human and non-human) can survive and flourish.Here are a few reflections from the trip.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 50 weeks ago
Photographer James Balog has a story for you, and it might be one you haven’t heard before. Starting in 2005, he and a team of adventurous photographers set out to provide visual, undeniable evidence for climate change. What they found he described as “decrepit old men falling into the earth and dying:” glaciers worldwide disappearing at record rates. The film Chasing Ice is the story of their Extreme Ice Survey as they place time-lapse cameras on glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Montana, and Alaska, and watch as they disappear. The public does not want statistics, they say. The public is being misled to believe that scientists do not agree on climate change. The public is losing interest but needs to pay attention. As Balog and his team will tell you, the memory cards in their cameras contain the memories of the landscape, a “limitless universe of forms,” that will never be seen again. Man-made climate change (as documented by ice cores from the very glaciers that may not exist in a few years) is fundamentally altering our geology. 
Posted by Janelle Tupper 1 year 50 weeks ago
Exit polling from Tuesday’s presidential election is offering new hope to activists advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. The Latino community was instrumental in reelecting President Barack Obama, as record numbers turned out to vote and supported the president by over 70 percent. These numbers send a clear message to opponents of immigration reform that demonizing immigrants and blocking progress makes for a poor political strategy.Pundits are opining that Congress may be more willing to discuss comprehensive reform, a promise President Obama made but has been slow in fulfilling due to congressional opposition. Indeed, republican leaders in Congress have already been altering their positions. 
Posted by Brandon Hook, Jessica Turner, Janelle Tupper, Martin Witchger, Krystal Brewer 2 years 5 days ago
On Tuesday, the religion, policy, and politics project at Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) hosted a forum to release PRRI's fourth American Values Survey (AVS), a large national, multi-issue survey on religion, values, and public policy.We sent some of our interns to listen in on the findings. Here's what they thought about some of the issues raised by the report.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 2 years 1 week ago
We all know the conversation on immigration in the United States can oftentimes become contentious, with inaccurate portrayals of immigrants inhibiting progress. The most recent attempt to fuel the debate with fear-driven messaging is by NumbersUSA.  A new ad by  the organization tries to pit racial groups against each other by suggesting that immigrants admitted to the country on work permits are “stealing” jobs from other racial minorities.This tactic is hateful, fear-based, and sad. By running this ad NumbersUSA is trying to divide people against each other on racial grounds, sowing hate and division among our neighbors. It misrepresents the truth about immigrant workers and the benefits they provide to our country. It also does nothing to substantively address the issue of unemployment among minorities, a problem we can’t solve by directing hate at one segment of the population.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 2 years 1 week ago
“Climate refugee” might be an unfamiliar term for many people, but a new film from the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is trying to change that. Their 40-minute documentary Sun Come Up calls attention to the plight of displaced residents of the Carteret Islands, just north of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Pope Benedict XVI called attention to this issue in his 2010 World Day of Peace message, saying, “Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of ‘environmental refugees,’ people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement?” Screenings of the film are happening across the country; groups of 50 or more can sign up to host the film and will receive a discussion guide and education kit.Read more about the film on the Catholic Coalition for Climate Change website.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 2 years 2 weeks ago
New tracking software developed by Kevin Gurney, an ecologist at Arizona State University is intended to help cities across the country keep their word on climate. Many mayors have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint, but they have no objective way to measure progress. The software will allow them to identify and target areas of the city that are releasing the most carbon, in order to address the real problem areas.The idea of a personal carbon footprint is not new, but software that can follow our dirty tailpipes down the street is certainly revolutionary. Could the uncomfortable feeling of being watched be the encouragement city residents need to change their habits?"Gurney collects piles of information about a city's energy diet — from utilities, transportation departments and air-pollution monitors. When he analyzed Indianapolis, Gurney and colleagues from Purdue University and other institutions could pinpoint emissions down to the level of a building or a street."Read more on NPR.
Posted by Janelle Tupper 2 years 2 weeks ago
It’s been a good week for getting real. After Tuesday’s revelation that the majority of Americans link increased natural disasters with climate change, a new report yesterday indicates that they may be right.In their newly-published report, reinsurance company Munich Re claimed that global climate change has been driving natural disasters and extreme weather events, and that this trend will increase as the climate continues to change.