We believe mental health programs and substance abuse (alcohol and drug) programs, sufficiently funded and accessible, are of critical need in our communities. A continuum of services, beginning with education and prevention programs through treatment and hospitalization, should be available for all persons with behavioral health problems. The impact of alcohol and drug addiction is an increased incidence of domestic and child abuse, poor work performance, family disruption, homelessness and crime.
We advocate for the right of all people to equal treatment under the law and the right to live in a peaceful community.
We believe in the unique value and sanctity of all persons. Our society cannot sustain the escalating economic and human costs of imprisonment as the primary method of crime control. New directions must be explored to ensure safe and caring communities. Prevention, rehabilitation, restitution, reconciliation and restoration alternatives need to be fully considered and included where feasible.
We believe that the death penalty is inconsistent with the Christian calling to honor the sanctity of all of human life. We must work to curtail, not to promote, violence in our society. Taking a human life is in itself violent and cruel. We acknowledge that there must be appropriate punishment for those who commit crimes. However, succumbing to the retaliatory violence of capital punishment is abdicating our responsibility as people of faith and as human beings.
We believe all people have the right to live in safety. The continual increase in the number of reports of domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse dramatically indicates that our communities are unsafe. Policies must emphasize community education and prevention services, reconciliation when appropriate between offender and victim, and consistent and timely prosecution of perpetrators when necessary.
We believe all people have the right to a sufficient and sustainable quality of life with the payment of livable wages. Public policies must encourage self-support. When public assistance is necessary, it must ensure that people can meet their basic needs, including job training, transportation and quality, affordable childcare.
We believe quality education is the right of every individual regardless of race or economic status. We call for appropriate educational opportunities that will enable all children and youth to develop to their full potential. Education and training opportunities are also important for adults who lack appropriate occupational skills and thus are unable to earn enough to maintain a basic standard of living.
We acknowledge God’s charge that we are to be stewards of the earth which makes us deplore its exploitation. We advocate for legislation that protects the environment, educates citizens regarding important personal environmental choices and bans potentially hazardous measures.
We advocate for public policy that supports accessible and affordable health care for all people. While the individual is ultimately responsible for maintaining a healthy life style, there are those in our society, because of age, physical and mental limitations and economic status that are unable to secure the full range of health services. We would urge support for aggressive outreach programs, using all sectors of the community, to inform people of available health programs.
We believe that every individual has the right to adequate and affordable shelter. Attention must be given to identifying creative ways involving both the public and private sectors to address this basic need.
We believe that the means to alleviate hunger in our society exist but we lack the will and determination to make this happen. The faith-based community has a long history of involvement in providing food and meals for hungry individuals and families and continues to focus on this important basic need. Broader involvement and increased support from other sectors, especially the public sector at both the national and state levels, is needed. Efforts need to be directed to ensure that existing public and private food assistance programs are fully utilized and that increased attention and commitment are given to addressing the real reasons people are hungry.
We believe that public policies should respect the human dignity of refugees and all immigrants, documented and undocumented, in a fair and non-prejudicial manner. Our beliefs are rooted in the acceptance of all as brothers and sisters in the human family. The removal of resources for groups living in our country is in direct conflict with these beliefs. We urge public policies be measured against the standard of equitable sharing, fairness and justice.
All faith traditions recognize the inherent evil in nuclear weapons and the moral imperative to speak out for the reductions in numbers of them to the ultimate goal of a nuclear weapons-free world.
Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order On Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty
Though we come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life, we agree that the use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against prisoners is immoral, unwise, and un-American. In our effort to secure ourselves, we have resorted to tactics which do not work, which endanger US personnel abroad, which discourage political, military, and intelligence cooperation from our allies, and which ultimately do not enhance our security.
Our President must lead us by our core principles. We must be better than our enemies, and our treatment of prisoners captured in the battle against terrorism must reflect our character and values as Americans. Therefore, we believe the President of the United States should issue an Executive Order that provides as follows:
The “Golden Rule”
We will not authorize or use any methods of interrogation that we would not find acceptable if used against Americans, be they civilians or soldiers.
One National Standard
We will have one national standard for all US personnel and agencies for the interrogation and treatment of prisoners. Currently, the best expression of that standard is the US Army Field Manual, which will be used until any other interrogation technique has been approved based on the Golden Rule principle.
The Rule of Law
We will acknowledge all prisoners to our courts or the International Red Cross. We will in no circumstance hold persons in secret prisons or engage in disappearances. In all cases, prisoners will have the opportunity to prove their innocence in ways that fully conform to American principles of fairness.
Duty to Protect
We acknowledge our historical commitment to end the use of torture and cruelty in the world. The US will not transfer any person to countries that use torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
Checks and Balances
Congress and the courts play an invaluable role in protecting the values and institutions of our nation and must have and will have access to the information they need to be fully informed about our detention and interrogation policies.
Clarity and Accountability
All US personnel—whether soldiers or intelligence staff—deserve the certainty that they are implementing policy that complies fully with the law. Henceforth all US officials who authorize, implement, or fail in their duty to prevent the use of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners will be held accountable, regardless of rank or position.