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1998 NCC News Archives

Religious Leaders Disappointed at Failure
of Campaign Finance Soft Money Reform
In Their Statement, Leaders Issue Call for More Comprehensive Reform

Additional Comments from Signatories to Religious Leaders' Statement

The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, pointed out the advantages of more comprehensive reform: "Clean money campaign reform addresses voters' four major concerns that: (1) campaigns are too expensive; (2) special interests have too much influence; (3) good candidates without money or connections to special interests do not have a fair chance of competing for office; and (4) politicians spend too much time raising campaign money instead of devoting their full energies to the duties of public office."

    Kathy Thornton, Director of Network, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby: "We are deeply troubled that Congress has once again stifled an attempt to bring even minimal reform to the campaign finance system. Those in power have refused to break the lock of control by special interests."

    "We congratulate Maine and Vermont," said Dr. Paul Sherry, President of the United Church of Christ. "These states have recently put into place the clean money option of public financing of campaigns."

    Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, commented, "Arizona, Massachusetts, Missouri and New York City will vote on the clean money proposal for campaign finance reform this November. Fourteen states will likely have this on the ballot by 2000. We urge churches and synagogues to work for its passage."

    WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 26, 1998 -- Leaders from 11 religious denominations and faith groups expressed their profound disappointment at the failure of campaign finance reform in the Senate today. In their statement they call for much more comprehensive reform.

    U.S. religious leaders - organized as "Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform" -- have worked hard for campaign finance reform. In a Feb. 13, 1997, "Open Letter to Congress," they asserted, "Campaign finance reform is not simply a political or public relations dilemma but a moral matter. The temptation to use money to buy unjust favors is an ancient one. The prophet Amos thundered against those merchants who "sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes.and push the afflicted out of the way." (Amos 2:6-7 NRSV).  

    The two co-chairs of Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform, the Rev. Jay Lintner, Director of the Washington Office for the United Church of Christ and the Rev. Albert Pennybacker, Washington Office Director for the National Council of Churches, pledged to continue the effort at the state level.

    Today's statement by religious leaders reads:

    "Congress has defeated partial and small steps toward campaign finance reform. The power and the attraction of money has proven too great. The lesson to be learned is that only comprehensive reform, which breaks the power of money in elections, can restore the public trust that has been eroded by the present corrupt system of campaign finance.

    "We therefore call on religious people and all citizens who want to restore integrity to our elections to work for comprehensive reform at the state level, putting in place public financing of elections so that the public may reclaim their politicians who are now too much under the control of those currently paying to put politicians in office.

    "For government to be just and fair, elections must be fair. The public must have confidence in the integrity of just government. The Senate has badly eroded that trust, and the people must now restore it."

   Signing on to the statement were:
  • The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary, National Council of Churches
  • The Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, President, United Church of Christ
  • The Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory, Director, Washington Office, Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Anna Rhee, Director, Washington Office, Women's Division, United Methodist Church
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  • The Rev. David Radcliff, Director of Brethren Witness, Church of the Brethren
  • The Rev. William Chris Hobgood, Regional Minister Capital Area, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Kathy Thornton, RSM, Director, Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • The Rev. Meg Riley, Director, Washington Office, Unitarian Universalist Association of Churches
  • Joe Volk, Executive Director, Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Jim Matlack, Director, Washington Office, American Friends Service Committee
  • The Rev. Albert Pennybacker, Co-Chair, Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform
  • The Rev. Jay Lintner, Co-Chair, Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform

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